OJEU Notice, QBS Procedure

Officers now have the painstaking task of preparing the paperwork for the notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJOU, formerly known as OJEC) and the Quality Based Selection process (QBS). You will need to take a great amount of care with this because the implications of a poorly worded OJEU notice and a flawed QBS process can be immense delay, cost and embarrassment.

QBS Process Map

The process you will follow up to awarding the framework agreement(s) is shown in the QBS process map.

Print this map now, before going on.

The process map shows the evolution of four documents:

  • OJEU notices
  • Pre-qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)
  • Qualification Questionnaire – Invitation to Negotiate (ITN)
  • Framework Protocol

over five stages of the QBS procedure:

  • Preparing the papers
  • Pre-qualifying
  • Short-listing
  • Negotiating
  • Appointing.

Note that this initial stage, PREPARING THE PAPERS, involves planning all these documents, but with particular attention to the OJEU notices and the PQQ.

Do not delay starting on the other documents.

Preparing the OJEU Notices

Soft Market Test

Before you prepare OJEU notices, establish the market rates for the work intended under the framework using informal interviews with potential suppliers.

Frameworks and EU Procurement Rules

1. Start by going to SIMAP, the official EU portal for procurement in the Single Market. Here you will find the guidelines, and tools  for submission of notices.

2. Before you start drafting an OJEU notice make sure you understand the significance of a framework in the context of the EU’s procurement rules.

Follow the guidance in the OGC’s paper Framework agreements and EC developments. The paper is based on the proposed new consolidated EC public sector Directive that had not been adopted at the time this toolkit was created. OGC recommends that the guidance should be followed, even before the new Directive is adopted, because it is very unlikely that the draft provisions on frameworks will be changed.

Read this paper now before going on.

Every time you prepare an OJEU notice, you should check OGC’s latest guidance.

3. Be clear about whether you are dealing with a framework contract (you are committed to buy) or a framework agreement (you are NOT committed to buy).

4. Check to see whether the framework will exceed the relevant threshold to apply the EU’s procurement rules.

This diagram, simplified from the OGC paper, illustrates these decisions and consequences.

Constructing Excellence

What the framework must establish

5. Ensure that your framework establishes:

  • the scope and type of goods, works or services that will be called-off
  • a mechanism for pricing.

What the notice must contain

6. Get the OJEU notice templates from SIMAP.

Note that there are three notices:

  • Indicative notice, known also as Prior Information Notice (PIN), which is not obligatory but if you use this you can shorten the deadline for responding to the contract notice
  • Contract notice, which is your fundamental obligation
  • Contract award notice, which informs the market about the outcome.

7. Ensure that your PIN and contract notices:

  • make it clear that a framework agreement is being awarded
  • list the contracting authorities entitled to call-off under the terms of the framework agreement (it is possible for other authorities to call-off under a framework agreement with one central buying organisation)
  • state the length of the framework agreement (under the proposed new Directive it will be a maximum of four years unless there are justifiable exceptional circumstances)
  • estimate the maximum quantity of goods, works or services for which call-offs will be placed
  • state the number of suppliers you intend to have under the framework
  • state the criteria you will use to select a contractor for a project.

If you serve an incorrect OJEU notice, it can be a messy process to undo it. So before you serve the notice in OJEU, it is important that you consult regulatory officers and stakeholders to ensure everyone agrees with the content.

We recommend that you ask someone who has experience of preparing OJEU notices to check your notice.

Quality Based Selection

Why is this so important?

“Experience has shown that acceptance of the lowest bid does not provide value for money in either the final cost of construction or through life and operational costs.”

Modernising Construction
National Audit Office, 2001

Does QBS work?

Case Study

Read the case study 1st year report says quality-based selection works. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive awarded bonuses for hgih quality results to contractors who won the work in a 70/30-quality/price assessment.

The papers you are preparing will steer your selection process so that:

  • the focus is on quality, not ‘cheapness’
  • you will avoid the trap of accepting the lowest initial price and paying more in the long run
  • you will attract team members who are most likely to add value, rather than those offering to complete it at the lowest initial cost
  • your selection team have clear guidance on how to recognise and measure quality in bidders’ submissions
  • you will create an audit trail that justifies every step and decision you take in awarding the framework agreement.

Procedure for awarding framework agreement

Operational issue 1 contains a detailed, step-by-step procedure to Appoint members to the team using a Quality Based Selection Process. There are nine stages in the process:

  • selection panel
  • key success factors
  • tendering process
  • evaluation methodology
  • presentations and interviews
  • tender invitation documents
  • keep to your evaluation methodology!
  • record keeping
  • debriefing unsuccessful candidates.

Assessment models and score sheets

You need to document these now. Appendix 10 contains assessment models and score sheets to get you started. There is no need to re-invent the system; it is all here.

Pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ)

Guidance on preparing the PQQ is given in PRE-QUALIFYING.

You need to start this now, because you cannot issue the OJEU notice until your PQQ is ready to send immediately to those expressing interest.

Qualification Questionnaire – Invitation to negotiate (ITN)

Guidance on preparing the ITN is given in NEGOTIATING.

You need to start this now, because the ITN requires you to prepare example schemes for pricing.

Help in analysing the responses

Case Study

Read the case study Selecting the Team – a system for picking the best companies. Selecting the Team (STT) is a tool produced by the Construction Management Research Group, University of Southamption. STT provides a systematic framework for selecting team members according to any specified criteria.

FRAMEWORK protocol

Guidance on preparing the Framework Protocol is given in APPOINTING.

You need to start this now, because the council’s legal officers will need time to work with you to develop the Framework Protocol. If your legal department has no experience with frameworks, we recommend that you consult a contracts specialist with experience in framework agreements for the construction industry.

When you have drafted your OJEU notice and QBS procedures, you need to update members and consult with regulatory officers and stakeholders to secure their commitment. You will almost certainly revisit and amend these papers before going ‘live’.

Remember: the implications of a poorly worded OJEU notice and a flawed QBS process can be immense delay, cost and embarrassment.