In the terms of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (and subsequent amendments), Counties Furniture Group is considered “A Contracting Authority”. This means it can undertake tenders through the Public Contracts Regulations and set up “Framework Agreements” on behalf of other Local Authorities, and their establishments and for them to purchase goods which are therefore considered pre-tendered through such Frameworks.
All Local Authorities are obliged by law to procure goods under Public Contracts Regulations. Failure to do so can result in significant fines and contract challenges which occur on a regular basis.
For supplies contracts, such as furniture, the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 state that all contracts over a value of £156,442 (current threshold up to 31 December 2011) must be ten-dered through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) to maintain fair trade across EU States. While it may tempting for individual establishments within Local Authorities to ignore this process for contracts which they consider of smaller value, in fact, all items of a “similar type” (defined within the CPV codes of the OJEU) which are procured using Local Authority budgets i.e. public monies, are bound by the regulations. Also, contract values are calculated across the number of years of the contracts - currently a maximum of 4 years - except in exceptional circumstances.
|This is significant because for all similar items purchased by an Authority over a four year period will all count towards the £156,442 threshold. In the example of a low cost chair costing say, £20 that would equal only 7822 items across the whole Local Authority school estate, possibly with as little as only 1955 per year over a four year contract. On a similar basis Office chairs costing £100 would pass the threshold at only 391 items per year.
The problem for each Authority is in tracking the spend on similar items for individual establishments as all items will count towards the total value. Framework Agreements help to mitigate against the risks of such unknown spending.
How can Local Authorities purchase goods currently? There are a number of ways.
Below the threshold:
Each Local Authority will have their own standing orders for procurement thresholds below the Public Contracts Regulations threshold of £156,442. Members and their schools are advised to seek guidance from their own authorities, remembering that their own purchases add to the total sum procured from the public purse in their own Authority.
Above the threshold (across all contracts for similar types).
Why do we believe our process is more valuable than others?
Counties Furniture Group specialises in one type of product - school furniture. We undertake research, developing British and European Standards for Education Furniture, we design products to meet such standards and at prices which are affordable by our eighty member Authorities. In addition we liaise directly with suppliers to ensure the best value for money production and delivery processes.
And we undertake our procurement with all of that intimate knowledge of standards, products, manufacturing processes and budgets factored into our tenders, both in the specification and the evaluation.
While other organisations can and do undertake tenders through the OJEU process, few can have the same level of detail and understanding which is available to CFG members through the Group for this type of product.
Our procurement is undertaken by the CFG Supplies Officer, Nigel Denton (who is a Local Authority Procurement Manager for Shropshire Council) who works closely with the CFG Design Team to ensure that tenders reflect the requirements of suppliers to meet the detailed specification established by the Group and that tenders are undertaken under the requirements of the Public Contracts Regulations on behalf of Member Authorities. Queries with regard to Procurement issues can be made to Nigel by email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting "CFG Procurement" in the subject line.
What CFG does
CFG sets up contracts for each of its ranges of products. This is because products of a similar type require particular manufacturing processes, for example one manufacturer may be better at manufacturing metal tubular products than flat-panel products. So we tender similar kinds of product designs as individual ranges.
Contracts set up as framework agreements through the OJEU procurement process are clearly marked with an EU flag and the word “procured” identified with an icon/badge against ranges in the CFG Price List pages. All such contracts also have a certificate which is bound into the Price List which is also available separately from the links on this page. Each Certificate has a CFG contract number plus the relevant OJEU Contract Award Notice which can be checked by Procurement Officers within member authorities.
In addition to OJEU tendered product ranges, CFG also provides other additional items which are not identified with the EU icon and include:
* Those items of low value which are set up as ancillary items
* Development contracts which are below threshold values.
* Product ranges awaiting contract renewals.
If Authorities envisage purchase of such products in larger volumes (particularly above threshold sums), they are advised to check and comply with their own local standing orders and procurement guidelines.
Contract - PT10
Pupils Tables Range
Contract - TR10
Trays & Tray Storage Systems
Benching & Storage
Contract - CK10
Cirkit Desks, Storage and Screens
Contract - LK10
OJEU - Official Journal of the European Union. This is an online facility for the submission and publication of “Contracts” and “Contract Awards” under the EU Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC.