What Is a Framework?
What is a Framework Agreement exactly? What is the benefit of using a framework agreement over a standard tender? Can SMEs benefit by learning to procure contracts via this procurement model?
What is a Framework Agreement?
A Framework is an agreement entered in to between a Buyer and a group of suppliers with terms and conditions relating to any contracts that may be awarded during the lifetime of that agreement. A Framework will usually last for about 4 years but can be for a lesser period of time. During this period the agreement enables the buyer to make specific purchases or ‘call-offs’
The framework may include more than one supplier although it does not guarantee that the supplier will receive any work.
A framework will be advertised in the OJEU for a range of consultancy services such as architects and engineers. The OJEU notice is issued and candidates for the framework are then selected on the basis of their financial and economic standing and technical capacity – including their track record and ability.
Once these bids are submitted they are then evaluated on the basis of the most economically advantageous including their fee rates and quality systems. The whole spectrum of consultants are included within the framework based upon the outcome of the evaluation. When there is a need to call-off specific services within the framework, the contracting authority holds a mini competition with all providers capable of meeting that need for the category of services required in order to establish which company provides the “most economically advantageous” (value for money) offer for the particular mix of grades/rates required.
The framework for contractors will usually be divided in to minor and major works. The major works will be made up of prime contractors who will also respond to an OJEU notice and go through a similar process to the one described above under consultants. Minor works include skills such as builders, plumbing, electrical and other specialist contracting. Hourly rates, call-out charges and levels of quality are set under the framework agreement. There is no requirement for a mini competition here as the authority will go to the most economically advantageous offer on the basis of the original award. There are times when an authority may award a framework to a single contractor in each region.
The advantage for the client using a framework agreement is that it enables individual orders to be placed with one of several approved suppliers quickly and is cost effective, using the terms already specified in the Agreement. Where it’s not clear which is the best approved supplier for a particular project, a ‘mini-competition’ is held between them at the time, to ensure best value for money.