I’ve been asked a lot about sources of public sector opportunities over the last couple of months. I have a few thoughts on this. It’s good to know what opportunities are in the marketplace, but it’s not necessarily good to bid for them. This was echoed by Andrew Turner of Interserve on Twitter a while back, that if we are waiting for opportunities to come to market via portals and other websites, it really should be an automatic no-bid, because it’s too late to influence the client and you’re already on the back foot. Building relationships in advance with clients is critical to winning bids, and as I mentioned in a previous bid post, taking a punt is a very expensive and rarely successful approach to winning tenders.
Putting all that aside however, there are a number of sources public sector tendering opportunities, some of which are free to access, and some are paid-for subscriptions. The benefit (in theory) of having a subscription to paid-for site, is that you should be made aware of all the relevant tenders in your particular field, with none slipping through the net (which I know can happen sometimes).
I have split this post into three sections:
- free sources of tender information
- procurement portals; and
- paid-for sources of tender opportunities.
Free sources of tender information
Free sources of tendering information are TED and Contracts Finder.
For larger value contracts, I would always recommend you start with TED. I have been using this site for years, but you need to be aware of the threshold limits, which are currently (due to be revised this year):
- EUR 139 000 for most types of services and supplies purchased by central government authorities
- EUR 5 350 000 for construction contracts
Projects with a value below these will not be published on TED. You can find out more about TED here.
For smaller value contracts, have a look at Contracts Finder.
There are myriad procurement portals, and I’d recommend signing up to the portals used by your public sector clients. Some key portals include:
These are definitely worth looking up if you want to work regionally with public sector bodies across England.
NEPO: North East England
The Chest: North West England
YORtender: Yorkshire and Humber
Supplying the South West: South West England
South East Business Portal: South East England
East Mids Tenders: East Midlands
London Tenders: London area
Housing Procurement Portal: Social housing providers across the UK (but not all of them)
North Western Universities covering many higher education establishments in North Wales and the north west of England
Bluelight for police and fire rescue opportunities
Construction and infrastructure
Other popular portals
Paid-for sources of tender opportunities
There are a wide range of providers in this space, and I list these in no particular order. I have no commercial relationship with any of the businesses and I’m not being paid to list them here.
How do you search for public sector tendering opportunities? Do you track these projects before you bid them? Are there any ideas that I’ve missed? Get in touch and let me know.