The tendering process has become the dominant and now traditional approach to the allocation of research and consultancy projects. This is largely built around the notion that it ensures accountability and probity within the allocative procedure, and that high quality of work and 'value for money' are the outcomes. It appears to have become an institutionalized and unchallengeable process. Yet it is rarely costed in terms of the true resource implications for all the organizations involved, nor is quality assessed in terms of alternative processes that might be employed. This paper explores the tendering process in terms of factors that may suggest that the quality of work produced via the tendering process is not always as good as it might be. Also in a hypothetical example involving the university sector and the National Health Service, data are presented indicating that the overall cost to the public sector is often actually greater than the value of the contract being allocated. An alternative preferred provider relationship-based allocative process is advocated as an improvement to the current established tendering procedure.