A pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) – is a part of the process that public bodies use to procure public services.
The purpose of the PQQ is to help a public body carry out an initial sift of potential bidders by testing whether they have the capability to deliver and manage contracts. It can also help providers determine whether they have the capacity and/or expertise to deliver a particular service before they spend time completing a lengthier tender.
When can a public body use a PQQ?
The EU threshold for goods and services is currently £111,676 in central government and £172,514 outside central government.
For contracts below this threshold
Public bodies are not allowed to use PQQs. However, they may ask ‘suitability assessment questions’ relating to a potential supplier, provided that the questions are relevant to the subject matter of the procurement and proportionate. Alternatively, the public body will carry out the assessment of providers’ capability as part of the main tender document.
For contracts above this threshold
Public bodies (with the exception of NHS contracts) must use a standard or ‘core PQQ’. They are allowed to include individual project specific questions but if they depart from the core questions they are required to report this as a deviation to the Crown Commercial Service. If you find cases where the standard questions are not being used this can be reported to the government’s Mystery Shopper service.
How can voluntary organisations prepare for PQQs?
If you plan to bid only for contracts below the EU threshold, then you do not need to worry about PQQs – but you must still be ready for tendering.
If you plan to bid for larger contracts, then it advisable to have all the information to hand that you need to respond to a PQQ quickly. Most of the questions require a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but you might need to seek advice on how to answer some of the questions, so it is best to have done this before a real tendering situation.
Various questions require up-to-date information. For example:
- Section 5 asks for your financial record, which includes audited accounts, profit & loss statement and cash flow forecast.
- Section 6 asks for details about recent contracts held.
Do we need to worry about PQQs if we are bidding as part of a consortium?
Yes. If above the threshold, the lead partner in the consortium will be required to submit a single PQQ for the whole consortium, so it will need the PQQ data from each organisation in a proposed bid. The lead partner must also specify all the organisations it intends to subcontract to.
“All members of the consortium will be required to provide the information required in all sections of the PQQ as part of a single composite response to the authority, i.e. each member of the consortium is required to complete the form.” (Point 12 of the government guidance).
What about Brexit? Do the regulations still apply?
Rules on PQQs are part of the 2015 Public Contract Regulations. Although these are based on EU procurement directives, they are part of UK law and will continue to apply regardless of Brexit, unless they are changed by the UK government at some point in the future.