Public Contracts Regulations 2015 - Regulation 54

Regulation 54 - Invitation to candidates

We can find in Regulation 54 the rules related with the invitation to candidates under the restricted procedure, competitive dialogue, competitive procedure with negotiation and innovation partnership. These invitations are done in general after the selection stage is undertaken, for the economic operators the contracting authority has decided to invite to take part in the next stage of the procedure. The logic of this regulation is to ensure that equal treatment between different economic operators is respected when they are to be invited to take part or continue on a public procurement procedure.

Paragraph 2 of Regulation 54 extends the candidate invitation rules to situations where a prior information notice was used as a call for competition, for the types of procedures mentioned above. This is only valid for sub-central contracting authorities and applies at the start of the procedure, before any selection is undertaken. Under this paragraph 2, sub-central contracting authorities must invite any economic operators to take part in the selection stage. Furthermore, after the selection stage, sub-central authorities will have to apply the rules of paragraph 1 and 6 to invite the selected economic operators for the subsequent stage.

Invitations under paragraph 1 or 2 need to comply with a number of formal requirements set in paragraphs 3 and 4. These are related with information that is necessary to comply with the principle of transparency and guarantee that economic operators have access to all the necessary information to take part in the procurement procedure. I would highlight that the in the case of the invitations under paragraph 1 (the bulk of all invitations) paragraph 4 states that the invitation must include the relative weightings of award criteria as well or their descending order of importance in case the contracting authority has not do so already, as was possible under Regulation 16 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. Personally, I think that it would have been preferable to get contracting authorities to disclose the weightings at this stage and cannot understand how simply indicating the descending order before tenders are submitted can be seen as compliant with the principle of transparency.

For competitive dialogue and innovation partnership the rules are only slightly different, but only regarding the information about the deadline for tender submission. In these procedures the information will have to be provided not before the dialogue/prototype stages but just before any "tenders" are submitted, later in the procedure. All other requirements set forth by paragraph 4 need to be complied with.

For invitations under paragraph 2 (ie, PIN notices by sub-central authorities replacing the contract notice) the requirements are more demanding and the invitation to tender includes pretty much all the information expected to be on a contract notice in addition to the information of paragraphs 3 and 4. Overall, a sub-central contracting authority will not have less work (or get a free pass by disclosing fewer details...) in case it decides to use a PIN notice instead of a full contract notice.