Invitation to Tender

This is a simple form of template Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the procurement of services.

The ITT is an invitation sent to a shortlist of bidders (selected via the PQQ) to make a formal and detailed offer to supply the services or goods required.

It is important that the ITT contains all the information and detail needed to enable a bidder to compile a fully formed tender for the requirement. The following highlights a few key parts of the document:

  • The key dates section – it is important that the contracting authority designs a proper and robust procurement process timetable which properly factors in the time needed for clarifications and evaluation. While the contracting authority has the right to amend the timetable, doing so increases the legal risk that a bidder may feel it has been in some way disadvantaged by the change
  • The evaluation criteria appendix – there have been a number of recent cases where bidders have successfully taken action against contracting authorities due to inadequate upfront disclosure of the criteria used to evaluate bids and their relative weightings. The best approach is therefore to devise the scoring methodology upfront and disclose it in full in the ITT
  • The conditions of contract appendix – full terms and conditions for the proposed contract will need to be included in the ITT. These cannot be negotiated following receipt of bids, and
  • The statement of requirements appendix – time spent getting this right will be well rewarded as it will ensure that the bids received are appropriate to the requirement. Requirements around how the supplier should provide details of their pricing (and potentially a pricing template) should be included

This ITT is appropriate for use in a procurement for services under the restricted procedure in which no dialogue/negotiation at ITT stage is permitted. If the competitive dialogue or negotiated procedures are being used, this template will need substantial tailoring, particularly to factor in details of the dialogue/negotiation stages in the timetable and process description.

Note that the ITT document is only a template and will require tailoring to suit the specific circumstances of a procurement. In particular, amendment may be required to address the following:

  • Where it is likely that bidders will submit offers as part of a consortium, the contracting authority may want to include more detailed questions about the nature of any consortium
  • Where an electronic tendering system is being used, the contracting authority will need to provide details of how this system operates, and how responses should be submitted using the electronic system, and
  • Use of lots to separate out the requirement into separate categories

Transparency - where the value of the contract being procured is over £10,000, central government, including departments, their agents, agencies, all Non-Departmental Public Bodies, Trading Funds and National Health Service bodies should note that they are required to publish the ITT on a central "Contracts Finder" portal. Publication should take place at the start of the tender stage of the procurement. For more information, please see the OGC Transparency Page and in particular the guidance relating to publication of tender documents which is available on that page. A separate regime applies to Local Authorities - please see the Local Government group's guidance here.

> Download the invitation to tender template (Microsoft Word document)

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