Route 3 - Develop Documents - Exclusion, Selection and Award Criteria - ESPD (Scotland)

The ESPD (Scotland) must be used for all selection stage questions.  Organisations can issue selection stage questions either in advance of an ITT e.g. a Restricted Procedure, Competitive Dialogue, Competitive Procedure with Negotiation and Innovation Partnership, or within an ITT document e.g. an Open Procedure.  If the selection questions are issued in advance of the ITT, this is known as a two stage process.

The selection stage should allow you to identify suitably qualified and experienced bidders.  Selection criteria should be proportionate to the value of the purchase, its sensitivity, estimated risks, and the complexity of the requirement.  You must clearly state the minimum requirements and consider the mandatory and discretionary exclusions in the Contract Notice and relevant procurement documents. More detail on exclusion criteria can be found in the exclusion stage station.

To allow organisations to identify suitably qualified and experienced bidders the ESPD (Scotland) must be used to assist in supplier selection. 


European Single Procurement Document - ESPD (Scotland)

The European Single Procurement Document replaces the Standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (sPQQ) and it is mandatory to use the ESPD (Scotland) for all Route 3 procurements which begin on or after 18 April 2016. You must not use the standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (sPQQ) or any local Pre-Qualification Questionnaires from this date onwards. 

[In the case of Care and Support Services, the mandatory exclusion grounds (regulations 58(1) to (3) of Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015) must be applied to all procurements, and an organisation can choose to apply the discretinary exclusion grounds and selection criteria and can choose to use the ESPD (Scotland) for this purpose without amending the questions, and it is a matter of best practice to do so.]

If you are currently a PCS Tender user you will be able to use the online ESPD (Scotland) template on PCS Tender.  If you do not use PCS Tender you should download the ESPD (Scotland) template.  Please ensure you always use the document from this source location to ensure that you are using the most up to date version.

The ESPD (Scotland) replaces the requirement for suppliers to provide up-front evidence or certificates by allowing them to self-declare that they:

  • do not fall within a ground for exclusion (or, if they do, they can demonstrate that they have taken self-cleansing measures);
  • meet the relevant selection criteria;

  • (where applicable) fulfil the objective rules and criteria for reduction of candidates.

The introduction of the ESPD is intended by the European Commission to reduce the administrative burden on bidders and to remove some of the barriers to participation in public procurement, especially for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

There are circumstances in which a bidder must be excluded from the procurement process, and there are other circumstances in which a bidder(s) may be excluded from the procurement process if you have selected such ground(s) as possible exclusion ground(s) for your procurement process and you consider that exclusion(s) is appropriate in that particular case. These are referred to as mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds respectively, and can be found in Part III of ESPD (Scotland) and if chosen for your procurement process will apply to all bidders.


ESPD (Scotland) Questions

The generic ESPD is used across all Member States of the EU and formed the basis from which the ESPD (Scotland) was developed. The ESPD (Scotland) contains the standard set of questions in line with the ESPD requirements and this means that the questions in the ESPD (Scotland) cannot be amended and new questions cannot be added. 


Contract Notices and Standardised Statements

The Procurement Officer must set out the specific requirements and minimum standards that are relevant and proportionate for the procurement exercise in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if that is being used as a Call for Competition).

From Friday October 28th 2016 when publishing an OJEU Contract Notice on PCS, Procurement Officers should attach the document containing their ESPD (Scotland) questions.

This does not apply to PCS-T users, who should continue to include their ESPD (Scotland) questions via PCS-T as per the existing process.

This set of standardised statements has been developed to support you in preparing this aspect of the relevant Contract Notice(s) (or the PIN if that is being used as a Call for Competition).  These statements are for you to include in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if that is being used as a Call for Competition) and complete where relevant.  You may also set out further selection stage information you require to be included in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if being used as a call for competition) where relevant and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract.

These statements are aligned to the relevant selection questions in the ESPD (Scotland) to enable Procurement Officers to adopt a standard approach in Contract Notices (and in PINs being used as Calls for Competition). Therefore where selection questions are not being used in the ESPD for the specific procurement exercise, the corresponding statements will not be required in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if that is being used as a Call for Competition).

Some ESPD (Scotland) questions (and therefore statements) are naturally contract specific and it is necessary for you to add some information to these statements before insertion into the Contract Notice e.g. if requesting details of appropriate financial ratios you will only choose to use those appropriate to your particular contract, while others do not require further specification and you can choose to adopt them in their entirety.

This is not a definitive list of statements and the Procurement Officer should determine which statements are most appropriate for the individual procurement exercise.  

The Scottish Government is working with the Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) system provider to have these standardised statements embedded in the contract notice functionality to enable Procurement Officers to use these online on PCS in the future.


Reliance on Other Parties

Where the capability and capacity of a sub-contractor, members of a consortia or any other body will be relied on to meet the selection criteria, you must request submission of a separate ESPD from each of those other parties relied on. 

