We understand that procurement can be confusing. Organisations often use different terms to describe the same thing. With that in mind, we designed this glossary to make buying with us and navigating our website easier. It is not designed to be an extensive list of all procurement terms.



Also known as ‘collective buying’. We bring together organisations with similar needs and combine their orders to get a better price from suppliers. It helps you to save time and money that would not be possible through individual buying.

It is most commonly used for services like water, gas and electricity or technology products but we can consider all opportunities.

For more information look at our current aggregations.


Also known as a ‘commercial agreement’ or a ‘framework’. It provides a compliant way for public and third sector buyers to buy products or services from pre-approved suppliers.

For more information see commercial agreement.

Awarded supplier

When a supplier is awarded a place on an agreement it means they have passed the relevant checks needed to ensure that they are capable of providing the necessary products and services.

Being awarded a place on an agreement does not guarantee the supplier work.

Award notice

The announcement of a public procurement outcome. When a procurement ends the buyer must send a notification to all suppliers informing them that the successful supplier has been selected.

Buyers can send the alert by email or through an eSourcing tool.

For more information, read guidance on the transparency requirements for publishing on Contracts Finder.

Award selection

The mechanism the buyer will use to choose a supplier.


Below threshold

Procurements that are below the public procurement thresholds set out in Public Contracts Regulations 2015.


An offer made by the supplier to compete for a contract where they will supply a product, service or asset.

When a buyer submits a Request for Proposal (RfP) they will detail what it is they need. A supplier will then make a bid in response to the RfP. Their bid will include their full submission including price and responses to quality questions. It may include other information such as:

• availability

• delivery schedule

• detailed product and/or service specification

• capability

A bid can also be referred to as a tender or an offer.

Bid pack

A set of documents sent from buyers to suppliers to outline their procurement needs. Suppliers fill in the bid pack documents and the responses are then evaluated by the buyer to decide who can provide the best goods and/or services. A bid pack may include the following:

• background information about the procurement

procurement specification

• supplier instructions

• deliverables/requirements

• standards and processes, for instance regulatory/compliance

• key performance indicators

• order forms/call-off schedule

• pricing matrix to complete


A potential supplier who makes an offer or ‘bid’ to compete for a contract where they will supply a product, service or asset. Can also be referred to as Tenderer.

Bid evaluation

The process of checking a potential supplier’s responses to pre-defined criteria. Buyer’s evaluate supplier bids to identify a preferred supplier to carry out their needs.

Bid evaluation takes place after the deadline passes for tender submissions.

To find out more read how to evaluate bids.


Another term used for customer or contract authority. It refers to the organisation who is buying a product, service or asset.


Call-off award procedure

The procedures stated within the commercial agreement that buyers can use to award a call-off contract.

Call-off contract

A contract between a buyer and a supplier for the provision of goods or services. Subject to the call-off award procedure, buyers can award a call-off contract to a supplier directly (without re-opening competition) or after completing a further competition.

Call-off schedule

A schedule that forms part of the Call-off contract. To see which Call-off schedules you need to complete, check the document section of the commercial agreement you are buying through.

See our list of commercial agreements.

Capability assessment

This is when a supplier self certifies their ability to provide certain requirements in a procurement. For example, they may certify if they can provide goods and services within 3 weeks. This allows buyers to shortlist bidders who are capable of performing the contract.

Carbon Net Zero (CNZ)

Carbon net zero means we are not adding more carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Any carbon emissions we do create are balanced out by taking the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

See how we can help you reach your carbon net zero goals.

Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP)

A Carbon Reduction Plan helps customers understand the impact of a supplier’s operations on the environment. A CRP details an organisation’s emissions across a single year against a range of emission sources and greenhouse gases. The CRP is also required to show what actions will be taken to achieve net zero and annual progress against these.

If a supplier is required to publish a CRP, you can find it on their individual supplier details page.

