220.127.116.11 Determining the contract award criteria
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The criteria based on which Contracting Authorities award public contracts are:
This criterion is used by Contracting Authorities when the technical specifications are fully clear and fixed, and no variants are allowed. In this case, the contract is awarded to the tenderer who was not excluded from the tender procedure during the qualitative selection procedure and whose tender was not rejected in the technical evaluation stage (i.e. it was judged that it meets the technical specifications and other requirements laid down) and, in the financial offers evaluation stage, was established as the tender offering the most economical solution for the Contracting Authority.
This criterion is used when the Contracting Authority wishes to ensure that the contract shall be awarded to the candidate economic operator whose tender offers the best value for money. In this case:
When the contract is awarded to the most economically advantageous tender, the award takes place based on various criteria related to the scope of the specific contract, such as the quality, price, technical value, aesthetic and functional characteristics, environmental characteristics, operating cost, efficiency, after-sales support and technical assistance, delivery date and delivery or execution deadline.
Where the contract award criterion is the most economically advantageous tender, the Contracting Authority must specify in the tender documents the method for the evaluation of tenders, indicating the corresponding weighting factor which it assigns to each one of the criteria selected in each case.
To ensure respect of the principle of equal treatment in the procurement process and secure the necessary transparency so that every tenderer is aware of the criteria and methods to be applied for identifying the most economically advantageous tender, the weighting scheme of the award criteria must be included in the tender documents, so that the tenderers know it when preparing their tenders. Contracting Authorities may deviate from this rule only in fully justifiable cases which they must be able to substantiate, when this weighting cannot be established in advance, due mainly to the complexity of the contract. In these cases, they must state the decreasing order of significance of these criteria.
To determine the evaluation criteria when the contract award criterion is the most economically advantageous tender, Contracting Authorities should keep in mind the rules given in the table below:
The evaluation criteria and their relative significance must reflect the prioritisation of the requirements of the Contracting Authority and the degree of importance of each individual parameter under evaluation. In general terms, they should clarify the objectives of the contract and should not confuse the interested economic operators.
The criteria stated in the law are of a general nature and their application requires, in most cases, a thorough analysis.
The quality of a service or product, for example, can be judged more easily by determining individual criteria, the fulfilment of which (of all or of some of them) shall lead to a safer understanding of the level of quality of the service or product. Breaking down the criterion of quality to individual criteria (e.g. completeness, availability, reliability, flexibility, timeliness, security, accuracy, user-friendliness or usability) would facilitate the task of the body responsible for the evaluation of tenders, on the one hand, and would lead to safer choice of the best service from those offered or of the best product in terms of quality, on the other.
The technical value of the offered solution could be replaced with criteria referring to the methodology and support tools that the tenderer intends to apply in the implementation of the contract.
The environmental characteristics can be judged in terms of performance or functional requirements, provided that these have been laid down in detail in the Terms of Reference and are appropriate for determining the characteristics that form the contract scope.
In the case of public service contracts, the efficiency can be checked using various criteria referring e.g. to the breakdown of the project into individual work packages and deliverables, or to the definition of the contents of the individual deliverables, as well as to the proposed method for organising and coordinating the key experts and other staff of the tenderer who form the Project Team. In the case of public supply contracts, efficiency may be judged based on quantitatively identifiable data, such as the number of printouts of a printer under evaluation or the number of a computer’s network transactions over a specified period of time.
After-sales service and technical assistance, in the case of contracts that foresee such an obligation, may be checked using various criteria referring to the service/support methodology that the tenderer intends to apply, the geographical coverage of the network of associates the tenderer may be required to have available if the technical service is to be provided to Contracting Authority units located in various cities, or to the method used to organise the technical service and assistance procedure.
Understanding the requirements of the contract is also a decisive criterion, especially in the case of complicated contracts for complex projects, where successful implementation of the project depends greatly on the candidate’s ability to understand the objectives and specify ways in which to address potential risks.
The implementation schedule presented in the tender (with indication of the critical milestones) is also a criterion whose effective use ensures selection of a competent contractor who has understood the requirements of the Contracting Authority, especially in cases where the interim critical milestones of the contract scope under implementation are not fully and precisely in full detail in the tender documents.
