Glossary of procurement terms for bidders and suppliers

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q  R S T U V W X Y Z


Accelerated Procedure

Where the ordinary timescales for a procurement regulated under the PCR are shortened but only where there are relevant grounds as set out in the PCR for doing so

Added Value

Where a supplier can offer additional value/services etc over and above the requirements of the specification

Affordability / Affordability Envelope

Where the contracting authority has a predetermine budget which the supplier cannot exceed in order to stay in the competitive process / be awarded the contract

Alcatel Letter / Alcatel Period

An old term (based on the name of the relevant case) for the Standstill Letter / Standstill Period

Any Qualified Provider

A method of commissioning healthcare services under the Section 75 Regulations


The public body carrying out a procurement – also known as a Contracting Authority

Automatic Suspension

An automatic suspension prevents the Authority from signing a contract with its preferred bidder. The suspension comes into force when a challenging bidder issues a Claim Form in the TCC in respect of an Award Decision. The suspension stays in place unless the TCC agrees it should be lifted (on application of the Authority) or the matter is otherwise settled or heard.

Award Criteria

The criteria which the Authority sets to assess the MEAT. Award criteria must be disclosed, must be transparent, must be proportionate and linked to the subject matter of the contract being awarded.

Award Decision

The decision made by the Authority once it has evaluated all bids against the Award Criteria as to the winning bidder. Such a decision may go before a relevant decision-making body of the Authority for approval.

Award Notice

See Contract Award Notice



A process of measuring and comparing certain processes against comparable organisations. The information is used to help improve performance.

Best Value

In a local authority context, it refers to the duty to ensure best value across all service areas. In more general terms it is used to signify the optimum price / quality combination for a product / service or works.


See Tenderer


See Guarantee Bond

Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

An organisation’s plan which sets out the processes and requirements to be put in place in the event of a disaster scenario. A BCP may be asked for as part of a Tender requirement.


Call for Competition

The commencement of the formal procurement process by the publication of a Contract Notice (OJEU) or, where permissible, a PIN.

Call Off Contract

An individual contract awarded to a supplier under the terms of a Framework Agreement or a DPS.


A supplier who is participating in the initial stage(s) of a procurement process before the tender stage (generally the SQ stage). If the Candidate gets to the Tender stage then generally they are referred to as a Tenderer or Bidder.

Central Purchasing Body

A Contracting Authority which provides centralised purchasing activities such as the acquisition of goods or services to be sold to Contracting Authorities or the award of contracts or Frameworks for the benefit of other Contracting Authorities


Court of Justice of the EU

Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV)

The numeric codes used in the OJEU to describe works, services and supplies. Tenderers can use the CPV codes to search for opportunities.

Competitive Dialogue Procedure

A procurement procedure which can only be used by a Contracting Authority in certain circumstances. The procedure is generally iterative and allows a Contracting Authority to identify the solution best able to meet its needs.

Competitive Procedure with Negotiation

A procurement procedure which can only be used by a Contracting Authority in certain circumstances. Tenderers submit an initial tender which is then negotiated with the Contracting Authority but the final tender submission cannot be subject to negotiation.


Two or more suppliers who come together to submit a bid which can meet the Contracting Authority’s needs and requirements. A consortium approach can take different forms which have different contractual implications.

Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS)

A health and safety assessment scheme which some Contracting Authorities may choose to specify, particularly for works contracts:

Contract Notice

See OJEU Notice

Contract Award Notice

A notice published in the OJEU which provides details of the successful tenderer(s) procured under the PCR.

Contracting Authority

A defined term in the PCR covering a range of public bodies who must comply with the PCR

Contracts Finder

The UK Government portal for advertising lower value requirements of the public sector in line with the requirements of the PCR.

Corporate Governance

An organisation’s system of procedures, policies, rules etc used to govern that organisation. Tenderers may be asked about the systems of corporate governance if relevant to the contract being procured.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

An organisation’s contribution to the wider economic, social and environmental goals. A Tenderer may be asked for its CSR policy if relevant to the contract being procured.

Crown Commercial Service (CCS)

An executive agency of the Cabinet Office of the Government. It provides advice and guidance on public procurement and also establishes and maintains a number of frameworks as a Central Purchasing Body.


