Route 3 - Develop Documents - Exclusion, Selection and Award Criteria Overview

All exclusion, selection and award criteria must be relevant and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract.  Procurement Officers should set out the specific requirements, the relevant exclusion grounds and the minimum selection criteria that are relevant for the procurement exercise in the Contract Notice or the online ESPD (Scotland) Module in Public Contracts Scotland if used.

Statutory Guidance has been published on Selection of Tenderers and Award of Contracts.

The distinction between selection and award criteria is crucially important. Selection criteria are focused on "the bidder" and award criteria are focused on "the bid”. The Procurement Officer must maintain a clear distinction between both throughout the procurement process. This means that issues/questions which are appropriate to the selection criteria must be addressed at the selection stage and cannot form part of the award stage (even if they were omitted from the selection stage in error) and vice versa.

[For Care and Support Services, consider the involvement of people who use services and their carers in developing any criteria, preparing questions for use in interviews with potential service providers, and the nature and level of support they will require. An organisation must determine at the planning stage what criteria it will use to select potential suppliers, and what criteria it will use to evaluate tenderer. The mandatory exclusion ground must be applied and an organisation may also choose to apply discretionary exclusion ground, selection criteria and award criteria.]

Examples areas that are commonly known as "selection" and "award" criteria are listed in the table below:

Selection Criteria

Award Criteria

Technical and professional qualifications, capability including experience


Economic and financial standing



(Further examples provided below)

Although the selection and award criteria must be developed and managed quite separately, it is possible for you to conduct these stages simultaneously or in any order where the procedure allows.  For instance, when using an Open Procedure it may be desirable to assess the tenders prior to checking minimum exclusion and selection criteria are met when only a small number of bids have been received.  Where this is done you must still ensure that verification of absence of grounds for exclusion and of fulfilment of the selection criteria is carried out in an impartial and transparent manner so that no contract is awarded to a bidder that should have been excluded or does not meet the selection criteria.

By applying exclusion grounds and developing relevant and proportionate selection and award criteria you can ensure the successful bidders are well placed to deliver best value for the Scottish public sector.

There are clear stages in the procurement process:

Exclusion grounds - There are circumstances in which a bidder must be excluded from the procurement process, and there are other circumstances in which you may determine on a case by case basis whether a bidder should be excluded.  These are referred to as mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds, respectively.

It is expected that those bidding for public contracts will comply with all relevant law and international obligations, including labour law.  These aspects are tested when seeking bidders responses in Part III of the European Single Procurement Document. Fair Work practices are actions an employer adopts for the benefit of its workers that are above and beyond the law.  

[In the case of Care and Support Services the mandatory exclusion grounds (regulations 58(1) to (3) of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015) must be applied to all procurements, and you can also choose to apply the discretionary exclusion grounds.

Exclusion statements may be put under II.2.14 Additional Information of the Social and other Specific Services Contract Notice. If you decide to use the online ESPD (Scotland) Module on PCS (The Module), the exclusion grounds statement will be built into the online ESPD (Scotland) therefore the exclusion grounds are not required to be in the Contract Notice.

Selection criteria - There are also different criteria which are used to select bidders in order to determine their suitability to perform the contract.  These are referred to as selection criteria.  These criteria consider a bidder’s suitability to pursue a professional activity, economic and financial standing and technical and professional ability.  The requirements must be related and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.

Award criteria - Are used to determine which bidder is best placed to deliver, and which should be awarded, the contract.  You must base the award on the most economically advantageous tender and may not use price only or cost only as the sole award criteria but instead on the basis of the best price-quality ratio.  You have the discretion to determine what award criteria to apply in relation to your specific procurement exercise.  In all cases award criteria must be proportionate, relate directly to the goods or services to be provided and include the price or cost.  The award criteria must ensure the possibility of effective competition and be accompanied by specifications that allow information provided by bidders to be effectively verified in order to assess how bids meet the award criteria.

[For Care and Support Services, additional guidance on award criteria can be found in C&SS Award Criteria Guidance document.]

Information on how to address Fair Work practices can be found in the Award Criteria station.

Exclusion grounds, selection and award criteria must be clearly defined in the Contract Notice (or in the Module on PCS) and the call for competition when used as a Contract Notice to ensure a common understanding of the requirements by all bidders, and must not be changed or waived during the procurement process e.g. the Contract Notice and the call for competition must contain a list and brief description of criteria regarding the personal situation of bidders that may lead to their exclusion, minimum and specific requirements detailed.

Evaluation criteria - and Evaluation matrix may assist you in evaluation if you are not using PCS-T. More information on evaluation criteria can be found on the Award Criteria station.

[For Care and Support Services ONLY: please read the Guidance on Contract Renewal and Direct Award without Competition.]

Reserved Contracts

Suppliers whose main aim is the social and professional integration of disabled or disadvantaged persons, where at least 30% of their employees are disabled or disadvantaged workers are classed as Supported Businesses.  It is possible for your Organisation to “reserve” competition to these supported businesses where it is assessed as appropriate.  An OJEU call for competition will still be necessary and the normal EU rules, including those for selection and award must be applied, as must the Principles of Procurement.   

It is also possible for your Organisation to provide for a contract to be performed in the context of an employment programme operated by a supplier who has the main aim of social and professional integration of disabled or disadvantaged persons, and where at least 30% of those engaged in the programme are disabled or disadvantaged persons.   It is a tool that can be used by Procurement Officers to encourage involvement of disabled and disadvantaged persons.

Group Bids

Groups of suppliers can bid and must not be required to take a specific legal form to do so. 

Organisations can set contract conditions which are specific to a group bid and can explicitly state requirements regarding group economic and financial standing or the criteria relating to technical and professional ability.  However such conditions must be justified by objective reasons and be proportionate to the contract. 

The Organisation may require the group to take a legal form e.g. appoint a lead contractor and accept joint and several liability if required for the performance of the contract, but only if they are to be awarded the contract.

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