Dear North East Procurement Organisation,

I would be most grateful if you would provide me, under the Freedom of Information Act, details in respect to the contract below.

NEPRO3 (Specialist Professional Services)

The details I require are:
• How many suppliers, or sub-contractors, have variations to the standard Services Supply Agreement including but not limited to Clauses 6.1, 8.8 and 13.1?
• Where variations have been agreed how many suppliers would be categorised as an SME (Small Medium Enterprise)?

With specific regard to the Neutral Vendor Managed Service fee of 5%:
• How many suppliers receive a reduction of the fee?
• What level of reduction has been agreed with suppliers and is the reduction the same for all suppliers regardless of project size/invoiced value?
• How does the reduction scheme work?
o Does it only apply for direct awards or for all types of procurement?
o If it applies to a competitive process does the reduction scheme apply to all suppliers invited to bid or is the reduction scheme restricted to “Strategic” suppliers or a limited number of suppliers?
o If the reduction scheme only applies to a limited number of suppliers what criteria has been used to select them for the scheme?
o If this only applies to limited number of suppliers how does NEPO justify this process given that is clearly a violation of the Treaty principles as it is clearly unfair.

To be clear when I state "reduction scheme" this includes any sort of payment to a supplier either by rebate, dividend, refund or direct or indirect reduction of invoiced fees or any other similar process which ultimately will give a supplier an unfair advantage over other suppliers not in receipt of a fee reduction

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan Brown

NEPO Governance, North East Procurement Organisation

1 Attachment

Dear Jonathan Brown

Please find attached the response to your email received on 8th June 2021.


Governance Team
North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO)

[email address] |
Guildhall, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3AF
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Dear NEPO,

To clarify your earlier response are NEPO stating that you are not aware of any variations in the SDA which would represent a breach of the framework agreement? Or are NEPO stating that they are aware of variations, but this is not subject to FOI and is not a matter of public interest?

The NEPRO website states that suppliers pay a 5% management fee on the successful completion of projects. Does the framework agreement between NEPO and Bloom Procurement Services allow the Neutral Vendor to vary the amount of the fee charged to SPS suppliers?

If variations are not permitted by the framework the SDA is intrinsically and explicitly linked to the framework agreement and so is not a private sector to private sector matter which can be ignored by NEPO. Any material variation from the framework agreement is a public interest matter. And therefore, is covered by and subject to FOI.

If the framework does not allow a fee variation what processes are in place by NEPO to ensure that Bloom is complying with this contractual condition. Through these processes how many suppliers are NEPO aware of who have benefited from a fee variation?

As a supplier to the Bloom marketplace, I believe that Bloom offers rebates to other suppliers (our competitors). What governance does NEPO have in place to ensure there are no breaches/special deals and what action does /will NEPO take when it discovers such activity?

We take this matter very seriously as it puts us at a competitive disadvantage which goes against the whole concept of a “neutral vendor“ and puts SME’s like us at a serious disadvantage with larger companies in receipt of a fee variation.

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan Brown