Construction procurement in the Public Sector

A third of all public spending goes towards procuring goods, works and services from external suppliers, creating 50,000 new business opportunities a year – 34% of which are for the construction industry. From Aggregate Supplies to Warehouse Construction, and everything in between, the public sector will always have construction procurement needs.

construction site

How does the public sector buy construction related services?

With Brexit, Covid-19 recovery and Net-zero commitments, the government has had to review their procurement processes and change how goods, works and services are sourced – particularly from the construction industry. New priorities were introduced with the publication of the Construction Playbook and National Procurement policy Statement, a summary of these can be found below. While this guidance only applies to the central government, it is to be considered ‘good practice’ by the wider public sector – meaning anyone in the construction industry should be familiar with these, and use them to their advantage.

Social Value

Social Value

Priorities and policies regarding social, economic, and environmental impact of procurement decisions

  • Aim to maintain a healthy market by designing strategies and contracts that help to remove barriers to entry, take advantage of innovations, and promote competition.
  • Make procurement decisions which contribute to the UK Government’s legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and prioritising opportunities to reduce waste.
  • Create a more diverse supply chain to deliver the contract, which will better support start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses and VCSEs in doing business on public sector contracts.
  • Focus on strategies which will deliver lower cost and/or higher quality goods and services, while also encouraging increased productivity and the adoption of innovation.

Market Engagement

Market Engagement

Priorities and policies aiming to make procurement more efficient for suppliers.

  • Ensure the market is aware of all upcoming projects by publishing pipelines for the next 3-5 years - giving suppliers plenty of time to engage with buyers and prepare for upcoming contracts.
  • Use longer-term contracts, standardise requirements and collaborate with other contracting authorities to achieve faster, better, and greener projects.
  • Achieve value for all by creating sustainable, resilient, and effective relationships with suppliers.
  • Improve safety, enable innovation, reduce costs, and produce more sustainable outcomes by encouraging suppliers and buyers to adopt the UK Building Information Management (BIM) Framework.
  • Engage with suppliers earlier, offering opportunities to make recommendations on design, cost, risk management, and structuring of projects.
  • Focus on whole life value ‘Outcomes’ rather than ‘Scope’ to encourage suppliers to consider the government's wider economic, social, and environmental priorities.

Improved Procurement Processes

Improved Procurement Processes

Policies aimed at the public sector to ensure the best processes are used and value for money can be achieved.

  • Use DMAs (Delivery Model Assessments) ensure evidence-based processes are used to determine the best delivery model for projects.
  • Conduct earlier risk assessments to mitigate these before construction begins, and ensure each part knows which risks they are responsible for.
  • Improve safety, enable innovation, reduce costs, and produce more sustainable outcomes by encouraging suppliers and buyers to adopt the UK Building Information Management (BIM) Framework.
  • Establish the best pricing based on the delivery of outputs, work value or supplier performance - price should reflect the level of certainty or risk around the scope and requirement.
  • Assess the economic and financial standing of suppliers to safeguard the delivery of projects.
  • Mitigate the impact of insolvency by asking suppliers to provide resolution planning information in the form of a Service Continuity Plan (previously known as Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans).

While these policies focus more on contracting authorities’ internal processes, it is vital that you know what buyers are looking for so that you can avoid misunderstandings by displaying vital information in the correct format.

How do I find construction tenders?

There are thousands of portals through which public bodies can advertise their construction procurement needs, and it would take a significant amount of time and effort to try and locate every opportunity relevant to your business.
Tenders Direct eliminates your need to search for tenders by collating every construction notice from the UK & ROI in one place, and alerts you whenever new opportunities have been published. Our unique service ensures we are aware of every tender published, allowing us to guarantee that with Tenders Direct - you will never miss a public sector notice.

How do I win work in the public sector?

Winning construction tenders requires having a clear understanding of what contracting authorities are looking for and how to make your bid stand out. The above policies highlight the considerations buyers must make, but ultimately contracts will be awarded to businesses that can best meet the buyer’s needs.
For specific information about how buyers evaluate bids, and advice to improve the quality of your proposals, please visit our page How to tender for construction contracts.

Need some help?


Bid writing training courses

Free check

Bid writing readiness check

Free webinars

On-demand bid writing webinars