MFRA’s Procurement team provides a professional procurement service to its clients, which includes risk management and the provision of commercial advice.
Procurement manages the supplier base, supports business development, with due consideration of the requirements of 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.
MFRA is responsible for purchasing a wide range of products and services, including:
· IT supplies and services
· Estate services
· PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
· Operational equipment
· Training services
Such goods and services are used in the normal daily activities of the Fire Service as well as for its involvement with
- International Search And Rescue
- National Resilience including Urban Search And Rescue
MFRA's Procurement team works closely with other North West Fire and Rescue Authorities (Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Northern Ireland) to collaborate on procurement activity.
MFRA also collaborates with other emergency services, local authorities and public bodies when it is advantageous to do so.
Occasionally it’s appropriate for MFRA to utilise existing collaborative Framework Agreements or Contracts, such as those provided by public buying organisations.
MFRA has a procurement strategy MFRA Procurement strategy that defines the Procurement function’s role to deliver MFRA's commitment to providing best value for money. The strategy 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, complying with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, as well as internal procedures. MFRA sets out the way it buys goods, works and services in its Contract Standing Orders ; some general guidance is provided below.
Routes to market
MFRA uses a web-based e-procurement platform (ProContract by Proactis) for all its openly advertised opportunities. We advocate that all potential suppliers to the North West Fire Authorities register on our e-procurement platform. Unless your organisation is already registered this can be done by accessing the registration page Guidance about registration can be found in Supplier Help
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 free of charge and express an interest to participate in the advertised opportunities. Please note that MFRA uses Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) codes to categorize its contract opportunities.
Every current contract opportunity can be accessed by navigating to The Chest portal and then in the ‘Narrow your results’ section, selecting Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
The degree of additional advertising for open competition depends on the contract’s estimated value and as a minimum consists of:
- Publishing a notice in Contracts Finder for goods or services between £50,000 and £177,899
- Publishing a notice in the Find a Tender service for goods or services over this value
- Publishing a notice in Contracts Finder for Works between £50,000 and £4,474.48
- Publishing a notice in the Find a Tender service for Works over this value
MFRA also uses compliant framework agreements to purchase goods, services and/or works using call-off contracts. Typically, these agreements are available from Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO), Crown Commercial Services (CCS) including those available from the Digital Marketplace, Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) or other public buying organisations. If a framework is used then guidelines for that framework are followed.
When a contract has been awarded a notice will be published in Contracts Finder or in Find a Tender service as appropriate. A listing of all MFRA’ current contracts can viewed by accessing The Chest Contracts register and then then in the ‘Narrow your results’ section, selecting Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
The procurement process can take one of two routes:
Route 1: Single-Stage Process
Advertisement - Invitation to Tender
Route 2: Multi-stage Process
Advertisement - Suitability Assessment - Invitation to Tender
For the vast majority of tendering opportunities either the Open procedure or the Restricted procedure will apply. Under particular circumstances, other procedures can be used.
Advertisement - Invitation to Tender (incorporating a Suitability Assessment or Standard Selection Questionnaire)
Advertisement – Suitability Questionnaire / Standard Selection Questionnaire - Invitation to Tender
For this procedure a Suitability Assessment or a Standard Selection Questionnaire will assess the potential suppliers and only a nominated number of bidders will be invited to a tender.
Please see Procurement policy note 8/16 to view the questions asked in the Suitability Assessment or Standard Selection Questionnaire. Typically, suppliers will be asked to confirm that they are currently trading profitably or making a surplus and that their turnover is at least as much as the value of the contract. The minimum insurance requirements for the particular contract opportunity will also be stated.
The process may also involve other activities such as bidder days, user trials and clarification meetings, 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 to the ProContract portal by the time and date specified for the bid to be considered. There is more guidance for suppliers regarding the completion of tenders available in our Helpful Hints sheet.
MFRA opens all electronically sealed bids and commences the evaluation of responses following the return deadline. Evaluation is undertaken by a panel of suitably qualified and experienced officers according to the contract award criteria specified in the tender documentation. All tender evaluation will use a Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) approach that requires MFRA to determine the relative weightings for quality and price (cost). The weightings will vary on each procurement depending on the goods, services and/or works being procured.
Once evaluation is complete, the bidder(s) with the highest score will become 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 agreed with the preferred bidder(s) and business can then commence.
MFRA uses a range of standard templates to undertake its business with suppliers. These templates are updated and amended as required for each contract.
All purchase orders are subject to MFRA’s standard terms and conditions for supply. The minimum insurance levels required by MFRA follow:
- Public Liability £5,000,000
- Product Liability £5,000,000
- Professional Indemnity £2,000,000 (as required)