AIO calls for Independent Review of the DVLA contract award to Specsavers
The Association for Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians (AIO) has called for an Independent Review of the tender process by which Specsavers was awarded the DVLA contract in late 2019.
AIO which was part of a tender for the contract submitted by Smart Employee Eyecare (SEE), is concerned about a number of aspects of the award of the contract.
Two of these concerns relate to the unusual reopening of the tender after the first round of submissions had been received, and also conformance with the Government’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Policy and Action Plan published on 6th March 2019.
In addition, the reasons supplied for the rejection of the SEE bid (which included Hakim Group Practices, Leightons, Bayfields and Vision Express as well as over 450 Independents) seem hard to reconcile. That a company which has contracts with HMRC, DEFRA, the Department for International Trade, and the House of Lords (not to mention the being on the Crown Commercial Framework) is somehow not good enough for the DVLA seems extraordinary.
AIO has therefore written to the Competition and Markets Authority (the CMA) and called for an Independent Review of the tender process to provide reassurance that all aspects conformed with the provisions of law, Government policy and the public’s best interest.
Dr Christian French, Chair of AIO commented ‘The DVLA was clear in its original Services Description document (issued in 2018) that it was ‘committed to removing barriers to SME participation in its contracts’, and it would be reasonable to assume that subsequent Government Policy on this issue that coincided with the re-opening of the tender would have added strength to this commitment. However, it clearly has not been fulfilled, and it is in the interests of the whole Independent sector to know why this is the case. We are very confident that the inclusive bid submitted by SEE met all the requirements of the Services description document and offered a quality solution; the DVLA in its pre-tender presentation to potential suppliers had emphasised the evaluation criteria was 60% on quality and 40% on price. We would hope that an Independent review would also judge the contract award against this evaluation criteria.’
AIO is also considering the submission of a formal complaint to the Department for Transport to which the DVLA reports.
The AIO has also made a complaint to the DVLA about a letter that has been sent to those requiring a “Field Test” at Specsavers Branch, contending that the wording is incorrect and should be changed. See other AIO story