Procurement at FCO

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

Commercial Strategy

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London and its 274 overseas offices buy a wide range of goods, services and works. These range from construction and maintenance of embassies to temporary staff and specialist contractors and interims.

We use competition to maximize our potential to deliver value for money. This enables us to source innovative solutions and use Crown Commercial Services Frameworks when these offer value for money solutions for the FCO.

We launched a Commercial Strategy and Roadmap in April 2018 to identify activity milestones culminating in 2020 to 2021. These milestones support the government-wide Commercial Operating Standards where, in the FCO, we are aiming to be ‘Good’ across all standards by the end of this financial year. This includes capability and capacity enhancement, upskilling in contract management and implementing Supplier Relationship Management and Category Management.

Supplying to the FCO

We use the government procurement card for purchases valued under £1,500. For over that value, the type of competition ranges from a straightforward comparison of quotes to a formal sealed tender process, dependent on commercial, operational and legal risk. We use contract conditions to manage these risks, and these Short Form Conditions of Contract for services valued at under £10,000 accompany our purchase orders.

Supporting government policy

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

See the European Union definition of an SME.

We support the government’s SME target of 33% of spend with third-party suppliers to SMEs by 2020 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 and requiring FCO Prime Contractors to advertise their sub-contract opportunities in ContractsFinder

Emma Jones is the Crown Representative for SMEs. You can find out more about Emma and her role on the Cabinet Office website in Doing business with government: a guide for SMEs.

Sustainability

We practice sustainable procurement to achieve value for money while minimising environmental damage and waste.

Integrity in business

UK companies that do business with integrity are better positioned to reduce risks and capitalise on commercial opportunities. This means ensuring compliance with the UK Bribery Act and insisting local partners, agents and distributors adhere to the same high standards. It also means being vigilant for modern slavery and other human rights abuses, both in operations and supply chains, in line with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Companies that make integrity core to their business protect and strengthen brand reputation, enjoy greater and more sustainable commercial success over the long-term, and minimise the risk of prosecution.

Tackling bribery and corruption creates more prosperous and healthy communities and a better business environment. It also enables the UK to maintain its status as a global leader in the fight against corruption.

FCO staff engaged in procurement have a duty to act in a professional and impartial manner and to be mindful of the Bribery Act 2010. We expect our suppliers to act in accordance with the Act.

The Ministry of Justice has published extensive guidance on the Bribery Act. Transparency International has also published guidance for business on how to resist demands for bribes.

Supplier code of conduct

We have developed an FCO supplier code of conduct which sets out the standards and behaviours we expect of our suppliers. Its themes include equality and accessibility, modern slavery, child labour and inhumane treatment, income security, working hours and sustainability. The FCO has an Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget and awards associated supportive contracts so we also apply a specific FCO ODA Supplier Code of Conduct to those Contracts which aligns us with other government departments, such as the Department for International Development.

Transparency

We publish details of both contract opportunities and awards in ContractsFinder as well as details of government Procurement Card expenditure in our website.

Payment of invoices

We aim to pay 80% of all valid invoices within 5 working days from receipt, to meet the government’s prompt payment initiative. Read the FCO’s latest prompt payment data.

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 rely on suppliers to ensure their invoices provide the details needed to match them quickly to the original order or contract. 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 for payments to their sub-contractors.