How and What We Buy

The Commercial Procurement Team procures a wide range of goods, services and works and issue all their tenders electronically via eTendersNI in line with current best practice.

Thresholds & Procurement Control Limits

From the 1 January 2022 new financial thresholds apply to procurements under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. The new thresholds that impact on the majority of procurements are as follows:

  • Supplies and Services - £138,760 (inclusive of VAT)
  • Works - £5,336,540 (inclusive of VAT)

When establishing a contract value this should be the aggregate value over the anticipated period of the contract.  Departments and Schools should take consideration of the new financial thresholds when determining their new requirement. Procurements that fall under the above thresholds are subject to the Public Contract Regulations 2015 and timeframes.

Procurement Control Limits for Goods, Services & Construction


The Procurement Team issue all their tenders electronically in line with current best practice.

The eProcurement system currently used by the Procurement Team is utilised by almost all Public Sector organisations throughout Northern Ireland – eTendersNI. Potential suppliers are advised to register on eTendersNI and opt for as many relevant CPV (common procurement vocabulary) codes as possible as well as adding the Education Authority as an area of interest.  eTendersNI will email notifications about current opportunities to suppliers based on their CPV profiles.

Suppliers should refer to the eTendersNI Supplier Guidance section for information on completing and submitting tenders using the eTendersNI system.

Full guidance for suppliers is also available through the help section on the eTendersNI website, however, any queries about registering on eTendersNI or using the system can be directed to the eTendersNI helpdesk on 0800 240 4545 or email

Suppliers should note that we participate in collaborative procurements with Construction and Procurement Delivery (CPD) as per Northern Ireland Procurement Policy and from time to time may utilise National Frameworks.

An online training guide which contains video and audio for suppliers is available and can be found at eTenders - Supplier Booklet.

Categories of Spend

Commercial Procurement Service manages the procurement of a diverse range of supplies, services and works with a total annual contract expenditure just under £200m. 

The main categories of spend within Procurement are:

  • Business services and products
  • Catering
  • Minor Works Construction <Threshold
  • Major Works Construction >Threshold
  • Educational Resources
  • Facilities Management and Maintenance
  • Furniture and Equipment
  • Information Communication Technology
  • Transport
  • EdIS

Procurement activity, including current opportunities, recently awarded contracts and procurement pipeline can be accessed in Current Activity

Goods and Services Tenders

The Procurement Categories for Goods and Services contracts/frameworks are:

Business Services and Products – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • Agency/Temporary Workers
  • External Legal Services
  • Learning & Development Services
  • Interpreting Translation and Transcription Services
  • Communications & PR services
  • Travel Management
  • Occupational Health Services
  • Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
  • Employee Benefits including Childcare Vouchers and Cycle 2 Work
  • Insurance Services
  • HR Advisory and Support Services
  • Financial Services including Banking, Cash in Transit and Online Payment Acceptance
  • First Aid Materials
  • Copier Paper
  • Uniforms, Protective Clothing and Protective Equipment

Catering – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • *primarily for use by the EA Catering Service* 
  • Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Fish, Meat, Poultry, Bread and Bakery Items  
  • Milk and Milk Products including Milk for the School Milk Scheme  
  • Pre-Prepared Grab and Go Items e.g. sandwiches, wraps, fruit pots  
  • Soft Drinks and Water 
  • Ambient, Chilled and Frozen Food Products 
  • Commercial Catering Equipment – Ovens, Fryers, Blast Chillers, Food Preparation Equipment 
  • Equipment for the Teaching of Home Economics

Educational Resources – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • Counselling Services 
  • School Stationery and Office Supplies 
  • Exercise Books and Drawing Supplies 
  • Educational Materials including Art, Craft and Educational Play Equipment 
  • Textbooks, Pupil Workbooks, Assessment Resources and Music Materials 
  • Hand and Power Tools 
  • Timber and Metalwork Materials 
  • Science and Technology Supplies 
  • Musical Instruments and Supplies 
  • Outdoor Playground Equipment requiring Installation 

