Contract Procedure Rules (Property and Facilities)

Issue date January 2017


Contract procedure rules

The full Contract Procedure Rules for the Supply of Goods, Services and Works are contained in Section 8.3 of the Oxfordshire County Council Constitution.

Framework contractors

The tender procedures below might not apply when carrying out works using one of the framework contractors or a measured term contractor within the prescribed financial limits. The use of framework contractors will be where recommended by the service provider (SP) due to the size or nature of the work, or as directed by the Oxfordshire County Council Corporate Landlord (OCCCL). Appointment of Framework Contractors will be subject to mini-competition in accordance with the relevant Framework Agreement.

Quotes and tenders

Works up to £25,000 - Single price demonstrating value for money through a combination of cost and quality or use of a measured term contract. Single price orders up to £5,000 can be signed by the core service provider. Single price orders between £5,000 and £25,000 must be countersigned by OCCCL complying with the Communities directorate scheme of delegation. Orders for work carried out under a measured term contract need to be countersigned by OCCCL where the order value exceeds £25,000.

Works £25,000 to £75,000 - Minimum three quotations or tenders selected impartially in accordance with known and appropriate technical competence and size of operation except where it is agreed by OCCCL that work is to be carried out under a measured term contract. An OCC Authorised Officer may seek an exemption from these procedures in accordance with section 20.4, 20.5 & 20.6 of the Contract Procedure Rules but exemption will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Works £75,000 up to EU threshold three to six tenders as agreed with OCCCL except where it is agreed that work is to be carried out under a measured term contract or as a call off contract where the relevant framework agreement has been entered into by the council in accordance with the contract procedure rules. The OCC Communities director may seek an exemption from these procedures in accordance with sections 20.7, 20.8 and 20.9 of the Contract Procedure Rules. In order to request an exemption the Director must prepare a report setting out:

  • the reasons why the exemption is being requested and which Rule(s) an exemption is being requested from;
  • the process which is intended to be followed instead;
  • a legal appraisal from the County Solicitor; and
  • a financial appraisal from the s151 Officer.

An exemption will only be granted where the Cabinet, the Portfolio Holder or the Chief Executive is satisfied that the exemption is justified on its own special circumstances and has given his/her consent in writing

Works over EU threshold -  EU rules require a range of between 5-20 tenders.

In cases of emergency an OCC Director may verbally authorise and record in writing, an exemption from the Contract Procedure Rules, for goods, services or works  provided that:

  • The emergency was brought about by events that were not reasonably foreseeable by or attributable in any way to the council (e.g. flood) and
  • If the goods services or works are not received immediately there is a significant risk of:
    1. danger to life or
    2. damage to property or
    3. a major impact on the council or its service users

In these cases only goods services or works necessary or appropriate to safeguard the councils position or protect life and property can be procured before formal approval is obtained.

Advertising contracts

Contracts valued at below £75,000 do not need to be advertised.

Contracts valued at over £75,000 but below the EU threshold should be advertised on the South East Business Portal except where a measured term or framework contract is being used. Contract and contact details are entered directly onto the South East Business Portal website and the advertisement will appear as soon as the appropriate form is completed and submitted. Potential tenderers have to be given sufficient information about the project to enable them to decide if they are willing to tender and sufficient time to compile and submit their expression of interest.

Capital and other works contracts and service contracts valued at over the OJEU threshold must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and the South East Business Portal.

Standard forms must be used and are available from:

Advertisements in the South East Business Portal must not contain any additional information or appear before the date of dispatch of the notice to the OJEU.

Where contracts are advertised in the OJEU details of the contract and projected costings must be sent to:
Corporate Procurement Team
County Hall
New Road

Adverts for all contracts are to include the following wording: "Evaluation of tenders will be on a 'Best Value' basis assessing both cost and quality."

Contractors expressing an interest to be included on tender lists must include a response to the selection criteria below. Items 1-5 must be included for all contracts. Items 6-10 are to be considered for inclusion based on the value or nature of the project. The SP will be required to submit a recommendation for items to be included to OCCCL for their agreement.