Descriptive Document

A document of background information and requirements issued by a Contracting Authority under a Competitive Dialogue procedure.

Design Contest

A specific procedure in the PCR for the acquisition of designs or plans, predominantly in architecture, planning or engineering, where a jury selects a winner.

Direct Award / Direct Call-Off

In the context of Framework Agreements this refers to the ability to award a contract without running a Mini Competition. The PCR set out the basis for making Direct Awards and objective criteria for doing so must be set out in the Framework Agreement.

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

Policies, procedures etc which allow the recovery of systems following a disaster. Linked to Business Continuity Plans.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

This service helps employers make safer recruitment decisions, particularly for persons who will be working with vulnerable people, such as children. DBS is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office. Tenderers may be asked for evidence that staff have appropriate DBS checks where this is relevant to the contract being procured.

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS)

Similar to a Framework Agreement but it is wholly electronic and, unlike a Framework Agreement, new providers can join the DPS at any time during its validity.


E-Procurement / E-Tendering

See Electronic Procurement / Electronic Tendering

Economic and Financial Standing

The method of measurement a Contracting Authority uses to decide whether the Tenderer is financially robust enough to deliver the requirements of the contract.

Economic Operator

Defined in the PCR – essentially any Tenderer competing to be awarded a contract or operating in a market.

Electronic Procurement / Electronic Tendering

The term for electronic methods of purchasing – generally through portals where a Contracting Authority can provide all relevant documentation to Tenderers and Tenderers can upload their Tenders before the closing date.

Expression of Interest

See Selection Questionnaire

Equal Treatment

One of the Treaty Principles – ensuring that all participants in a procurement process are treated in an equal way.

European Single Procurement Document (ESPD)

A document in a standard form which allows Tenderers from across all EU member states to self-certify that they meet certain Selection Criteria.

EU Directive(s)

Procurement directives from which UK regulations (including the PCR) derive. The public sector procurement directive is Directive 2014/24/EU.

EU Treaty

The European Treaty from which the EU Directives derive and which establishes the internal market.


Those officers of a Contracting Authority who undertake the evaluation of SQs and Tenders to determine the preferred bidder.

Evaluation Criteria

Another term for Award Criteria or it can mean the combination of both Selection and Award Criteria

Evaluation Methodology

The method set out by the Contracting Authority for how it will evaluate Tenders, including Selection and Award Criteria, weightings for those criteria and any scoring methodology.

Exclusion Grounds

The grounds which are set out in the PCR which mean that a Contracting Authority must exclude a Tenderer from the competition (mandatory exclusion grounds) or may exclude a Tenderer from the competition (discretionary exclusion grounds). Exclusion is subject to the PCR requirements in respect of Self-Cleaning


Find a Tender Service (FTS)

The UK replacement for the OJEU should the UK leave the EU without a trade deal.

Framework Agreement

An agreement between one or more Contracting Authorities and one or more Economic Operators which establishes the “framework” for future requirements (Call-Off Contracts) for works, supplies or services. The PCR sets out the requirements for establishing a Framework Agreement.

Framework Operator

The Contracting Authority (or Authorities) who establish a Framework Agreement as a CPB for the benefit of other Contracting Authorities.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 – sets out the legislative framework for accessing public sector information.

Full Business Case (FBC)

A document which a public sector organisation will often put together setting out the case for a preferred planned investment, future requirements etc, together with details on affordability, timescales, deliverability etc. The FBC is typically subject to approval by the organisation’s relevant decision-making body.



General Block Exemption Regulations – certain exemptions for State Aid which may otherwise be unlawful.

Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)

The GPA is established between the members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ensure fair competition in government procurement markets. The UK is currently a signatory by virtue of it being a member of the EU but has until the end of February 2020 to submit a formal accession request to become a member in its own right in the event of leaving the EU.

Guarantee Bond

An insurance guarantee which guarantees the supplier will pay the Contracting Authority a specified sum should it fail in performing the contract. May be requested by a Contracting Authority as part of a Tender, particularly where a Parent Company Guarantee may not be available.



