Contract Opportunities

The purpose of this section is to outline some factors that can affect suppliers seeking to secure business from the Scottish Prison Service or seeking to undertake work within prison premises.

1) Competition

SPS procurement policy is that Goods, Services or Works should be acquired by competition wherever possible in line with government policy and the relevant legislation. As a result of its diverse needs, procurement within SPS is divided between locally and nationally managed requirements: 

Local requirements are usually procured by staff within each prison. These tend to be relatively short-term or one-off purchases (value is typically less than £20,000).

Requirements above £20,000 and/or national requirements that affect many or all prisons are advertised on Public Contracts Scotland website by the Procurement, Policy & Services Department (PPSD) at SPS HQ.

SPS observes the requirement to advertise and follow prescribed EU tendering procedures for all requirements above the EU thresholds. Awards of business made by SPS are based on the principle that the Conditions of Contract issued by SPS form the basis of the resulting contract.

2) Approved or Preferred Supplier Lists

SPS does not operate or maintain an Approved or Preferred Supplier List. All significant requirements are subject to competition and/or provided through Contracts (or Framework Agreements) awarded.

3) Transparency

Through our procurement activity, SPS makes every effort to ensure that suppliers are very clear about our requirements and how we intend to evaluate tenders to identify the best proposal.
The tender document will set out the method of evaluation to be used. Suppliers should make sure that they fully understand the method of evaluation, the scope of requirements (specification), and should seek clarifications from SPS if any of this is unclear.

Tender documents also provide specific guidance detailing bid completion and submission procedures (including any specific information required by SPS to support tender evaluation). Tenderers should note that missing or omitted information could lead to a poor bid evaluation score, or to your bid being eliminated. The Scottish Prison Service publishes a register of contracts (>£20k in value) awarded by SPS during the past five years. This information is accessible elsewhere on the SPS website.

4) Security

Suppliers and prospective suppliers should be aware that a range of security considerations are of paramount importance for working within the prison environment:

Persons, vehicles and goods entering the secure perimeter of a prison are subject to searching (SPS employ measures which are like airport security).

A range of items are explicitly prohibited from prisons e.g. Mobile phones, laptops, personal communication devices which enable access to phones or internet networks, alcohol, weapons, camera, drugs and smoking materials.

All such items must be declared to SPS and either left in lockers at the front of house, or in a vehicle in the public car park of the prison.

Work tools such as sharp or bladed tools, ladders or laptops which are necessary to perform work in a prison should be declared and specific authorisation obtained from SPS (on a case to case basis) before items are taken into a prison. Where authority is provided for specific items or tools to be taken into a prison, the individual is then responsible for the security, the controlled use and the removal from the prison.

If an individual is uncertain if an item is prohibited or subject to controls, they should ask SPS security staff for advice. If in doubt ASK!

In many cases there will be a need for escorted access whilst on site.  There is also a routine requirement for supplier personnel to have Disclosure Scotland checks (at the required level) when seeking entry to prisons. 

5) Compliance with Regulatory Obligations

5.1 Legislation: The SPS expects suppliers and contractors to fully comply with their obligations in respect of relevant legislation, such as that pertaining to health & safety, equality and employment. Failure to do so may mean exclusion from competition or bidding for future SPS contracts.

5.2 Disclosure Scotland: Bid documents usually indicate the type of Disclosure required. For example, activities that routinely require individuals to work with prisoners and young offenders, adults at risk or children will generally require Enhanced rather than Basic Disclosure. Disclosure Scotland checks are not required for individuals simply undertaking the infrequent delivery of goods, or attending meetings, or attending to emergency repairs of equipment (supervised by escort whilst within SPS). You should also be aware that some offences can disqualify an individual from working within SPS premises.

Further information about Disclosure Scotland, the processes, timescales and fees associated with obtaining Disclosures are available here.  Any fees charged by Disclosure Scotland are the responsibility of the individual or the contractor/ supplier. 

5.3 Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA): Tenderers and suppliers should be aware that SPS is bound by the terms of FOISA. SPS will, following request, disclose information as required to ensure compliance with the Act. 

6) Contracting

Bound Contracts: In the majority of instances, after the tender process, SPS will expect successful supplier(s) to sign a bound contract. This will contain the entire scope of the agreement and the conditions of contract that will apply. 
Post Contract Management: National contracts awarded by SPS are generally managed and monitored by the procurement department. Suppliers must be willing to accept and support such monitoring, for example, by providing activity and performance reporting against agreed service levels indicated in the contract. 
Sustainable Procurement: The SPS seeks to ensure that its operations and delivery of public services is consistent with the Scottish Government's commitment to sustainability. SPS tenders may therefore set out specific sustainability requirements or monitoring provisions which are relevant to the performance of the contract e.g. specific SPS objectives may include community benefits, use of Supported Businesses or SMEs within the supply chain, carbon reduction, waste minimisation etc.

7) Ethics and Compliance

7.1 The Suppliers' Charter: The SPS has signed this joint statement between Public Sector Procurement and businesses to facilitate access to opportunities within public sector procurement. Our aim is to provide a fair and open approach to tendering, and to offer worthwhile feedback at the end of a procurement process. 

7.2 Procurement Ethics: Staff within SPS are expected to act with integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. These over-arching values and standards apply to everyone in the organisations: we expect similar ethical standards from our suppliers. 
If you believe that anyone within the SPS has engaged in unethical behaviour, if there is a potential conflict of interest, a concern relating to the award of a contract or to the performance of a contract, you should report this to either the SPS Head of Procurement, or to the Head of Internal Audit, at SPS Headquarters, Calton House, 5 Redheughs Rigg Edinburgh, EH12 9HW. 

7.3 Audit: The SPS, including its procurement activity, is subject to regular audit review both by the SPS internal audit team, and by Audit Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Parliament. 

8) Payment of Invoices

The SPS aim to pay invoices on time in accordance with the agreed payment terms. SPS payment performance is monitored by SPS and the results included in the SPS annual report and accounts. 

9) Supplier Journey

The Scottish Government has produced generic guidance to inform potential suppliers about public sector procurement processes and how they can effectively engage with these processes. 
The principles in the Supplier Journey should be read in conjunction with the SPS specific information outlined above. For example points: (1) Competition thresholds; (4) Security; and (5.2) Disclosures which reflect that there are specific provisions relevant to engaging, and working, with SPS. 

10) Single Point Enquiry

In addition to the above, the Scottish Government also provide an independent, impartial and confidential service where suppliers to the public sector in Scotland can obtain advice or highlight any concerns about the application of the procurement rules or the management of a specific tender exercise. 
Information about the role of the Single Point of Enquiry and how to contact it is available here