Route 3 - Open & Evaluate Tender - Receipt of Tenders

It is considered best practice to use PCS-Tender if the Procurement Officer has access. Alternatively, Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) can be utilised.

If your Organisation does not use PCS-Tender or Public Contracts Scotland for receipt of tenders you should refer to your internal governance procedures for information on how to manage this stage of the Procurement Journey. Some basic guidelines are provided below:

  • All tenders must be returned to the named individual within the Invitation to Tender (ITT) document

  • Any tenders mistakenly returned to any other person must not be opened and should be forwarded immediately to the named individual within the ITT document

  • To ensure tenders remain unopened until the pre-defined opening ceremony, the ITT should include a tender return label for the supplier to attach on the exterior envelope or package

  • The named individual within the ITT document is responsible for storing the unopened tenders securely.

The Organisation should invite a sufficient number of tenderers to generate competition. Organisations may limit the number of candidates meeting the selection criteria that it invites to tender or to conduct a dialogue. The minimum numbers of qualified tenderers that may be indicated by an Organisation are as follows:

Where the number of candidates meeting the selection criteria and any minimum standards is below the minimum number you may continue the procedure if you invite all the candidates with the required capabilities.

Where tenderers issued with a copy of the ITT do not submit a response, you should ask for reasons why and record these on file to inform future strategy development. 

If the only tenders which are received in an Open or Restricted Procedure are irregular or unacceptable (this includes tenders above the established budget), then you may apply a Competitive Procedure with Negotiation or Competitive Dialogue. You need not publish a Contract Notice when the procedure includes all of, and only, the tenderers meeting the selection and exclusion criteria (who submitted tenders as part of the original procedure).


If only one tender response is received you should first consider why this is (in particular has the market been restricted in some way or has the opportunity been unattractive). In such cases you should consider restarting the process.


If you are satisfied that there are no particular reasons for the submission of only one tender response, and that the bid is compliant, then you may consider continuing with the procedure.


The above should be conducted in accordance with your internal governance procedures.


You may consider the use of a Non Competitive Action (NCA) in cases where there are exceptional circumstances. You must receive approval from the appropriate person in your Organisation to do so e.g. Head of Procurement, before proceeding.

It is the responsibility of all tenderers to ensure that their bid is submitted in accordance with the rules of the competition and before the specified deadline. In exceptional circumstances it may be permissible for a tender that arrived after the deadline to be accepted into the competition. The policy for addressing tenders returned after the due date/time will be subject to the internal governance for your organisation, legislation and case law. If there is any doubt about whether to allow a late tender into the competition, advice from your Procurement Department and/or legal advice should be sought. There will need to be a clear audit trail in respect of the handling of late tenders and any decision taken.

If PCS-Tender is being utilised, the Procurement Officer will be able to identify the tenderers which have submitted late tenders and determine whether to open the late tender or reject it.

It is considered best practice for the Procurement Officer to notify the tenderers if the late tender has been accepted or rejected.

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