Procurement Thresholds and Processes

2.1 Requirements below £5,000

2.2 Requirements between £5,000 and £60,000 (excluding VAT) 

2.3 Requirements between £60,000 and the current European Union (EU) threshold

2.4 Requirements above the EU threshold

2.5 Non-competitive action (NCA)

2.6 Emergency purchasing procedures 

  • Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) procurement must achieve value for money (VFM). Best overall VFM is the optimum combination of whole life costs and quality (which includes all relevant environmental, social and ethical issues) to meet the customer’s requirement. 

2.1 Requirements below £5,000

Requirements below £5k (excluding VAT) do not require formal competition. However, it remains the purchaser’s responsibility to ensure that the purchase represents overall value for money and offers fair & equitable treatment to suppliers. It may therefore be necessary from time to time to obtain two or more quotations, but this should be considered in relation to the associated administrative cost. 

2.2 Requirements between £5,000 and £60,000 (excluding VAT)

Purchasers are required to obtain a minimum of three written quotations (however for potentially complex/high risk requirements, tendering procedures as in paragraph 2.3 should be considered). The value should include any potential extensions to the contract. The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 require a degree of advertising appropriate to the nature of the requirement. See also paragraph 6.2

2.3 Requirements between £60,000 and the current European Union (EU) threshold

Formal tendering procedures must be used for all procurements with a value of more than £60k (excluding VAT), and for any lower value requirements that are potentially complex/high risk. However, the extent and complexity of the documentation should be no greater than is necessary for the nature/value of the requirement. All tenders must be advertised appropriately (including via the Public Contracts Scotland portal) unless approval for non-competitive action has been given in writing by the Head of Procurement (see paragraph 2.5). 

2.4 Requirements above the EU threshold

The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and the Public Contracts and Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2009 applies to SPCB procurement and must be complied with (see section 3.2).

  • Failure to comply with this legislation carries severe penalties for which the SPCB would be held accountable.

2.5 Non-competitive action (NCA)

Sometimes known as single tender action, NCA is required when purchases that need to be made cannot be obtained through the normal competitive process. However, great care is needed in authorising NCA, as EU procurement rules must be fully complied with at all times and this must be taken into account when NCA is being considered. Additionally, it remains essential to achieve best value for money and to demonstrate the fair and equal treatment of suppliers, so the procurement process selected must always be fully defensible. 

  • It is SPCB policy that all requests to proceed with non-competitive action must receive prior written approval by the Head of Procurement.

Examples of situations where NCA may be justified include:

  • For work of exceptional urgency caused by unforeseeable circumstances where competitive tendering would cause unacceptable delay (e.g. after critical equipment breakdown, storm, fire, etc.). Insufficient organisational planning (e.g. requirement to spend funds within a particular financial year) cannot be considered as acceptable justification. Note: where the total contract value exceeds the current EU procurement threshold, details of this process will be included in the return issued by the SPCB to the EU Commission.
  • The proposed supplier has, by recent experience (normally, within the last 12 months, but this will depend on relevant market conditions), proved to offer best value for money as the result of a fully compliant, competitive procurement exercise. Further competition would be highly likely to produce the same outcome. However, EU procurement rules must be taken into account, dependent on the value of the additional requirement.
  • The proposed supplier is the only one known to provide the goods and/or services required (adequate research must have been carried out to demonstrate that this is the case) and there are no satisfactory alternatives. Note: where the total contract value exceeds the current EU procurement threshold, details of this process will be included in the return issued by the SPCB to the EU Commission.
  • Where Intellectual Property Rights are an issue, e.g. bespoke designs and some research programmes. However, it is essential that procedures are in place to ensure value for money.

2.6 Emergency purchasing procedures

The SPCB has separate purchasing procedures for situations of genuine emergency, for example; health pandemic; fire, flood or bomb damage. However, there remains the obligation to ensure that the most appropriate procurement route is followed and best value is achieved. The Head of Procurement (or deputy) should be contacted for advice if an emergency situation arises.