One step further towards quality-based procurement

3rd of August 2021
One step further towards quality-based procurement

Public procurement is one of the key areas of activities for EFCI and the organisation feels there is a real need for public authorities to better promote efficient, fair and transparent competition. So it has developed a set of specific recommendations.

Public procurement is one of the focuses of advocacy work for the EFCI. Indeed, our sector provides essential services to both public and private buyers who often select their contractors through public tenders. In some countries contracts awarded in this way account for 50 per cent of the sector turnover.

Some companies’ turnover depends on an even higher proportion of this kind of contract, while others have opted out of participating in tenders given the high risks and pressure they entail for companies. And this is due, mainly, for the lack of focus on quality by tendering authorities.

Room for improvement in procuring across Europe

From our work and discussions with partner organisations and stakeholders (such as representatives from the European Commission, the legal profession and contracting authorities), we have concluded there is a general agreement that while the legislation is there, further effort is needed to bring this to fruition in practice and for public authorities to better promote efficient, fair, and transparent competition between operators.

For the rules to be effectively applied in a way that promotes investment and true competition, the professionalisation of procurers needs further development. Indeed, both legal specialists and experts from our companies have reported that smaller procurers, such as small town halls, often struggle to consider the many different policy drivers that add complexity to the tendering process.

For all the above, the EFCI has, since its foundation, worked intensively on the subject, conducting campaigns and lobbying activities towards public authorities at all levels to make them understand how essential it is that the focus it shifted from price towards quality in the selection of cleaning contractors. As a result of this focus, the EFCI and UNI Europa, our social partner in the social dialogue at EU Level, published the Selecting Best Value Guide.

During the last period, though, EFCI members have emphasised the need to work further on specific recommendations from the sector on topics of concern. Therefore the EFCI has developed a set of specific recommendations, providing concrete ideas for procurers who want to go a step further in their commitment towards quality services and the respect for high social standards when contracting cleaning services.

EFCI’s recommendations to enable quality and innovation when selecting cleaning services

Partnering with the sector: the EFCI highlights how outsourcing cleaning services allows organisations to focus on their main activity and ensures that specialised and trained professionals maintain high cleaning and hygiene standards in their premises.

In the tender design, we strongly recommend partnering with cleaning companies and associations from the early stages of the procurement design to ensure the conducting of a fair market analysis whilst maintaining a level playing field among bidders, ensuring transparency and equal treatment. Working in partnership throughout the procurement process and building constructive relations with the cleaning providers is key also through the execution of the contract.

Tendering labour-intensive services requires the right approach: cleaning is a highly labour-intensive service where labour accounts for around 85 per cent of the total costs. This means that pressure on price will have direct consequences on staffing, the knowledge and expertise of teams, the rest of the costs and the relevance given to innovation and sustainability aspects.

As such, it is essential to shift the focus from price-alone criteria to a choice based on the best price/quality ratio. Following the recommendations of the Selecting Best Value Guide is the basis to reach this objective.

Preparation as key for successful tenders and execution, including conducting market research and consultations, following the recommendations by national authorities in the design of tenders and liaising with the national associations to get assistance and advice from an objective partner.

Regarding price and award criteria, the EFCI strongly advises using (i) the ‘MEAT’ criteria (most economically advantageous tender) within a ‘best price quality ratio’ approach, and (ii) applying the proportional model in the evaluation of the bids. Further, the EFCI recommends to (iii) avoid using the number of hours as a scoring criterion (as cleaning contracts are result-based and not activity-based contracts).

Moreover, and in order to improve the balance of other scoring criteria, the EFCI recommends procurers to (i) pay special attention to the organisation of the execution of the contract to enhance quality control during the life of the contract; (ii) include references in the contract to the qualification and experience of staff; (iii) include the relevant environmental and sustainability systems in each country and making reference to GPP (green public procurement) criteria and (iv) pay special attention to innovation.

Of course, the EFCI also recommends including daytime cleaning in the execution criteria.

The leaflet was published in June and is being widely disseminated by the EFCI and its members. It will form the basis for further advocacy activities, with the final objective of ensuring the achievement of the cultural shift towards real quality-based procurement of cleaning services.


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited