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

All selection 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.

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 may be possible for Procurement Officers to conduct these stages simultaneously or in any order where the procedure allows.  For instance, when using an Open Procedure it may be desirable for the Procurement Officer to evaluate the award criteria prior to checking the qualifications of the winning bidder.


[For Care and Support Services you may choose to use the ESPD (Scotland) for selection without amending the questions, and it is a matter of best practice to do so.]

Minimum Standards

Where it has been determined that minimum standards are applicable they must relate to and be proportionate to the subject matter of the requirement and clearly detailed in the Contract Notice and any other Procurement Documentation.

Standardised Statements have been developed to help you create your Contract Notice or online ESPD (Scotland) Module if using PCS. The selection statements you use in the Contract Notice must be aligned to a specific question in the ESPD (Scotland) if you are using the ESPD (Scotland) Word Document or the PCS-T Module. If however, you are using the online ESPD (Scotland) module on PCS, the selection statements need to be built into the Module alongside the selection questions.

Where you wish to apply minimum standards to limit the number of potential suppliers to be invited to tender, minimum standards must be specified or referred to in the Contract Notice (or Prior Information Notice if used as a ‘call for competition’ by a sub-central organisation) and set out in the Procurement Documentation to allow the rejection of suppliers who do not meet those standards. Similarly if a pass mark can only be obtained by a response that meets the minimum requirement, it must be clearly stated within the scoring guidance provided to suppliers.  Minimum standards must not be changed once they have been notified to the tenderers.


Publication of Criteria

As a matter of procurement policy, and in order to meet obligations of transparency, organisations must publish details of the evaluation criteria to be used to either select the suppliers to be invited to bid for the contract or the evaluation criteria to be used to identify the supplier to whom the contract will be awarded. It is best practice that evaluation criteria for both selection and award stages are agreed, along with respective weightings, by the UIG before the Contract Notice (or Prior Information Notice if used as a ‘call for competition’ if a sub-central organisation) is published and any documentation issued. The evaluation criteria will comprise of the selection or award criteria (depending upon the stage of the competition), sub-criteria, weightings, minimum standards, pass marks (if any) etc. If there is any doubt as to the level of detail that must be disclosed/published, you should seek specialist professional procurement or legal advice and guidance. A sub-central Organisation is any organisation which does not belong to Central Government or National Health Services.

The agreed and advertised selection and award criteria and weightings must not be changed once they have been notified to the tenderers.

Selection Criteria

The selection stage involves an examination of the suitability and capability of the potential suppliers to perform the contract that will be awarded at the end of the competition. The criteria used for selection must be relevant and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract.

The selection process should be a "backward-looking, not forward-looking" process. That is, selection criteria may relate to suitability to pursue a professional activity, economic and financial standing or technical and professional ability, as opposed to the specific means by which the supplier would perform the contract. Organisations must limit any requirements to those that are appropriate to ensure that a bidder has the legal and financial capacities and the technical and professional abilities to perform the contract to be awarded.  Selection requirements are limited to those set out in regulation 59 of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015.

Careful consideration, for example, must be given to whether it is relevant and proportionate to address Fair Work practices as selection criteria.  It may be more appropriate to include Fair Work practices in the award critieria, which encourages bidders to explain how any existing and any new Fair Work practices they propose to adopt, will positively impact on the way the contract is performed.

The practical tool "Developing a Fair Work practices Criterion" will help Procurement Officers consider how to structure and adapt a Fair Work practices criterion to suit the needs of the contract.

To allow organisations to identify a number of suitably qualified and experienced businesses who will be invited to submit a tender, the ESPD (Scotland) should be used.  It must be accepted by the organisation as preliminary evidence that the bidder fulfils the selection criteria.

A list and brief description of the objective and non-discriminatory selection criteria that will be applied during the selection stage must be contained in:

  • The Contract Notice (unless using the online ESPD (Scotland) Module on PCS)
  •  The Prior Information Notice when it is used as a call for competition
  •  All relevant Procurement Documents 

 [For Care and Support Services, please see the additional C&SS Selection Criteria Guidance.]


