The Collaboration of Oxfordshire Academies is a group of Single Academy and Multi Academy Trusts who are part of the Oxfordshire Academies Business Managers Group. Meeting five times a year and with an annual conference, the group exists to share best practice, offer CPD opportunities, support group members and deliver collaborative procurement projects.
Minerva was engaged to run the procurement process on behalf of 13 Trusts following a decision to go out to tender for their Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programme Services contract. For many of the participants in this project, the current provider of their Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programme services was People Asset Management (PAM) via the Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) SLA. OCC provided access to these services for all maintained and academy schools in the county.
Towards the end of 2019, academies were advised that when the current contract came to an end on 31 August 2020 OCC would not be procuring a service solution that would be available to them. As a result of this decision, the academies based in Oxfordshire agreed to work together to explore the market to ensure all potential options were considered. The withdrawal of this arrangement coincided with the contract renewal for some academies who had previously changed provider from OCC two years before. The total contract value for each participant Trust was below the OJEU threshold of £189,330* (at the start of the tender process) and therefore did not require a procurement process which meets EU procurement legislation. As a result, a closed ‘Invitation only’ one-stage Request for Proposal (RFP) process was conducted. Bearing in mind the time and compliance requirements in this respect, the Trusts appointed Minerva Procurement Consultancy Services Limited to run the process on their behalf.
In line with the closed nature of the tender procedure, ten organisations were invited to submit a tender response. The organisations were chosen through a combination of suggestions from the Trusts and research by Minerva into providers of the required services. The two incumbent organisations were invited to tender. From the ten organisations contacted about the opportunity five expressed interest and registered to view the opportunity. Of that five, three provided a completed RFP submission. On closure of the tender after the extension, all organisations were initially scored by Minerva according to the evaluation criteria and all three were shortlisted to the presentation day for Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programme Services.
The presentation day for the process was scheduled at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and so a face to face presentation day was not possible. All three organisations who submitted a bid were invited to present and Minerva arranged for the presentations to be hosted online via GoToWebinar. This enabled the Trusts to hear more from each bidder as well as ask questions. Post the presentations each Trust then reviewed the individual scoring for their contract and moderated accordingly.
*OJEU has subsequently been replaced by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and the current threshold has also been updated.
Tenders were assessed on a ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender’ (MEAT) basis. The flexible way in which the tender process had been set up by Minerva enabled each Trust to award their contract to the bidder that best suited their requirements. This resulted in all three bidders winning a number of Trusts. The reasons for award ranged from low price to experience and qualifications of the medical professionals being used, the geographic location of face to face appointments, the quality of reporting through to the number of services included in the package.
Thanks once again to Lorraine and her team for making this procurement process so painless! This was incredibly well managed, particularly during a time of considerable challenge during lockdown.
Janice Davison, Bernwode Schools Trust
Minerva always do a really thorough job. Extremely detailed with high levels of analysis that gives good confidence. On occasions it can be difficult to find sufficient time to read and scrutinise as much as I would like. As a result it is reassuring to have someone on the end of the phone happy to talk over the key issues and message.
Chris Powell, Ridgeway Education Trust
The process itself was made much easier with Lorraine’s help. Without it, I would have crumbled in a corner, it was huge with so many areas and questions to evaluate I felt I was drowning.
Brenda Mundy, Meadowbrook College
Very helpful and supportive, answered all questions however minor and provided an excellent service. Thank you.
Zoe Bratt, Abingdon Learning Trust
Minerva’s experience is invaluable for complex procurement projects and we find them really accommodating and easy to work with.
Nichola Stretton, The Mill Academy