FAQ and Jargon Buster

This is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and a Jargon Buster to clarify and explain words, sayings and acronyms that are widely used throughout public sector procurement.  This will be updated as new phases or questions arise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the benefits of working with Devon County Council?

The public sector accounts for 40% of the UK’s spending on goods and services with expenditure on anything from paper clips to vehicles, buildings and social care. Devon County Council alone engages in commercial activity in external markets to the value of £460m a year.

Public sector organisations have to be fair, honest, open, transparent and professional in the way they choose and deal with contractors and will always be good payers. Local authorities are less likely to be affected by market fluctuations and are willing to work with organisations to develop and improve services..

What sort of things does the council purchase?

The council purchases a huge range of goods and services to allow it to provide the services required by the public. The council also pays contractors to provide services to the public directly on its behalf.

Examples can include general stationery, vehicles, technology, food and catering services, furniture, legal services, social care,  and many more single products or services provided to the public via the County Council.

Do I have to be based in Devon to do business with Devon County Council?

No our contract opportunities are open to all interested suppliers and would usually be awarded on the basis of “most economically advantageous tender”.

Who should I contact regarding contract opportunities?

All contract opportunities can be found on the Devon Procurement Portal at , if you have any queries these should be directed by e-mail to

How do I get on an approved supplier list for Devon County Council?

Devon County Council approved suppliers lists opportunities are open to any organisation that may want to respond. Please see How do I register my organisation with the Council? for details of how to register for any future opportunities.

How do I find out more information?

There is a guide available called "How to do Business With the Council.” which should provide any information you require. If you still have queries you can e-mail them to

How do I register my organisation with the Council?

To register your organisation go to and click on the suppliers area.

On the first section click on new user under the heading “Join Devon’s new ProContract e tendering portal.” This will take you to the home page of the opportunities portal.  On the right hand side click on “register free” which, will take you through the five step registration form.

Why is the tendering process so formal?

The process is run this way to ensure that openness, transparency, fairness and compliance to all appropriate directives and regulations is maintained throughout the whole procedure. It also helps to maintain consistency in the way that all suppliers are treated throughout.

What is the OJEU?

The OJEU is the “Official Journal of the European Union”. If the value of a contract exceeds certain thresholds as stipulated as in "At what point are tenders required?" the council is legally required to advertise the requirement and tender opportunity within the OJEU.

Where do I find out what contracts are coming up for tender?

All opportunities are advertised on the Devon Procurement Portal at  Some opportunities will be advertised in relevant trade publications or local or national press, any opportunities with a value over the EU thresholds will also be advertised in the OJEU.

At what point are tenders required?

Under Devon County Council’s own code of business conduct the thresholds for tendering are as follows :-

The European Union has various thresholds for different types of contract and contracting organisation but the main thresholds relevant to Devon County Council are as follows :-

Any contract over these thresholds must be carried out in compliance with all relevant European Union procurement regulations, timescales and be advertised in the OJEU.

Can anyone provide me with training and advice on how to tender for Council contracts?

Devon Procurement Services runs training sessions designed specifically to help suppliers through the tender process for more details go to Seminars and Workshops for Businesses.

Any queries can be e-mailed to , if you have any queries during a specific tender process there are user guides and a Q an A feature available on the Devon Procurement Portal.

How can I improve my chances of being successful with tenders?

The "How to do Business with the Council” guide will give you information and advice on how to do business with the council.  The authority will also provide feedback upon request on any tender process you have taken part in whether successful or not to help you in any future tender exercises.  

How is a tender response evaluated?

The evaluation criteria for any tender process would be agreed by the project team involved and would be published within the tender documentation so that all suppliers would be aware of them.  Likely criteria for evaluation of tenders are quality of goods or service, technical merit, Aesthetic and functional characteristics, Environmental characteristics, after sales service, technical assistance, whole life cost and cost effectiveness.

Is the council just looking for the cheapest option?

It is extremely rare for a tender to be evaluated on price alone, the method used for evaluating tenders is described as “most economically advantageous tender” which means a mixture of quality and price criteria as detail in How is a tender response evaluated? would be used to evaluate all responses.  These criteria are weighted dependant on their importance, price is quite often less than 50% of any evaluation.

Will I need to attend an interview/presentation during the tendering process?

Dependant on the requirements of the contract it may be considered useful for an interview / presentation to be part of the process.  If this is the case full details of the procedure will be provided within the tender documentation.  Tenderers often find this process useful as this gives them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the authority and its requirements.

Who decides whom to award a contract to?

An evaluation of all responses will be carried out which will include technical, quality and cost. Once the evaluation has been completed and certain checks have been undertaken an award recommendation report will be written based on the results of the evaluation. Once the award recommendation has been signed off by the appropriate budget holder a formal award letter is sent to the successful tenderer.

If my organisation is unsuccessful in bidding for a contract will I be told why?

Devon County Council is very keen to work with the market place and will always provide feedback on tender responses whether they are successful or not. We will provide you with a de-brief detailing your strengths and where improvement can be made for future tender submissions.

What are Framework Agreements?

A framework agreement is an Agreement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more economic operators, the purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period, in particular with regard to price and, where appropriate, the quantity envisaged.

What is a Contract Notice?

A Contract Notice is an advertisement notifying suppliers of a contract opportunity, this may be in the OJEU or any other media.

The council’s procedures seem to be long winded and complicated, do they really need to be like this?

As a local authority we are bound by a number of rules and regulations dictating the way we conduct procurement. The Council is bound by the following rules and regulations:

What is the Devon Procurement Partnership (DPP)?

The Devon Procurement Partnership (DPP) is a partnership of public organisations operating within Devon which comprises collectively or individually of :-

Community Council of Devon, Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, Devon County Council, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services, Dartmoor National Park, Devon Primary Care Trust, Devon Rural Network, Devon Towns Forum, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, Exeter University, Land Registry, Market and Coastal Towns Association, Mid Devon District Council, Met Office, North Devon District Council, Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Torbay Council, Torridge District Council, West Devon Borough Council.