Pre-Qualification 2016-08-22T17:53:28+00:00

Standardising The Pre-Qualification Process

SEC Group’s Objectives

1.    In standardising the pre-qualification process, SEC Group’s objectives have been three-fold:

  • having one pre-qualification standard to be applied up and down the supply chain;
  • having a digital hub for the storage of firms’ pre-qualification data, to remove repetitive completion of the same or similar questionnaires;
  • having a standard approach to assessing firms’ technical capabilities for the purpose of pre-qualification.

A SEC Group survey carried out over 6 years ago indicated that, together, firms in SEC Group’s member associations were spending almost £50m p.a. on pre-qualification.


2.    In recent years the major successes have been:

  • the development of PAS 91 (the health and safety questions were originally included in the core criteria in Appendix 4 to the 2007 CDM Regulations).[1]  The Rt. Hon. Michael Fallon, the (then) Construction Minister stated: “I welcome the new PAS 91 developed in partnership with Industry and Government which will remove the burden of pre-qualification in the construction sector……”;
  • the establishment of, and continual influence within, the Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum (SIPP) to promote mutual recognition between schemes providing health and safety pre-qualification services;[2]
  • the recommendation in the Government’s 2011 Construction Strategy that PAS 91 be used up and down the supply chain on central government procurement.[3]
    “PAS 91 must continue to be used exclusively for construction procurements”, Procurement Policy Note 93/14;
  • the recommendation in Lord Young’s report to the Prime Minister in 2013 that the pre-qualification process be standardised across public sector procurement;
  • the requirement in the statutory guidance accompanying Reg. 107 in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 that contracting authorities must use the Crown Commercial Service pre-qualification template (or, alternatively, for construction works PAS 91);[4]
  • increase in the use of PAS 91 by local authorities according to the recent SEC Group survey (noting a significant number are using instead the Crown Commercial Service template in the statutory guidance);
  • the ability to refer pre-qualification complaints to the Mystery Shopper Scheme.

Future Direction

3.    Whilst progress has been significant over the years our objectives still remain to be fulfilled.  Current and future activities include:

  • improving the mutual recognition arrangements in SSIP so that all SSIP schemes are entirely transparent about the extent to which they offer mutual recognition.  In this regard a recent HSE letter (attached as an Annex to this paper) to Paul Reeve in his capacity as acting SSIP chairman is particularly helpful – Paul Reeve has a mandate from the SSIP membership to explore how better and more transparent DTS can be achieved;
  • updating PAS 91: the PAS 91 steering group has been consulted on updating PAS 91 (the updating will include changes necessitated by CDM 2015);
  • exploring the possibility of amending the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 to require the mandatory use of PAS 91;
  • developing a digital hub for storing PAS 91 pre-qualification data;
  • continuing to refer complaints to the Mystery Shopper Scheme;
  • opening a dialogue with the Construction Category Management Steering Group within the Local Government Association with a view to persuading the Association to drive increased use of PAS 91.


“Using [PAS 91] across the whole of local government construction should enable further SME engagement”.

Page 14, National Construction Category Strategy for Local Government.

[1] PAS 91 is not generally applicable in the devolved regions.  The Supplier Qualification Information Database (SQuID) applies in Wales.  Scotland has the Scottish Pre-qualification Questionnaire (sPQQ) and the Northern Ireland public sector uses Constructionline and questionnaire templates issued by the Construction Procurement and Health Departments.
[2] SEC Group is a founder member.
[3] Some SEC Group associations have made PAS 91 “compliance” a condition of membership.
[4] Such use is not required along the supply chain.  Where contracting authorities deviate from either questionnaire they are required to report this, with reasons, to the Crown Commercial Service.