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Business 10

Tendering Advice and Resources

On this page you will find useful FAQs, presentations and information to help you tender successfully.


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Meet the Buyer online event with NI Water March 2021
viewall Tendering events
Top Tendering Tips
viewall Tender successfully
Public Sector Procurement in Northern Ireland
Registering for eTenders and creating alerts
eTenders – Submitting a tender response
Introduction to Procurement in Ireland
The Public Procurement Model in Ireland


  • At the tender stage tenderers might not comply with key elements of the specification and be rejected. It typically comes down to not fully addressing the quality issues in the tender submission - eg, citing experience on past jobs instead of setting out the proposals for the job in question; not providing enough detail in the answer; or simply not providing a good response.

  • They are thresholds set by the EU for supplies, services and works contracts. Contracts with a value above the applicable threshold (and to which exemptions do not apply) must comply with the EU Procurement Directives and UK Implementing Regulations. The current threshold for supplies and services contracts is £111,676 and for works contracts it is £4,322,012.

    The thresholds are subject to periodic amendment, the latest versions can be viewed here.

  • InterTradeIreland's Go-2-Tender programme gives companies the confidence, knowledge and practical skills to tender successfully for public sector contracts on a cross-border basis through a series of workshops and mentoring sessions. InvestNI also provides workshops to help businesses to submit tenders.

  • The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union principles and its application ensure that tenders are assessed in conditions of effective competition. This permits the use of one of two award criteria: "the most economically advantageous tender" (MEAT) and "the lowest price".

    MEAT is a combination of price and quality. It has been determined that contracts are to be awarded on the basis of MEAT with any exceptions being subject to formal approval by the Head of Procurement for the relevant CoPE.

  • Where a company has been trading for less than period of time requested they are asked to supply information for the period of trading plus projected financial information for the present financial year. If there are no audited accounts, management accounts are asked for.

  • Subcontracting opportunities are not typically directly advertised to the public due to their nature, they normally form a minority part of another or pre-existing contract. Thus it is usually at the discretion of the main contractor to source their own sub suppliers.

    Recent moves have been targeted at making subcontracting opportunities transparently available as part of the decision to award major infrastructural projects. One such example is the 'Compete For' portal used in the UK.

    The most common source of subcontracting/below threshold opportunity is to contact a contracting authority/COPe directly to ascertain the supply situation for a given service or product and request to be added to a supplier list to quote for the next requirement for that service or product.

  • For bodies which are subject to NI Public Procurement Policy, Procurement Guidance Note 03/10 requires quotations to be sought for procurements over £1,500 with full tenders being required from £30,000.

    In Ireland, Departmental Circular 10/14 stipulates that tenders must be sought for procurements over €25,000. It is also required practice for Authorities to seek three written quotations for procurements with a value over €5,000.

  • Procurement Control Limits are recommended as the optimum level required to ensure that the cost of managing procurement procedures is efficient, whilst maintaining a sufficient level of supplier sourcing to achieve best value for money through competition.

  • There are no lists you must be on to tender with the exception of Framework Agreements. Once a Framework Agreement is awarded, only those suppliers listed on the framework can bid for any opportunities arising from it. A competition is run to appoint suppliers to the framework in the first place.

    We would recommend you register on eSourcingNI which is the etendering platform used by CoPEs and on which contracts over £30k are advertised. In Ireland, the eTenders ( system is utilised by the vast majority of authorities for their procurements and the Tender Electronic website ( is used Europe wide for all contracts over the EU threshold.

  • This is an issue which has arisen often in recent discourse regarding procurement. If an offer for a public contract is abnormally low the contracting authority may reject that offer. If an offer for a public contract is abnormally low the contracting authority may reject that offer. This can arise when it has:

    • Requested in writing an explanation of the offer or of those parts which it considers contribute to the offer being abnormally low;
    • Taken account of the evidence provided in response to a request in writing; and
    • Subsequently verified the offer or parts of the offer being abnormally low with the economic operator
  • For works contracts Authorities ask for the consortium as a legal entity to have the required insurance for the project. It does the same for Supplies and Services contracts - if the consortium has come together to form a legal entity.

    If it isn't a legal entity, the prime contractor must have the required level of insurance.

  • How do we encourage innovation in procurement competitions? A buyer normally does this by expressing specifications in terms of output and performance or expressing a business need to which they require a solution.

    The company is then allowed to develop a solution to meet that problem as opposed to needing to meet restrictive and potentially outdated specifications. This stimulates innovation and efficiencies. Alternative procurement models also allow for innovation in delivery such as the competitive dialogue, negotiated procedure and the recently introduced SBRI model to the island of Ireland.

  • Procurement Regulations require that contracts are awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT). This means that models of positive discrimination are prohibited in procurement with the exception of the social enterprise economy, to which certain procurements can be limited.

  • Turnover requirements relative to the size of the contract can be utilised by contracting authorities to limit the field of respondents to those they view as being the requisite size to deliver a particular requirement. Authorities should, however be careful to set realistic levels due to potential of the turnover requirement to limit the ability of companies to compete for this work.

    In Ireland, the general practice as mandated by Departmental Circular 10/14 states that turnover should not be set at more than twice the estimated value of the contract.

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