United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector
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Selling to the Government

The UK began taking part in the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) January 1, 2021, following the Brexit transition period which ended on December 31, 2020.

The UK public sector is currently obliged to undertake electronic invoicing initiatives. In 2015, the Small Business, Enterprise, and Employment (SBEE) Act was passed which includes clauses that endorse e-Invoicing as beneficial to the UK economy.

In the UK, it is mandatory for all public sector organizations to advertise their procurement opportunities worth over £12,000 (~$15,000) on Contracts Finder (https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder). For high-value public sector contracts worth over £138,760 (~$175,000), you may use Find a Tender (https://www.gov.uk/find-tender). For more public sector contracts, consult the UK Government’s guidance on different ways to sell to the public sector.

After finding a relevant public sector contract, all potential bidders must fill out the Procurement Policy Note: Standard Selection Questionnaire. Consult the Crown Commercial Service Action Note for completion guidance and the form itself. Organizations that satisfy bidding requirements through the Standard Selection Questionnaire are then provided with an Invitation to Tender from the relevant government agency. The Tender will provide relevant contract details, selection processes, due dates and submission information. For further information, see the Model Invitation to Tender. After responding to the Tender, your response will be evaluated and scored. Contracts are awarded to those with the highest point score.

Note that the UK Government is in the process of adopting a new Procurement Bill that may change the UK’s public procurement regime. See the UK Government’s summary guide The Procurement Bill - a summary guide to the provisions - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) on the provisions of the Procurement Bill or the UK Parliament’s legislative portal (bills.parliament.uk/bills/3159) for more information and updates.


U.S. companies bidding on foreign government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. Within the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters in competition with foreign firms in foreign government projects or procurement opportunities. The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agency officials expressing support for the U.S. exporters directly to the foreign government. Consult the Advocacy Center’s program web page on trade.gov for additional information.

Defense Procurement

The UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) publishes information on its projects, procurements, and Industry Days on its Defence Sourcing Portal (www.contracts.mod.uk/web/login.html). The portal is available to U.S. subscribers who establish an account. Opportunities with the MOD can also be found on Contracts Finder (www.gov.uk/contracts-finder) by performing a keyword search. The European Defense Agency (EDA) also maintains an online database of defense procurement opportunities with governments and leading manufacturers throughout Europe. The EDA Electronic Bulletin Board (eda.europa.eu/procurement) is available free and without subscription. 

U.S. defense companies may require more project lead time than these resources provide, and detailed guidance is often needed to understand the procedures and bid evaluation criteria. On a case-by-case basis, the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) may be able to provide insight, guidance, and advocacy in support of U.S. defense contractors competing for sales and cooperative development programs for military equipment and services. ODC can be contacted by telephone +44 20-7894-0737 or email odclondon@state.gov. You may also visit their website for further information: uk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/government-agencies/odc

Digital Market Place - Information Technology (IT)

Digital Marketplace (https://www.gov.uk/tendering-for-public-sector-contracts/sell-through-digital-marketplace) is an online procurement database for IT work, web hosting, work through the cloud, or purchasing datacenter space. Digital Marketplace uses framework agreements to award contracts. There are different framework agreements for different IT services.

G-Cloud (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/g-cloud-suppliers-guide). Network, Software, and Cloud technology and support.

Digital Outcomes and Specialists (www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/agreements/RM1043.8). IT specialist work or user research services for specific projects.https://www.crowncommercial.gov.uk/agreements/RM1043.8

Crown Hosting Data Centers (www.gov.uk/guidance/the-crown-hosting-data-centres-framework-on-the-digital-marketplace). How to apply to sell cloud hosting, software, and support to public sector buyers.

G-Cloud framework agreements operate slightly differently from other framework agreements. G-Cloud frameworks allow buyers to pay for services as they use them rather than being tied to long-term, inflexible contracts.

Suppliers should apply to the specific frameworks (www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk) in which they want to compete for work.

Financing of Projects

London is a major source of international project financing. The UK is seen as a safe haven and attracts substantial investment for key infrastructure projects.

UK importers carefully consider the volume and price of their purchases. Therefore, U.S. exporters should consider offering competitive prices and should coordinate closely with their UK business partners to explore available opportunities to finance trade transactions.

Multilateral Development Banks

Price, payment terms, and financing can be a significant factor in winning a government contract. Many governments finance public works projects through borrowing from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB). The Guide to Doing Business with Multilateral Development Banks overviews how to work with MDBs. The International Trade Administration (ITA) has a Foreign Commercial Service Officer stationed at each of the five different Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs): the African Development Bank; the Asian Development Bank; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the Inter-American Development Bank; and the World Bank.

Learn more by contacting the:

Commercial Liaison Office to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Financing Web Resources

U.S. Government International Financing Programs (www.trade.gov/finance)

Exim Bank Country Limitation Schedule (www.exim.gov/resources/country-limitation-schedule)

DFC (www.dfc.gov)

Trade and Development Agency (www.ustda.gov)

SBA’s Office of International Trade (www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-locations/headquarters-offices/office-international-trade)

USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (www.usda.gov/ccc)

U.S. Agency for International Development (www.usaid.gov)