Procurement at DCMS

Details of DCMS purchasing arrangements and information for those looking to become a supplier or contractor.

DCMS is a very small, policy-orientated department. Contracts and purchasing are organised centrally within the department. Our Arm’s Length Bodies undertake their own contracts and purchasing activity. The majority of our central support services are outsourced to other government organisations, including our core information technology requirements. We do not keep preferred supplier lists.

The Commercial team can be contacted by email: commercial@culture.gov.uk

Public procurement (EU) regulations

As with other government departments and many other public bodies, DCMS is obliged to follow the relevant public procurement regulations. The most recent regulations applicable are the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

These regulations set value thresholds for contracts, above which certain procedures must be applied to the tendering and award of contract. For DCMS, these thresholds are presently set at:

  • Goods - £106,047
  • Services - £106,047
  • Works - £4,104,394

The regulations set out rules relating to advertising the requirement by way of a Notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) including:

  • the manner in which tenders may be sought
  • minimum timescales for tendering
  • the criteria which may and may not be applied to the selection of tenderers, and
  • the contractor and technical specifications that may be applied

Procurement policy

We are fully committed to government policy on procurement as set out in guidance from the Cabinet Office under the Crown Commercial Services (CCS).

This has 2 basic objectives:

  • to achieve continuing improvement in value for money based on whole-life cost and quality
  • to enhance the competitiveness of suppliers through the development of procurement systems and practices

We are also committed to developing the use of e-procurement as a way of improving efficiency.

Improving the procurement process for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The government is taking action to ensure that small firms and organisations, which are considered to be vital to the economy and promoting growth, are able to participate in government procurement.

Our procurement strategy

Wherever possible and cost effective we make use of central framework arrangements set up by Crown Commercial Service or by other government departments.

Where a suitable framework agreement is not available:

  • multiple quotations are sought for requirements with an estimated value between £5,000 to £10,000 (ex VAT)
  • requirements with an estimated value of more than £10,000 (ex VAT) will be advertised via Contracts Finder, where applicable
  • requirements with an estimated value of more than £100,000 (ex VAT) will be advertised via the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), where applicable

All requirements go through the Commercial team.

While individual tendering procedures will be tailored to the specific needs of the contract there are some general principles that we seek to apply:

  • specifications will focus on the required output
  • all tenderers will have the same chance and be treated fairly and equally
  • tender documents will be clear and easy to understand
  • over specification will be avoided

Client contractor relationship

In all dealings with DCMS, officials will seek to preserve the highest standards of integrity, objectivity, fairness, efficiency and professionalism. In turn, we expect contractors to meet these same standards.

Ethics in procurement require high standards of conduct which ensure that the probity of officials and the propriety of their actions is above question. This means that:

  • all dealings with officials should be fair and even-handed
  • all of our contracts contain provisions relating to corrupt gifts

Sustainable procurement

We are committed to adopting good environmental practice. While always ensuring best value for money, procurement can play a vital role in assisting green policy objectives.

Some of the ways in which the department incorporates environmental factors into purchasing decisions are:

  • wherever possible, when specifying goods, ensuring that less environmentally damaging products are specified. A simple example would be when ordering furniture, any woods used should be from either a recycled wood products or from a sustainably grown sources
  • calculating the whole life cost of specifying an environmentally friendly product

Under EC procurement directives, tenderers will not be excluded from bidding on non-economic grounds. Tenderers can be excluded if they fail to meet specific green procurement requirements, but not because of other general environmental considerations.

Tenders

Evaluation of tenders

If you are tendering for a contract with DCMS, you will be informed of the broad evaluation criteria used for assessing bids as part of the tender documentation. Bids are usually assessed on the ‘most economically advantageous tender’ which includes both technical / quality and pricing factors.

All tenderers are assessed against the same criteria. This might involve you attending a presentation or interview where you can present your bid in more detail, or we can seek clarification. We award a contract as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Unsuccessful tenders

Within the limits of some commercial confidentiality, the department will always offer unsuccessful tenderers the reasons why their bid failed. Such debriefing can be by phone or face to face.

This should be viewed as a 2-way process.

The comments from the department should be viewed as constructive. They are aimed at making unsuccessful tenderers aware of certain weaknesses and strengths and enabling them to better compete for future work.

Terms & Conditions

DCMS use a suite of standard Terms and Conditions proportionate to the requirement, which are issued to potential tenderers as part of the tender documentation.

DCMS issue Purchase Orders (POs) to support all contracts, as part of our Purchase to Pay (P2P) system.

Where purchases are not supported by a specific written contract, the PO includes DCMS standard Terms and Conditions, which can be found here (PDF, 139KB, 2 pages) .

For any queries please contact commercial@culture.gov.uk.