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’.