Basics of Public Procurement

Public procurement is an essential element of delivering better public services across Cornwall. In essence procurement is purchasing of goods, works and services. Within Cornwall Council, Commercial Services provide a central corporate function that gives strategic and corporate leadership, drafts and reviews Commercial policy, advises and supports the Council in all its commissioning, procurement and contract management activity and oversees the Council’s engagement with its internal and external supply base. 

Rules and regulations

Continue reading

Commercial Services also set procurement rules for the Council; the 'Contract Procedure Rules'. The main purpose of these rules is to ensure that all contracts are entered into lawfully and on the most economically advantageous terms for the Council. The rules exist to demonstrate that the whole procurement process is open, honest and transparent and officers are required to follow them and the associated principles when undertaking procurement activities.

A summary of where contract opportunities will be advertised is given below:

Value of ContractAdvert Location

Up to £1,000

One written or verbal quote must be obtained directly from a supplier.

£1,001 to £25,000

Three written quotations must be obtained directly from suppliers.

£25,001 to OJEU Thresholds 

Supplying the South West and Contracts Finder

 Above OJEU Thresholds

Supplying the South West, Contracts Finder and Tenders Electronic Daily (TED)


We have a legal requirement to comply with the EU procurement directives, which govern the way in which public sector procurement is conducted for contracts over certain specified thresholds. The directives and associated UK regulations require councils to follow detailed procedures for all procurements above these financial thresholds.

The thresholds are reviewed every two years and the thresholds effective from the 1 January 2014 are:






The above thresholds relate to the whole of a contract and not just the annual spend i.e. a three year contract with an annual spend of £60,000 (equating to £180,000) will fall under the requirements of the EU rules.

The process for procurement over these thresholds is summarised below:

  • Decide which of the procedures (detailed below) is appropriate
  • Publish a contract notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) to give all EU suppliers an equal opportunity to tender
  • Invite tenders according to the procedure being used (open, restricted, negotiated, competitive dialogue), taking account of the minimum timescales imposed, to ensure that reasonable time is given to respond to adverts and prepare submissions
  • Select a suitable contractor using the criteria published in the contract notice
  • Place a contract award notice in OJEU

Under the procurement regulations, the Council can conduct its procurement using any one of the following procedures:

Open: any organisation can express an interest and are entitled to tender

Restricted: (a two stage process) organisations expressing an interest undergo an initial pre-qualification assessment. Only the selected applicants are invited to tender. This is by far the most common process (a similar two stage process is also used for procurement below the EU threshold).

Other processes are rarely used; negotiated procedure, competitive dialogue and dynamic purchasing systems. Further information on these processes can be found on the European Commission website.