A guide to buying through framework agreements UNCLASSIFIED Scope of this guide

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A guide to buying through framework agreements
Scope of this guide
This guide is for anyone involved in developing a procurement strategy and provides an overview of the
considerations for using framework agreements and how to buy from them. It focuses primarily on the
process of calling off from an already established multi-user Framework Agreement, but many of the
principles apply equally to single-user framework agreements. The guide has been written with the
assumption that, unless otherwise stated, the full scope of the EU Procurement Rules apply1.
This guidance, including the examples, is not intended as a substitute for project specific legal advice,
which should always be sought by a contracting authority where required.
Before you start
If you are new to procurement you should first familiarise yourself with the following:

Introduction to Public Procurement (PDF, 994KB) is a guidance
document which sets out the key concepts and principles of good
procurement.

If you are considering setting up a Framework Agreement we
recommend that you refer to OGC’s Guidance on Framework
Agreements (PDF, 989KB).
What is a framework agreement?
A framework agreement is a general term for agreements with a provider, or providers, that set out
terms and conditions under which specific purchases (call-offs) can be made throughout the term of the
agreement. They are used for products, works or services where requirements are needed on a
repetitive basis but where the exact quantities are unknown, e.g. stationery, food, ICT etc. They are
particularly useful, because once a framework is established, the process for awarding individual call-offs
is both faster and less costly than would be the case if the requirement was procured separately.
The Public Contracts Regulations define a framework agreement as:
"an agreement or other arrangement between one or more contracting authorities and one or more
economic operators which establishes the terms (in particular the terms as to price and, where
appropriate, quantity) under which the economic operator will enter into one or more contracts with a
contracting authority in the period during which the framework agreement applies".
There are essentially four categories of Framework Agreement:
-
Single Supplier
Multi-Supplier
Single User/Single Supplier
Single User/Multi-Supplier
Single User
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
Public body lets for its own

Public body lets for its own
use


use

Quicker procurement
Quicker procurement
turnaround.-reduction in
turnaround -Reduction in
procurement cost for both
procurement cost for both
customer and suppliers.
customer and suppliers.
Used e.g. to get price

The requirement has been
discount (but only if provided
advertised and capable
for in Framework terms and
suppliers identified, meaning
conditions).

fewer tenders to evaluate.

No need to negotiate terms
Having several suppliers
and conditions for each
allows flexibility to cater for a
requirement as those are
range of requirements.
agreed as part of the

No need to negotiate terms
framework set up.
and conditions for each
requirement as those are
agreed as part of the
framework set up.

To maintain security of
supply
Multi-User/Single Supplier

Multi-User/Multi-Supplier

Let on behalf of a number of
turnaround -Reduction in
Buying Organisations such
procurement cost for both
as Buying Solutions,
Member of PRO5, Firebuy

customer and suppliers.

The requirement has been
etc.
advertised and capable
Quicker procurement
suppliers identified, meaning
turnaround.-reduction in
fewer tenders to evaluate.

procurement cost for both
customers and supplier.
Multi-user

Having several suppliers
allows flexibility to cater for a
Used e.g. to get price
discount (but only if provided

range of requirements.

No need to negotiate terms
for in Framework terms and
and conditions for each
conditions).
requirement as those are
No need to negotiate terms
agreed as part of the
and conditions for each
requirement as those are

Quicker procurement
users e.g.A professional
framework set up.

Can be used to leverage
agreed as part of the
greater price discount
framework set up.
through aggregation of
Can be used to leverage
expenditure.
greater price discount
through aggregated spend.
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
To maintain security of
supply.
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Framework agreements set out the terms and conditions for subsequent call-offs but, unlike contracts,
they usually do not place obligations on the procurers to buy anything. With this approach, contracts are
formed only when goods, works or services are the subject of an accepted order under the agreement.
Some confusion has arisen amongst departments who have been approached by private sector brokers
or intermediaries claiming to offer better prices on so-called "frameworks" e.g. on energy prices. These
are not EU compliant agreements. An EU compliant framework agreement can only be set up by a
contracting authority or an organisation operating on their behalf (e.g. a Professional Buying
Organisation).
Contents




A guide to buying through framework agreements
The case for using framework agreements
Identify Need
Checking for existing deals - which framework agreement is
right for you?





Comparing Deals
Calling off
Post Award
Top 10 tips for buying from Framework Agreements
Ten common mistakes when buying through a Framework
Agreement
1
"Procurement Rules" means Directive 2004/18/EC as implemented in England and Wales by the Public
Contracts Regulations 2006. You do not need to follow the detailed guidance on call offs if you are
calling off from a framework that covers Part B services only, but it would still be good practice to do so
in order to achieve value for money. Frameworks including both Part A and Part B services which have
been advertised as Part A should, for the purposes of calling off, be considered as Part A and you should
follow this guidance even if the call-off itself is for a Part B service.
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