By
1st Nov 2016

A recent procurement case highlighted the need to ensure transparency in the evaluation of tenders. Including that anyone involved is fully prepared for their role in the process and given enough time to prepare and carry out the evaluation.

The case in question involved a procurement by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities using the Competitive Dialogue process. In the final scores, there was just 1.06% between the winning bidder and Energy Solutions EU Limited. Energy Solutions challenged the process under the Regulations. The challenge was around evaluation; whether scores had been awarded lawfully or not and whether there had been a Manifest Error in the way that the scores were awarded.

The Judge found the following important aspects of the evaluation process were lacking in transparency:

  • Evaluators were discouraged from making any notes outside of the procurement portal (despite having to read through hundreds of files) and were not allowed to send emails in relation to the evaluation
  • Evaluators were only allowed to seek guidance from the person leading the procurement process by leaving the room and speaking to him
  • Individual evaluators’ scores were changed following the moderation meeting with no notes explaining the reasons for the changed scores
  • No notes on dialogue stages lasting months were kept. Evaluators had to rely on their memories for aspects of the process and their scores were inconsistent with feedback they had provided to the bidders during dialogue and when questioned during the trial
  • There was a data room with documents for the bidders to refer to during the procurement process, the evaluators themselves had not read the documents within the data room – this caused an issue with bidders referring to material of which the evaluators were unaware
  • The decision not to disqualify the winning bidder who failed to meet a mandatory requirement was made in an unrecorded conversation, no one could explain how the decision had been taken

As you can see from this case, getting the evaluation of tenders right is crucial to a successful outcome for the procurement project. To find out more about how award criteria could be developed and how an evaluation process should be conducted download A Guide to Evaluating Tenders from the Further Education Library of Procurement.

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