A remedy which can be obtained by an unsuccessful Tenderer against a Contracting Authority after a contract has been signed. The remedy has the effect of prospectively cancelling the contract but the remedy can only be obtained on the basis of very specific grounds set out in the PCR.

In-House Contracts / In-House Awards

Often referred to as Teckal contracts or Teckal awards. This is set out in detail in the PCR but essentially provides an exemption (where the grounds are met) for a Contracting Authority to award a contract to a separate legal entity when that entity is effectively a wholly owned subsidiary over which the Contracting Authority exercises control and decisive influence and that entity has at least 80% of its activities with its controlling Contracting Authority(ies).


An order of the Court which requires a party to do something or not to do something.


Has a specific definition in the PCR in respect to the Innovation Partnership Procedure and refers to new or significantly improved products, services or processes.

Innovation Partnership Procedure

A procedure under the PCR which (provided the grounds for use are met) allows the research and development of innovative products etc and the subsequent purchase under a single procurement.

International Standards Organisation (ISO)

An international standard setting body producing world wide industrial and commercial standards. Contracting Authorities may have a requirement for certain products etc to have ISO or equivalent registration.

Investors in People (IiP)

A recognised (audited) standard designed to advance an organisation’s performance through its people. Contracting Authorities may seek evidence of IiP accreditation or similar if relevant to the contract being procured.

Invitation to Confirm Interest

If a PIN is used as a call for competition (where permitted under the PCR) those suppliers who initially expressed an interest are asked to “confirm” their interest and are then provided with further details of the specific contract.

Invitation to Negotiate (ITN)

Used in the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation and sent to short listed bidders to commence the negotiation stage.

Invitation to Participate in Dialogue (ITPD)

Used in the Competitive Dialogue procedure and sent to short listed bidders as the first stage in the dialogue process.

Invitation to Continue in Dialogue (ITCD)

Used in subsequent rounds of dialogue under the Competitive Dialogue procedure

Invitation to Submit Outline Proposals (ISOP)

A document which can be used in the Competitive Dialogue procedure or the Negotiated Procedure with Competition to assess initial submissions and potentially shortlist the bidders before more detailed negotiation/dialogue.

Invitation to Submit Final Proposals / Bid (ISFP / ISFB)

Used in a Competitive Dialogue procedure to allow bidders to submit their final bids after the dialogue stage has been closed.

Invitation to Tender (ITT)

Used in the Restricted or Open procedures to invite bidders to submit their specific proposals and price for the subject matter of the procurement


Joint Venture

A formal or informal partnership typically used for Consortium bidding.


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Measurements of service delivery within a contract. A Contracting Authority may seek information from a bidder on how it will meet KPIs or ask it to propose KPIs (depending on the procurement procedure being used).



Has a specific definition in the PCR and Labels are used in the context of technical requirements as a means of proof that the product etc meets certain requirements.

Life Cycle Costing

The PCR permits the use of assessing the costs of supplying goods etc which takes into account the costs over the entire life cycle of the product/service.

Light Touch Regime (LTR)

A regime which covers certain services set out in Schedule 3 of the PCR. These include health and social care, education and training, security and catering. If a Contracting Authority is purchasing such services and the value of the contract (over its term) is more than £615, 278 then the LTR will apply to the procurement of those services and a more flexible process is permitted.


Categories of goods, works or services which a single procurement has been divided into. A bidder should check whether they can bid for one or more of the Lots on offer in a single Contract Notice.


Management Information System (MIS)

A system for measuring and reporting relevant management information for service delivery etc. A Contracting Authority may seek a MIS where relevant to the performance of the contract being procured.


A method of awarding a Call Off Contract under a Framework Agreement. Suppliers on the Framework who are capable of performing the contract must be invited to bid and the Contracting Authority will seek a preferred bidder on the basis of that competition and pre-defined evaluation criteria.

Method Statement

A Contracting Authority may request a Method Statement from a bidder to demonstrate how it will meet certain aspects of a specification.

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT)

The headline criterion used to select a preferred bidder which represents a combination of quality and price or lowest price alone.


National Audit Office

Audits the finances of government departments, agencies and certain other public bodies. It publishes reports on improving value for money and the delivery of public services.

