What follows is editor Steve’s observation – BS has not commented – of the widespread perception, reflected in his recent Soapbox item and comments to it, that Buying Solutions (BS) initially required applicant companies to have at least three years’ track record and that it subsequently changed or ignored the requirement.
In the light of a private communication from a reader, I re-read the qualification requirements in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) document (PDF). In the sections relating to Lot 2, Telecare services; Lot 4, Telehealth services; Lot 5, Telecoaching Products and Services and Lot 6, Managed Services, the wording in each of them is essentially the same:
Evidence of effectiveness and efficiency
What independently evaluated evidence are you able to draw upon from the last three years to demonstrate to Contracting authorities the effectiveness and efficiency of your services as part of remote monitoring at home and maintaining independent living?
Most people took this to mean that bidders were expected to have a three-year track record that they could draw upon.
Buying Solutions apparently (and I’m quoting my correspondent as I don’t have direct access), gave the following explanation in answer to requests for clarification. “Evidence of effectiveness and efficiency can be taken from any point in time up to three from now. The three year period is just to determine the currency of that evidence. A specific three year track record is not being asked for.”
However, in a situation with a strong whiff of Catch 22, this was an explanation that would not be accessed by companies which had not already registered as applicants.
On re-reading the ITT one can read into the original wording the meaning given in the explanation. However, it was sloppily drafted and potentially had the effect of making newer organisations assume that they had little chance on that score.
So what other evidence of experience did applicants need? Part M1 simply asked for one relevant invoice or one customer endorsement:
“… to verify your response you must provide a copy of an invoice for the provision of goods or services in the EU of the type mentioned in any of the Lots or a written statement provided by a customer who has trialled such goods or services indicating the nature of the trial, confirming that the trial was conducted by the tenderer and the dates on which it was conducted.”
With such low qualification criteria it is clear that any potential purchasers via the framework still need to do their own research into the company they are contemplating purchasing from.