Glossary of Public Procurement Terms

Find out more about some of the Public Procurement terms you may be unfamiliar with.

Award/Evaluation Criteria

The criteria used by a contracting authority to assess tenders and which collectively determine the most advantageous tender.


Comparison of performance against other providers of similar services, particularly those recognised as adopting best practice

Call-off Contract

An individual contract awarded under a framework agreement (or dynamic purchasing system) for the provision of particular services goods or works. Also sometimes referred to as a 'specific contract'.


A supplier participating in a procurement prior to reaching the tender stage.  May also be referred to as 'potential provider' or 'potential supplier'.  If the supplier progresses to the next stage (i.e. the tender dialogue or negotiation stage) it is then generally referred to as the 'tenderer' or 'bidder'.

Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV)

The numerical system of identifying goods and services in the tendering process. Also used as part of the e-procurement process to identify services offered by the tendering organisation.

Competitive Tendering

Awarding contracts by the process of seeking competing bids from more than one firm.


A binding agreement made between two or more parties, which is intended to be enforceable by law.

Contract Award Notice

A formal announcement informing the market of the outcome of a procurement exercise.

Contract Notice

A formal advertisement used to notify the market of a live contract opportunity and seeking expressions of interest.


Two or more entities which have come together specifically for the purpose of bidding for appointment as a supplier and can include those parties establishing a special purpose vehicle to be the prime contracting party with the contracting authority.

Contracts Finder

The governments one stop shop for suppliers to find new procurement opportunities worth over £10k.

Contracting Authority

A defined term in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 meaning a public body that is subject to and must comply with those Regulations.

Crown Commercial Service

An executive agency of the Cabinet Office that provides advice and guidance on procurement best practice and establishes framework agreements as a central purchasing body. Formerly known as Buying Solutions and OGC Buying Solutions and the Government Procurement Service.

Day Rate

The method of payment for contracts for which tenderers quote rates per chargeable day.


A collective name for the tangible goods and/or services that the supplier or contractor is required to supply under an agreement.

Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS)

An electronic process for making commonly used purchases of which meet the requirements of the contracting authority and which is limited in duration, open throughout its validity to any economic operator that satisfies the selection criteria and has submitted an indicative tender that complies with the specification.

Equal Treatment

All bidders who are in the same situation being treated in an equivalent manner. Equal treatment is one of the overarching principles of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and the Procurement Directive.

Evaluation Methodology

The methodology used by the contracting authority to evaluate suppliers' responses either at selection stage or tender / award stage.

Exclusion Grounds

The grounds under the Public Contracts Regulations which entitle a contracting authority to exclude a supplier from a procurement.

Find A Tender Service (FTS)

An online service used by Public Sector organisations to publicly advertise procurement opportunities and by suppliers to source procurement opportunities.

Invitation To Tender (ITT)

An invitation to contractors, suppliers or service providers to bid for the provision of works, goods or services. Also known as an ‘ITT’.


One of a number of categories of goods or services which a single procurement process has been divided into. The use of lots potentially allows for multiple providers to be appointed following one procurement process.


A mini competition or further competition is a means of making a call-off for a multi-supplier framework agreement. It is used to re-open competition between all those suppliers within a framework agreement who are capable of meeting a particular need. 

Most Advantageous Tender (MEAT)

The tender that will bring the greatest benefit to the Combined Authority having taken a number of factors into consideration, including quality, cost and Social Value.


The process of acquiring goods, works and services, covering acquisition from third parties and from in-house providers. The process spans the whole life cycle from identification of needs, through to the end of a services contract or the end of the useful life of an asset.


The level of fitness for purpose which is specified for or achieved by any service, work or product.

Request For Quote (RFQ)

A request sent to a number of suppliers for their proposals to meet a particular requirement for goods or services.

Schedule of Rates/Pricing Schedule

Lists of jobs, like those in bills of quantities except that they contain no quantities. Rates may be inserted by tenderers, or by clients. In the latter case, tenderers specify their overall percentages on or off these rates.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The part of a contract which specifies the services to be delivered. It has been practice for purchasers to enter into contracts based on Service Level Agreements which are in themselves contracts but do not set out full contractual terms, simply detailing the services to be delivered and minimal information such as contact details, addresses, etc. regarding the contractor. Sometimes used between Departments within public authorities.

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Small and medium-sized enterprises, a term used to refer to smaller private sector companies with less than 250 employees.

Specification/Statement of Requirements

A description of requirements and standards to which the goods, works or services should conform. Also known as a statement of needs, a statement of requirement, an operational requirement, or a brief. Its purpose is to present prospective suppliers with a clear, accurate and full description of the organisation’s needs, to enable them to propose a solution to meet them.

Standard Questionnaire (SQ)

A questionnaire completed by companies or providers that wish to be considered for a procurement activity or placed on an approved list. The purpose is to assess their general suitability in terms of financial and economic standing, technical capability and experience, quality assurance, health and safety procedures, environmental issues and equalities considerations.

Standstill Letter

A communication (typically sent through an electronic procurement system) which a contracting authority must send to tenderers and candidates following the evaluation of tenders and the making of the contracting authority's contract award decision which explains the outcome of the evaluation the name of the winning bidder and reasons for the contracting authority's decision. This commences the standstill period.

Standstill Period

A period normally of ten calendar days beginning with the day after the standstill letter (aka award decision notice) is sent and ending on a working day during which the contracting authority will not enter into the contract with the winning bidder. The standstill period is ten calendar days if the standstill letter is sent by fax or electronically but 15 calendar days if sent by other means. This may not apply to all the CA's procurements.


Being clear with potential suppliers as to what is planned and the steps that will be and have been taken in relation to a procurement process and performing that procurement process as described in the communications with potential suppliers.


Tenders that meet minimum specifications but vary in technical terms. May be allowed by a contracting authority where award criterion is that of most economically advantageous tender.

Whole life cost

The systematic consideration of all relevant costs and revenues associated with the acquisition and ownership of an asset.