Selection criteria are:

  1. Experience and approach with similar projects with similar values including:
    1. Completion on time and budget
    2. Health and safety performance
    3. Approach to snagging/defects
    4. Approach to interim and final accounts
    5. Added value/innovation
    6. Reference contact details (three required) to be taken up as appropriate.
    7. Form of contract chosen
  2. Financial Information - three years trading accounts.
  3. Insurance provision
    1. Public liability
    2. Employers liability
  4. Health and safety
    1. Policy
    2. Performance
  5. Environmental and sustainability
  6. Organisation and management
  7. Equality and diversity
  8. Quality systems
  9. Supply chain
  10. Business continuity

Scoring is to be on the basis of 1= totally dissatisfied; 5= neither satisfied or dissatisfied; 10= totally satisfied. Weightings of scores will be applied by the SP to suit the particular project.

Scoring sheets must be compiled and a copy emailed to OCCCL prior to the project being advertised on the South East portal.

Selection of contractors for tender lists

OCC need to be assured that all persons invited to quote or tender for the supply of goods, services or works have met the councils pre-qualification requirements.

The SP will select a long list of 6-10 contractors from the expressions of interest with the short list of 3-6 tenderers being agreed by OCCCL and SP Project Manager.

Unsuccessful applicants must be notified of their failure to be included on the tender list and the SP should specify the reasons for rejection of the applicant. The latter is not a regulatory requirement but if done removes the need to send the applicant a standstill/ Alcatel letter at contract let stage.


Works up to £200,000 - Oxfordshire County Council Preliminaries / General Conditions for Minor Building Works using the NEC3 Short Contract (June 2005 Edition).

Works over £200,000 - NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (EEC) published by the Institution of Civil Engineers. The NEC3 contract used must be appropriate to the project being carried out. For the majority of projects the appropriate NEC3 contract will be 'Option A - Priced contract with activity schedule'. The activity schedule must provide sufficient detail for the size and complexity of the project. An example activity schedule based on a project value of £3m can be found at:

Measured Term Contracts - NEC3 Term Service Contract published by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The use of any other form of contract must be agreed in advance with the OCC Project Leader.

See NEC3 engineering and construction contract for requirements to be included in the NEC3 contract.

Contractor performance bonds

Framework Contractors

There is no need to require bonds for work undertaken by the framework contractors irrespective of whether the work is carried out under the framework agreements or under any other form of contract.

Non-Framework Contractors

The proper operation of selective tendering procedures for a project should render the requirement for a contractor performance bond unnecessary. However for certain projects, due to the value of the work or the involved nature of the project, it may be advisable to include the requirement for a performance bond within the tender documentation. In such cases the SP should make a recommendation to and receive agreement from OCCCL for a performance bond to be included. Where it is agreed that a bond is required the following will apply:

  • Full details of the requirement for the bond and the proposed terms of the bond should be included in the preliminary enquiry and in the tender documents.
  • The amount of the bond should not exceed 10 per cent of the contract sum.
  • The contractor should have freedom to choose the source of the bond. The bond should be released at completion or earlier as required by sectional completion or partial possession appropriate to the particular contract. The tender submitted should include for the cost of the bond to be paid by Oxfordshire County Council. The bond should be executed and be in the possession of the council at the same time as the signing/ sealing of the contract.

A "conditional on-default performance bond" should be specified.

Invitations to tender

Formal Instructions to tenderers must be included within the tender documents sent to the invited contractors. These detail the information and actions that are necessary for tenderers to comply with the requirements of the council. They must be clear and concise and include the method of returning the tender and time it is due for return.

All invitations to tender must:

  1. clearly specify the goods services or works that are required
  2. detail the full list of criteria on which the tender will be evaluated showing the weighting of the various criteria
  3. include a requirement for tenderers to declare that the tender content, price and all other figures or particulars concerning the tender have not been disclosed by the tenderer to any other party
  4. include a requirement for tenderers to complete fully and sign all tender documents including certificates confirming that no canvassing or collusion has taken place
  5. state that the contract will be on the councils conditions of contract which are to be enclosed with the invitation to tender.

