Procurement jargon buster


A person or organisation acting on behalf of the Council or on behalf of another organisation.


The legally binding contract terms and conditions between the parties, another word for a contract.


Usually used to transfer some rights and obligations under a contract.  The liability remains with the original parties to a contract unless the contract specifically states otherwise.

Audit Trail

System or paper generated evidence showing how and why and by whom certain processes and functions were carried out.

Authorised Officer

An officer of the Council who has been nominated by the chief officer to manage a contract or contracts with a contractor or supplier.


The issue of an order or contract to a supplier.

Award Criteria

The criteria by which the successful quotation or tender is selected.

Award Procedure

The procedure for awarding a contract.

Best Practice

The most effective and desirable method of carrying out a function or process derived from experience rather than theory.

Best Value

Robust performance management is at the heart of any drive to secure continuous improvement and delivery of high quality services.

Best Value provides the statutory basis upon which councils plan, review and manage their performance in order to deliver continuous improvement in all services and to meet the needs and expectations of service users.

BME (Black and Minority Ethnic)

The term refers to communities whose origins lie mainly in South Asia (for example India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), Africa, The Caribbean (originally Africa), and China.


The Council's ruling Cabinet as defined in the Constitution.

Call off contract

An enabling agreement with one or more suppliers for a defined range of works, goods or services covering terms and conditions (including price) which users 'call off' to meet their requirements. Where there is no commitment to quantity or value of contract then this is technically a framework arrangement.

Change Control

A predefined and agreed process of making contractual changes to an existing contract.

Code of Conduct

The code regulating conduct of all officers of the Council.


The process of specifying, securing and monitoring services to meet people's needs at a strategic level usually used in the provision of social services.

Competitive Tendering

Awarding contracts by the process of seeking competing tenders.


A binding agreement made between two or more parties, which is intended to be enforceable by law.

Contract Administrator

See 'Authorised Officer' above.


Where a number of public sector organisations work together to contract on behalf of the whole group.  This can often be in the form of consortia.

CPV code

This is the Common Procurement Vocabulary, a means of categorising works, services and goods so that contract notices are accessible in all the languages of the member states.


This is a formal document "executed under seal" or executed in a particular way.  It must either bear the Council seal or be expressed and signed as a deed.  It requires the signatures of two directors or if this is not possible a director and a witness. Deeds carry a liability period of 12 years.

Economic Operator

The term used in the Public Contract Regulations 2006 for a contractor, a supplier or a services provider.

Expression of Interest (EOI)

This is a means of registering an interest in a particular project or procurement exercise.  Organisations registering an EOI will be invited to tender. In procurement processes with more than one stage then this may include completion of a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).

European Economic Area

This includes the 27 members of the European Union, along with the three Western European countries that have chosen not to join the EU - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Microstates Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City are too small to have full membership but use the Euro and have special relations with the EU. Switzerland is not a member of the EU and not in the European Economic Area but has similar ties to the EU countries through bilateral treaties.

EU (European Union) Procurement Directives

The directives detail the procurement procedures required by the EU.  The directives are enacted in the UK under the Public Contract Regulations (PCR) 2006 SI 5.

EU Thresholds

The contract value above which the PCR 2006 applies.  The threshold values change every two years. Since January 2010 they have been set at:
•£156,442 for goods and services
•£3,927,260  for works and construction


Electronic systems to acquire goods, works and services and make payments.


An electronic means of communication and tendering through the internet.

European Union

As of 1 February 2020, the 26 member states are: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania.


Detailed assessment and comparison of tender offers.

Framework Agreement

An enabling agreement similar to a Call Off contract but with there is no commitment to buy or where organisations may be asked, though further competition, to submit bids for particular call offs using pre determined terms and conditions.

Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)

This is the successor to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. The main signatories other than those in the European Economic Area are Canada, European Union, Hong Kong (China), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, The Netherlands with respect to Aruba, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, United States.


The Improvement and Development Agency works for the government to support local government improvement.

Invitation to Tender (ITT)

An invitation to organisations to bid for the provision of works, goods or services

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

KPIs are tools that measure performance against contractual obligations. KPIs are normally detailed in the specification.

