Framework Agreements explained in nutshell
A framework agreement is a contract where there is no guarantee of any commitment to spend any money with one or more suppliers. Terms and conditions under which specific purchases (call-offs) can be made throughout the term of the agreement. In most cases itself is not a contract, though users should beware that it is possible to have a framework contract.
The maximum term is four years and call off’s by either direct award or mini competition can be done in this period. Best practice is to not call of beyond 12 months of expiry because after the framework has expired there is higher risk of relying on terms that are not current. The call off contract itself can be supplemented by specific terms required by the organisation. These are not expected to be major boilerplate terms.
Buyers will clearly state in the contract notice if they are intending to set up a framework agreement. Currently if this is over the OJEU threshold this needs to be advertised in OJEU.
Below we have identified the main types of Framework Agreements
Single Supplier- The contracting authority calls off a contract with a single supplier and can refine the requirements and supplementary terms for each call off.
A multi Supplier framework will have several suppliers. In addition there should be clear instructions in the form of a buyers guide on how contracts can be called off i.e. whether if it’s based on ranking, desktop exercise for direct award or further mini competition.
What if I want to award to a single supplier? What are the rules
Within a single supplier framework, any call-off contracts will be based on the terms laid down in the framework agreement. Buyers may on occasion consult the supplier asking them to supplement the tender as necessary, but this must not result in the inclusion of terms that are substantially amended from the terms laid down in the original agreement.
Can I award to my favourite supplier if there is more than one?
A buyers guide is normally included. Check the information to see if a direct award is permissible. The guide will explain if a ranking system is in place. If there is no ranking you may need to do a desktop exercise to calculate the MEAT criteria. Suppliers have gone through a tender process to be on the framework but they understand that this is not a guarantee of business – they will still have to compete and be successful in mini-competitions. Prices in a mini competition can only be lower than the framework price.
If it is your intention to divide your framework into lots, you must indicate if it’s permissible to tender for more than one lot, or alternatively if you allow for the same supplier to bid for multiple lots this should be provided in the tender documents.
What Criteria do I use for a mini competition?
The mini competition must be awarded using the same criteria applied in the framework agreement. You can update the criteria to make it more precise.