Procurement and Tendering

The term ‘procurement’ in essence refers to the process of acquiring goods and services - the process which any customer goes through to buy something. Once the customer decides that they need to purchase a particular product or service, they will follow through the various stages of the procurement process. For example, ordering a CD online, taking out a subscription to the local gym or booking a hotel. The potential customer might initially look round at the various products on offer, decide which is offering the best value, make contact with the supplier, agree a price, sign a contract, make the purchase and receive the goods.

For community groups the term procurement specifically refers to the purchasing of Third Sector services by local government through competitive tendering for contracts.

Private sector businesses have been providing goods and services to local authorities for years, but increasingly, local authorities are now looking to volunteer-run community organisations to deliver services under contract.

For some community groups and organisations, procurement offers an opportunity to build their financial sustainability and move away from relying on grant income and donations for the majority of their income. It may also offer community groups the chance to improve the services they can deliver.

The local government procurement process begins with commissioning. This will include identifying what goods or services the local authority department requires, drawing up the tender brief and preparing contracts. The next stage will be about defining the procedure for purchasing the goods, ensuring that the process is legally compliant and eventually signing off on the contracts.