UK based freelance technical and creative writer with interests in safety, facilities management and procurement.
How to source Government contracts in the UK
"How do I find Government Contracts in the UK?" is by far the most common question business owners ask when they consider selling their services to Government and other public organisation. Spending on public sector procurement was circa £379 billion in the 2021-2022 calendar year and yet a lot of business owners are still unfamiliar with the processes involved in public procurement. Most public sector organisations acquire products and services through an E-tendering process. Usually the process followed is similar to the one documented below although depending on the scope of work and budget for the project there may be more or less steps involved.
- Buyer uploads specifications and deadlines to tender portals
- Sellers register interest in and complete any Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQ)
- If successful at the PQQ stage, suppliers will usually need to complete and resend an ITT framework (Occasionally no ITT is in place and it is up to the potential supplier to create their own proposals and submit them in accordance with the buyer's tendering specifications.
Not all organisations will require you to E-Tender, councils and other local authorities can be contacted and staff will be able to advise you on how to become an "approved supplier" for their organisation.
Government Contracts Finders by Locality
- Use the GOV.UK Contracts Finder Contracts Finder to find current contract opportunities with the UK government and its agencies.
- Use the GOV.UK Find a Tender service to search and apply for high value contracts (usually above £118,000) in the UK’s public and utilities sectors.
- UK Parliament Tenders including those issued by the Home Office are displayed on the UK Parliament In-tend Portal.
- Defence procurement contracts can be found on the Ministry of Defence's "Defence Sourcing Portal" (DSP).
- Sell2Wales for public procurement opportunities in Wales
- Public Contracts Scotland for public procurement opportunities in Scotland
- eSourcing NI and eTendersNI for public procurement opportunities in Northern Ireland.
The GOV.UK Contracts Finder lists active and future opportunities for tender, usually above £10,000 in value. Higher value contracts (usually above £118,000) can be found using the GOV find tenders service. Both platforms are essentially portals that signpost potential suppliers with buyers.
Third Party Platforms
The most prominent third party procurement platforms are:
- ProContract by Proactis
- Multiquote Supplier Gateway
Some authorities will also have their own, specific platforms for the advertising of contracts, for example:
- Kent Business Portal
- London Tenders Portal
Making an offer for contracts is known as "Bid Writing" or "bidding for work". Bid Writing can be complex and is usually performed by:
- Professional and dedicated internal Bid Writers
- High-level Procurement staff
- Company Directors.
Due to the complexity and time it takes to bid for contracts some companies opt to outsource the process which is convenient but usually at high cost due to the specialist nature of the work, especially where the bid is complex or high value.
Bid Writing Software
Free and paid Bid Writing software is available, some software will allow you to directly submit tenders through their platform and offer various features including:
- Proposal templates by industry
- Contract templates
- Bid Writing advice and guidance
- Automated Bid Management
There are various ways the bidding process can be outsourced. Professional Bid Writing companies exist and can provide:
- Complete Bid Writing
- Bid Reviewing
- Bid Management
- Training in Bid Writing.
International freelance Bid Writers also exist that can accommodate UK markets.
Typical Bid Writing Process
The following is an example of the typical process followed by a professional Bid Writer to complete and submit tender documents.
- Suitable tenders are identified
- Potential tenders are qualified against a suitability criteria (eg whether the company has the resources available to successfully fulfil the specifications of the tender
- An Answer Plan is drawn up to propagate relevant information for responses to questions asked during the tender process
- Responses are drafted and assessed against the scoring criteria provided by the buyer
- Tender documents are quality assessed and proofread by an experienced technical writer
- The tender documents are uploaded to the portal for buyer consideration.