Can we use bidder references obtained at PQQ stage as part of our evaluation at award stage?
Generally speaking, the rule is that selection and award criteria must be kept separate as they are aimed at evaluating different things. It is not appropriate, for example, to evaluate things such as financial standing and professional membership at award stage, as these pertain to the standing of the bidder rather than to the contract being let. However, case law has suggested that, provided information obtained at selection stage is used at award stage as a way of evaluating the tender and the bidder's ability to perform that particular contract, this may be acceptable. Also, Regulation 67(3)(b) now expressly states that you can evaluate at award stage the organisation, qualification and experience of the staff who are to perform the contract, where the quality of staff assigned would have a significant impact on performance (e.g. consultancy contracts). Nonetheless this is a legally difficult area and you should only consider using information obtained at PQQ stage in the evaluation if you are confident you can show you are using it to assess the quality of the bid for the specified requirements (as opposed to the standing of the bidder in general.)