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Procurement FAQs

Procurement FAQs

What is procurement?

Procurement activities include buying decisions such as option appraisal, tendering, contract creation and 'purchase to pay' processes.

The council has a duty to work with its suppliers and deliver cost effective services to its residents which achieve best value.

The council must work within European and local legislation using procurement processes that are open to scrutiny and deliver Best Value.

Best Value means:

  • choosing a supplier that offers the best balance between the whole life cost (from acquisition to disposal) of goods and services against predefined requirements
  • generating savings through corporate or collective action with other public bodies, an
  • generating efficiency savings through streamlining the procurement process.

Strategic Procurement is about how the full lifecycle is managed. It means Procurement must be an integral part of an organisation's business planning. It is designed to enhance the work of line managers and those who have to deliver services to customers.

How can I supply goods or provide services to Clackmannanshire Council?

To ensure fair competition, all of our needs are advertised. Clackmannanshire Council does not maintain or use an Approved Supplier List to invite companies to bid for Council business. The Review of Public Procurement in Scotland recommended that an open market environment supported by a single public sector electronic portal should be established. Suppliers must be able to access all essential information on opportunities to offer services and bid for contracts for the supply of commodities and services to the whole public sector in Scotland.

The national advertising portal - Public Contracts Scotland - has been established in response to the recommendation. This portal enables the Council to advertise all contracting opportunities, irrespective of value. Adverts which must be published on the on the UK e‑notification system called Find a Tender System or (FTS) will be published in the PCS system and shall be forwarded through the system to the FTS 

The portal allows documents to be attached to the notice, Suppliers can view the contract notices and in addition if registered, can receive free e-alerts notifying them of contract opportunities relevant to their business.

What about Approved or Select Lists?

Clackmannanshire Council does not maintain or use Approved or Select Lists as they are exclusive and are expensive to maintain. All procurement opportunities are advertised.

Tender Lists created as a result of the process become null and void once the individual process has been completed and contract has been awarded.

How can companies improve their chances of winning contracts?

There are a number of ways in which companies can improve their chances of being successful.

Most important is to read and follow the instructions for completion and return of the documentation.

  • Ensure that all of the documented evidence requested is provided.
  • Be open and honest. If you are unable to answer a question, give the reason why.
  • Do not answer questions by providing annual reports or marketing / sales brochures. They probably won't be relevant and the evaluation team won't have time to search for the information.

Failure to follow the above three points will severely restrict your chances of winning business and could even result in your proposal not being considered.

There are other factors that could improve your chances depending on the procurement opportunity. Some examples are as follows:

  • Capability to accept payment by purchasing card to level 3 (Line Item Detail).
  • Online ordering facility.
  • Ability to accept orders and Invoices electronically - e-mail
  • Policies in place dealing with issues such as Equal Opportunities, Health & Safety, the Environment and Quality Management.
  • Compliance UK and EU Legislation
  • Insurance cover commensurate with the requirements of the procurement opportunity.
  • Technical capacity and ability to ensure delivery or provision of the procurement opportunity.

Please remember that - no matter how much you might like to undertake a particular contract - if your company does not have the experience that the Council is seeking, it is highly unlikely that your application will be considered.

What is Clackmannanshire Councils policy on insurance?

Insurance requirements are dependent on the procurement opportunity and will be detailed within the contract documentation. However, as a minimum contracts will require Employer's Liability cover of £5,000,000 and Public Liability cover of at least £2,000,000. Public Liability cover requirements increase where risk is significantly increased.

Depending on the nature of the contract, we may also require Professional Indemnity cover.

Please see the Council's Contract Standing Orders for more information.

What is Clackmannanshire Council's policy on Health & Safety?

Clackmannanshire Council is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its citizens, employees, visitors and everyone who uses the facilities and services it provides.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies to all work activities and places duties on employers, employees, and the self-employed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of themselves and others who may be affected by their activities, such as members of the public

As a result of this commitment, Health & Safety is included in evaluation criteria for procurement processes and Clackmannanshire Council will monitor contracted suppliers

Where risks are higher, such as in construction contracts, Health & Safety can be a significant aspect of the evaluation criteria.

Please see the Health & Safety at Work page for more information.

What is Clackmannanshire Council's policy on Equality and Diversity?

