The Scottish Government has confirmed that it has been challenged legally over the £100m+ marketing services framework by one of the agencies, thought to be Newhaven, tendering for the contract.
The delay process has been ongoing for a month since the deadline for the release of the framework, which has seen Deputy First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon take charge due to a number of complaints about the procurement-led exercise.
Newhaven is understood to have failed to make the advertising roster of the framework, thought to be down to the pricing element of the exercise which was weighted as 60:40 for quality and pricing respectively. The agency is understood to have been unwilling to accept the results of the process, and has been joined by Tangible Group agencies The Leith Agency and Stripe in its queries.
However, the Edinburgh-based creative agency is now understood to have brought in lawyers in an effort to force the Scottish Government to review the exercise and the 'anomalies' that have been discovered within the procurement department's figures.
It is thought that lawyers also acting other agencies have identified similar concerns while it remains unclear what implications these challenges will have for the wider procurement process by the Scottish Government.
An Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers have received a legal challenge from one of the unsuccessful bidders on the Multi-lot Marketing Services Framework.
“The legal challenge prevents the award of all Lots on the framework. Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate is currently considering legal advice”.
No one from Newhaven was available for comment at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, word has reached The Drum that a number of other agencies across several lots may have submitted FOI enquiries surrounding the process as well.
The Drum reported earlier this week that partnership organisations, of which their are many and include the Scottish Government, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, VisitScotland, Scottish Blood Donation and Historic Scotland, have begun to discuss alternatives to servicing their marketing needs should the standstill rumble on for months. Proposals have included possibly sticking with the previous marketing framework for the interim, or turning to the London-based agencies on the UK marketing framework.
Some organisations have also considered leaving the opt-in framework altogether in order to run their own tender exercises.