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AU puts cleaning assignments in selected buildings out to tender

In the course of the next 9-12 months, a detailed decision-making basis will be prepared for the possible outsourcing of 51 buildings at AU. Consultation responses and comments from liaison committees, union representatives and others will be included in this tender process. When the final basis for decision is completed in early 2020, the management will decide whether cleaning services are to be outsourced.

Photo: Lars Kruse

Making such a crucial decision as outsourcing requires thorough preparation and a proper process. In this specific instance, the senior management team has decided to put the cleaning of 51 buildings at Aarhus University out to competitive tender. With this tender, AU is following the guidelines in the state tendering circular. In order to include all aspects, up to the beginning of 2020 a steering committee and a working group will be responsible for gathering and processing the requisite knowledge, so that after this process management can adopt a final stance on possible outsourcing.

University Director Arnold Boon emphasises that this thorough process is important in order to create a sound basis for a decision:

“9-12 months may seem like a long time, but it is necessary to fully clarify all the advantages and drawbacks. It may also seem like a lot of work that may conclude with AU continuing as at present without outsourcing if AU’s own employees can perform the task better and more cheaply than an external supplier. Regardless of the outcome of the process it is important work, because the result will be that we will know with certainty that the cleaning assignment will be performed in a positive and, at the same time, financially advantageous way going forward.” 

Much to be taken into consideration  

The first phase has been a period of consultation amongst employees at Aarhus University, and input from this process was also included in management’s discussions on 20 March as regards choosing to put the cleaning assignment out to tender.

“During the consultation, we’ve already brought to light a number of issues that it is crucial be included in the requirements for the tendering process. The many different input items also make it very clear that there is much to be taken into consideration. I have great confidence that, with the steering committee and the working group, we have excellent people in charge of the upcoming work,” says University Director Arnold Boon.


Steering committee and working group must work closely together

As a first step in the tendering process, members have been appointed to the steering committee and the working group. The steering committee comprises management representatives, as well as an external consultant, who will help and support AU with the tendering process. The working group primarily consists of management representatives close to the affected employees, union representatives of the employees affected, occupational health and safety representatives, a personnel lawyer from HR and an employee from the Procurement department. In addition, a chair, an external consultant and a project manager will be passed on from the steering committee.

Based on input from the working group, the steering committee shall:

  • make decisions concerning the service level for the tender process, and assess which clauses are to be included
  • decide on the tender material and contractual terms
  • ensure the gathering of experiences in the process
  • consider future operations in the event of a possible switch to another supplier

Read more about the steering committee and working group – and see the tendering process – here 

Employees will be involved in the process

Employees affected will be involved in the process, in part through the liaison committees and in part through the union representatives in the working group that is to work on the tendering process. The comments and concerns received as a result of the consultation period will also be included in this work. In addition, during the process, the employees will be given the opportunity to present what is known as their ‘own bid’ for the resolution of the assignment. This means that employees can to present their bids regarding the way they think the cleaning assignment in question can best be carried out within the framework described. If, in the light of this, it transpires that AU can itself carry out the assignment better and more cheaply than an external supplier, then it will continue to carry out the assignment itself, in which case there will not be any outsourcing.
Read more about an ‘own bid’ and the other concepts in the tender process here

Further information


Shortly before Christmas 2018, management designated cleaning assignments in 51 selected buildings, corresponding to approx. 13% of AU’s total area, as being suitable for tendering. The proposal was then discussed by the liaison committees and at meetings with union representatives in the field of cleaning. In January 2019, the employees possibly affected who are associated with the administrative centres Aarhus BSS, Arts and ST were further informed of the proposal at local employee meetings. During the subsequent period – up until February 19 – liaison committees and union representatives had the opportunity to present further input.
Read input from liaison committees and union representatives here (in Danish)

Why put assignments out to tender in the first place?

As a state institute, Aarhus University is obliged to continuously examine whether technical and administrative operational assignments can best be performed by an external supplier instead of the university’s own employees. The fundamental principle behind tendering is that the assignments must be suitable for tendering. Last year, Aarhus University adopted a strategy regarding competitive tendering of operational assignments, in part in the light of the state’s tendering circular.
Read the strategy here