The council uses a 'framework' of contractors who are appointed for a period of around four years. This is supposed to save time and money by not having to re-tender for each job. However, this particular 'framework' appears to have cost quite a lot of time and money.
The report to the committee details the extensive procurement and advertising exercise, (which must also be compliant with EU rules) which started June 2012, and was due to be 'operational' by April this year. Included within the process is a ten day period to allow for a challenge.
In this case, an unsuccessful contractor did put forward a challenge and although the details have not been published, the report states that it was;
'prudent on a commercial basis that the process would stop and that the authority would re-tender. In view of the content of the challenge it was felt that the time would be best served to improve the documentation and adjust the framework to meet the needs of the Authority.'
In other words, the challenge was successful because somewhere along the lengthy line the process was flawed. It was going to take another stab at the whole tender to get it right. However, this is really a huge advantage as we can now 'improve our documentation' and 'adjust' the framework.
The framework eventually became operational on the 1st September, over a fortnight before this report goes to Scrutiny.