Framework Agreement FAQ

Framework Agreement FAQ for Public Sector Buyers

Why use a framework agreement instead of doing my own tender?

A framework agreement available for the wider public sector allows users to award a contract directly or using a mini competition depending on the accompanying buyer’s guide. Terms and conditions are set up, there is no need to do a PQQ and you should expect better pricing based on economies of scale.

  1. Single supplier framework agreement.
  2. Multi-supplier arrangements – Direct Award- ranked or Mini Competition
  3. Multi-supplier arrangements – Mini Competition only option
  4. Multi-supplier arrangements which allow both for contracts to be called off without opening competition, and for mini competitions. The decision as to which approach to use must be made on objective criteria set out in the initial procurement documents. (perhaps different lots)

Can I call off from  a framework set up by a different organisation

CCS frameworks are generally open to all of the public sector, and some organisations will set up a framework for their industry sectors. It depends on the “class” of organisation and if it’s listed as a contracting authority.  Therefore your organisation or classification needs to be named in the OJEU notice. If a contracting authority who uses a framework without being entitled to do so is, in effect, awarding a contract directly and without the proper element of competition and thus is laying itself open to a claim by a challenger for a declaration of ineffectiveness.

What are the minimum and maximum number of suppliers we can appoint to a framework agreement?

Minimum 1 or 3+

Can I have a framework that lasts more than 4 years

Most buyers are aware of the 4-year framework rule. Only in exceptional circumstances is it possible to have a contract for longer, for example, the investment cost outweighs the contract price for a 4 year period. If the contract is only for 4 years suppliers are unlikely to bid because of the time it takes for them to recoup the cost.

Can I make a call off for 2 years 3 months before the framework expires?

Technically you can make a call off but take into account whether if the call off period is in line with normal practice. The framework terms and conditions will no longer apply upon expiry, therefore, the call off contract will not be fully supported so in practical terms it’s advised that this is avoided.

Is it essential to be named on the  Framework as a contracting authority?

To avoid awarding an ineffective contract you should either be listed by name or belong to a class of contracting authorities. It’s normally easier to refer to a .GOV.UK webpage that contains a list of all relevant contracting bodies.

Can I add supplementary terms to the call off contract bespoke to my organisation?

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Yes but the framework terms takes precedence

Do I have to guarantee work for the suppliers on the framework

A framework agreement is a call off contract where there is no minimum comittment or any guarantee that they will get any work. Make sure this point is included in the tender documents to avoid any ambiguity.

Do I need to do a 10 day standstill period for frameworks?

It’s voluntary but best practice to do a 10-day standstill

Do I need to do a Contract Award notice

You only need to do a contract award notice for the initial framework set up not for subsequent call offs.

Can I add new suppliers to the framework if one is not performing 

No this would be in breach of the regulations. Consider re-tendering the framework if this causes huge problems.

How do I apply the same award criteria when doing a mini competition?

The mini-competition is awarded to the supplier who best meets the award criteria specified. It is possible to vary the relative priorities of the call-off award criteria from those used at framework award. The proposed call-off criteria and the relevant weightings must be clearly stated in documents sent to suppliers in relation to the mini-competition.

If my framework is declared ineffective does that mean the call off is ineffective?

It’s best to seek legal advice the call off doesn’t automatically become ineffective unless part of separate legal proceedings.

Can I exceed the value of my original contact?

A contract/framework may change without re-advertisement in OJEU where: minor changes that do not affect its nature and not exceed the relevant threshold and not exceed 10% services/supplies) or 15% (works) of the initial value. It is best practice to include the terms and conditions or tender instructions that minor changes that do not affect its nature and are explicitly provided for in review or option clauses in the procurement documents.

In exceptional circumstances where additional works, services or supplies that ‘have become necessary’ where a change of supplier would not be practicable(for economic, technical or interoperability reasons) or involve substantial inconvenience/duplication of costs (limited to 50% of original contract price. The  authority must publish in OJEU a ‘ VEAT Notice of modifications of a contract during its term’

Can I divide the framework into Lots?

Yes, you must indicate whether tenders may be submitted for one, for several or for all lots. Decide if you want to limit the number of lots that may be awarded to one tenderer.Decide if you want to award contracts containing more than one lot.