A pre-addressed tender return envelope must be included. The tender ref no. and contract name and closing date and time must be clearly stated on the front of the return envelope. The return envelope/ package must not bear any name or mark indicating the sender or tenderer. Projects exceeding  £500,000 must also include two additional envelopes one clearly marked "Quality" and one clearly marked "Price".

All tenders must be returned to the SP.

OCCCL shall be notified of the return date for all contracts expected to exceed £500,000 for goods and services and £2,000,000 for works. An invitation must be made to the s151 Officer of the spending department and Solicitor to the Council to be present or represented at the opening of these tenders.

Tender documents

Tender documents should assist in ensuring that information received from tenderers is comparable.

Tender documents must include a Form of Tender that describes the service/ works, the contract period (unless stated elsewhere), the tender amount in words and figures, the acceptance period and a number of undertakings. It will be addressed to the SP and is to be signed and dated by the contractor. The Form of Tender must stipulate that bids will remain open for acceptance for a stipulated period of time, normally a minimum of 90 days but may be longer depending on the complexity of the evaluation process.

Tender documentation for projects exceeding £500,000

Contractors must be advised at tender stage of the criteria that will be used to judge their submissions. To achieve this, the following additional information is to be included within the tender documentation.

  1. Letters accompanying tender documentation to state; Evaluation of tenders shall be on a 'Best Value' basis assessing both cost and quality in accordance with the attached evaluation matrix. The council does not undertake to accept the lowest or any tender.
  2. Tender documentation to include the following information relating to quality, to accord with the evaluation matrix. All are to be project specific.
    1. Construction quality control: Statement required from tenderers detailing how the required levels of quality control will be achieved. Procedures to particularly detail the control of post handover defects.
    2. Project method statement: Tenderers to submit a method statement outlining the sequence of construction to be adopted in the execution of the works, and identifying major plant usage, site set up, materials, handling procedures etc. Statement to identify the proposals for safe working within the work area.
    3. Resources: Tenderers to submit details with CVs of proposed management team including site based management.
    4. Programme: Tenderers to include draft programme providing information in accordance with Preliminaries Clause A30/-
    5. Project delivery strategy: Tenderers to submit details of procedures to be implemented to ensure effective monitoring and control of each element of works to achieve the optimum completion date. Tenderers to describe the procedures to be utilised in providing early warning of any matters which could either increase the total cost, or delay completion, or otherwise impair the performance of the works.
    6. Health and safety: Tenderers to demonstrate how health and safety will be managed throughout the project with regard to the contractors site, occupants of the building (where applicable), adjacent site occupiers and the general public.

Contractors are to provide two copies of their quality submission to aid with the evaluation process.

Tenderers are to be issued with two separate envelopes for their tender return in addition to the standard tender return envelope described in Invitations to Tender above.

  • One envelope for the completed tender form clearly marked "Cost".
  • A larger A4 size envelope Clearly marked "Quality" will be required for the return of the quality information as items a-f above.

The cost and quality envelopes must be returned in the main return envelope. They must not be returned separately.

Quality Plan

The tender documentation for all projects must specifically require the contractor to develop a suitable Quality plan to be adopted within the construction of the scheme by the Contractor. See Contractors quality plans (A1/057).

Clarification of the tender documents

If a tenderer finds that any of the tender documents require clarification they should be required to inform the SP as soon as possible. The documents should include a deadline after which requests for additional information or clarification will not be considered. All requests from contractors should be in writing as should all responses. Responses must be circulated, maintaining anonymity, to all tenderers.

Extending the date for return of tenders should be avoided. Extensions of time must not be granted without the agreement of OCCCL. If an extension of time is given then all tenderers must be formally notified at the same time. No request should be considered if received later than four working days before tenders are due to be returned.

Mid-tender interview

A mid-tender interview may be required in certain circumstances.

Receipt of tenders

A Tenders receipt log - D1/15 is to be maintained of all tenders received recording the time and date of receipt together with an identifying number and signature.

