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THE LAW Society has published a new handbook to help local authorities in the preparation of contracts for compulsory competitive tendering.
The guide, prepared by the society's practice development committee, outlines the issues which need to be considered during the tendering process.
It claims there are "considerable" benefits in selecting the right provider of professional services, and says the importance placed on selection procedures should not be underestimated.
"Irrespective of any statutory requirements on how selection should be effected, the optimum results will be achieved by careful and methodical consideration of the best balance between quality of service and price," says the guidance.
It gives tips on the initial stages of the tender process and selecting and evaluating bids.
Interviews and presentations, receipt and consideration of tenders and the notification of decisions are also covered.
The handbook warns that authorities should continue to monitor the performance of the contractors it appoints and compare the service provided with the impressions created during the selection process.
Gillian Phillips, chair of the Law Society's local government group, says the handbook is a vital resource to councils, many of which are looking for guidance on handling "the difficult business" of contracting.
"This document has the support of the Law Society and thus the acceptance of the profession's private sector, as well as the local authority element," says Phillips.
"It also gives guidance on sensitive areas such as conflict of interest in a user-friendly form. It is the professional guidance which the Department of the Environment is recommending."