Selection Criteria

Selection criteria are the minimum requirements or standards that bidders must meet in order to progress further in the procurement exercise. Bidders that cannot demonstrate that they meet these minimum requirements must be excluded from the competition. This applies to both single stage and multi-stage procurement exercises.
 
The selection criteria used must be relevant and proportionate to the procurement exercise being carried out. It’s important not to place an unnecessary burden on bidders by setting criteria that are overly onerous or excessive in comparison to the value and risk of the contract.
 
It is important to understand that when setting selection criteria the buyer is not asking open questions of the bidder, in the way they might when setting award criteria -  they are making a statement about what is required.
 

What Can be Used as Selection Criteria?

Buyers should only set selection criteria that are both relevant and proportionate to the contract. The Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016 set out a finite list of things that can be taken into account during the selection process.

These fall into three broad cateogories:

  • suitability to pursue a professional activity;
  • economic and financial standing;
  • technical and professional ability.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever need to use all of the available selection criteria in a single procurement exercise, so you’ll need to make sure you only use criteria that are relevant to the contract.  
 

What is the Difference Between Selection and Award Criteria?

Selection criteria is focused on "the bidder" and award criteria is focused on "the bid”. Selection criteria assess things like the bidders economic standing or technical qualifications whereas as award criteria is concerned with how they will deliver the contract

You should maintain a clear distinction between both throughout the procurement process and you should note that you cannot ask the same criteria at both selection and award stage

What types of selection criteria I can use?

Further information on the various elements of selection criteria can be found below. It’s extremely unlikely that all of the available selection criteria will be required in any given procurement exercise. Therefore buyers should only include those relevant to their needs. 

Suitability to Pursue Professional Activity

In order to check the bidder’s capability of delivering the contract, the buyer may require bidders to be enrolled in certain professional or trade registers. 

They may also require bidders to prove that they hold certain authorisation or memberships.  Buyers should state these requirements upfront either in the contract notice or the ESPD PCS module

For example: If the contract relates to the installation of gas boilers, the buyer may specify that the bidders need to be on the Gas Safe Register.

Economic and Financial Standing

Buyers should assess the financial standing of bidders to ensure that they are financially stable enough to carry out the contract. In order to assess this you may ask for information such as financial ratios or turnover information from the bidders. 

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. 

For lower-risk procurement exercises – for example, where there are numerous suppliers capable of carrying out the contract, no time constraints, and payment is only to be made after the work completed – you should consider whether it is necessary (i.e. relevant and proportionate) to set any selection criteria relating to economic and financial standing.

Turnover 

The Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016 state that to remove obstacles to SME involvement in public procurement, you must not ask bidders to have a minimum turnover which exceeds twice the estimated contract value.
However, you can ask in certain duly justified circumstances for a higher turnover such as high risk contracts  or where the timely and correct performance of the contract is crucial. 

Accounts

You may require bidders to provide annual account information for example showing the ratio between assets and liabilities.  (The PCS ESPD module includes a list of commonly used financial ratios for you to pick from). You should keep in mind that you may only exclude bidders on the basis of ratios identified in the Contract Notice so you should be sure that they are accurate and relevant.

You should also take into consideration that not all bidders have an audited set of accounts.  As a result you must consider, on a case by case basis, what is essential information.  This should be specified in the contract notice.

Insurance Levels

It might be appropriate for bidders to have an appropriate level of insurance in place to carry out the contract.  This must be relevant and proportionate to the value of the contract and the level of risk. You should consider what is required on a case by case basis.  You must specify what insurance level(s)  are required in the contract notice or in the ESPD PCS module.
Note - It is a legal requirement that all companies (excluding sole traders) hold Employer’s (Compulsory) Liability Insurance of £5M as a minimum.
The bidder is not required to have the relevant insurance in place at the time of bidding, and only needs to confirm that they would be willing to obtain the required level(s) if successful in winning the contract.  You must check that any such commitment has been put in place at the contract award stage.

Technical and Professional Ability

To assess the bidders capability you can ask them to provide relevant examples of previous work to demonstrate that they have sufficient  experience to deliver the contract. For goods and services, the examples provided by bidders must only be from the previous three years.

