Any public sector organisation can use our frameworks either through Direct Award or Mini Competition. We’re able to run as much of the process as you wish. Our Procurement team will be more than happy to guide you through the process and answer any questions. 

When using our frameworks we’ll always tailor our services to your specific project. We’d like to speak to you first in order to best understand your requirements. We’ll run through your project details and offer advice on routes to market in order to deliver results which meets with your objectives. We can run as much of the process as you need, and will act as an extension of your team on hand to offer advice at every stage.

If you’ve used SEC before and already know which framework route you’d like to go down that’s great too.

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Who can use our frameworks?

SEC Frameworks may be accessed by all publicly funded organisations – access is not limited to SEC Members alone.

Full details can be found here.

How do I use the framework?

There are two ways to use a SEC framework; mini-competition or direct award.

Direct award: We approach the number one ranked Service Provider on your behalf, advising of your requirements.  If they’re interested in the project we’ll arrange for them to meet with you and discuss the opportunity further.  If they decline the opportunity we’d approach the second ranked Service Provider and so on (cascade method).  Once you are happy to proceed we’d finalise the direct award with the Service Provider

Mini tender: We approach the framework contractors giving them an overview of your requirements. Those who are interested will be sent to the final set of tender documents. We’ll manage the process on your behalf and formalise the award once complete.

Are the frameworks free to access?

Most of our frameworks are free to access apart from Legal Services and Electronic Payment Services. These three frameworks have an access fee.  Please ask us for further details.

Can I use the framework if Section 20 applies?

You can use the framework if Section 20 applies. Please see the guidance below and contact us if you need further advice.

Section 20 Advice

What form of contract I can use?

Our framework agreement outlines the range of contracts you are able to use. They are JCT / TPC / NEC or any bespoke contract of your choosing.

What can you do to help me gain approval to use your framework?

We can provide relevant framework information to support your request to use the framework, i.e. Framework tender report / OJEU documents.

How do I decide whether to use the mini-competition or direct award?

Direct award: Your requirement should be in accordance with the scope of the framework. Any pricing agreed should link to the framework. SEC will validate the pricing. A direct award will take approximately 3-4 weeks depending on your internal approval processes. The cost / quality split will be as per the framework. The framework pricing will act as a ceiling rate. We can share the framework pricing with you, for information, prior to you meeting with the Service Provider.


Mini tender: This enables you to use your own specification and cost model. You can also choose your own cost / quality split and quality questions. All pricing submitted must be linked to the framework. The tender process takes approximately 6-8 weeks, depending on your internal approval processes. If there is a quality element you will need to factor in extra time for the evaluations.

Can I direct award outside of the number one ranked Service Provider?

If the framework is ranked you are able to direct award outside of number one, for example appointing the fourth ranked Service Provider. We’ll ask you to provide valid justification for wanting to do this. We’ll then approach the Service Providers ahead of your chosen Service Provider advising of the justification reasons. The Service Providers will then advise if they are happy to step aside.  If they all agree we can then proceed to direct appoint your chosen Service Provider. If they decline the opportunity we may have to consider a mini competition.

For a mini competition do I need to invite all the Service Providers or can I choose?

We need to approach all of the framework Service Providers for the award to be OJEU compliant. We can issue an expression of interest to the Service Providers to see who is interested. Those who say yes will be sent the tender documents.

Can I add another Service Provider to the tender list?

No, if you are using the framework you aren’t able to add a Service Provider to the list. We do offer a bespoke tendering route which would enable contractors outside of the framework to bid for your opportunity. We can discuss this option with you.

Can I see the framework specification and pricing document?

We’ll be happy to share average rates from our framework, this will give you an idea of the detail in our cost model and rates the framework could achieve for you. We’ll be able to assist in shaping your specification and cost model as the procurement project progresses, if applicable.

Can I issue the mini tender through our own tendering portal?

Ideally SEC would like to issue the tender documents to ensure consistency with our framework Service Providers.

If necessary you are able to issue the documents yourselves but SEC will need to see the tender documents prior to issue. We need to ensure the documents make reference to the relevant SEC framework and the levy.  We’d send an expression of interest to the framework Service Providers to let them know of the opportunity and the tendering portal you will be using.