Route 2 - Develop documents - Selection, Award and Exclusion Criteria - Selection Criteria

Route 2 - 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 important. Selection criteria are focused on "the bidder" and award criteria are focused on "the bid”.  It is good practice that the Procurement Officer  maintain a clear distinction between both throughout the procurement process. This means that issues/questions which are appropriate to the selection criteria should be addressed at the selection stage and should not form part of the award stage (even if they were omitted from the selection stage in error) and vice versa.

Examples of 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 crteria must be developed and managed quite seaprately, it is possible for Procurement Officers to conduct these stages simultaneously or in any order.

[In the case of Care and Support Services the provision in Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016 in respect of selection criteria do not apply. However, you may choose to apply the selection criteria (regulation 10 of the Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016) and may choose to use the ESPD (Scotland) for this purpose 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 either within selection or award criteria they must relate to and be proportionate to the subject matter of the requirement and be clearly detailed in the appropriate documentation. Standardised Statements have been developed to help you create your Contract Notice or online ESPD (Scotland) Module if using PCS in a consistent manner. 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.  There are Standardised Statements that can be used as a guide when developing your selection statements and these can be downloaded here.

Where you wish to apply minimum standards to limit the number of potential suppliers to be invited to tender, minimum standards or objective criteria must be specified or referred 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 potential suppliers. 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 bidders. A sub-central Organisation is any Organisation which does not belong to Central Government or National Health Services.

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 bidders 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.

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 appropriate, relevant and proportionate to the particular procurement.

The selection process should be a "backward-looking, not forward-looking" process. That is, the criteria for selection must concentrate on the general suitability and capability of the supplier for the project, their economic and financial standing and their technical and professional suitability, as opposed to the specific means by which the supplier would perform 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 should be used by the organisation as preliminary evidence that the bidder fulfils the selection criteria. A set of standardised statements has been developed to support you in preparing this aspect of the relevant Contract Notice (or PIN if that is being used as a Call for Competition). If you use the online ESPD (Scotland) Module on PCS, and selection criteria will need to be detailed in the ESPD (Scotland) and not put in the Contract Notice. The selection criteria required for a process valued equal to or above the OJEU threshold will be listed in the module to allow you to choose those relevant to the procurement exercise that you are conducting.

A list and a brief description of the objective and non-discriminatory criteria that will be applied to produce a 'short-list' in a two-stage process 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 

Suitability to pursue a professional activity

 An organisation may require bidders to be enrolled in certain professional or trade registers in the country of the bidder’s establishment.  They may also require bidders to prove that they hold certain authorisation or memberships which are necessary for the bidder to be able to perform the service required in their country of origin

Economic and Financial Standing

In all cases, care should be taken not to set minimum standards that are disproportionate and/or which might exclude capable suppliers, especially SMEs and newly formed companies.


The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015 set out criteria in relation to economic and financial standing, such as the amount of turnover what the Organisation may ask for. To remove the obstacles to the involvement of SMEs in public procurement, the Organisation must not ask the bidders to have a minimum turnover which exceeds twice the estimated value of the contract. However, organisations can ask for a higher turnover in certain circumstances such as contracts with high risk or if the timely and correct performance of the contract is crucial.

Annual accounts

You may require bidders to provide certain information on their annual accounts, for example showing the ratio between assets and liabilities. 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.

You may only exclude bidders on the basis of ratios identified in the Contract Notice. Management Accounts can be asked to be supplied for evidence, however exclusions will only apply based on those ratios.

Insurance levels

Where relevant to the contract, 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 economic operators to perform the contract in the contract notice. It is a legal requirement that all companies hold Employer’s (Compulsory) Liability Insurance of £5M as a minimum apart from sole traders. However, the bidder should not be required to have the relevant insurance in place at the time of bidding but should be asked to confirm that they either have the required level or would be willing to obtain the required level 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 at the contract award stage.

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

Technical and Professional Ability

Where relevant and proportionate to the contract, 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. The examples requested should be relevant and proportionate to the procurement exercise and be from a reasonable timescale.  It is best practice to only request examples from bidders that are less than three years old in respect of procurement exercises for goods and services.

You may request evidence of the technical and professional ability of economic operators 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, as a matter of good practice, these aspects ahould not also be assessed as selection criteria.

In establishing selection criteria to asses technical and professional ability you should be careful not to exclude bidders which can demonstrate that they have the capacity and capability to deliver the contract, but which may not have delivered exactly the same goods, works 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.

Use of References

One way that suitable experience can be evidenced is through the use of references from contracts performed for goods and services.

Environmental Management Legislation

Where relevant and proportionate to the contract, you should clearly state what is required in the specification with regards to meeting all relevant environmental management legislation. Bidders may self-certify that they have complied with all relevant and current environmental legislation. Bidders should provide details of any remedial action that has been taken to address any breaches which have been committed. You should not select bidders that have been prosecuted or served notice under environmental legislation. You should not select bidders that have been prosecuted or served notice under environmental legislation.

Health and Safety Legislation

Any measure you take to ensure the promotion and compliance of health and safety in public procurements must be relevant, proportionate and not 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.

Although in principle self-certification should be sufficient at the selection stage, where relevant you should ask bidders to provide evidence to demonstrate that they comply with the relevant and current health and safety legislation and actively promote and manage good health and safety practice. You should monitor contracts to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements.

You must not select any bidders if they do not meet the stated minimum requirements of health and safety legislation for qualifying to perform the contract.

Quality management procedures

Where relevant and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract, you should ask bidders to demonstrate how they have adopted quality management procedures; such as how do 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 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 

More on economic and financial standing and technical and professional ability can be found 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.  If the online ESPD (Scotland) Module is used on PCS, the scoring methodology needs to be detailed next to the relevant  section/question and does not need to be included in the Contract Notice.

However, if you are unable to publish these criteria in the Contract Notice or within the ESPD (Scotland) Module, as an absolute minimum, you must state them in the Procurement Documents.

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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