For reference, read Procurement Policy Note 06/21: Taking account of Carbon Reduction Plans in the procurement of major government contracts

Clarification period

The formal exchange of required information between buyers, suppliers and CCS throughout the procurement process. The exchange of information is used to create a comprehensive audit trail. Required information can include:

• bid pack documents

• capability questions

• bid evaluations

Commercial Agreement Manager (CAM)

The person who manages the commercial agreement.

Commercial agreement

A commercial agreement refers to both a framework agreement and a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS).

It provides a compliant way to buy products or services from pre-approved suppliers. We complete checks to ensure suppliers can provide the products and services listed before they can join the commercial agreement.

Each commercial agreement has its own set of terms and conditions, schedules and order forms. It may also contain further information where an agreement offers more complex goods and services.

Take a look at our current commercial agreements

Become a supplier on a commercial agreement

Competitive dialogue

A procurement procedure which allows departments to hold dialogue with bidders on various aspects of the procurement.

Competitive procedure with negotiation

A procurement procedure which allows departments to hold dialogue with bidders on various aspects of the procurement.


A type of negotiated contract that gives the supplier the right to do business in a specific way. For instance a concession might allow a company outside of the UK to do business with the UK public sector.


A competitive bidding process where the buyer receives and evaluates bids from companies before choosing them to be a supplier.

See also further competition.


A document that provides information on products and services offered by a supplier.

Could also refer to our online buying platforms or ‘catalogues’ which are designed to make it easy for you to make smaller or one-off purchases online. For example, this could include buying office equipment or IT supplies.

Take a look at our online catalogues.


A legally enforceable agreement between 2 or more competent parties (usually supplier and buyer). The contract will define the goods and services that the supplier will provide and for how long.

Contract award

The point where the successful potential supplier is officially awarded the contract to supply goods and/or services to the buyer.

Contract notice

A notification to let the market know about a new procurement opportunity. See also Contracts Finder.

Contracts Finder

Contracts Finder lets you search for information about contracts worth over £12,000 (including VAT) with the government and its agencies. Public bodies are required to publish details relating to the contacts they award in line with transparency requirements.

For more information, read Guidance on the Transparency Requirements for Publishing on Contracts Finder

Contracting process

Refers to the full process (from start to finish) of completing a tender, a direct contract award or awarding a concession. Includes all stages such as the:

• planning

• tendering information

• awards

• contracts

• contract implementation information


Direct call-off

Placing an order directly with a single supplier under an agreement without running a further competition.

Also referred to as direct award.

Down select supplier list

A process that is available on some of our commercial agreements. It creates a shortlist of suppliers that are capable of meeting the buyers individual needs. Buyers can then use this supplier shortlist in the next steps of the buying journey.

Note: This is not a standard feature of all commercial agreements.

Direct award

Where you place an order directly with a supplier without running a further competition.

The option to direct award is not available on all commercial agreements or to all organisations.

You should check the agreements guidance notes and your organisation’s policy to see if direct award is a compliant route and, if so, how to proceed.

Find out more about direct award.

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS)

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) is an electronic tool that is used to buy commonly used goods and services. They are similar to frameworks, but suppliers can join at any time during the agreement’s life and is 100% electronic.

Find out how to become a supplier on a DPS

Find out how to buy through a DPS


Early market engagement

Early market engagement (EME), also known as soft market testing, is the process of engaging with potential suppliers before you begin buying goods or services for your organisation. It gives suppliers the opportunity to both inform the specification and to get ready to meet the demand.

Find out how to carry out early market engagements successfully


it is the evaluation of a potential supplier’s pricing and technical submission to identify the one that has made the best value offer

Evaluation criteria

The criteria used to evaluate a supplier’s pricing and responses to quality questions and provide a score. The overall score given will then determine which supplier provides better value and should be awarded the contract.

Expression of Interest

An Expression of Interest (EOI) is a set of high level requirements outlined by the buyer and sent to potential suppliers. They can be used for pre-market engagement only, but buyer’s can also use them to create a supplier shortlist for their further competition.

EOIs can help a buyer find out if suppliers are interested in bidding for their project, and can offer the products or services needed. If a supplier does not respond to an EOI, the buyer does not need to invite them to tender. You should check the framework rules first, not all frameworks allow you to carry out an EOI.

