On 26 September 2016 the Crown Commercial Service ("CCS") published a new standard form selection questionnaire (the "New SQ"). The New SQ must be used by all contracting authorities in England (and contracting authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland that exercise wholly or mainly reserved functions) for procurements over the thresholds set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 ("PCR 2015") with immediate effect. The previous version of the standard form selection questionnaire must no longer be used.
The premise behind the New SQ is to simplify the supplier selection process for businesses and in particular, smaller firms, across the public sector. In addition, the New SQ has been designed to be compliant with the European Single Procurement Document ("ESPD").
The New SQ should be used:
- in the open procedure as part of the tender pack to test that a potential bidder meets any minimum levels of suitability; and
- to pre-qualify bidders to be invited to tender/participate in dialogue in the restricted, competitive dialogue, competitive procedure with negotiation and innovation partnership procedures and dynamic purchasing systems.
The New SQ is divided into three parts as follows:
- Basic information about the supplier such as contact details, trade memberships, details of parent companies, group bidding are contained in Part 1. This section is mandatory and cannot be added to or changed. No deviations are permitted;
- A self-declaration regarding whether or not any of the exclusion grounds apply. This section is mandatory and cannot be added to or changed. No deviations are permitted. A completed Part 2 is required from each organisation the bidder will rely on to meet the selection criteria (e.g. where there is a joint venture/partnership); and
- A self-declaration regarding whether or not the bidder meets the selection criteria in respect of its financial standing and technical capacity. Deviations are permitted, but must be reported to PQQDeviations@crowncommercial.gov.uk. When completing Part 3 not every question has to be answered - only those which are relevant and proportionate to the procurement in question.
Article by Katharine Rutherford and Lucy Woods.