The examples requested should be relevant and proportionate to the procurement exercise.

You should be careful when creating the technical and professional ability minimum requirements to not exclude bidders who can demonstrate  that they have the capacity and capability to deliver the contract, but 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.

Remember that bidders do not need to submit examples from their existing organisation to meet the selection criteria.  They can submit relevant examples which they worked on in previous employment to demonstrate their previous experience.  This is particularly helpful to new businesses.  It is also acceptable for bidders to rely on other parties for certain parts of the selection criteria, for example, they may rely on a sub-contractor for experience in a certain area.

Qualifications

Depending the on the requirement, it can be more appropriate to evaluate qualifications as part of the award criteria.
If you do decide to evaluate qualifications as part of the selection stage, you should ensure the required qualifications are set upfront and clearly stated in the contract notice (or PCS ESPD module)

Use of References 

Buyers may request references from bidders in order to review previous experience. If the bidder is unable to provide the reference required it may provide other evidence which you consider appropriate. 

Quality Management Procedures

Depending on the nature of the contract, you may require the bidder to confirm that they comply with certain quality management standards or hold certain certificates.
You should ensure that any minimum standards are proportionate to the contract and are not overly onerous. 

For example if you require BS EN ISO 9001 you should accept any accredited independent third party certificate of compliance in accordance with the relevant requirements.  You should also accept other examples of equivalent measures provided that the bidder proves that the proposed measures comply with the required standards e.g. documented quality management policies and procedures.

 

Health and Safety Legislation

The degree to which health and safety requirements are required will vary according to the procurement exercise.  Any measure you take must be relevant, proportionate and should not be overly burdensome and be stated in the contract notice.

You must not select any bidders if they do not meet the stated health and safety legislation minimum requirements.

You should put in place on going monitoring procedures throughout the duration of the contracts to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements.  Within the ESPD, this should be specified as part of the quality management section.

Further help in setting these standards can be found in the standardised statements.

Environmental Management Legislation

Depending on the nature of the contract, you may require the bidder to confirm that they comply with certain environmental management legislation.

You should ensure that any minimum standards are proportionate to the contract and are not overly onerous.

For example if you require BS EN ISO 14001 you should accept any accredited independent third party certificate of compliance in accordance with the relevant requirements.  You should also accept other examples of equivalent measures provided that the bidder proves that the proposed measures comply with the required standards e.g. documented environmental management policies and procedures.

Further help in setting these standards can be found in the standardised statements.

Can I Score and Weight the Selection Critieria?

For single stage procurement exercises, it is recommended that selection criteria are assessed on a pass/fail basis – either a bidder meets a required minimum standard, or they don’t. Buyers must make it clear to bidders in the procurement documents that this is the case.

The rest of the bid containing the award criteria can then be scored.  For more information on award criteria, click here.

For multi-stage procurement exercises, some selection criteria can be assessed using a combination of pass/fail, and scoring and weighting. This approach can be useful when buyers wish to shortlist those who pass all of the pass/fail criteria with the highest scores. This approach must also be described clearly to bidders in the contract notice. 

It is recommended that in this instance it is only the technical and professional ability section that is scored and weighted.

In order to assess the suitability of the bidder, it’s recommended that the selection criteria should be assessed using the ESPD form, as it contains standard questions relating to all of the selection criteria permissible under The Procurement Scotland Regulations 2016.

An example of scoring methodology is provided below:

Score

Description

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.

 

Further information and an evaluation matrix to help you evaluate bids can be found in the Evaluation Tools station.

Can I add selection criteria to the ESPD?

The ESPD contains generic questions on selection critiera and you can add specific criteria to the contract notice.  Further information on how to use the ESPD can be found in the ESPD section.

Publication of Scoring 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 User Intelligence Group (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 (depending upon the stage of the competition):

  • the selection or award criteria
  • 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.

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)  This allows bidders to see how their responses will be evaluated.  

If the online PCS ESPD (Scotland) Module is used the scoring methodology needs to be detailed in the module, this does not need to be included in the Contract Notice.

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.

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