Public Contracts Scotland
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Public Contracts Scotland is the national advertising website for Scottish public sector organisations to post Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notices (contracts over the European directive thresholds) and low value contracts commonly known as sub-threshold notices on the website and make subsequent awards. It also allows contracting authorities to invite suppliers to submit quotations (Quick Quotes) electronically via the website’s secure tender postbox. Public Contracts Scotland was launched by John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, at the National Procurement conference in October 2008.
"Government really have to stretch themselves to design things that make an impact on people and organisations and Public Contracts Scotland is one of them. It is one of the most fantastic tools I've ever seen. I am delighted with the performance of Public Contracts Scotland and I look forward to that having a further effect on the way that the market operates in years to come." John Swinney MSP Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, 2009.
Public Contracts Scotland was created as a result of John McClelland 2006 Review of Public Procurement in Scotland. The McClelland report called for a single public sector “electronic portal” to be established as a part of the Scottish Government’s Public Procurement Reform Programme. As a result, in October 2008 Public Contracts Scotland was launched. The site provides suppliers with easy access to all essential information on public sector contract opportunities, encouraging a competitive market environment generating a better deal for the tax payer. The site provides purchasers with a centralised system to advertise all types of contracts to thousands of registered suppliers.
It is Scottish Government policy for all contracting authorities in Scotland to use Public Contracts Scotland. This includes Scottish Local Authorities, NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Government Family, Higher/Further education institutes and Emergency services. In total the public sector in Scotland Procures over £9bn worth of goods and services every year, with approximately 150 public bodies each spending over £1m every year, sixty percent of which spend more than £25 million a year on goods and services (92% total spending). Public Contracts Scotland provides a connection for private businesses to access contract opportunities from public sector purchasers.
Public Contracts Scotland is managed by Millstream Associates Ltd. who also develop and manage the tender alert service Tenders Direct as well as the national public procurement websites for Ireland (eTenders) and Norway (Doffin).
Public Contracts Scotland continues to introduce new tools and upgrades
Year 1 – August 2008 – July 2009
• Attach Documents The ability to attach and upload tender documents not only provides organisations with a full audit trail but allows resource and time to be saved in a sustainable and efficient manner.
• Online Clarifications / Q&A This facility helps maintain an open and transparent way of communicating and answering suppliers questions by ensuring that all suppliers are provided with the same answers at the same time.
• Activity Reporting The Reporter functionality provides SPD, Centres of Expertise and contracting authorities with various reports to monitor and analyse many aspects of their PCS usage such as number of notices, SME statistics and supplier usage.
• Video case studies The addition of both buyers and supplier case studies provides users with examples of real people winning real business as a result of PCS. They appear both on PCS website and on YouTube.
• Quickquote Quickquote was the biggest development of year one. A facility to create online requests for competitive quotes for very low-value contracts where an advert is not required.
Year 2 – August 2009 – July 2010
• Third Sector alerts – This development allows potential suppliers in the third-sector to register and identify what category of third Sector they are e.g. Supported Factories and Businesses, Social Firms, Charities and Other. It also alerts buyers to the possibility of reserving contracts for supported business. This new tool also enable statistics to be gathered on what contracts are being awarded including values to Supported Factories and Businesses and the wider third sector.
• Quick Quote Award A facility to create quick quote award notices has been developed; this also alerts successful and unsuccessful contractors of the outcome. The details of the quick quote award will be transferred to the Scottish Procurement Information Hub (where applicable) to update organisation’s contract register. A reporting facility is currently being developed for quick quotes and will be released shortly.
• Contract Award Reminder E-mails A new facility has been developed to send a monthly reminder e-mail to all controllers within an organisation which will list all contract notices and quick quotes with an overdue award notice. In addition to the monthly e-mail, a report is also available on the website
• Contract Awards link with The Scottish Procurement Information Hub Key information on any contract that has been advertised on PCS and subsequently awarded will automatically be transferred to the Scottish Procurement Information Hub. This means that once an organisation uses the Portal to publish both contract notices and award notices it will no longer need to individually upload them to the Hub.
• Supplier Registration Changes : DUNS Numbering All registered suppliers will be asked to provide their D&B D-U-N-S Number which will be added to their registration profile. If they do not have a D&B D-U-N-S Number they will be asked to obtain one. Applying for a number is simple, with the Dun and Bradstreet supplying the number to the supplier normally within 48 hours. This process is free of charge to suppliers and will not impede them when applying for contracts.
Planned developments for 2010/2011 include
- PCS iPhone App – Allows PCS functionality to be accessed via iPhones.
- Introduction of Twitter
- Standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire – in response to supplier feedback, a nationally agreed standard questionnaire for pre-qualification information will be introduced. Combined with an online national database for suppliers to store their pre-qualification information, this will minimise administration and duplication of effort for business bidding for public contracts.
- Quick Quote (V3) – will differentiate between the QQ process and mini competitions
- Commodity Category Codes - will improve the e-mail alert functioanlity for suppliers.