All tenders received shall remain unopened and kept secure until the specified closing date and time for receipt of tenders has passed.

Designated Officer

The Designated Officer is a person nominated by the SP who will open tenders for work carried out on behalf of the county council. The nominated person will be asked to sign to agree that they have read and understood the requirements of Contract Procedure Rules - Property and Facilities (A1/010) and will open all tenders in conformity with its content. The county council will also nominate persons to act as Designated Officer to cover absence or where it is considered appropriate for the tenders to be opened by county council staff.

Opening of tenders

All tenders will be opened by the SP Designated Officer in the presence of the OCC Authorised Officer or their appointed representative (normally OCCCL) and the SP Project Manager.

All tenders shall be opened at one time, as soon as practicable after the specified closing date and time for their receipt. When tenders are opened they shall, immediately be initialled and recorded by the Designated Officer on the Schedule of tenders price - D1/16a. All pages of the tender documents are to be initialled by the Designated Officer and any qualifications noted in the remarks column. The schedule shall be signed by the Designated Officer and the Authorised Officer or their appointed representative as witness and will be handed to the SP Project Manager when completed. A copy of the Schedule of Tenders will be retained on the project file. This process will apply to both quality and cost in the case of projects exceeding £500,000. The completed Schedule of Tender will form part of the contract let pack.

For projects exceeding £500,000 the quality tender documentation will be opened separately in advance of the cost tender. The Designated Officer will check the quality submission document to ensure that no cost information has been included. Any cost information must be removed by the Designated Officer, placed in an envelope and taped to the cost envelope. The Designated Officer will note on the Schedule of tenders quality - D1/16b for each tender received if a quality submission has been received or not. On completion of this process a copy of the completed and signed form will be handed to the SP project manager or representative along with the quality submissions for evaluation. (see Evaluation of Tenders below). The cost envelope must remain unopened and kept secure until the quality assessment has been completed.

The Designated Officer will only open the cost envelopes upon sight of and having taken a copy of the signed Tender award evaluation - D2/6 with the quality scores included. A copy of the Tender Award Evaluation Form with quality scores included will be attached to the Quality copy of the Schedule of Tenders and kept on the project file. The tender costs will be entered on the Schedule of tenders price - D1/16a and duly signed as detailed above. A copy will be taken by the Designated Officer and the original handed to the SP Project Manager to complete the evaluation process.

OCCCL will have been notified of the return date for all contracts expected to exceed £500,000 for goods and services and £2,000,000 for works and an invitation made to the s151 Officer of the spending department and Solicitor to the council to be present or represented at the opening of these tenders. (see Invitation to Tender above).

Evaluation of tenders

The purpose of the evaluation process is to ensure that the most appropriate tender is identified and recommended for acceptance. The most appropriate tender may not necessarily be that which contains the lowest price. All tenders must be evaluated with due regard to both quality and price.

The evaluation process must clearly demonstrate the Best Value tender as being the tender offering the council Best Value through a combination of both quality and price. For tenders of less than £500,000 the evaluation process used for establishing acceptable tenderers is considered to provide the necessary cost/quality evaluation. A note to this effect is to be included on the Tender return form - D1/1.

For evaluation of tenders exceeding £500,000 the  Tender award evaluation - D2/6 will be used and each of the panel will evaluate separately the six quality headings. The selection panel to evaluate the contractors quality submissions must comprise as a minimum the SP Project Manager or suitably qualified appointed representative and OCCCL representative .

When marking is completed the average of marks for each head will be entered on the form. The cost envelope can then be opened. The panel will be presented with the tender costs on the Schedule of Tenders which will be entered on the Tender award evaluation - D2/6. The lowest score on the form will be deemed to represent 'Best Value' at that stage.

The arithmetic in compliant tenders must be checked. If arithmetical errors are found they should be notified to the tenderer, who should be requested to confirm the correct figures/ wording or withdraw their tender. Alternatively, if the rates in the tender, rather than the overall price, were stated within the tender invitation as being dominant, an amended tender price may be requested to accord with the rates given by the tenderer. Subject to further detailed arithmetical and technical checking of the tender not revealing errors, this tender will be recommended for acceptance.

