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Port Agency Service

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what due diligence tests were conducted prior to the award of the contract for Port Agency Service (FLEET/OPS/0020), with particular reference to (a) credit checks, (b) risk assessment, (c) ownership, including related shareholdings and (d) transparency of company structures and accounts; and what methodology was used to conduct those tests; (324231)

(2) by what (a) method, (b) criteria and (c) through which Agency the Department assessed the security and associated risk profile of those companies who submitted bids for the contract for Provision of Port Agency Services (FLEET/OPS/0020); and if he will make a statement;

(3) whether, when awarding the contract for Provision of Port Agency Services (FLEET/OPS/0020), a requirement was stipulated that the contractor would need to demonstrate that their work would not be exposed to advanced notice of ship and submarine movements globally; and if he will make a statement.

(4) by what method and against what criteria his Department evaluated the tender submissions and related documents in respect of the Provision of Port Agency Services (FLEET/OPS/0020); if he will place in the Library a copy of the documentation setting out the criteria; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 25 March 2010]: Prior to award of the contract for Port Agency Services the Department undertook a tendering process with assessment conducted in two stages:

a pre-qualification assessment, utilising a standardised Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) to select from the companies who had expressed an interest, those that would be invited to tender; and

assessment of tenders received against the award criteria set out in the Special Notices and Instructions issued with Invitation to Tender dated 28 January 2008.

A copy of the PQQ and the Special Notices and Instructions will be placed in the Library of the House.

The PQQ sought details on such matters as technical capability, financial standing, ownership and company structures. Technical, financial and security matters were considered before a company was invited to tender for the requirement. This assessment was informed by reference to company specific reports procured from a reputable private sector business information supplier. Companies invited to tender for the contract were taken from a list of “Approved Defence Contractors” and, where necessary, were afforded provisional List-X Status by the Defence Procurement Agency for the purposes of complying with the Security Aspects of the tender bidding process.

The tender assessment was conducted by appropriate Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and civilian subject matter experts. The results of these assessments were collated and considered by a Tender Assessment Panel chaired by a senior commercial officer which recommended the award decision based on the evidence of the assessment.

After the tendering process was complete, an agreement on the detailed handling of sensitive material was reached with the successful bidder, implementing the more general security requirements set out in the contract documents. This agreement recognised that some sensitive information would need to be disclosed to suppliers of services in sufficient time to enable those services to be provided in a timely manner.