What is a Framework?

Achieving Business Excellence Frameworking Toolkit

Definition

A framework is an agreement with suppliers to establish terms governing contracts that may be awarded during the life of the agreement. In other words, it is a general term for agreements that set out terms and conditions for making specific purchases (call-offs).

Note that a framework covers the provision of a generic group of goods, works or services (or a combination), for example:

  • Goods – office furniture
  • Services – design consultancy
  • Works – construction of schools.

You would normally have one ‘framework’ for each generic group, but you may have a ‘framework agreement’ with more than one supplier under each framework.

Framework agreement not normally a contract

The framework agreement itself may be a contract, but only if the agreement places an obligation to purchase. In this case, it is treated like any other contract, and the EU procurement rules apply.

However a framework agreement is more likely to not be a contract itself, but merely an agreement about the terms and conditions that would apply to any order placed during its life. In this case, a contract is made only when the order is placed and each order is a separate contract. Despite this kind of agreement not technically being a ‘contract’, you still need to follow the EU procurement rules.

Example

Here is an example framework with two agreements. Note that each project called-off under the agreement has its own contract.

level-1b

These examples are from the Office of Government Commerce paper “Framework agreements and EC developments”. Click on each one to see the example.

Supplies from a single supplier
Supplies from several suppliers
Consultancy services
Minor works
Major works 1
Major works 2

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