Economic and Financial Standing


 An organisation may require certain criteria, in relation to economic and financial standing as set out in the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015, such as the minimum level of turnover of a bidder.

To remove the obstacles to the involvement of SMEs in public procurement, the Organisation must not ask the bidders to have a minimum yearly turnover which exceeds twice the estimated value of the contract (except in limited duly justified circumstances). An organisation must not request proof of a bidder’s turnover for more than the last 3 financial years.


Annual accounts

Where relevant and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract, you may require bidders to provide certain information on their annual accounts, for example showing the ratio between assets and liabilities as long as the methods and criteria for consideration of the ratios are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and specified in the procurement documents. You should be aware that not all bidders have an audited set of accounts, so you must consider on a case by case basis what is essential and you must specify the information to be provided in the contract notice (or in the online ESPD (Scotland) module on PCS).

You may only exclude bidders on the basis of ratios identified in the Contract Notice (or in the online ESPD (Scotland) module on PCS). Management Accounts can be asked to be supplied for evidence, however exclusions will only apply based on those ratios


Insurance levels

You may require bidders to have an appropriate level of professional risk indemnity insurance in place, which is proportionate to the value of the contract and the level of risk. Organisations should consider what is required on a case by case basis and must specify what level of insurance is required of potential bidders to perform the contract in the contract notice. It is a legal requirement that all companies hold Employer’s (Compulsory) Liability Insurance of £5 million as a minimum apart from sole traders. However, the bidder is not required to have other relevant insurance(s) in place at the time of bidding, but should be asked to confirm that they either have the required level(s) or would be willing to obtain the required level(s) if successful. 

If at the selection stage a bidder cannot provide the level of cover required, an undertaking to secure the insurance should be sufficient. It is not, at this stage, appropriate to insist on the evidence that cover already exists. You must check that any such commitment has been acted upon at the contract award stage.

Instead of the pound symbol, please use 'GBP' on the PCS Contract Notice.


Technical and Professional Ability

You can ask bidders to provide relevant examples that demonstrate they have a sufficient level of experience in order to deliver the contract. Bidders’ examples must only be from experience over the previous three years for goods and services, unless the organisation has indicated in the procurement documents or contract notice that it will take into account evidence from a longer period..

You may request evidence of the technical and professional ability of bidders to perform the quality standards required for the effective delivery of the contract. This can include their skills, efficiency, experience and reliability. Where it is more appropriate for the qualifications and experience of the bidders’ staff to be evaluated as part of the award criteria, for example, where there are particular aspects of technical or professional ability which are necessary to perform aspects of the particular contract, these aspects cannot also be assessed as selection criteria.

In establishing selection criteria to assess technical and professional ability you should be careful not to exclude bidders who can demonstrate that they have the capacity and capability to deliver the contract, but which may not have delivered exactly the same goods or services previously. This will ensure opportunities are provided to bidders to access new markets or provide innovative solutions, no matter their size or status.

An organisation may hold that a bidder does not possess the required professional abilities where the organisation has established that the bidder has conflicting interests which may negatively affect the performance of the contract.


Use of References

One way that suitable experience can be evidenced is through the use of references from contracts performed within the previous three years for goods and services. Where a bidder is unable to provide references required it may prove its economic and financial standing by any other document which the organisation considers appropriate.


Equality Legislation

Equality legislation places duties on certain public bodies to, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity. You should ask bidders to self-certify that they comply with all relevant equality legislation. Where evidence is provided of breaches to the equality legislation, you must take into consideration any remedial action that has been taken by the bidder in order to address these breaches. For organisations working outside of the UK these questions relate to equivalent legislation in the country in which the bidder is located / breach occurred. Effective contract management and monitoring should be undertaken to ensure that the assessment of equality continues to be applied throughout the duration of the contract.


Health and Safety Legislation

Any measure you take to ensure the promotion and compliance of health and safety in public procurements must not be overly burdensome. The degree to which health and safety requirements are specified within procurement documentation will vary according to the goods and services being purchased.

You should ask bidders to self-certify that they comply with all relevant health and safety legislation.


