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Five Things to Know About NSPA's Contracting Process

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) serves as the bridge between industry capabilities and NATO’s common-funded and national requirements. Through a streamlined, fair, transparent, and responsive contracting process, NSPA aims to deliver the most cost-effective and efficient solutions for both collective and national defense.

Any company can view NSPA’s public e-procurement website to discover current Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and future business opportunities. However, to place a bid, firms must first complete the registration process to be listed on NSPA’s “Source File.” To qualify for all NSPA contract offerings, a company must have a significant presence in one of NATO’s 31 member states and hold all necessary business licenses. Companies based in NATO Partner Nations can register but face limitations regarding which specific contracts they can bid on.

Here are five key things to know about working with NSPA:

1. NSPA’s Contracting Regulations are straightforward compared to those of other government entities. The entire rulebook spans less than 80 pages in NSPA’s Operating Instruction 4200. Given the complexity of government contracting, this is a remarkably compact and comprehensible document. Anyone hoping to win NATO contracts should thoroughly study this regulation.

2. Historically, most of NSPA’s 12,000+ annual contract awards follow the standard protocol of international competitive bidding, with preference given to the technically acceptable lowest bidder. This supports efficiency, transparency, and fairness. However, NSPA recognizes that the lowest cost does not always equate to the best long-term value. So, recently, NSPA started shifting toward more best-value competition for large procurements over 5 million Euros. The guidelines also enable single-source, sole-source, and Foreign Military Sales-based contracts when duly justified. Additionally, NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP) standards, timelines, and dispute procedures may apply to bids for major infrastructure or engineering projects.

3. Unlike some national procurement policies, NSPA regulations do not allow for set asides or other formal preferences based on company size, ownership demographics, or disadvantaged status. However, bidders should review any provisions for “balancing of production” or “juste retour” if included in the bid instructions for a particular tender. These policies aim to equitably distribute contracts and economic benefits across the NATO member states.

4. NSPA’s Competition Advocate (CA) serves as a neutral arbitrator and problem-solver for industry disputes. The primary role of the CA involves chairing review panels and formally adjudicating contractor claims against NSPA. However, the Advocate also provides an avenue for informal appeals and settlement of disputes, aiming to resolve issues fairly without unnecessary escalation. Companies should see the CA as an ally rather than an adversary.

5. While competitive contract awards emphasize cost-efficiency, NSPA also values quality, expertise, and reliability. Rigorous vetting applies to contractors without an established performance track record with NATO. Companies lacking relevant experience or references may need to demonstrate their capabilities in detail or partner with a prime contractor already familiar with NSPA’s expectations. Once a bidder reaches NSPA’s list of Qualified Suppliers, it paves the way for expedited future bidding.


Mastering NATO’s streamlined yet stringent contracting process requires insight and preparation. Precision Talent Solutions specializes in educating corporate leadership and proposal teams on NSPA’s structure, procedures, and requirement matching. We provide training and documentation tailored to the NATO environment. Some key topics include:


  • NSPA 101 – History, Organization Structure, Current Leadership
  • Business Intelligence & Capability Matching – Understanding Upcoming Requirements
  • Senior Leadership Engagement Strategies
  • How to Register and Qualify as a Legitimate Bidder
  • Contracting Regulations and Procedures – Competitive Bidding, Best Value, Sole Source, Investment Programmes
  • Understanding Award Criteria – Lowest Price, Commercial & Technical Compliance, Balancing and Territorial Restrictions
  • Crafting Winning Proposals – Compliance, Clarity, Demonstrated Experience
  • Performing to NSPA’s Standards & Expectations
  • Disputes, Appeals, Claims, and Problem problem-resolution approaches

Contact Jim Shields ( to learn more about how we can help you succeed in the NATO market.