Sub-contracts on research projects

All research subcontracts with a value greater than £1000 require the university to demonstrate that a procurement exercise has been carried out.

The University procurement rules with respect to the value of contract (excluding VAT) are:

  1. <£1,000: one written or verbal quotation should be obtained.
  2. >£1,000 and < £25,000: a minimum of 3 quotations unless there is clear evidence that competitors current prices are known and can be shown to be uncompetitive
  3. >£25,000: a formal tender with a minimum of 4 responses (except where less than 4 suppliers exist)
  4. >£144,459: EU regulations apply in full:  Full public tender.  This value is set by the EU and reviewed every 2 years

 Sole Supply

In some cases there will be only one company (or individual) with whom it would be sensible to contract.  Where sole supply can be demonstrated there will not be a need for competitive tender.  In all cases the Principal Investigator will need to provide clear evidence of the justification for sole supply because the University needs to be able to reference that evidence (for example to auditors) to justify the basis of the decision. 

All instances of sole supply must be flagged up to Research Services at an early stage and justification for the sole supply must be signed off by the Head of Research Services before the research proposal is submitted.

Step by step guideline to sub-contract approvals

For grant proposals

  • Principal Investigator starts planning proposal for grant proposal.
  • Pre-cost submission stage: 
  1. Scope of project and bid response point to possible need to include sub-contractor(s).  Principal Investigator recommended to contact Research Services as soon in this process as possible on an informal basis.  In most cases it will become apparent at this stage whether award to a preferred supplier with no or minimal tender requirements is possible.
  2. If a sub-contract is likely to exceed £25,000 in value a formal tendering exercise may be needed which will be organised through the Procurement Office.  Research Services will liaise with the Principal Investigator and the Procurement Office in the initial stages of this exercise.  The organisation of the tender and contract award will be managed by the Procurement Office. 
  • Formal cost submission stage – note required to explain nature and basis of sub-contract arrangements
  1. If sub-contractors are determined to be a necessary part of the proposal a short description of the nature and duration of their engagement will need to be included in the formal costing proposal submitted to Research Services.  Minimum details will include vale of contract, nature of supply and where relevant the identity of the supplier (if known).
  2.  If as a result of earlier informal discussion with Research Services a case can be made for sole supply the note will need to explain this.  If sole supply cannot be justified, on a case by case basis, then the sub-contract may need be procured through competition – see value levels under 1 above for extent of required competition.
  3. Where sole supply is not possible it will be desirable to organise the appropriate level of competitive tender as soon as possible.  Where the value level simply requires 3 quotations (contract value <£25,000) it should be possible in most cases to complete this process before formal submission is made to Research Services.  In such cases the note needs to describe how quotations were obtained and how award was made on the basis of evaluated price.  (Necessary details in the note will include the identity of the bidders who quoted and the prices and delivery schedules submitted.)
  4. In all cases sub-contract arrangements will need to be approved through Research Servicesbefore the proposal can be submitted.