Negotiated Procedure Without Notice

Under the PCR the award of a contract without first publishing an Contract Notice are extremely limited.

NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition (No.2) Regulations 2013

Additional procurement requirements which apply to NHS England and clinical commissioning groups for health care services.

Nolan Principles

The key principles for how individuals and organisations in the public sector should conduct themselves.

Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units (NUTS)

A classification of geographic areas used by the OJEU – bidders can use relevant codes to refine their searches for relevant opportunities


Official Journal of the EU (OJEU)

The Official Journal of the European which publishes all OJEU Notices in TED.

OJEU Notice

A catch all definition for all notices published in the OJEU whether PIN, Contract Notice or Award Notice etc.

Open Procedure

A procedure under the PCR that is a single stage process covering both the selection and award stages of the tender process.

Outline Business Case (OBC)

A document which outlines and evaluates different investment options using appraisals to identify a preferred option.


Parent Company Guarantee (PCG)

A financial guarantee provided by the bidder’s parent company: can be requested by a Contracting Authority as part of the Selection Questionnaire stage.


Formal or informal relationships between two or more parties to offer added value to a Contracting Authority or where individual bidders may not be successful on their own. See also Consortium


A standardised Selection Questionnaire for the construction industry.


Websites used by Contracting Authorities for E-Procurement


Procurement Policy Notes issued by the Cabinet.

Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)

See Selection Questionnaire

Prior Information Notice (PIN)

A standard form OJEU Notice which is used to provide details of future anticipated purchasing. In certain circumstances set out in the PCR the use of a PIN can reduce the timescales for some procedures. Also, in certain circumstances a PIN can be used as a call for competition.

Procurement Documents

A defined term in the PCR meaning “any document produced or referred to by the contracting authority to describe or determine elements of the procurement or the procedure, including the contract notice, the prior information notice where it is used as a means of calling for competition, the technical specifications, the descriptive document, proposed conditions of contract, formats for the presentation of documents by candidates and tenderers, information on generally applicable obligations and any additional documents”.

Procurement Policy Note


Public Concession Contract

A contract which falls under the Public Concession Contracts Regulations 2015

Public Contracts Regulations 2015

The UK legislation which implements the Public Sector Directive

Public Private Partnership (PPP)

Generally, a project where private investment is made in a public sector project.

Public Sector Directive

Directive 2014/24/EU on which the PCR are derived

Public Services (Social Value) Act

A Contracting Authority must consider, pre-procurement, the social, environmental and economic aspects of a services contract.


Regulation 84 Report

A report that is required to be drawn up by a Contracting Authority under regulation 84 of the PCR for each procurement process.

Remedies Directive

Directive 07/66/EEC which sets out the remedies which a supplier is entitled to in respect of a breach of the Public Sector Directive. The remedies are included within the PCR.

Request for Proposals (RFP)

A request sent to suppliers for their proposals to meet the requirements of the contracting authority. See also Invitation to Tender

Reserved Contracts

A contracting authority can “reserve” certain contracts so that only certain eligible groups/organisations are permitted to bid for them. These are set out in Regulations 20 and 77 of the PCR and refer to sheltered workshops and mutuals (with certain characteristics) delivering Light Touch Regime services.

Restricted Procedure

A procedure which can be used as of right which “restricts” those able to submit a full tender by first pre-qualifying / pre-selecting any candidates who expressed an interest and completed the selection stage requirements. No negotiation is permitted under the procedure.


Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP)

An organisation which facilitates mutual recognition between various health and safety accreditation schemes

Section 75 Regulations

See the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No.2) Regulations 2013

Selection Criteria

Criteria used by the contracting authority to assess who should be shortlisted to go through to the next stage of submitting a tender. Selection criteria are regulated under the PCR and relate to the bidder not the proposal for the requirement. Criteria relate to technical and professional ability, financial and economic standing and certain disqualification grounds (mandatory and discretionary).

Selection Questionnaire (SQ)

A questionnaire setting out the questions and Selection Criteria to be completed by the bidder which the contracting authority will evaluate to determine who is shortlisted to the next stage.

