Inspired by our recent experience of acting for an alliance of Registered Providers ("RP's"), we reflect on the benefits of Framework Agreements and how to ensure they are procured and operated successfully.
The potential benefits of Framework Agreements include:
- greater buying power - through an initial investment in establishing the framework RP's should be able to make use of advantageous terms and simplified procurement saving time and money
- it creates a working environment that supports continuous improvement
- training, employment and other benefits for the local community can be secured through binding community benefits provisions
Key principles for successful frameworking include:
keeping frameworks simple - if they become over-complex they fail to reduce the procurement burden
carefully considering who might wish to use the framework - flexibility needs to be built in to the OJEU Notice and the Frameork Agreement documentation up front if there is the potential for additional users to be added in the future (consideration also needs to be given of the effect on the scope and extent of work
making the framework attractive to suppliers by simplifying the bidding process and offering a reasonable opportunity of getting work
developing a suitable form of Framework Agreement that meets the RP's specific requirements and using recognisable works contracts that are based on appropriate industry standard forms
avoiding legal risks by complying with the public procurement rules
using the appropriate procurement procedure - in many cases the restricted procedure should be used
carefully considering the selection and award criteria to ensure that these are appropriate to the RP's needs, lawful and adequately disclosed to bidders (e.g. setting the bar (relatively) high at the pre-qualification stage might facilitate a more price-focused approach from bidders
minimising the risk of insolvency or non performance of framework contractors by suitable assessment during the procurement process and by obtaining performance security through the framework agreement
managing the relationship amongst multiple framework users through a Framework Members Agreement (this can be non binding)
operating the framework properly to facilitate compliance with the procurement rules and the framework itself - training for relevant people is an advisable and cost effective of way of achieving this
It is vital for RP's to fully consider their requirements in terms of mini-competition and call off arrangements. For smaller pieces of work RP's will want the simplicity and convenience of calling upon a framework contractor to carry out the works on preagreed terms. The documentation for call-offs should be as concise and user-friendly as possible. Where the terms of the framework do not establish all the necessary matters (more likely for larger or more complicated works) a mini-competition should be used. Again, there is a need to see that mini-competitions are as easy to operate as possible while being compliant with procurement regulations. Reservation should also be made to allow off framework contracts to be awarded for maximum flexibility.
If you think we can help you succeed with your framework arrangements, please contact:
0141 271 5691
020 7634 8768
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This briefing is written as a general guide only. It is not intended to contain definitive legal advice which should be sought as appropriate in relation to any particular matter.