Finally, the aesthetic and functional characteristics of the offered solutions can be evaluated by determining individual criteria whose degree of fulfilment specifies the respective degree of fulfilment of both the mandatory and desirable requirements of the Contracting Authority, as these have been determined in the Terms of Reference and the Technical Specifications contained in the tender documents.
It must be pointed out that the general or specific professional experience of the tenderer or of the staff members who participate in the proposed Project Team may, under the Community as well as under the National Law, be evaluated only as a qualitative selection criterion and not as a contract award criterion.
In all cases, but primarily in public service contracts involving intellectual products, the evaluation of tenders relies on the specialised technical knowledge and sound judgement of the evaluators whom the Contracting Authority appoints the competent evaluation body. Irrespective of their intentions, however, the members of this body may, either intentionally or unintentionally, form a wrong or subjective judgement. Therefore, the adoption of the evaluation system which is the most appropriate for each particular case, and the definition of criteria which are as clearly formulated, objective and measurable as possible, is a prerequisite for proper completion of the evaluation procedures.
To determine the evaluation criteria which are appropriate in each case and their weighting scheme, the authors of the tender documents could adopt the practice outlined below, which is considered –in terms of methodology– to be suitable for use as the basis for evaluating the tenders and for awarding the contract to the tender which is actually the most advantageous for the Contracting Authority.
If the Contracting Authority considers that such a procedure is advisable, it may provide in the tender documents for the conduct by the tenderers of presentations of their tenders. It may also provide for visits by the competent body for the evaluation of tenders to the premises of third parties (e.g. where products which are the same or similar to those included in the scope of a public supply contract have been installed by the tenderer and are in operation).
It is obvious that the purpose of such procedures is to allow the evaluators to form a full picture, which will allow them to evaluate-mark fairly and objectively the submitted tenders, using the added knowledge which they gain during the presentations.
The procedure of presentations itself cannot be a criterion to which marks will be given, because it may be considered contrary to the key principle of transparency and/or equal treatment of the tenderers, as it cannot be checked.
In accordance with one of the key introductory remarks of Directive 18/2004, when the Contracting Authorities choose to award a contract to the most economically advantageous tender, they evaluate the tenders in order to determine which one offers the best value for money. In order to do this, they determine the economic and quality criteria which, taken as a whole, must make it possible to determine the most economically advantageous tender for the Contracting Authority.
It is evident that no procedure for selecting the most economically advantageous tender can take place without participation of the price as an evaluation criterion. For contracts for which the award criterion is the most economically advantageous tender, the price is one of the criteria used to evaluate the tenders and award the contract, in contrast to contracts for which the award criterion selected is the lowest price, where the price is the only criterion used to evaluate the tenders and award the contract.
In all cases, the key aim of the Contracting Authority should be to determine the best possible ratio (in other words, the ratio that serves the specific needs of the Contracting Authority) between the quality of the project to be implemented and the financial burden for its implementation, given that no contract can be considered advantageous if the expenditure for its implementation is disproportionate to its value or is prohibitive.
In all cases, the determination, in the tender documents, of the relative weight of the criterion of price in relation to the weight of the qualitative value of the tenders, must be in proportion to the specific scope of the contract and to the objectives which the Contracting Authority expects to achieve by its implementation.
In addition to determining the relevant weight of the criterion of price, and in order for the use of the criterion of price to adhere to the key principles of public procurement law and in particular to the principles of equal treatment and transparency, the Contracting Authority must lay down in the tender documents the rules which are required for correct application of the criterion, which, depending on the specific case, could be one or all of the following:
In the above case, it is obviously not right to take into account again, in the financial evaluation stage, the elements of a tender which have already led to a lower mark during the qualitative evaluation of tenders.
If the tender procedure may lead to the conclusion of more than one contracts with the Contracting Authority, i.e. when submission of tenders for a part of the project being put out to tender is allowed, the tender documents must provide that the financial evaluation procedure shall be separate, possibly with different rules, for each one of the individual parts of the project for which submission of tenders is allowed.
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