Selection Stage

Refers to the stage where bidders complete a SQ and the contracting authority assesses it in line with the Selection Criteria.


A supplier can self-certify in order to avoid exclusion (mandatory or discretionary) by demonstrating how they have remedied or addressed any circumstances which led to the exclusion ground applying to them. See Regulation 57 of the PCR.

Services Contract

A contract for services as defined in the PCR.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Often referred to in the context of an alternative to a formal contract but can comprise a formal contract unless it is between, for example, two departments of one legal entity.

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Firms that employ less than 250 people and have a turnover of less than 50 million Euros.


The contracting authority’s technical requirements for the works, good or services they are seeking to purchase, including any Standards or Labels.


Individuals, groups or organisations that are affected by or have an interest in, a particular procurement.


Used in Specifications to refer to a British standard (BS), European standard (EN) or International standard (ISO). An order of hierarchy is set out in the PCR, if only a national standard applies then the Specification must state “or equivalent”

Standstill Letter

A formal notification of the outcome of a procurement sent under Regulation 86 of the PCR setting out the criteria used, the name of the successful bidder, the scores of the recipient and successful bidder and the reasons for the award, including the characteristics and relative advantages of the successful bid. The letter commences the formal Standstill Period.

Standstill Period

A mandatory period of at least 10 calendar days (if the Standstill letter is sent by email or fax) beginning the day after the Standstill Letter is sent to tenderers. During this period the contracting authority must not enter into the formal contract with the successful bidder.

State Aid

In general terms the “state” is restricted from using its resources to advantage certain undertakings. If a state entity provides financial assistance (in all forms including foregoing revenue, transferring land at less than market value, low or zero interest loans, grants etc) to certain undertakings which may distort competition then this is state aid which must fall under an exemption or be approved by the EU Commission. Granting unlawful state aid is potentially very serious with the Commission able to challenge aid given up to 10 years earlier.

Sub-Central Contracting Authority

Defined in the PCR as all contracting authorities which are not central government authorities.


An organisation engaged by the main/prime contractor forming part of the Supply Chain to deliver the requirements to the contracting authority.

Supply Chain

The network of all the individuals, organizations, resources, activities and technology involved in the creation and sale of a product, from the delivery of source materials from the supplier to the manufacturer, through to its eventual delivery to the end user.

Supply Contract

A contract for supplies/goods as defined in the PCR



Technology and Construction Court – the branch of the High Court in England and Wales which hears procurement law challenges.

Teckal Company

A legal entity established under regulation 12 of the PCR which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the contracting authority which the contracting authority exercises control over and the subsidiary delivers 80% or more of its turnover to its controlling contracting authority.

Tender / Tendering

The process of bidding for contracts let by contracting authorities.


The bidder / participant in a Tendering process

Tenders Electronic Daily (TED)

The official EU website which publishes the Official Journal notices from contracting authorities across the EU member states for contracts regulated by the PCR.


The financial thresholds above which certain aspects of the PCR must be complied with.


Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE)

Legislation protecting employees in the event of a transfer of employment from one provider to another


One of the Treaty Principles requiring contracting authorities to be clear and open about the process they intend to run, how they will evaluate tenders etc and ensuring that the authority does what it says it will do.

Treaty Principles

The principles applicable to procurement law deriving from the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. Generally, these are: proportionality, transparency, non-discrimination and equal treatment.


Utility / Utilities

A defined term in the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 (“UCR”). The UCR will apply to utilities which carry out a relevant activity in areas such as gas and heat, electricity, water, transport services, ports and airports, postal services and extraction of oil, gas or coal.


Value for Money (VfM)

A utility derived from every purchase or every sum of money spent. Value for money is based not only on the minimum purchase price (economy) but also on the maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the purchase.

Variant Bid

A bid which varies from the standard bid requested by a contracting authority. Regulation 45 of the PCR deals with the requirements in respect of variant bids.


A Voluntary Ex Ante Transparency notice – used in specific circumstances to notify the market of the award of a contract without competition.


Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS)

A corporate entity established by a contracting authority which falls under the provisions of regulation 12 of the PCR.

Works Contract

A contract for work or works as defined in the PCR.