Reading University pulls design tender at last minute

The University of Reading has come under fire from consultancies after scrapping its tender for a design framework at the eleventh hour.

The university had published a tender on 29 June through the Official Journal of the European Union to create a roster for ‘provision of graphic information design, Web design and Web development services’. This would see up to 20 consultancies brought on to a four-year framework, broken down into graphic design, Web design and Web services lots, with an overall value of £1m-£2m.

After getting through the pre-qualification questionnaire stage, several consultancies were issued with a tender document on 25 September, and asked to provide information, including samples of work and costings on case studies. They were given a deadline of 29 October.

Two days before this deadline, the consultancies received a letter from the university dated 27 October, saying that the tender had been abandoned, adding that ‘the procedure followed to date requires review and revision’.

This was because, the letter said, additional questions were needed at the PQQ stage, and ‘there has been considerable confusion with those companies who have been taken through to the tender stage. It wasn’t clear which “lots” [they] had been taken through for’.

The partner of one consultancy that reached the tender stage says, ‘We put in about two weeks’ work on this. I find it unbelievable the client can suggest that any consultancy wouldn’t know what work it was tendering for.’

A spokesman for the university said the tender had been pulled for the reasons outlined in the letter, adding that an amended tender would be issued ‘in due course’.

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  • Mike November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Not unusual for procurement depts to completely waste agencies’ time. Hull City pulled one because they issued the tender stage before the PQQ stage.

    Good design companies, and client marketing departments are separated by procurement depts that want to tick boxes, and take holidays around the deadline date.

    but don’t get me started…

  • Deborah Dawton November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    for all those agencies reading this with frustration, click on to for more information – Deborah Dawton has and is already addressing this issue.

    Support the DBA and this could get sorted a lot lot faster

  • robbie stringer November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I had some recent contact with University of Reading over design issues. They have their own academic typographic department so tend to put most design work through this. It could be that they are just going through the motions of a tender

  • Roy Wylam November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Having just watched Andrew Marr interview Warren Buffett and Andrew Marr explaining how Buffett conducted his business transactions with minimal fuss, not even visiting the companies before or after he had bought them and explaining how he paid 50 million dollars for one company were he just typed up a few lines of text and they both signed.

    The gist of all this is, all this tendering merlacky just keeps people in jobs, people who have no idea what there doing, trying to employ either desperate designers or designers who also don’t know what there doing.

    Tender – Pah!

  • Kevin Neenan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    You all seem suprised by Reading pulling the tender, why?
    Haven’t any of you heard of bench-marking?
    A management exercise undertaken to assess the cost effectiveness of in-house departments!

  • Matt Carey November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    My studio got through to stage 2 and I had already submitted our tender document before finding out the whole thing was being pulled.

    I’ve let the University know that I’m not impressed.

  • Matt Carey November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Just to let you know, the University has just released the new (revised) tender documents. They want everyone to start again from stage 1 (we were on stage 2 of 3). Bonkers!

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