Where sub-contractors are to be used, but their capability and capacity is not to be relied on to meet the selection criteria, you may choose to request a separate ESPD from those sub-contractors if you consider it relevant and proportionate to the particular procurement exercise and you may consider requiring confirmation of whether there are any mandatory or discretionary grounds for the exclusion of any sub-contractor involved in the delivery. Where this information is sought, the ESPD must be used and any such requirements must be specified in the Contract Notice or Procurement Documents referred to in it (or, if a PIN used as a call for competition, in the PIN, the Procurement Documents referred to in the PIN or in the invitation to confirm interest).

If in any case there are mandatory grounds for the exclusion of a sub-contractor you must require that sub-contractor is replaced.

If in any case there are discretionary grounds for the exclusion of a sub-contractor, you may require that the sub-contractor be replaced.  This should be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account the various circumstances of the procurement exercise.

More details on this can be found in the exclusion criteria.


Supporting Evidence

If using ESPD (Scotland) a bidder is not required to produce supporting documentary evidence or certificates until specifically requested to do so by you.  You must request this evidence before awarding the contract, as part of your due diligence process.  If the preferred bidder is unable to provide this evidence it should not be awarded the contract.

You may also, where it is necessary to ensure the integrity and proper conduct of the procurement process, request, at any time, all or part of the supporting documents from a bidder and any subcontractors, consortia members or other bodies, whose capability and capacity will be relied on to perform the contract. Supporting documentary evidence should only be sought during the procurement process where you have a genuine concern that there is a risk to the effective conduct of the procurement procedure or, in a two-stage process before moving from selection stage to award stage.


Multiple Use of the ESPD (Scotland)

Bidders may reuse the information that has been provided in an ESPD (Scotland) which has already been used in a previous procurement procedure, as long as the information remains correct and continues to be pertinent.


Bidder Responsibility

Bidders may be excluded from the procurement exercise where:

  • there is serious misrepresentation in filling in the ESPD (Scotland),


  • there is serious misrepresentation of, or withholding, the information required for:
    • the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion;
    • the fulfillment of the selection criteria;


  • the bidder is unable to submit the supporting documents.

More details on the circumstances when a bidder may be excluded due to the above and the possible justifications by bidders is set out in the exclusion criteria e.g. bidders must not be excluded if they have “self-cleansed”.



Shortlisting the number of bidders to be taken forward to the next stage can be done most easily within the Technical and Professional Ability (Part IV. Section C) section of the ESPD (Scotland), since in this section you can apply a weighting and scoring mechanism. You should put the weightings you plan to use for Section C of Part IV of the ESPD (Scotland) also in the Contract Notice (under II.2.9 and/or with the statements relating to the questions) and also in the ESPD (Scotland). In the ESPD (Scotland) there is an extra column in Section C of Part IV for the weightings used. The weightings should of course match the ones listed in the Contract Notice.

The objective and non-discriminatory criteria that will be applied to produce a 'shortlist' of bidders must be contained in the Contract Notice or PIN if that is used as the Call for Competition.  This should include weights and scoring, where applied, with an explanation of the relative weighting and scoring methodology.


Reduction of the number of QUALIFIED candidates

You may use Part V of the ESPD (Scotland) to reduce the number of already qualified candidates who met all the exclusion and selection criteria of the ESPD (Scotland).

Part V of the ESPD (Scotland) can only be used for restricted procedures, competitive procedures with  negotiation, competitive dialogue procedures and innovation partnerships. It cannot be used in case of open procedures and competitive procedures without negotiation. Part V may be used if it is proportionate and relevant to the contract and it is specified in the Contract Notice.

If you decide to use Part V of the ESPD (Scotland), you need to specify the objective and non-discriminatory criteria or rules to be applied in order to limits the number of candidates that will be invited to tender or to conduct a dialogue. This information, which can be accompanied by requirements concerning the (types of) certificates or forms of documentary evidence, if any, to be produced, is set out in the relevant Contract Notice.

The minimum number of bidders that may be indicated by an Organisation is five and in any event the number of candidates invited must be sufficient to ensure genuine competition (note if the number of bidders meeting the selection criteria is fewer than five the procurement can still proceed) indicated by the Organisation, in case of a restricted procedure is five. In a competitive dialogue and negotiated procedure without publication the minimum number of candidates taken forward by the Organisation is three. In any event the number of candidates invited must be sufficient to ensure the genuine competition (note if the number of bidders meeting the selection criteria is fewer than five the procurement can still proceed).


Further information on the ESPD (Scotland) is provided in the ESPD (Scotland) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.

In summary

The diagram below is provided to assist your understanding:



Any documents you need are listed below:

ESPD (Scotland) v1.9 (file type: docx)

ESPD (Scotland) FAQ (file type: docx)

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