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Supplier panels​​

​How to create, manage and use a supplier panel.

Agencies can set up panels of suppliers who are pre-approved to provide goods or services – this can help streamline procurement processes. You can create a panel just for your own agency, or one that other agencies can use.

How supplier panels work

Once a panel has been established through an open process, an agency can source directly from the panel without openly advertising, using a secondary procurement process like:

  • competitive quotes based on the lowest price
  • competitive quotes based on the supplier’s expertise, proposed solution and best value for money
  • direct sourcing
  • rotation – awarding opportunities to each supplier in turn
  • location – awarding the contract to whichever supplier is in a location best suited to supply the product or service.

For more information on different ways to source, see Options for approaching the market.

Running a secondary procurement process

Once you have decided what secondary procurement processes to use, and how you'll evaluate responses you can approach some or all of the suppliers on the panel.

  • Decide how many suppliers you will approach – you don't have to approach everyone on the panel unless you think it would be worthwhile.
  • You do not need to openly advertise your contract opportunity. You can contact the suppliers directly.
  • Make the process as streamlined as possible and proportionate to the value and risk of the contract.
  • Only ask for information you need to decide who is best able to deliver the contract. Basic supplier information should have been provided when the panel was established.
  • Evaluate responses, determine a winning bid and notify all respondents of the outcome. You should provide suppliers with a debrief if requested.
  • You do not need to publish a contract award notice once the secondary procurement process has been completed, although it is good practice to do so.

Rule 57 outlines what you must do when setting up and running a supplier panel.

When to establish a panel

Panels are most useful when there is:

  • an ongoing need for the product or service
  • enough volume or value to support more than one supplier
  • a need or preference for more than one supplier to deliver the goods or services.

Do a thorough analysis of the market to work out whether there are enough suppliers to support a panel, and whether development of a panel would have positive or negative impacts on the market.

Analysing the market

Before establishing the panel you should also consider:

  • whether it will be open to new suppliers while it is running, or closed. If there are often new suppliers entering the market, an open panel can be fairer to new suppliers and could improve outcomes for government.
  • contract length. Short-term contracts (eg one year) can be expensive and time consuming – longer term contracts support good relationships and a continuous improvement approach.

How to establish a panel

Rule 57 of the Government Procurement Rules defines the process for establishing a panel.

It is good practice to develop guidance for agencies or business units that will be accessing the panel, including information on the secondary procurement process.

Managing your panel

Good panel management is crucial for a panel to function well. Good panel management practices are the same as good contract management practices.

Manage the contract