Interviews will be held by exception only, for schemes where the assessment panel considers the value and complexity of the project render it necessary.

Clarification of aspects of the contract and understanding by both parties shall only be by exception and in accordance with EU Procurement Directives. Appointed persons carrying out clarification exercises shall ensure that there are recorded minutes of all negotiation meetings and that actions are agreed in writing by both parties.

The SP will complete and sign Tender return form - D1/1 for all projects using the information from the Schedule of tenders price – D2/16a / Tender award evaluation - D2/6 and submit it to OCCCL for approval.

OCCCL must be informed where all submitted tenders exceed any pre-tender estimates prior to preparation of the tender report.

Financial check

Following approval of the Tender return form, the SP will provide details of the recommended contractor to OCCCL who will arrange for an Experian financial check to be carried out. A copy of the financial check will be forwarded to the SP to enable a commentary and recommendation to be made in the Tender Report. Details of the successful contractor will remain on Experian allowing ongoing checks to be made throughout the life of the contract.

Tender report

A tender report is to be provided to OCCCL for all schemes. The report will be in the SP own preferred format but must include the following:

  • Summary details of the project
  • Form of contract proposed
  • Procurement approach adopted
  • Details of pre tender estimate
  • Tender/ submitted cost. A detailed breakdown is to be provided to include:
    • proportion of the total tender defined as provisional sums and contingencies (including client contingency);
    • potential for unforeseen/ abnormal costs within the risk register;
    • comparison to the budget;
    • benchmark information including cost/ m2 for new build/ heavy refurb/ light refurb and total for externals.
    • Comparative analysis against BCIS as a %
  • Other known project costs including planning and building control fees, soil testing, removals, enabling works etc
  • Cost analysis
  • Contractor financial (Experian) check recommendation.
  • Performance bond recommendation
  • Recommendations

Scheme of Delegation

Authorisation for delegation of financial matters and powers within OCC is described below.
Oxfordshire County Council's Constitution (section 22) sets out the general Scheme of Delegation to the Strategic Directors and a small number of other Officers. These named posts are therefore authorised by the council to exercise the specific powers and functions of the council.

It is not possible for such a small number of people to take all the necessary decisions and authorise expenditure and therefore further delegation of these powers is allowed. The Scheme of Delegation is the formal record of that authorisation.

Standstill period/ Alcatel

This applies only to contracts with a value exceeding the EU threshold. Where timescales allow however the process should also be used for contracts exceeding £500,000.

When calling off from a framework contract and a mini competition is used, issue a voluntary standstill letter and adhere to the standstill period. If that is done and the council properly considers that the call off has been awarded in accordance with regulatory provisions for a mini competition there can be no successful application for cancellation of the call off contract on the grounds of non-compliance with regulatory provisions for a mini-competition.

Once it has been decided to whom an award will be made the EU directive requires a standstill period prior to the official award being made.  During this period unsuccessful contractors can inspect and challenge the decision. This means that unsuccessful contractors must be informed of the winning contractor and the merits of the winning bid.

The minimum standstill period depends on the means of communication as follows:

  • At least 10 days when the notice is communicated using electronic means (e.g. fax, email) or
  • When using non-electronic means either 15 days from date of sending or 10 days from date of receipt

Where the notice is sent to a tenderer the standstill notice must include:

  • The criteria for the award of the contract
  • The reasons for the decision including the characteristics and relative advantages of the successful tenderer
  • The score obtained by the unsuccessful tenderer who is to receive the notice and the score of the contractor  who is to be awarded the contract
  • The name of the contractor to be awarded the contract
  • The reasons (if any) why the unsuccessful tenderer did not meet the technical specification
  • A precise statement of either:
    • When the standstill period is expected to end or
    • The date before which the county council will not in conformity with regulation 32A enter into the contract

The Unsuccessful tender letter OJEU - D2/34 sets out the information required at this stage.

Tender documents submitted by unsuccessful tenderers must be retained by the SP for three years pending external audit review.