Clackmannanshire Council believes that equality of opportunity should be a guiding principle in all of its activities. The Council is actively working towards the elimination of Policies and Practices which discriminate. It is opposed to any form of discriminatory practices on grounds including:

  • gender;
  • marital status;
  • religious belief;
  • disability;
  • race;
  • ethnic origin;
  • colour;
  • nationality;
  • political belief;
  • sexual orientation;
  • socio-economic status;
  • age.

We are actively working towards the elimination of all discriminatory practices and will develop training and monitoring strategies to ensure that the Policy is embedded in all Council services and in the organisations we fund.

Where the Council is seeking to appoint a company to provide services, contract monitoring may include the development of performance indicators for equalities monitoring.

Please see the Equality and Diversity Page for more information

What is Clackmannanshire Council's policy on sustainable procurement?

We will use our buying power to support improved energy efficiency; promote ethical purchasing; increase the proportion of recycled and recyclable products and materials bought; and favour locally sourced materials wherever possible and appropriate, to reduce transport impacts and support local employment. We will also expect a high standard of environmental performance to be achieved by existing and potential Council contractors and suppliers


What is Clackmannanshire Council's policy on Freedom of Information in relation to tenders and contracts?

Clackmannanshire Council is committed to the principles of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and is further committed to ensuring that procurement is open, transparent and accountable. Clackmannanshire Council will fulfil its obligations in respect of the Act and ensure that the public has access to decisions made, how those decisions were made and how public money is being spent.

Debriefs will be available to every company submitting a proposal, successful and unsuccessful. During these debrief sessions individual bidders will be advised of the reasons for the final award decision. They will also be advised of evaluation areas where they did well and where they did not do well. They will also be invited to comment on the process and documentation.

Clackmannanshire Council will disclose the following contract information as a matter of course via its Publication Scheme:

  • Contract Title
  • Contract Description
  • Contract Period, including Extension Options
  • Estimated Contract Value
  • Successful Bidder
  • Number of Proposals Received
  • Copy of the Evaluation Model, but without detailing bidder names
  • Contract details for further information

The Council may be asked to disclose contract information additional to that detailed above, but will strive to advise companies of the information requested prior to disclosure.

During the procurement process, bidders will have the opportunity to identify tender or contract information they consider should not be disclosed as, in their opinion, disclosure would substantially prejudice commercial interests and is therefore exempt from disclosure. Bidders must note the following in respect of such information:

  • Bidders must provide fully justifiable reasons as to why the information identified would substantially damage commercial interests if disclosed. It is not permissible to identify such information without fully justifiable reasons.
  • Where bidders do not identify any information where disclosure would substantially damage commercial interests, all information relating to the tender or contract will be disclosed without referral to the bidder.
  • The final decision in relation to disclosure will remain solely with Clackmannanshire Council.
  • Clackmannanshire Council may be required to disclose any information at any time if instructed to do so by the Scottish Information Commissioner.
Does Clackmannanshire Council request bonds or guarantees when contracting for goods, services and works?

In accordance with the Council's Contract Standing Orders, Clackmannanshire Council may request a bond or guarantee where it considers that the risk involved in any contract requires so doing. The risk could relate to many things, including:

  • Complexity and business criticality of the contract;
  • Complexity and size of the contract compared to the capabilities of suppliers, service providers or contractors;
  • Financial standing and security of suppliers, service providers or contractors.
  • In specific circumstances, a bond or guarantee may be requested to ensure that risk to Clackmannanshire Council is minimised.

For example, it may be that a performance bond payable by the contracted organisation is required where the size and financial standing of that organisation suggests that there is a risk to delivery of the contract that needs to be considered and managed.

Alternatively, it may be that the organisation contracted is a relatively small group member of a much larger company or is a relatively small organisation that has some other means of financial support. Where Clackmannanshire Council is committing substantial business to such an organisation suggests that there is a risk to delivery of the contract that needs to be considered and managed, it may be that a parent company guarantee or other guarantee from the other means of financial support is required.

Can I submit a tender with my own alternative conditions attached?

No, a tender will only be accepted if it is submitted in accordance with the instructions to tender and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract as stated.

Does the Council package its contracts to allow for smaller firms to compete?

Yes, The Council's current policy is to package its contracts to achieve the best value for the council. If a small company is considered it may be asked to provide a bond or parent company guarantee depending on the value of the contract and the potential risk to the Council should the company fail to provide the service it is contracted to undertake.

