A framework agreement works to enable public sector buyers to contract private sector products and services on multiple occasions, without the need to carry out a full tender process for each occasion that they wish to contract, or call off, a chosen supplier. This is an essentials process in economies that heavily rely on public procurement.

Frameworks enable public authorities to behave more like buyers than sellers as they specify their requirements in terms of “must-haves” and “nice to haves”. As well as being an efficient buying method, frameworks are also great for open-sourcing innovation by inviting suppliers on board already at the pre-qualification stage.

A framework agreement is a specific contract created for the purpose of enabling procuring authorities to obtain goods or services from one or more providers. They are templates that outline a set of rules and objectives in a given area and can include guidance on what needs to be achieved and how, as well as the necessary resources available. It also usually omits any market research or budgeting information.

The agreement outlines the terms, including the specification, price, quantity and quality, that can be made during the lifetime of the framework. Framework agreements can last anywhere between 4 and 10 years and can be drawn up for one specific purpose, or type of work, such as painting and decorating or roofing works. Alternatively, it may take a more general approach in respect of various commodities, such as cyclical maintenance or facilities management.