Exclusion, Selection and Award Criteria Overview

What are Exclusion, Selection and Award Criteria?

There are clear stages in the procurement process:

Quickfire Guide

Quickfire Guide

Exclusion, Selection & Award Overview

Exclusion grounds

There are circumstances in which a bidder must be excluded from the procurement process. There are other circumstances in which you may decide on a case by case basis whether a bidder should be excluded.  These are referred to as mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds, respectively.

All exclusion criteria must be relevant and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.  You must set out the:

  • Specific requirements;
  • The relevant exclusion grounds;
  • Minimum selection criteria that are relevant for the procurement exercise.

The above should be set out in the Contract Notice or the online SPD (Scotland) Module in Public Contracts Scotland if used. 

Statutory Guidance has been published on Selection of Tenderers and Award of Contracts.

More information can be found in the Exclusion Criteria station.

Selection criteria

These are different criteria  used to select bidders in terms of their capability and capacity to perform the contract.  These are referred to as selection criteria. 

These criteria consider a bidder’s suitability:

  • To pursue a professional activity,
  • Their economic and financial standing;
  • Their technical and professional ability. 

Selection criteria must be related and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.

Selection criteria do not focus on how a bidder proposes to perform the contract (the bid): this is assessed at the award stage.

Award criteria

Are used to determine which bidder is best placed to deliver, and which should be awarded, the contract.  You must base the award on the most economically advantageous tender.    

You have the discretion to determine what award criteria to apply in relation to your specific procurement exercise.  However you may not use price only or cost only as the sole award criteria but instead on the basis of the best price-quality ratio. 

In all cases award criteria must be proportionate, relate directly to the goods or services to be provided and include the price or cost. 

The award criteria must ensure the possibility of effective competition.  They must be accompanied by specifications which allow bidder information provided to be effectively verified in order to assess how bids meet the award criteria.

Information on how to address Fair Work practices can be found in the Award Criteria station.

What is the Difference Between Selection and Award?

The distinction between selection and award criteria is crucially important:

  • Selection criteria are focused on "the bidder";
  • Award criteria are focused on "the bid”.

You must maintain a clear distinction between both throughout the procurement process.

This means that issues/questions which are appropriate to the selection criteria must be addressed at that stage and cannot form part of the award stage.  This is the case even if they were omitted from the selection stage in error and vice versa.

Quickfire Guide

Quickfire Guide

Selection and Award Examples

Example areas that are commonly known as selection and award criteria are listed below:

Selection Criteria

Award Criteria

Technical and professional qualifications, capability including experience


Economic and financial standing


When Do the Selection, Exclusion and Award Stages Occur?

The selection and award criteria must be developed and managed separately.  It is possible to conduct these stages simultaneously or in any order where the procedure allows.  For instance, when using an Open Procedure if you have a small number of bids you may want  to assess these bids prior to checking minimum exclusion and selection criteria are met..  Where this is done you must still ensure you verify there are no  of grounds for exclusion and  selection criteria are met.  This must be carried out in an impartial and transparent manner so that no contract is awarded to a bidder that should have been excluded or does not meet the selection criteria.

By applying exclusion grounds and developing relevant and proportionate selection and award criteria you can ensure the successful bidders are well placed to deliver best value for the Scottish public sector.

Publication of Criteria

Exclusion grounds, selection and award criteria must be clearly defined in:

  • The Contract Notice;
  • The call for competition, when used as a Contract Notice.

This is to ensure a common understanding of the requirements by all bidders.

These criteria must not be changed or waived during the procurement process e.g. the Contract Notice and the call for competition must contain a list and brief description of criteria.  This must include the  situations where bidders may be excluded and detail the, minimum and specific requirements.

Evaluation criteria – and the Evaluation matrix may assist you in your evaluation if you are not using PCS-T. More information on evaluation criteria can be found on the Award Criteria station.

Reserved Contracts

A supported business:

  • has a main aim of the social and professional integration of disabled or disadvantaged persons,
  • Has  at least 30% of their employees are disabled or disadvantaged workers  

You can “reserve” your competition to supported businesses where it is assessed as appropriate.  This is referred to as a Reserved Contract.

It is also possible for your Organisation to provide for a contract to be performed in the context of an employment programme operated by a supported business.   This is a way Procurement Officers can  encourage involvement of disabled and disadvantaged persons.

The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 requires an organisation to:

  • To consider how, it may involve Supported Businesses.  This can be facilitated by how the procurement process is conducted;
  • If the involvement of Supported Businesses occurs, then to act in a way to best bring that about.

SPPN 4/2017 provides further information and guidance on Reserving Contracts For Supported Businesses, including:

  • Determining whether an organisation meets the definition of a supported business (for the purposes of public procurement legislation);
  • Identifying supported businesses;
  • Monitoring and reporting.

Group Bids

Groups of suppliers can bid and must not be required to take a specific legal form to do so. 

You can set contract conditions which are specific to a group bid.

You can explicitly state requirements regarding group economic and financial standing or the criteria relating to technical and professional ability.   Such conditions must be justified by objective reasons and be proportionate to the contract. 

Your Organisation may require the group to take a legal form but only if they are awarded the contract..  For example appoint a lead contractor and accept joint and several liability if required for the performance of the contract

Any documents you need are listed below