Facilities Management and Maintenance – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • Washroom Services including feminine hygiene service and products
  • Non-Hazardous Waste Management
  • Energy contracts including Fuel Oils, LPG, Biomass Fuels, Metered Electricity, Natural Gas
  • Industrial Gases
  • Ground Maintenance Products, Shrubs and Trees
  • Cleaning Materials, Catering Hygiene Products & PPE
  • Servicing & Repair of Floor Maintenance Machinery
  • Tree Surveying and Surgery Services
  • Display Energy Certification
  • Disposal of Green, Commercial, Mixed and Storm Cell Waste
  • Fire Extinguishers and Fire Fighting Equipment including maintenance
  • Hand Sanitiser and Dispensers
  • Collection and Disposal of ICT and Electrical Equipment and other Transfer and Disposal Services

Furniture and Equipment – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • Furniture – Classroom, Office, Reception, Outdoor, Dining, Library, SEN, Science and Technology
  • Sports and Fitness Equipment and Maintenance of Gym Equipment
  • Assembly Hall Chairs and Trolleys
  • Interactive Touch Display Panels
  • Electrical Audio Visual, Media Production and Photographic Equipment
  • Equipment for Technology – Laser Cutter, Circular Saws, Computer Controlled Machines, Woodwork, Metalwork and Plastics
  • Equipment for Outdoor Learning Centres

Information Communication Technology – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • Multi-Functional Devices and Photocopiers for EA Schools and Offices
  • Printer Cartridges
  • Apple Equipment
  • End Point Protection and Internet Filtering
  • Maintenance of Computers/Laptops and Associated Equipment
  • Web Hosting, Maintenance, Support and Development of the EA Corporate Website, Microsites and Sub Domains

Transport – examples of contracts/frameworks

  • Transport by Private Bus Hire
  • Transport by Private Taxis Hire
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Bodywork Repair
  • Purchase of School Buses
  • Fuel Cards and Fuel Management System
  • Garage Sundries, Tyres, Vehicle Batteries and Spare Parts
  • Delivery of Schools Meals

Goods and Services tenders are advertised on an individual basis on eTendersNI for both below and above threshold.  Suppliers need to be registered on eTendersNI and have alerts set up for relevant CPV codes as well as adding the Education Authority as an area of interest. 

Collaborative Contracts/Frameworks

Commercial Procurement Services collaborates with CPD on several contracts/frameworks. Information on the CPD Collaborative Arrangement can be found on the CPD Website: CPD Collaborative Arrangements

External Frameworks Agreements

External framework agreements and Dynamic Purchasing Systems provide an alternative route to market from the traditional tendering process. These arrangements have been set up by other contacting bodies who have already conducted a full tender process and are available for use by eligible users.

Some of these contracting bodies include:

Current Activity includes details on Procurement PipelineCurrent Pre-Market/Supplier Events and Current Tender Opportunities and Awarded Contracts.

Construction Projects

Minor Works (Under Threshold)

Minor Works up to Threshold are procured via restricted competitions from suppliers who have prequalified on EA Dynamic Shortlisting Systems (DSSs).  The DSSs are continually open for supplier applications.  Current Dynamic Shortlisting Systems are:

  • Building Works (DSS1-BW)
  • Managed Services (DSS2-MS)
  • Prefabricated Accommodation (DSS3-PA)
  • Mechanical Works (DSS4-MECH)
  • Electrical Works (DSS5-ELECT)
  • Civil Engineering Works (DSS6-CIVIL)
  • Demolition & Asbestos Removal (DSS7-DEM)
  • Play Equipment (DSS8-PLAY)
  • Clerk of Works (DSS9- CoW)
  • Traffic Consultant & Engineering Services (DSS10-TRAFFIC)

Links to apply for the DSSs can be found in Current Activity.

Major Works (Over Threshold)

All Major Works over Threshold are advertised on an individual basis on eTendersNI. Suppliers need to be registered on eTendersNI and have alerts set up for relevant CPV codes as well as adding the Education Authority as an area of interest. Opportunities are also advertised in Current Activity

Last updated: 16/08/2022