EOI supplier shortlisting

Allows buyers to reduce the number of suppliers they send their EOI to, suppliers should only be excluded if they cannot meet the buyer’s needs in terms of location and service type.

EOI Offline Documents

Documents that buyers can upload as part of their EOI which state their basic requirements and any additional information that would allow suppliers to accurately decide if this is a procurement they are interested in sourcing.


An online tool that enables the procurement of products and services using internet-enabled applications and decision support tools. These tools help buyers and suppliers interact on a procurement through the use of online negotiations such as running further competitions and evaluations, online auctions, reverse auctions and so on.

Below are links to our own eSourcing tool. You can use our eSourcing tool to run your procurements for free or, if you prefer, you can use your own eSourcing tools.

Register to use eSourcing tool

Register for eSourcing training


Further competition

Once you have selected the CCS commercial agreement that meets your requirements you can ask the suppliers listed to bid. This process is called a ‘further competition’. This may be run under any CCS framework or Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) which has multiple suppliers. Generally in public procurement further competition is the preferred route to market because it offers a fair and open competition. There are 2 types of further competition. These are:

1. one stage further competition: You will need to invite all suppliers to bid for your opportunity and assess all bids that are submitted.

2. two stage further competition: You can shortlist the suppliers to find the ones most suitable for your procurement using a capability assessment tool. Only the suppliers on the shortlist will be invited to bid for your opportunity.

Find out more about further competition.

Framework agreement

Framework agreements may contain lots that further split the framework into specific parts for buyers to choose from. They can choose to buy from multiple lots or an individual lot. There are different ways to buy from a commercial agreement (see direct award and further competition).

Framework schedules

Framework schedules are a set of contractual documents, which a supplier agrees to, before they are added to an agreement to supply products and services.


Government Commercial Function (GCF)

The Government Commercial Function is a cross-government network procuring or supporting the procurement of goods and services for the government.

Government Commercial Organisation (GCO)

The Government Commercial Organisation (GCO) is the employer of senior commercial professionals, at Grade 7 and above, within the Government Commercial Function (GCF).


Invitation to tender

A document inviting suppliers to bid for work when a procurement goes live.

Issue contract

The point where the successful potential supplier is officially awarded or ‘issued’ the contract to supply goods and/or services to the buyer.



A single framework agreement is often divided into a number of categories which provide certain products or services. These categories are called lots and usually group together similar products and service types. For example, if you’re looking to buy a service from a vehicle services agreement there might be a lot which provides MOT services and another lot which may provide leasing services for commercial vehicles.

Which lot you use could depend on what you need, who you are buying for or your budget. Sometimes the lot you use will also determine the way you buy. For example, you may only be able to buy from a specific lot if you are buying for a school in the northeast. Or you may only be able to buy through direct award.

Low value purchase system

The Low Value Purchase System is a commercial agreement which enables buyers to buy low cost, low value goods and services from suppliers including Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) suppliers.


Modern slavery

Modern slavery is a serious crime, which might take the form of:

• forced labour

• debt bondage

• forced marriage

• slavery and slavery-like practices

• human trafficking

Anyone can be a target for modern slavery. Preventing modern slavery in supply chains is one of our top priorities. We are an active partner in the modern slavery prevention work led by the Home Office.

Find out more about modern slavery.

Read our modern slavery statement.

Read the Modern Slavery Act (2015)

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT)

The Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) is a method of assessment that buyers can use during the evaluation process to award the contract based on other aspects (such as the best quality) rather than just the best price.


Open procurement (or open procedure)

An open procedure is a one stage procurement process that covers exclusion grounds, selection criteria and award criteria. An open procedure means that any potential supplier can respond to the contract notice, request or download the procurement documents and submit a tender. All tenders must be evaluated in line with the methodology and criteria set out in the procurement documents.


Pre-market engagement

A customer can ask suppliers questions about their procurement project so they can get a better understanding of what the market offers and current trends/innovations without entering into a contract. This helps customers to refine the procurement project and they can also find out if suppliers would be interested in their project.

