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Uncompetitive spirit affecting procurement

Dear Sir,

In these hard times, public body procurement departments, consultants and property managers seeking tenders for mechanical services projects are making greater efforts to obtain tender results that represent a competitive quote obtained on a level playing field.

We are filling in ever more detailed prequalification questionnaires and are required to sign various declarations to ensure we haven’t colluded with other contractors or canvassed their staff members, etc.

Unfortunately we are finding that similar high standards aren’t being passed on to the equipment manufacturers and specialist sub-contractors that are often ‘nominated’ in the specification.

In our recent experience, the result is often that these nominated manufacturers and sub-contractors have two quotes for the supply of their goods and services: a heavily discounted one for those preferred contractors that buy from them regularly and a non or less discounted one for other contractors.

This isn’t an open policy but is often hidden through back-door retrospective discounts or deals with those ‘in the know’.

Nobody has a problem with this if a specification is open-ended and the tenderer has the opportunity to specify their own equipment or to offer ‘equal or approved’, but where the item or service is specifically listed in the documents and is nominated, it’s unfair and distorts the competitive tender process.

If you want a competitive quote for your project, then apply similar levels of audit and vetting on your nominated suppliers and specialist sub-contractors as you do to mechanical installation tenderers.

Obtain a written quote and proposals from them yourselves and be sure exactly how much they are going to charge tenderers. Incorporate their written quotes into your own tender documents and get the nominated suppliers to sign similar declarations that they aren’t going to offer incentives to preferred contractors.

Vic Martin, managing director, Thameside Mechanical Services Limited

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