Quality measures

Where relevant and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract, you should ask bidders to demonstrate how they have adopted  measures for ensuring quality as evidence of the bidder’s technical ability (such as how they manage communication with their clients to ensure continued delivery of a service or product that meets their needs). This must be in accordance with the nature, quantity or importance, and the use, of the supplies or services. You must state the requirements for participation, which may be expressed as minimum levels of ability, together with the appropriate means of proof, in the Contract nNotice, in the online ESPD (Scotland) module on PCS or in the invitation to confirm interest.


Environmental Management Procedures

Where relevant and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract, you should ask bidders to demonstrate an indication of the environmental management measures that the bidders will be able to apply when performing the contract as evidence of the bidder’s technical ability.

This must be in accordance with the nature, quantity or importance, and the use, of the supplies or services. You must state the requirements for participation, which may be expressed as minimum levels of ability, together with the appropriate means of proof, in the Contract Notice, in the online ESPD (Scotland) Module on PCS or in the invitation to confirm interest.

Limiting the number of Tenderers / Shortlisting

For the Restricted Procedure, the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation, Competitive Dialogue Procedure and Innovation Partnerships you may limit the number of candidates invited to participate at the tender stage, or to engage in dialogue with. This can only be done if the Contract Notice (or the invitation to confirm interest where the call for competition is by means of a Prior Information Notice) and relevant Procurement Documents specify:

  • your intent to limit the number of bidders and the minimum number and (if applicable) maximum number of bidders you intend to invite to the tender stage; and
  • the objective and non-discriminatory criteria or rules to be used.

The Organisation should invite a sufficient number of bidders to generate competition.  In limiting the number of bidders who will proceed through to the tender stage, the minimum number of qualified bidders should be as follows:

  • Restricted Procedure – where an OJEU advert is required the minimum number of tenderers should be five, in other cases three or 4 may be regarded as sufficient;
  • Competitive Procedure with Negotiation, Competitive Dialogue Procedure and Innovation Partnership procedure – the minimum number of tenderers should be three.

These must be bidders who requested to participate and meet the minimum requirements set out in the Selection Criteria. However, where the number of bidders who meet the selection criteria is less than the minimum number listed above, the Organisation may continue the procedure with the lesser number of tenderers or may discontinue the procedure.


More on economic and financial standing, and technical and professional ability can be found under the under the Statutory Guidance for the Selection of Tenderers and Award of Contracts.


Scoring Methodology for Selection Stage Evaluation

You should ensure that a scoring methodology is developed to assist with evaluation at the selection stage. The evaluation criteria should be published under II.2.9 (Information about the limits on the number of candidates to be invited) of the Contract Notice or II.2.14 (Additional Information) of the Social and other Specific Services Contract Notice (if you decide to advertise your C&SS requirements) to allow bidders to clearly see how their responses will be evaluated. However, if you are unable to publish these criteria in the Contract Notice, as an absolute minimum, you must state them in the Procurement Documents.

If the online ESPD (Scotland) module is used on PCS, the scoring methodology needs to be detailed next to the relevant  section/question.

An example of scoring methodology is provided below:


Evaluation Criteria for Selection Stage




0 - Unacceptable


Nil or inadequate response. Fails to demonstrate previous experience/capacity/capability relevant to this criterion.

1 - Poor

Response is partially relevant but generally poor.  The response shows some elements of relevance to the criterion but contains insufficient/limited detail or explanation to demonstrate previous relevant experience/ capacity/capability.


2 - Acceptable

Response is relevant and acceptable.  The response demonstrates broad previous experience, knowledge and skills/capacity/capability but may lack in some aspects of similarity e.g. previous experience, knowledge or skills may not be of a similar nature.


3 - Good

Response is relevant and good. The response is sufficiently detailed to demonstrate a good amount of experience, knowledge or skills/capacity/capability relevant to providing similar services to similar clients.


4 - Excellent

Response is completely relevant and excellent overall. The response is comprehensive, unambiguous and demonstrates thorough experience, knowledge or skills/capacity/capability relevant to providing similar services to similar clients.

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