The Procurement team provides a professional purchasing service to internal customers, reducing risk to the Authority by acting as a commercial specialist.
Procurement manages the MFRA supplier base, supports business development, with due consideration of the requirements of SMEs (small or medium-sized enterprise) and ensures consistency with national guidelines, and contributes to collaborative procurement opportunities with other authorities as necessary to develop and implement regional joint agreements.
The Authority is responsible for purchasing a wide range of products and services, including:
- IT suppliers and services
- Estate services
- Operational equipment
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
- Training services
MFRA's Procurement team works closely with four other North West Fire and Rescue Authorities (Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Cheshire) to collaborate on procurement activity. Collectively this group is known as the North West Regional Procurement Team (NWRPT).
The Authority also collaborates with other emergency services, local authorities and public bodies when it is advantageous to do so.
On occasion it is appropriate for MFRA to utilise existing collaborative Framework Agreements or Contracts, such as those provided by the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) or other public buying organisations.
The Authority has a procurement strategy MFRA Procurement strategy which defines the role of the Procurement function in the delivery of MFRA's commitment to providing best value for money. This document identifies procurement's priorities aligning with local, regional and national procurement policy and the critical actions required to deliver the strategy.
As a public sector organisation, MFRA has to ensure it undertakes procurement activity in a transparent, fair and equitable way. The Authority has a duty to comply with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, as well as internal procedures. The Authority sets out the way it buys Goods, Works and Services in Contract Standing Orders although some general guidance is provided below.
Routes to market
The Authority uses a web-based e-procurement platform Supply4NWfire for all purchases over a value of £50,000. We advocate that all potential suppliers to the North West Fire Authorities register on our e-procurement platform registration page.
Please note that there is no charge to register but the registration process must be fully completed to allow the system to alert you of potential tender opportunities. Suppliers must ensure their contact details are kept up-to-date to receive alerts. Once registered, suppliers can browse through contract notices for free and express an interest to participate in the advertised opportunities.
The procurement procedure utilised will depend on the estimated value of the contract:
- For Goods or Services between £50,000 and £189,329, a UK tender procedure will be followed.
- For Goods or Services over this value an EU tender procedure will be followed.
- For Works between £50,000 and £4,733,251, a UK tender procedure will be followed.
- For Works over this value an EU tender procedure will be followed.
All of these opportunities will be advertised on the Supply4NWFire portal and on Contracts Finder - GOV.UK. In addition all EU tender procedures will be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) EUR-Lex.
The Authority may also wish to use a compliant framework agreement to purchase Goods, Services and/or Works.
Typically these are available from Crown Commercial Services or other public buying organisations. If a framework is used the guidelines for that framework will be followed.
The Authority will publish an advert using the appropriate online media:
based on the value of the required contract.
For tendering opportunities between £50,000 and £189,328 for Goods and Services, and between £50,000 and £4,733,250 for Works, suppliers can register and complete the documentation supplied. The procurement process can take one of two routes:
Route 1: One-Stage Process
Advertisement - Invitation to Tender
Route 2: Two-stage Process
Advertisement - Suitability Assessment - Invitation to Tender
For tendering opportunities above these thresholds, a range of EU procurement processes are available to the Authority. The most widely used processes are the Open and Restricted procedures.
Advertisement - Invitation to Tender
Advertisement - Standard Selection Questionnaire - Invitation to Tender
Any process which involves a Suitability Assessment or a Standard Selection Questionnaire will assess the potential suppliers and only a nominated number of bidders will be invited to submit a tender.
The process may also involve other activities such as bidder days, presentations and interviews, if deemed appropriate. All bidders will be aware of these requirements at an early stage in the procurement process.
Bidders will need to submit a completed tender response on the Supply4NWFire portal by the time and date specified in order for the bid to be considered. There is more guidance for suppliers regarding the completion of tenders available in our Helpful Hints sheet.
The Authority will open all electronically-sealed bids and commence evaluation of the responses following the return deadline date and time. Evaluation will be undertaken by a panel of suitably qualified and experienced officers utilising the contract award evaluation criteria specified in the tender documentation. All tender evaluation will use a Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) approach. This approach requires the Authority to determine the relative weightings it should attribute to quality and price (cost). The weightings will vary on each procurement depending on the Goods, Services and/or Works being procured.
Once all of the bids have been evaluated, the bidder(s) with the highest score will be identified as the preferred bidder(s). Internal requisite approval to award the contract will be obtained and all bidders will be notified of the outcome.
A legally binding contract will be put in place with the preferred bidder(s) and business can then commence.
The Authority uses a range of standard templates to undertake its business with suppliers - these are updated and amended as required for each contract.
All purchase orders are subject to Merseyside Fire And Rescue Authority's standard terms and conditions for supply.