Tender acceptance/ contract let

All contracts or agreements which commit the council to expend monies must be in writing.
The SP will provide the following documents following agreement of the Tender Report by OCCCL to enable an order to be signed by the appropriate OCC Officer in accordance with the scheme of delegation:

  • Draft acceptance letter (in electronic format)
  • Completed Project checklist
  • Signed off pre-tender gateway review form
  • Tender report
  • Contractors tender
  • Project programme incorporating contractors provisional programme
  • Copy of the submitted F10
  • OCC Planning approval demonstrating conditions precedent have been cleared
  • Contractors valid insurance certificates
  • Current up to date Risk register
  • Evidence of Building Control approval with all conditions addressed

Ample time must be allowed for review of the documents. If there are any outstanding issues, the contract let letter will not be signed until they are resolved. On receipt of satisfactory information, a letter of acceptance will be signed and issued by OCC and sent to the contractor by first class post. A copy of the letter will be sent to the SP. 
The contractor will be expected to issue formal acknowledgement of acceptance of the offer.
The SP will commence preparation of the contract documents.

Notification of unsuccessful tenderers (where Standstill period/Alcatel does not apply / is not applied)

The SP will notify unsuccessful tenderers of the outcome immediately following preferred bidder selection.  All unsuccessful tenderers shall be supplied with a list of compliant tender prices and tenderers. The names of the tenderers should not be matched to the prices.

Tender documents submitted by unsuccessful tenderers must be retained by the SP for three years pending external audit review.

Contract documents

Where accepted tenders exceed £200,000 all contracts are executed as a deed. In all other cases contracts are executed under hand.
For projects over £200,000 the procedures for dealing with the contract are as listed below:

1. The SP is to prepare two copies of the Form of Agreement and wherever possible have them available at the pre-contract meeting to hand to the contractor together with a letter of instruction.

2. Where this is not possible due to circumstances outside of the SP control, the documentation detailed in (1) above is to be made available to the contractor as soon as possible after the pre-contract meeting.

3. The SP must arrange for the contractor to execute the two copies of the signed Form of Agreement and return them to the Contracts Team, Law and Governance, Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND  with a covering letter stating:

  • The site name
  • Works title
  • Contractors name and address
  • Contract value

The contractor must be correctly named in the Form of Agreement and in the attestation clauses (Include the contractor's Company Registration Number for future reference).

A copy of the covering letter is to be sent to Corporate Landlord,  Property and Facilities, Communities, Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND for the attention of the Admin Officer.

4. OCCCL will arrange for the Forms of Agreement to be executed by the OCC contracts team and for one copy to be returned to the contractor and one copy to be retained on file. The contractor must have previously identified whether the contract will be executed by a common seal or by authorized signatories. The Solicitor to the council will formally seal all contracts over £500,000 and construction contracts over £200,000 on behalf of the council.

5. A company can execute a deed in the following ways:

  • affixing its common seal;
  • signature of the document as a deed by two authorised signatories. Authorised signatories are any of the company's directors and its company secretary;
  • signature of the document as a deed by one director whose signature is witnessed; and
  • signature of the document as a deed by a lawfully appointed attorney. The county council will need to see evidence of the attorney's lawful appointment.

6. The two copies of the Form of Agreement are to include the following documentation:

  • Form of Agreement which comprises the conditions of contract and appendix to the contract.
  • Bills of Quantities which may include a bill of additions or reductions (State number of volumes and include an attestation page with each volume) or
  • Specification (State number of volumes and include an attestation page with each volume).
  • All drawings. Include on top of the bundle(s) of drawings a list identifying each drawing by its drawing title and number. This will not be sealed but will be signed and the county solicitor/ designated officer stamp used to identify the signatory.

Both copies of the above information must be securely bound (see note 1) and robust for future safe keeping.

Note 1: Where there are a number of volumes of contract documentation these should be securely bound in manageable sizes. The Records Management Unit has advised that the maximum depth of its storage boxes is 120mm so bundles of contract documentation should be limited to this size.