Procurement at FCO

Details of FCO purchasing and information for those looking to become a supplier to the FCO.

Doing business with us

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is a global organisation and can offer opportunities for the supply of goods and services to our offices in London as well as overseas through our network of over 200 Missions.

How we buy

We buy goods, services and works, to deliver value for money for the taxpayer by:

  • Using competitive tendering
  • Managing procurement ethically and professionally
  • Complying with legal and international obligations

What we buy

We buy a wide variety of goods, services and works, including:

  • The design, construction and refurbishment of new embassies overseas
  • Worldwide travel, logistic/freight services
  • Facility management services, mail and portering services
  • Information technology, communications equipment and services
  • Security guarding services in the UK and overseas
  • A range of resourcing needs, such as temporary staff and specialist contractors and interims, as well as professional services and consultancy advice
  • Other corporate services such as office products, stationery, training, marketing and PR

How to become a supplier

Locate opportunities to become a supplier to the FCO by:

  • Looking for opportunities on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED), where all government opportunities to tender that are over limits set by EU directives are listed
  • Visiting the FCO eSourcing Portal - BRAVO
  • Visiting the Contracts Finder website, which provides information on Government contracts worth over £10,000

Common Goods and Services

In response to Procurement Reform, we procure certain common goods and services from the Government Procurement Service.

Improving opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)

The government recognises the important role of SMEs in delivering UK economic growth and prosperity. In March 2011, the government set a new target to award 25% of spend with third-party suppliers to SMEs by March 2015.

We are committed to supporting this target through:

  • Regularly reviewing our procurement plans to ensure that they do not prohibit SME involvement.
  • Researching the market and developing appropriate market engagement strategies to encourage competition and attract a diverse range of innovative suppliers.
  • Tracking the amount of expenditure awarded to SMEs
  • Advertising our contracts in a transparent way

Transparency in procurement

Details of our tender and contract documents over £10,000 can be found on the Contracts Finder website.

Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable procurement is a process whereby organisations meet their needs in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis. Not only in terms of generating benefits to the organisation, but also to society, the economy and environment.

Sustainable Procurement is not only about buying green – It is also about ensuring efficiency and cost effectiveness as well as taking into account social factors such as fair and safe working conditions.

The FCO is committed to practising sustainable procurement to achieve value for money whilst minimising environmental damage and waste.

Through our procurement and contract management activities, we always aim to drive sustainable behaviour from our suppliers.

Procurement ethics

All those working on behalf of the FCO have a duty to act in a professional and impartial manner at all stages of the procurement process.

Bribery Act 2010

Bribery is illegal and has no place in British business, at home or abroad. It is an offence for UK nationals and bodies incorporated under UK law to bribe anywhere in the world.

We expect all of our suppliers to act in accordance with the 2010 Bribery Act. The Ministry of Justice has published extensive guidance on the Act. Transparency International has also published guidance for business on how to resist demands for bribes.


We use competitive tendering to identify and consider a variety of market proposals/options, drive performance improvement and innovation from the marketplace and ensure value for money.

The type of competition ranges from a straightforward comparison of quotes to a formal sealed tender process. Usually as per the following:

  • Estimated contract value between £5000 - £80,000 - contracts will be made following a competition process using either written quotations or following a formal competition process using sealed bid tendering (according to value and risk)

  • Procurements for contracts above £80,000 will be overseen by the Central Procurement Group and be subject to the appropriate legal regulations

Terms and conditions

We have standard sets of contract terms and conditions as detailed below:

Government Procurement Card

We pay for lower value goods, services and works with the Government Procurement Card and encourage our Suppliers to accept this form of payment.

Prompt payment

We aim to pay 80% of all valid invoices within 5 working days from receipt, to meet HMG’s prompt payment initiative. All valid goods, services and works invoices received are paid as soon as they have been authorised by the FCO officials responsible for the contract.

We are applying this policy to all suppliers of goods, services and works. We will not be changing our existing contractual terms and conditions which remain at 30 days.

We rely on suppliers to ensure their invoices provide the details needed to match them quickly to the original order or contract.

The required information will be set out in the contract documentation.

Where a supplier lets a sub-contract in connection with an FCO contract we expect them to include similar prompt payment terms to those above in respect of payments to their sub-contractors.

Invoice guidance for suppliers

Suppliers’ invoices must include the following information:

  • Date of invoice
  • A correct Purchase Order number
  • The quantity of the goods or services provided and the relevant cost including the appropriate VAT calculation.
  • Supplier name and contact details
  • Supplier bank details

Invoices which fail to include all relevant information will be returned for proper presentation. In circumstances where there is a genuine dispute between a supplier and the FCO we will undertake the procedures agreed within the signed contract.

Invoices must be sent to the UK Processing Centre in Milton Keynes (address is shown below) and not to the individual or department of the FCO to which you delivered the goods or services. Delays in payment could result from incorrectly addressed invoices.

Should you have any queries with regard to the prompt payment of invoices and wish to make a telephone enquiry, please call the UK Processing Centre on 01908 716 667. The full postal address for the UK Processing Centre is as follows:

Foreign & Commonwealth Office
UK Processing Centre -TPC
Corporate Services Centre
PO Box 6108
Milton Keynes
MK10 1PX

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