What is this about?
A ‘framework agreement' is ‘an agreement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more economic operators, the purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period, in particular with regard to price and, where appropriate, the quantity envisaged.'
Framework agreements continue to play a central role in public procurement including enabling councils to work together through central purchasing bodies. The rules remain largely the same as before including the maximum four-year duration. This section outlines some minor changes introduced by the new regulations which clarify and generally improve the way that framework agreements work.
What is new?
The PCR 2015 have clarified the rules on framework agreements in the following ways:
- Use of a framework agreement must be stated clearly in the notice calling for competition.
- Any councils (and other contracting authorities) identified clearly in the notice (or invitation to confirm interest, where appropriate) can use the framework agreement for call-offs. This can be done ‘either by name or by other means, such as a reference to a given category of contracting authorities within a clearly delimited geographical area, so that the contracting authorities concerned can be easily and unequivocally identified'.
- Framework agreements can be divided into ‘lots' (i.e. categories).
- Call-off contracts awarded under a framework agreement can exceed the length of the framework itself (still capped at four years other than in ‘exceptional cases, duly justified').
- The minimum number of suppliers on a multi-supplier framework is now two (down from three in the old rules).
- Objective criteria set out in the procurement documents must be used to choose between a mini-competition and simple application of the framework terms to award call-off contracts in the case of frameworks which allow a choice of approach. The procurement documents must also say which terms (if any) are subject to the mini-competition