Can you tell me which organisations I am bidding against?

No, this will have no bearing on your bid.

Can you tell me if there is a contract for XXXX? If so, when might it be advertised and how would I go about tendering for it?

The national advertising portal - Public Contracts Scotland - has been established in response to the recommendation. This portal enables the Council to advertise all contracting opportunities, irrespective of value. 

Suppliers can view the contract notices and in addition if registered, can receive free e-alerts notifying them of contract opportunities relevant to their business.

Can I talk to Members of the Council about my services?

No, this could prejudice your tender in a bidding situation. Elected Members must have no part in the bidding process.

What associated and additional information will I need to provide with my tender?

You will normally be expected to provide us with:

  • Company policies including, Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities, Environment
  • Quality Accreditations and staff training programmes.
  • Company and insurance details.
  • Other related information depending upon the type of service being tendered
How will I know what criteria you are using for the evaluation of tender?

The criteria will be set out in the advertisement for "Expressions of Interest" and will usually be stated in the pre-qualification questionnaire or the tender documents.

Proposals are assessed for Price and Quality. The balance between the importance of Price and Quality varies, depending on the project.

Quality issues that may be important include:

  • Delivery proposals
  • Stock availability
  • E-procurement capability
  • Design proposals
  • Timescales
  • Health & Safety plans
  • Project management proposals
  • Staff training and CVs
  • Environmental management plans
  • Proposals for innovation and added value
What is the difference between a tender and a contract?

The term tender means a formal invitation to trade under the terms of offer and the documents associated with that offer.

A contract is a term used for when parties have reached agreement.

If I am unsuccessful, what can you tell me about the winning bid?

We will inform you who was successful and briefly outline the reasons for the award.

Officers should always offer meaningful feedback to suppliers on the evaluation of their proposal at the end of the tendering process in accordance with the provisions set out in the Scottish Procurement Regulations

Debriefing is a way of helping suppliers to improve their competitive performance, which in turn produces benefits to the Council. Unsuccessful suppliers and tenderers have a right to know the reasons for their rejection.

The Objectives of the debrief are:

  • to assist suppliers to improve their performance. A debriefing, needs to cover, diplomatically, the weaknesses of the unsuccessful bid. Suppliers will then have the opportunity to address these deficiencies in any future bids.
  • to offer unsuccessful tenderers some benefit from the time and money they have expended in preparing their tenders.
  • to establish and maintain a reputation as a fair, honest and ethical customer. This will help to ensure that high quality suppliers will be encouraged to submit tenders.
  • to act as a feedback mechanism to ensure that our tender packages are understood fully

The debriefing should be carried out by those involved in the tender evaluation. For low value/low risk contracts a telephone de-briefing by the purchaser will suffice. In other cases a formal debriefing meeting is recommended.
Debriefing will also be necessary for unsuccessful candidates at the Pre- Qualification Stage of the Restricted Procedure.

If I want to apply for a tender, do I have to submit some pre-qualifying information about my company?

The Council normally requires all suppliers to complete a questionnaire detailing information about their financial/economic standing and their technical capability. This usually covers information about when you started business or your organisation/company was formed, what experience you have in providing the goods/services/works being tendered for, details of where the Council may obtain references on your company, and details of your company's finances.

If the Council is adopting the Dual Stage or Restricted Tendering process, applicants must submit an application form and pre-qualification questionnaire to ascertain their technical and financial competence relating to the service being tendered. The submitted information will be evaluated to determine if it meets the Council's technical and financial criteria. Organisations meeting the criteria and considered most suitable to tender will be placed on a Select Tender List and invited to tender.

If the Council adopts the Single stage or Open Tendering process, organisations may apply directly for the tender documents. On submission of the tender, the application form and questionnaires described above will be submitted at that time and will form part of the evaluation process in the manner outlined above

Does the Council use a third party supplier accreditation scheme such as Sinclair's Vetted Directory or Construction Line?

The Council uses companies that are accredited by Construction Line for its construction related contracts More information about Construction Line can be obtained directly from them.

Constructionline is not used to select suppliers (approved list) it is used as part of the evaluation once tenders have been received

Why does the Council ask for a Tender rather than a Quote?

The Council has a statutory obligation under the Government's Best Value Review regime to seek competitive prices. Generally, it is the level of value and risk that determines if the Council asks for a quote or goes out to tender.

Total Aggregated Value
The total value of the overall requirement over the contract term. Individual or annual values are irrelevant where goods, services or works are of the same type or have similar characteristics. The total value of the contract must be used when deciding which process

Please see the Contract Standing Orders for a summary of the Council's contracting rules.

Does the council use Corporate Purchase Cards?

Yes Purchase cards are issued to staff so that they may be used to purchase goods and/or services up to an agreed value from certain suppliers. Although similar in operation, it is not a credit card that can be used anywhere and there is no credit facility. For suppliers' the important fact is that typically payment in full will be made direct to their bank accounts within three working days, thereby improving their cash flow. There are also other benefits for suppliers.

I want to comment on a good / bad contracting process I have been involved in with the Council. How do I do this?

Contractors can write in to the officer named in the advertisement or the contract documents and the matter will be reviewed and responded to. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact the Procurement Manager who review and respond to you within a reasonable time at

A Single Point of Enquiry (SPOE) has been established, as recommended by the Review of Public Procurement in Scotland, to which suppliers can address concerns about public procurement practices. The SPOE will work with Clackmannanshire Council to review issues raised by suppliers and to work towards improvements in public procurement practices in Scotland.

In all cases, suppliers should seek to resolve issues with Clackmannanshire Council before submitting an enquiry to the SPOE.

Suppliers can submit an enquiry to the SPOE by completing the online form.

I've seen an advertisement for a contract and I would like some details. How do I go about obtaining this?

The Council always uses Public Contracts Scotland to adverise our tenders. If you register your interest in the contract you will be able to download any documents that are required.

Any questions relating to the tender document should be addressed to the contact though the Public Contracts Scotland Advertising Portal .

The Online Questions & Answers facility allows suppliers to submit queries online for tender procedures which are advertised on the website. Purchasers can then manage and respond to clarifications online and circulate questions and answers to all suppliers on the interest list.

Clackmannanshire Council use this function to handle questions and clarifications during a tender procedure. Rather than handling queries via email or telephone, all questions can be submitted and responded to online and stored along with other notice details for easy reference.
Suppliers are asked to use the online Q&A facility when this option has been activated by the Council, rather than submitting the query by email for example. After recording an interest in a specific notice, suppliers will be able to ask a question electronically and receive an automatic response when the query is answered.

My company is new and has few references; will I be allowed to compete for Council business?

Yes, the Council does not discourage new businesses. A view will be taken on your company's suitability and any potential risk to the Council. Thorough investigations will be made examining your financial status and past performance where possible. You could also be invited to an interview to further examine your suitability.

What tender documentation do I need to do business with the Council?

The contract documentation needed will be provided when we invite you to tender, though the Public Contracts Scotland Advertising Portal. These will contain the following:

  • Specification
    • This describes the work to be done and the standards required.
  • Terms and conditions of the contract
    • These set out the rules of the contract that will be entered into between the Council and the appointed contractor.
  • Pricing Document
    • This enables the tenderer to set out and provide a price for the work.

In addition, depending on the type of contract, other documentation could include:

  • TUPE information relating to terms and conditions of existing employees who will transfer to the successful contractor (where applicable).
  • Plans or details of sites (where applicable)
  • Relevant policy documents you will need to observe
What is a competitive tender?

This is the process by which the Council decides who is the best provider. The tender itself is the completed and priced pre-prepared document that lays out all the terms, conditions and specification. The Council usually invites a minimum of 5 suppliers to submit a tender. The invitation to tender is issued to all suppliers on the same day. They are not allowed to canvass or collude with the Council, other than to seek clarity.

The time allowed for pricing and submitting a tender varies; it is normally around 4 to 6 weeks.

All tenders must be returned via the Public Contracts Scotland Portal.

No hard copies or email copies will be acceptable.

Where do you advertise your contracts?

We adverise all our tenders in the national advertising portal - Public Contracts Scotland - This portal enables the Council to advertise all contracting opportunities, irrespective of value. 

The portal allows documents to be attached to the notice, e.g. Pre-Qualification Questionnaires, Invitation To Tender documentation etc. Suppliers can view the contract notices and in addition if registered, can receive free e-alerts notifying them of contract opportunities relevant to their business.

For Further Information Contact

Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa
Tel: 01259 452017