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Buying Solutions delayed framework agreement "farcical"

Microscope contributor

Buying Solutions could overturn the previously confirmed supplier line-up in the tender stage for the £6bn IT Hardware and Software framework agreement, after retrospectively changing its selection criteria.

The framework organiser has altered the scoring process by removing the question, 'A4 Growth of Business' in response to complaints from suppliers that failed to get through the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ).

Bidders were told on 1 October if they had made it through to the Invitation To Tender stage or as with DSGi Business and Dell had failed to score highly enough, but a messy situation has since ensued.

In the subsequent six weeks hiatus Buying Solutions has been working through suppliers' appeals and has finally written to them confirming that it has binned the A4 Growth of Business question, which looked at sales growth in the last 3 years.

"Upon reflection, [we] agree that this question does not reflect the market strength of an individual company, nor does it accurately reflect M&A activity, profitability, market penetration or the macro economic climate," the letter stated.

This question carried 30 points weighting out of a total of 1,000 but Buying Solutions will not re-apportion this scoring across other criteria.

This means that suppliers which marginally scraped through to the ITT round after scoring highly in A4 could be out in the cold, leapfrogged by others that previously just failed to get through.

In a statement sent to MicroScope, Buying Solutions refused to comment on the possible outcome, "as the procurement is ongoing and release of this information could have an impact on the results of our competitive process."

Procurement is conducted under the Official Journal for the European Union, and in line with the Public Contracts Regulations to ensure fair play but as a result the 1 March launch date is increasingly looking unworkable.

"Buying Solutions has not even issued the ITT and after that we have 40 days from which to respond, I can't see this being done on time, we think its farcical" one source claimed.

Another source reckoned more suppliers will be sent an ITT, "the situation's ridiculous, I have never seen this happen before. Usually the appeals process happens following the ITT but not at the PQQ stage."

Sources close to the situation reckon delays could become even more protracted as any suppliers that get cut following this second evaluation could in turn try to appeal against the ruling given the potential size of the business on offer.

The spokesman at Buying Solutions conceded the appeals "have caused some delays to the procurement process but at this point we are not expecting this to hold up the commencement date of the framework agreement."

"We appreciate the frustration that some suppliers might feel as a result of the delay but we are obliged to consider carefully any appeals and react accordingly," a spokesman at Buying Solutions confirmed.

Suppliers will "shortly" receive a mail via the eTendering portal which will include a new result letter, relevant debruief rpeort and stats sheet, said Buying Solutions.

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