There are 2 methods of pre-market engagement:

  • Request for Information (RfI)
  • Expression of Interest (EoI)

See Expression of Interest and Request for Information for more details about the specific types of pre-market engagement.

Procurement specification

A specification can be defined as a ‘statement of needs or requirements’. It is a document that presents potential suppliers with a clear, accurate and full description of the buying organisation’s needs. Suppliers can use this document to make informed decisions on whether to propose a solution to meet those needs and bid for the contract.

The specification is usually part of a bid pack.

For more information read ‘how to write a specification’.


A product is an item you can buy, such as a laptop. It’s a one-off purchase and involves no ongoing contract.

Product and a service

Buy a product and a service. Some contracts may involve hiring a product as part of that service. For example you may want to pay for a linen washing service as well as buying or hiring linen items.

Post award

Provides customers the ability to access their previously awarded contracts extensions and terminations.

Post award would also include customers publishing the awarded contract to contract finder.

Public Procurement Gateway (PPG)

The Public Procurement Gateway (PPG) is a new digital service that makes buying and supplying easier for everyone. It provides a single point of entry to our self service dashboard, allowing you to access multiple services in one location. You can also manage all your information in a simple and secure way.

Find out more about PPG

Create a PPG account

Purchasing Platform

An online catalogue or ‘buying platform’ where you can buy technology products such as laptops, tablets and software.

Find out more about the Purchasing Platform.

Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015)

The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015) sets out the rules governing public sector procurement. PCR 2015 oblige public sector bodies to tender (seek bids) from suppliers when they want to buy goods and services above a certain value. Buying through CCS complies with procurement regulations but simplifies the process for buyers.


Record award decision

Provide documents showing the result of the procurement activity. It should include any resulting buying outcome.

Request for Information (RfI)

A request for information involves getting input from the marketplace in the form of a written report. It will include general information such as expertise, production schedule and shipping capacity. Buyers use this input from the market to help them develop their user requirements. A buyer may complete a RFI if:

• the specific lot or agreement is very detailed and the specification is very high level

• they are unsure what the appropriate delivery method should be and seek input from the marketplace

Restricted procedure

This is where suppliers are shortlisted and only the shortlisted suppliers are invited to tender or bid for the work. The restricted procedure is a 2 stage process:

Stage 1 is selection: suppliers are alerted to express an interest in a contract opportunity by obtaining and submitting a selection questionnaire. This will be used to establish their capability, experience and suitability. The purpose of the questionnaire is to select a shortlist of 5 (or more) suppliers who are likely to meet the tender requirements.

Stage 2 is award: the 5 or more shortlisted suppliers who meet the selection criteria are then invited to tender. All tenders are evaluated in line with the methodology and award criteria set out in the tender documents.

Reverse auction

In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a required good or service. Suppliers then place bids for the amount they are willing to be paid for the goods or service, with the winner being the supplier prepared to accept the lowest amount.

RFx (or request for)

A generic or ‘catch all’ term for an event that is put out to the market by the buyer. There are several types of events:

Expression of interest (EOI)

Request for information (RFI)

Request for proposal (RFP)

A buyer does not need to run all 3 events. They can choose to run any number of RFx events within a procurement case to get the information and cost surrounding a bid. These events must, however, be done compliantly. This means a buyer can not keep running events until their preferred supplier is the only one remaining.

Request for information

A Request for Information can be made when a buyer/customer is looking for input into developing their user requirements and are seeking input from the marketplace.

Example: If the customer is unsure of the appropriate delivery model and seeks input from the marketplace.

Request for proposal (RFP)

Buyers can invite potential suppliers to submit a business proposal through a bidding process. The business proposal could be for the supply of a commodity, service or asset. This is sometimes known as either Invitation to Tender (ITT), a Request for Quotation (RFQ) or a Request for Tender (RFT).

RFP supplier shortlisting

Allows buyers to reduce the number of potential suppliers who can submit a business proposal. The business proposal will be submitted through a bidding process and should be for the supply of a commodity, service or asset.

