Procurement at DfE
Bidding for Department for Education tendered contracts.
Latest contracting opportunities
The department and its executive agencies advertise new contracting opportunities:
- on the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website), part of the Official Journal of the European Union (for contracts we are obliged to advertise internationally)
- on the DfE’s research page
- at Contracts finder
- where appropriate, in specialist publications, trade, national and local press
Individual policy teams procure contracts for the majority of educational services and programme expenditure. Suppliers interested in specific areas of education should contact the relevant policy team directly.
Major running cost purchases (such as IT, consultancy and estates) are procured by central teams on behalf of the department. Details of contracts and tenders worth over £10,000 are available on Contracts finder.
There are a variety of means that the department uses for early supplier engagement which include:
- the use of prior information notices (PIN) (advertised via the TED website)
- publishing procurement pipelines on Contractsfinder
Bidding for business with the Department for Education: guidelines and training
Guidelines for an effective tender
How you prepare and present your tender proposal can be a crucial factor in securing a contract. You should:
- read the invitation to tender (ITT) properly – understand fully what is being asked of you
- respond in the required format – follow the layout requested, keep to the order for documents if one is given, send it to the person named and get the address right
- give full answers – this is your only chance, so give solutions and answer the whole question, but be concise
- be upfront – our ITT will be as honest about the requirement as possible
- plan ahead to ensure you meet the deadline
We look for honest bids with no hidden costs and try to avoid organisations that make money through contract variations.
Free online training course
A free online public procurement course has been launched to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Winning the Contract explains:
- how to identify business opportunities to supply goods and services to the public sector
- how the public sector procurement process works
- how to submit tenders
- where to find other public sector contract opportunities
How we evaluate tenders
Like all government departments, our procurement exercises have no hidden agenda. All we want is to identify suppliers who can work with us to help us achieve our business objectives.
Your bid will be successful if it offers the department the best value for money.
Detailed evaluation criteria for assessing bids will be included in your invitation to tender letter. All bidders are assessed against the same criteria.
We aim to award a contract as soon as possible following completion of the assessment process. This might involve attending an interview, where you will be given the opportunity to present your bid in more detail and be questioned by a panel of officials about certain aspects of it.
Within the limits of some commercial confidentiality, the department will always offer to explain to unsuccessful tenderers why their bid was unsuccessful. This can be by letter, phone or in person.
Debriefing should be viewed as a 2-way process. Our comments are designed to be constructive and to draw your attention to certain weaknesses (and strengths), so that you can better compete for future work.
Contract terms and conditions
If you would like to know which terms and conditions apply when bidding for a particular contract, contact the person named in the advertisement and tender documentation.
Due to the complexity of the majority of the department’s requirements, contract terms and conditions are compiled on a case-by-case basis. However, most are based on our standard terms and conditions, which you can download:
Our approach to procurement
Government procurement aims to make taxpayers’ money go further. We aim to deliver continuous improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of what we do, using appropriate tools such as information technology.
When dealing with the department you can expect that:
- we will treat you and your organisation with impartiality, honesty and integrity in a spirit of co-operation, not adversity
- procurement standards will be of the highest calibre, clearly visible and consistent
- competitive tendering conforming to international obligations will be the norm wherever this method adds value
- to improve performance, and within the bounds of commercial confidentiality, we will (on request) debrief winners and losers on the outcome of the tendering process
- we will adhere to our contract terms, but they remain negotiable and reasonable
- contract management will be proactive, not punitive – we will act as partners
- you will be paid promptly for work done in accordance with contracts made
The best types of organisations for us to work with are those that:
- are fair and open in their dealings with customers
- put in bids that address the absolute essentials and cover all the issues in an easy-to-follow format
- fulfil all the contract conditions that fall to them
- recognise, and are seen to recognise, that success lies in the 2-way relationship between contractor and customer
- share ideas to help us and themselves improve
We use our purchasing power to minimise waste and to maximise environmental, social and economic benefits.
This includes consideration for:
- conserving energy, water and other scarce or non-renewable resources
- re-using and recycling, where possible, and using refurbished and recycled products and materials
- ensuring products derived from wildlife, such as wood, paper and leather goods, are from sustainable sources and comply with EC and international trading rules
- encouraging suppliers, through specifications, to develop environmentally preferable goods and services at competitive prices
- phasing out or minimising substances such as greenhouse gases and vehicle emissions that are damaging to health and the environment
- working with suppliers to improve environmental performance where it is relevant to the contract and consistent with the achievement of value for money
- meeting all relevant current and foreseen statutory regulations and official codes of practice and asking suppliers to do the same
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
The Department for Education is committed to spending public money using value for money principles, and that ethos underpins all our engagements with any market place. We embrace the government’s growth agenda as a positive step in support of commercial activity.
One of the elements of the growth agenda is our engagement with SMEs. The Department for Education already has a good success rate at involving SMEs, and we will continue to support that agenda by a number of measures which ensure that SMEs have the same voice in our procurements as larger organisations. We will continue to encourage and support all partnership arrangements which create collaborative delivery services.
SMEs can contact the Department for Education by emailing our SME mailbox.
Duns numbers provide us with valuable information about which suppliers are bidding for our contracts. We encourage suppliers who are interested in bidding to register with Duns numbers.
Prompt payment policy
Government policy is to pay all correctly submitted invoices within 10 days of receipt from the day of physical or electronic arrival at the nominated address.
EU and UK compliance
The department is subject to the EU Treaty, EU Procurement Directive (EU rules) and UK laws that govern how it may purchase goods, services and works more than a specified value.
Where the estimated value is expected to exceed the relevant EU threshold, requirements have to be advertised on the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website), part of the Official Journal of the European Union. The current levels are:
- £113,057 for certain services and all goods
- £3,927,260 for works