Procurement at Defra

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

Defra uses external suppliers for goods, services and works including:

  • technical goods and services
  • corporate services
  • consultancy
  • research and development
  • ICT
  • properties
  • grants

Contract opportunities

We are keen to offer under-represented businesses such as SMEs and voluntary and community sector organisations the same opportunities to compete for our contracts as other qualified suppliers. We widely publicise our procurements on the following websites:

How to become a supplier

All of our contracts are awarded by competition between potential suppliers, unless there are compelling reasons why competition cannot be used.

You need to register on Defra’s e-tendering site to be able to enter one of Defra’s competitions.

Upon registering you are able to add selected categories of interest to your business and create automated email alerts for procurements that you may be interested in. If the category is preceded with ‘##’, this indicates that the category is not one of our approved categories, but it may still be used in some circumstances.

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

Sustainable procurement

Defra is committed to procuring sustainably in accordance with the following policy statements and commitments:

To support its aims Defra seeks to minimise its own environmental impact. We aim to incorporate sustainable development into our thinking and our actions.

Government sustainability requirements

Suppliers should consider social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability with reference to the standards listed below.

The government’s commitments for 2010 to 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste, reduce water usage and procure more sustainably are set out in Greening Government Commitments: Operations and Procurement

The minimum level government buying standards are mandatory in central government. There are also voluntary, higher level best practice and class leader standards:

Defra is working to align the government buying standards with the EU’s Green Public Procurement (GPP) standards so that they are at least as good, if not better.

These budgets set the course for achieving the government’s 2050 target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050

This scheme operates a ‘cap and trade’ mechanism, providing a financial incentive to reduce energy use in large organisations by putting a price on carbon emissions. In CRC, organisations buy allowances equal to their annual emissions:

The EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires energy certificates for buildings on construction, sale and lease and large public sector buildings to display energy certificates to the public.

The Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) measures best practice in environmental design and management. Public sector bodies must achieve a rating of ‘excellent’ in new builds and at least ‘very good’ in major refurbishments.

Supporting small businesses

Defra recognises the important role of SMEs in delivering UK economic growth and prosperity. In March 2016, the government set a new aspirational target to award 33.3% of spend with third-party suppliers to SMEs by 2020.

Defra is committed to supporting this target. We encourage SMEs to bid for departmental business and we monitor the level of business SMEs receive from us directly (by winning contracts) or indirectly (by winning contracts with prime contractors or further down supply chains).

We want as many SMEs as possible to compete for our contracts. If SMEs want further information about how to do so, please contact Defra Procurement at

Terms and conditions

Suppliers should always refer to the specific terms and conditions issued as part of a procurement tender exercise.

These terms and conditions are applied to procurements below £10,000 or where no specific terms and conditions have been issued:

Supplier days

Supplier days for specific contracting opportunities are publicised through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).

They represent an opportunity to explore combining with other potential suppliers to bring forward tenders in the ensuing competitions.


The Cabinet Office actively promote initiatives to reduce the bureaucracy involved in bidding for Government business and to make government contracts more attractive and accessible for smaller organisations. The Cabinet Office Efficiency and Reform Group provide details of measures announced to promote small business procurement.

Prompt payment to Defra suppliers

All central government departments are now required to pay 80% of undisputed invoices within five days. Suppliers need to be aware of the correct procedures involved to achieve this.

Suppliers must send invoices by post to:

Shared Services Connected Ltd
PO Box 769
NP20 9BB

Dun and Bradstreet numbers

Dun and Bradstreet numbers provide us with valuable information about which suppliers are bidding for our contracts. We require suppliers who are interested in bidding to register with Dun and Bradstreet numbers.

Crown Commercial Service

Defra also procure goods and services from the Crown Commercial Service.

How we process your personal data

Our Personal data processing: fair processing notice outlines the way we process your personal data relating to financial transactions. It explains that our services provider Shared Services Connected Limited (SSCL) may process some of this data offshore.

Contact us

You can contact us by emailing

Defra Procurement Policy Team
Nobel House
17 Smith Square,

We value feedback from existing and prospective suppliers, and always look to improve procurement processes and customer–supplier relationships.

If you are a current or prospective supplier, and would like to provide feedback on our procurement processes, please contact our Procurement Policy Team. Any feedback you provide will have no influence whatsoever on your involvement in any future tendering opportunities with Defra or any other contracting authority, but we will always try to address any issues that are raised where we feel we can improve what we do.