Suppliers should only be excluded from submitting a business proposal if they cannot meet the buyer’s needs in terms of location or service type.

RFP direct award

Where there is only one supplier on the framework, or if there is an option for the direct award in the commercial agreement guidance notes, you can place an order directly with the supplier. RFP direct award allows buyers to select a single supplier in which they would like to engage with to receive their proposal before progressing to the contract award.

If there are multiple suppliers who can meet the buyer’s needs, direct award can only be awarded if cost is the only factor.

RFP further competition

It provides buyers the capability to invite potential suppliers to submit a business proposal, through a bidding process, for the supply of a commodity, service, or asset. RFP Further competition is where customers want to engage with multiple suppliers so they can see each supplier’s proposal and pricing before making a decision on who to award the contract too.

RFP offline documents

Allows buyers to upload offline documents that state their detailed requirement or additional information. These documents would then allow and help suppliers to create and publish their business proposal for the buyer’s review.

Route to market

The route you take to buy goods or services from a supplier. All commercial agreements and lots must define their route to market. This can be further competition, direct award, eAuctions or catalogue (such as the purchasing platform).

For more information read ‘choosing the right route to market’.


Schedule of rates

An itemised list of component parts within a lump-sum contract, or a list of individual products, giving a price for each unit.

Selection questionnaire

The standard selection questionnaire (SQ) asks potential suppliers to initially just self-declare their status against the exclusion grounds and selection questions. Usually you will only check the status of the winning supplier. The standard SQ is structured in 3 separate parts:

1. covers the basic information about the supplier, such as the contact details, trade memberships, details of parent companies, group bidding and so on

2. covers a self-declaration regarding whether or not any of the exclusion grounds apply

3. covers a self-declaration regarding whether or not any of the exclusion grounds apply

The standard SQ has been developed to simplify the supplier selection process for businesses, in particular smaller firms, across the public sector.

Read the standard selection questionnaire


A service is a contract for something to happen, either once or on a regular basis. For example, a contract for specified linens to be collected, washed and returned twice a month for 3 years.

Service assurance

This relates specifically to G-Cloud 13. This is to assure the platform that the performance is assured to accommodate the suppliers application process, the 38k+ agreements, prevent rogue services added by suppliers in live and so on.

Sign contract

When buyers and suppliers sign the contract. Signing the contract shows approval of the finalised contractual agreement. Also known as ‘contract signature’


Small and medium-sized enterprises (business with less than 250 employees).

Social value

Social Value refers to the positive value businesses create for the economy, communities, and the environment. It is not the value that a supplier provides as part of their day to day activities, but the additional relevant value that they can provide alongside providing a public contract. This includes the wellbeing of individuals and communities such as additional actions to:

• develop new jobs and skills

• address Modern Slavery

• achieve Carbon Net Zero and sustainability

For more information, read our social value webpage.


Organisation that supplies the goods and/or services that a buyer wants. Suppliers can be large organisations or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs).

Note: can be referred to as a bidder or tenderer. Supplier is the only term that should be used.

Supplier due diligence

The process of researching a prospective supplier before agreeing a transaction or contract.

Supplier ranking

A priority order of suppliers that can be used for sourcing.



A request from a buying organisation to invite suppliers to formally quote for the provision of goods/services outlined in a procurement requirement.

Tender submissions

A tender submission is the proposal submitted by a supplier as part of a tender process.

Transforming Public Procurement (TPP)

The Transforming Public Procurement programme aims to improve the way public procurement is regulated in order to: create a simpler and more flexible, commercial system that better meets the country’s needs while remaining compliant with our international obligations.

For more information, read transforming public procurement.



Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise.

These are organisations, whose purpose is built around the creation of social value, or whose profits are used to provide benefits to local communities.

View choose details

Review the results of the search against high-level needs including commercial agreement/lot and procurement route.

View relevant documentation/schedules

Review of any associated commercial agreement, lot and/or associated supplier information to inform the procurement activity.


Wider Public Sector (WPS)

Wider public sector, including local government, health and education, and third sector (charities).