Managed Services Q&A

Note: Detailed Q&As aimed at potential bidders have been published on Defra’s e-procurement system, Bravo:

What is being tendered for?
AHVLA is seeking to award contracts to Suppliers (to be known as Delivery Partners) for a period of three years, with possible options to extend for periods up to a maximum of two years, for the provision of a fully managed service to handle:

  • Tuberculin testing of bovine animals in specific Geographical Lots within England and Wales.
  • Other Official Veterinarian (OV) and veterinary services (such as brucellosis, abortion and anthrax investigations, blood sampling and tuberculin testing of non-bovines) in specific Geographical Lots within England and Wales.
  • Incident response within England and Wales. (This is intended to make the veterinary resource available to the Delivery Partner’s part of the nationwide capability to respond to an animal-related emergency.)

Will these services be provided by a single Deliver Partner in each Geographical Lot?
It is intended to appoint a single Deliver Partner to each Geographical Lot to deliver all the services described above.

What is meant by a Geographical Lot?
Lots are how we break up geographical areas for tender. The Geographical Lots included within the tender are:

  • LOT 1 – Wales North
  • LOT 2 – Wales South
  • LOT 3 – South West England 1
  • LOT 4 – South West England 2
  • LOT 5 – South East England
  • LOT 6 – Midlands of England
  • LOT 7 – North of England.

Fuller details are included with the tender document.

Can a single business provide these services in more than one Geographical Lot?
It is the intention to award contracts to:

  • Two different Delivery Partners for the two Welsh Lots.
  • Three different Delivery Partners for the three highest value English Lots

This approach will maximise competition, improve resilience against the default or insolvency of a supplier, and will avoid over dominance of one supplier. Full details are provided in the tender document.

What does Fully Managed Service mean?
Elements of the Fully Managed Service include supply chain management, customer services, facilities management and transportation, and information management and security.

What is the proposed timetable for the procurement?
The deadline for tenders to be received will by 12:00 noon on 9 September 2014. It is anticipated that Delivery Partners will begin supplying the service on 1 April 2015.

How can clarifications be sought?
Any request for clarification regarding the invitation-to-tender should be submitted via Defra’s e-tendering system Bravo during the clarification period, which ends 12:00 noon on 2 September 2014.

During this period, two tender clarification ‘Question & Answer’ sessions will be held which will be open to all potential Tenderers. These will take place at:

  • AHVLA Weybridge on 30 July 2014
  • The Lantra Building, Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells on 7 August 2014

Attendance at the events must be pre-booked via the Bravo system before 23 July for the Weybridge event and 30 July for the Builth Wells event.

Will all services be delivered by an Official Veterinarian (OV)?
All services will be carried out by a vet (a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) holding the appropriate Official Control Qualification (Veterinary) and authorised to act as an OV by AHVLA. As now, there will be limited exceptions to this.

The list of OCQ (V)s and training available can be obtained from the appointed national training provider (see the OV training and authorisation page).

Will existing veterinary businesses be able to access this work?
Existing OV businesses wishing to supply taxpayer-funded veterinary services in England or Wales will need to do so either as a Delivery Partner or as a sub-contractor of a Delivery Partner.

Delivery Partners are to sub-contract taxpayer funded OV services work, where feasible, to local businesses provided these businesses are able to work to the required quality assurance standards, and offer a competitive price, against the minimum eligibility criteria outlined within the tender.

In addition, Deliver Partners may employ vets directly or engage self-employed individuals as sub-contractors.

Doesn’t this arrangement undermine the relationship between livestock keepers and their local vet?
Livestock keepers will be requested to identify a preferred veterinary business from the list of available sub-contractors. If keepers express a preference for a specific business on this list, this must, in normal circumstances, be followed by the Delivery Partner in allocating work.

As stated above, any veterinary business offering OV services in the Geographical Lot should be offered the opportunity to act as a sub-contractor provided they meet all of the defined minimum eligibility criteria.

Will vets be required to have good English (or Welsh) language skills?
Staff employed must be capable of effective communication with local livestock keepers. This must include fluency in the English language, both written and verbal. In Wales a proportion of OVs and support staff must be able to speak the Welsh language.

Will vets performing privately-funded official work be required to deliver these services through the auspices of a Delivery Partner?
As now, official work undertaken at a private client’s expense (such as pre-movement TB testing, export certification and the issuing of PETS passports) can continue to be delivered by any authorised OV who chooses to offer this service. Delivery Partners will be contracted to deliver publicly-funded work, although they will also be able to offer privately-funded services should they wish.

When will the current arrangements for allocating work to existing OV businesses cease?
It is anticipated that Delivery Partners will begin supplying these services from April 2015. Existing arrangements will continue until the new arrangements begin.

Can you clarify the position in Scotland and the impact on Official Veterinarians operating across the English/Scottish border?
There is no change foreseen to the way OV services are delivered in Scotland, although recently announced changes to the way Official Veterinarians are trained and authorised also apply in Scotland.

To supply publicly-funded OV services in England or Wales business or individuals will need to do so either as a Delivery Partner or as a sub-contractor of a Delivery Partner.

Wouldn’t smaller lots be better; giving more companies a chance and also enable AHVLA to see which companies perform better?
Consideration was given to having a larger number of smaller lots but previous feedback provided a broad consensus that this would cause more boundary problems and it would be best to minimise these.

Some sub-contractors could potentially need to negotiate with Delivery Partners in several different regions.
By proposing a relatively small number of lots we will be minimising the difficulties that arise due to boundaries.

Has any consideration been given to the Delivery Partner failure?
Yes, this is one reason why we don’t want a single national Delivery Partner. Within the contract contingency measures will be outlined.

You mention the need to prioritise value for money i.e. not buying at the lowest price and ensuring quality, how will this be achieved?
Evaluation of bids will not be based wholly on price but also on technical ability to deliver a quality service.

Whilst value for money is an important consideration we must also assure ourselves that bids are deliverable. We won’t be looking simply for the lowest price and we will carefully scrutinise very low bids.

What would happen if sub-contracting obligations weren’t being met?
In the first instance we would ask the Delivery Partner to improve their performance in this respect.

AHVLA are currently doing a percentage of tests, will this continue?
We still expect AHVLA to maintain capability and continue to deliver a proportion of the work. The historical information contained within the ITT excluded this test work.

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