The Central Procurement Directorate has confirmed that practices can partner to bid for public sector projects, including on a sub-consultant basis. Whilst each procurement will have its own particular requirements, practices are generally able to rely on the capacity of others for the purpose of pre-qualification. In the case of any doubt, please refer to the clarification process through eTenders NI.
Following discussions with RSUA, CPD has confirmed its support for practices working in partnership to bid for public sector work and has confirmed the general approach that practices should take as follows:
- Where an architectural practice is seeking to prequalify as the Economic Operator (EO), the practice can typically enter into a joint venture with any relevant organisation to meet the EO prequalification requirements. All of the parties that make up the EO will need to be named in the PQQ and they will be joint and severally liable for the contract.
- Where an architectural practice is seeking to prequalify as a Consultant Team Member (CTM) to provide, for example, the architectural services as part of a bid led by an Economic Operator, the practice can, where necessary and appropriate for a particular contract, rely on the capacities of other entities (eg another architectural practice) to demonstrate experience within its PQQ submission. Where an EO or CTM wishes to rely on the capacities of other entities, it will need to demonstrate to the contracting authority that it will have at its disposal the resources necessary by, for example, producing a commitment from those entities to that effect.
- Where other entities are being relied upon, the CTM will remain solely responsible for the entire service, even that completed by the other entities. The CTM role cannot be held jointly as to do so would split responsibility for that element of the design process.
- Each procurement will have its own particular requirements and practices should not make assumptions about any aspect of the procurement process. Instead, practices should, where necessary, seek clarification through eTendersNI as early as possible in the process. Clarifications should not be left to the final days leading up to the closing date and in order that a clarification can address the concern directly, it is important that the question that is asked is clear and concise.
- If a practice feels a clarification is unclear or does not answer the question it intended to ask, then it should rephrase the question and seek further clarification and not make assumptions.