This policy document sets out the Society’s position on procurement of goods and services for the RSE Community and the Society itself. Procurement means the way that we buy the goods, services and work needed to support the work of the charity. At all stages of procurement, the charity uses procedures that are fair, competitive and auditable. All trustees must comply with this procurement policy and follow the procedure outlined below for compliance reasons and also to ensure the charity continues to provide the best possible value for money.
As we are not a public contracting authority (a local authority, NHS Trust), we believe that there are no formal procurement or tendering procedures that we need to follow from the Charity Commission.
We are legally bound to act in the best interests of our community, so it’s contingent upon us to get the best value for the Society’s money. This does not necessarily mean the cheapest option is the best value for the community or for quality.
We keep records of the specifications, quotes and decisions made by the trustee board.
Step 1 – Specification text
The procurement of an item including the specification text or document should be logged in the ‘Procurement Log’ (in Finance/Procurement folder).
A specification text or document must be written by a trustee before approaching suppliers and it should include the scope, objectives, estimated budget, timescales and anticipated follow-on services. This needs to be written for each purchase and the length of specification document depends on the item and cost. Smaller items like stickers or pens would have fewer specifications and could be noted in the procurement log in just a few sentences. However a conference venue specification or a membership platform specification would need to be a separate document due to its complexity and linked to from the Procurement Log.
For a small purchase (either cost or number of items), one other trustee should review the specification text. For a large specification like a conference venue specification, a minimum of three trustees should review the specification text or document before being sent to the venue or product supplier.
Step 2 – Approaching Suppliers
Once the specification text or document is agreed by either one or three trustees (depending on the specification), the lead trustee can approach appropriate suppliers. It may be useful to share the specification with the potential suppliers to speed up the process.
The Society has decided on the following procurement process by amount (per year).
£0 – £1000 – Supplier can be chosen by a trustee, presented to the board in a short summary for vote.
£1001 – £10,000 – Lead trustee may want to get 2 quotes, present the summary to the board for vote.
£10,001+ – Lead trustee needs to receive a minimum of 3 quotes, present the summary to the board for vote.
If it is not possible to get the requisite number of quotes as the item or product is very specialised, the lead trustee should produce a statement at the next trustee meeting detailing why and this will be logged along with the decision in the meeting notes and decision log.
Step 3 – Present the Summary to Trustee Board for vote
Once the quote(s) is received from the suppliers, at least three trustees need to review the quotes before being presented to the board. The lead trustee must write a summary of the procurement status detailing at least the following:
- Description of the supplier(s), their quotes and their customer service responsiveness so far and any other relevant information
- Speak to the quality and value for money of each quote
- Due diligence of the longevity of the supplier(s) (potential support from the supplier)
- Ethical due diligence
- Costs involved – one-off/subscription/term
- Recommendations from trusted sources and recommendation from the trustee(s) leading the procurement
- Conflict of interests declaration statement. Will any trustee gain from this contract? Has the trustee gained from any gifts? And do any trustees need to excuse themselves from voting at the trustee meeting?
It is expected that this summary will be read by all trustees prior to the trustee meeting as is in the current process ready for a vote. If any trustee has any questions, it is recommended that they are asked directly to the lead trustee before the meeting.
The trustee board will vote on the procurement proposal and appoint a successful supplier. For sums under £100 a full trustee vote is not required, instead the purchase can be made immediately after getting either the president or treasurer’s approval. The summary should still be included in the following trustee meeting for the records.
It is suggested that all the documentation is kept for 6 years for audit purposes.