Letter of acceptance (Successful Letter)

A letter that creates an immediate binding contractual relationship between the Council and the successful tenderer prior to entering into a formal contract

Letter of intent

This is a letter informing a successful tenderer that it is the Council's intention to enter into a contract with her/him in the future, but creates no liability in regard to that future contract.


Dividing a contract into lots in order that the whole contract can be awarded to a combination of one or more bidders in order to achieve the best overall value for money.

Method statement  

This is the way a bidder describes how the contract specification will be achieved. This information may be used as part of the tender evaluation and will be incorporated into any subsequent contract.

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT)

Under the PCR 2006 a tender must be accepted if it is the lowest offer or represents the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT).  In this way award criteria other than pure price can be considered. 


Where one of the parties to a contract needs to change and all parties agree so that the original contractual obligations can be transferred.

NUTs Codes

These are codes related to European geographic locations required in Contract Notices so that interested organisations can search for appropriate opportunities in their area.

Office of Government Commerce (OGC)

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is an independent office of HM Treasury, responsible for improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement in government departments.

OGC Buying Solutions

This is the procurement service attached to the OGC.  They provide contracts and framework arrangements that other public sector organisations can use without the need to carry out full procurement procedures.

Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)

This is the EU publication in which authorities are required to advertise and award contracts that are captured by the PCR 2006.  Its electronic form is Tenders Electronic Daily (TED).

Performance Bond

An insurance policy; if the contractor does not do what it has promised under a contract with the Council, the Council can claim from the insurer the sum of money specified in the bond (often 10% of the contract value).

Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

This is a form of partnership between the private and public sector which is normally used for high risk/high value contracts, as a way of raising money from other than from the public purse.

Public Private Partnership (PPP)

Very similar to a PFI arrangement, but the aim is centred more on service delivery than finance.

Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ)

This document is used in a tendering procedure to determine an economic operator's technical and financial capability.  In a two stage process the PQQ is evaluated before qualifying organisations are asked to submit tenders.  


This is the acquisition of goods, works and services through a cycle of identifying needs, planning, sourcing, researching, procuring though contract management, monitoring and review, whilst achieving whole life value for money.

Procurement Card/purchasing card

A credit card used by individuals in the public sector to make payment for goods, services and works.

Procurement Strategy

The document setting out the Council's approach to procurement and key priorities for the next few years.

Prior Information Notice

This is a notice published in OJEU that signals the intent to publish a contract notice or invitation to tender.  It has the effect of reducing the timescales required during the tender stages.

Public Contract Regulations 2006 SI (PCR 2006)

These is the legislation that translates the EU public procurement directives for use in the UK.


To obtain works, goods or services in exchange for money or its equivalent; to buy.


Any offer by a supplier to supply goods, works or services requested either orally or in writing. A quotation may be the written confirmation of an earlier, oral offer.  This is a less formal procedure than a tender.


The Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships are government funded bodies to increase efficiency and support services.


The process of selecting organisations that are to be invited to quote or bid or to proceed to further stages of a tender process.


A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is usually agreed as part of a tender process and is used measure performance by the use of KPIs. This can also be used internally between Council departments.


The researching and gathering of product or service information, including potential suppliers, specifications, costs, service delivery means, and so on.


The document used to describe the requirements for the works, goods or services to be procured.

Standstill Period or "Alcatel"

A period after the decision to award a contract, (at least 10 working days) in which aggrieved tenderers can question the procurement process or award.

Sustainable Procurement

The environmental, social and economic issues that must be considered in procurement exercise in order to meet the Council's objectives.


A candidate's proposal submitted in response to an ITT. This is a formal process of receiving, evaluating and awarding contracts.

(TUPE) Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations

Subject to certain conditions, these regulations apply where responsibility for the delivery of works or services for the Council is transferred from one organisation to another and the employees are transferred into the new provider.

Value for Money (VFM)

Value for money is a combination of works, goods or services that fully meet your needs, with the level of quality required, delivery at the time you need it, and at an appropriate price.


A variation is any alteration, modification, addition to or deletion of any requirement of the contract terms or specification through a Change Control process

Whole life costs

The total value attributed to a procurement decision, this can include prices and other costs and added value to meet the Council's objectives and plans.