In pursuit of savings and conscious that its own cleaning contracts in Kent and Essex were soon reaching the end of their terms Kent and Essex looked at the various options for re-procuring these services. They initially looked at existing frameworks already available to the marketplace but decided that they would procure their own framework recognising the need to find any additional savings. On the same timeline as this Kent Fire & Rescue Service were also looking to re-procure their cleaning provision so the decision was taken to work together and see if there were any additional savings that could be levied by the proximity of police and fire estate within Kent.
The decision was also taken to bring cleaning (general and ad hoc), laundry services and certain specialist waste services under one service provision so that the successful contractor would take on responsibility for the delivery of all of these services. One final shift in emphasis was to move from an input specification to an output specification for the cleaning service.
Structure of the procurement
Sharpe Pritchard advised on the most suitable procurement route and the competitive procedure with negotiation, one of the two new procedures introduced in 2015, was selected. This procedure facilitates the negotiation of initial tenders with tenderers, providing feedback on pricing and quality elements, with a view to ‘improve their content’. Because Kent and Essex wanted to make a framework that other named police and fire authorities could use there was a need to structure the pricing as a catalogue so that the pricing could be applied to different forces rather than being priced on a force by force basis. Building block pricing was used for general cleaning that required a given area to be kept clean to the requirements of the output specification for a given period. For the police estate different pricing was sought for different categories of area, for example, offices, custody and transport workshops. In the fire estate pricing was primarily differentiated on the basis of the operational hours of a fire station (24/7, manned day or call-out). For laundry items a catalogue was built and an ad hoc pricing was catalogued to cover the specialist cleaning required by police and fire estate.
Following the submission and evaluation of initial tenders, and a reduction in the number of tenderers for the negotiation meetings, feedback was given on quality questions and headline feedback on pricing as well as discussing any more novel areas of tenderers’ submissions. Tenderers then had the opportunity to address and improve these items in their final tenders – with final tenders being submitted on a ‘no surprises’ and ‘no worse’ basis.
As a result of the negotiation meetings the quality scores of the tenderers generally improved which meant that price became a major factor in deciding which tenderer was successful.
Throughout the procurement Kent and Essex Police worked closely with procurement and estates team colleagues at Kent Fire & Rescue Services drawing up a joint specification and then working together on site visits, SQ evaluation, initial tender evaluation, negotiation meetings and final tender evaluation.
Timescale and Feedback
The OJEU notice was published in mid-October 2016 and tenderers were notified of the final tender outcome in early April 2017 with the successful contractor starting on site on 1 June 2017. The tendering process took just under 6 months from start to finish so was relatively quick while also facilitating a period of negotiation following initial tender submission. Tenderers were generally positive about the process and they welcomed the procurement route in that it facilitated meetings with the contracting authority, provided mid-tender feedback, gave an opportunity to address and improve issues as well acting as a forum for understanding particular issues in more detail.
Savings and Procurement Route
Both Kent Police and Essex Police are pleased with the significant level of savings that each force has realised as a result of this procurement. Kent and Essex Police are expecting significant savings as are Kent Fire & Rescue. The cost of running a bespoke procurement has far been outweighed by the savings that are already being realised.
Kent and Essex Police were pleased with how the competitive procedure with negotiation procurement route has worked in practice and the feedback they have received about its use. They will also be looking to use this procurement route more in the future where the appropriate circumstances arise. Because they carried out this procurement with the assistance of seconded staff from Sharpe Pritchard this also had the benefit of up-skilling members of their procurement team so that they will be better prepared to use this procurement route in the future.