Best value for money

Last week, the Industrial Services and General Infrastructure section of the Procurement and Industrial Services group received dozens of bids in a single day! The bids were submitted in response to four invitations to tender to be adjudicated on a ‘best value for money’ basis. This adjudication method, introduced at CERN in 2008, ensures that quality is given as much priority as cost containment in the process of awarding industrial services contracts.


Members of the Industrial Services and General Infrastructure section with the dozens of bids received in a single day.

Until 2008 every contract at CERN was adjudicated on a "lowest compliant bid" basis, i.e. to the firm submitting the cheapest technically compliant tender. Since then, however, the CERN Financial Rules, including the Procurement Rules, have undergone an in-depth revision, and the ‘best value for money’ adjudication basis has been introduced.

According to the new adjudication method, service contracts, which include the provision of contractors' personnel working on the CERN site, are awarded to the firm offering the given service with the best quality-price ratio. The procedure is designed to guarantee a better quality of the services offered to CERN. “In the adjudication process, the price usually accounts for 70%,” says Cristina Lara, Head of the Industrial Services and General Infrastructure section. “The more complex the technical requirement, the greater the weighting of the quality score can be.” In general, the criteria and the score they are given in assessing the quality are defined by the Department requesting the service, in collaboration with the Procurement and Industrial Services group, before the invitation to tender is sent out.

The ‘best value for money’ adjudication method enables bidders to offer added value and this improves the quality of the service purchased by CERN. On the CERN side, the adjudication process represents an increased challenge for both the Procurement and Industrial Services group and the Department concerned, which remains in charge of all the technical aspects of the invitation to tender. “The number of documents we prepare for the invitation to tender has significantly increased and the content has become more complex,” explains Cristina Lara. “In addition, the bids we receive contain such an important amount of information and documents that their analysis needs to be spread over several days. With the old criteria, we used to evaluate only the lowest bids among those that were technically compliant, while now all technical bids have to be evaluated.”

The volume and complexity of the daily work has increased, but the results are definitively encouraging for the members of the Industrial Services team: “The quality of services performed by contractors on the CERN site is demonstrably higher than before 2008,” confirms Cristina Lara. “Firms are encouraged to consider the technical aspects of the future contract as much as the price in their bid. In CERN’s interests, firms have been enabled to change their approach, which used to be purely financial, and to integrate qualitative aspects.”

The next step for the Procurement and Industrial Services group will be to develop “e-tendering”, an improved, modern and safe method for firms to submit their bids electronically. The photograph illustrating this article is striking but it might happily be the last one picturing heavy boxes full of documents to be sorted through!

by CERN Bulletin