Exclusion, Selection and Award Criteria

There are clear stages in the procurement process:

Exclusion Grounds

There are circumstances in which a bidder must be excluded from the procurement process.  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.

If you decide to use the online SPD (Scotland) Module on PCS, the exclusion grounds statements will be built into the online SPD (Scotland).

Selection Criteria

There are different criteria used to determine the suitability of bidders to perform the contract.  These are referred to as selection criteria. 

These criteria consider a bidder’s suitability:

  • To pursue a professional activity,
  • Their economic and financial standing
  • Their technical and professional ability

Selection criteria and must be relevant to the contract.

Award Criteria

Award criteria are used to determine which bidder is best placed to deliver, and which should be awarded, the contract.  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, and should relate to the goods or services to be provided.

What is the Difference Between Selection and Award?

The distinction between selection and award criteria is crucially important:

  • Selection criteria are focused on "the bidder"
  • Award criteria are focused on "the bid”.

You 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 that stage and cannot form part of the award stage.  This is the case even if they were omitted from the selection stage in error and vice versa.

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

Selection Criteria

Award Criteria

Business probity


Technical and professional qualifications, capability including experience


Economic and financial standing

(Further examples provided below)

When Do the Exclusion, Selection and Award Stages Occur?

The selection and award criteria must be developed and managed  separately.  It is possible to conduct these stages simultaneously or in any order where the procedure allows. 

For examples: when using a two stage procedure you  may assess the award stage prior to checking the minimum selection criteria are met when only a small number of bids have been received.

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.

Evaluation Criteria

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

Exclusion grounds, selection and award criteria must be clearly defined in the call for competition and/or procurement documents.  This will ensure a common understanding of the requirements by all bidders. 

These must not be changed or waived during the procurement process e.g. the Contract Notice and the call for competition should contain a list and brief description of criteria regarding the personal situation of bidders that may lead to their exclusion, and minimum and specific requirements detailed. 

Reserved Contracts

A supported business:

  •  has a main aim of the social and professional integration of disabled or disadvantaged persons;
  • has at least 30% of its employees are disabled or disadvantaged workers

You can “reserve” your competition to  supported businesses where it is assessed as appropriate. 

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 places a requirement on an  organisation: to:

  • before starting the procurement to consider how the procurement process is conducted i.e. how to help involving  Supported Businesses
  • if Supported Businesses can be involved then  act in a way to support this involvement.

SPPN 4/2017 provides further information and guidance on Reserving Contracts For Supported Businesses.  This includes whether it meets the definition of a supported business for the purposes of public procurement legislation.  Other important aspects included are:

Identifying Supported Businesses - Given the change in definition there is an opportunity for Supported Businesses to participate further in procurement, and the coming years may see an increase both in organisations who qualify as supported businesses for public procurement legislation purposes and in services and goods provided by supported businesses. Procurement Officers may therefore want to carry out some market research as part of the commodity/service strategy to determine whether that particular procurement exercise is suitable to be tendered under reserved contract procedures. There are a number of ways in which a Procurement Officer might go about doing so.  For example, the advertising portal, Public Contracts Scotland (PCS), alerts Procurement Officers to the existence of Supported Businesses that could possibly deliver their contract. When public bodies enter the commodity they wish to purchase, the portal will highlight Supported Businesses which could potentially meet that requirement. Public bodies may also wish to refer to the on-line register of supported businesses which is incorporated into a ‘refreshed’ Ready for Business ‘RfB Third Sector Register’ that is embedded within Partnership for Procurement website P4P and maintained by P4P.

It is important to note that both PCS and the on-line register of supported businesses rely on suppliers self-declaring whether they meet the definition and therefore does not constitute evidence in its own right that a supplier is a supported business in terms of the legislation. Procurement Officers will need to carry out their own due diligence to satisfy themselves the definition has been met.

There is also a framework agreement for Supported Businesses put in place by the Scottish Government. This framework includes four lots, covering: furniture and associated products, document management; textiles/personal protective equipment; and signage. Further information on how to place contracts through the framework can be found in the buyers’ guide. The current framework agreement expires on 11 September 2018.

Monitoring and Reporting - Under the 2014 Act, public bodies with an annual procurement spend equal to or greater than £5 million are required to publish an annual procurement report. One of the mandatory elements to be included in the report is “a summary of any steps taken to facilitate the involvement of supported businesses in regulated procurements during the year covered by the report”. Statutory guidance on procurement strategies and annual procurement reports can be accessed from the Scottish Government website.


Group Bids

Groups of suppliers can act together to bid and do not need to take a particular legal form to do so.

You can set contract conditions which are specific to a group bid.

You  can explicitly state requirements regarding group economic and financial standing or the criteria relating to technical and professional ability.  Such conditions must be justified by objective reasons and be proportionate to the contract. 

Depending on the extent to which suppliers will be relied on to perform the contract, you may require particular members of the supplier group to meet all or some of the election criteria.

You may request the supplier group to take a legal form, if required for the performance of the contract, if the supplier group is to be awarded the contract.

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.

Exclusion Criteria

Care and Support Services mandatory exclusion grounds (regulation 8(1) of the Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016) must be applied to all procurements, and you can also choose to apply the discretionary exclusion grounds.

Selection Criteria

The provisions in Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016 in respect of selection criteria do not apply. However, you may choose to use the SPD (Scotland) for this purpose without amending the questions, and it is a matter of best practice to do so.

Evaluation Criteria

An organisation may take account of some other issues when procuring services including:

  • the quality of the service;
  • the continuity of the service;
  • the affordability of the service;
  • the availability and comprehensiveness of the service;
  • the accessibility of the service;
  • the needs of different types of service users;
  • the involvement of service users; and
  • innovation.

This is not an exhaustive list and there may be other considerations that an organisation may also take account of and which are relevant on a case-by-case basis.

Please read the Guidance on Contract Renewal and Direct Award without Competition which can be found at the bottom of the page in the documents section. 

Prompt Payment

If your contract will require sub-contractors (and sub-sub contractors) you should evaluate at award stage how bidders will ensure payment of sub-contractors   throughout your supply chain.  Payment should be made within the standard 30 day payment terms and bidders should communicate how this will be managed.

All public bodies advertising requirements which may require the use of sub-contractors should adopt the statement:

Standard Prompt Payment Statement

Confirmation that you will include the standard clause in all contracts used in the delivery of the requirements, ensuring payment of sub-contractors at all stages of the supply chain within 30 days,  include a point of contact for sub-contractors to refer to in the case of payment difficulties and provide evidence and reports to the contracting authority on a regular basis.

If a bidder is unable to confirm acceptance of the award statement then they should be removed from the tendering process.

All exclusion, selection and award criteria must be relevant and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.  You should set out your specific requirements, the relevant exclusion grounds and the minimum standards that are relevant for your procurement exercise in the Contract Notice.

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

Any documents you need are listed below

Evaluation Matrix

(file type: xlsx)