3. Preparing tender documentation

Table of Contents

Some basics
Australian Government requirements
The 2005 Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (CPGs)
Chief Executive’s Instructions
Advising potential suppliers
Debriefing unsuccessful bidders
Competitive neutrality
Industry development policy
International obligations
Limitation of contractual liability
Intellectual property
Other Australian Government policies and legislation
Accountability to Parliament
Tips and Traps

Some basics

Drafting tender documents is much easier if you are clear about what you need. Talking to someone who regularly engages consultants can help you understand the process and avoid pitfalls. Finance (DOFA 2005) Guidance recommends completion of the following internal procedures before approaching the market:

  • a Procurement Plan that describes the procurement, specifies evaluation criteria, identifies the procurement process to be used, a risk assessment, timelines, governance arrangements, and a probity plan if appropriate. The Procurement Plan explains how the process will proceed, in contrast to the Business Case (which explains why ) that is used first to gain formal approval for the procurement (Chapter 2 above);
  • a Submission Evaluation Plan that maps processes to be followed when submissions (responses from potential suppliers) are being evaluated. For example, role of staff in receiving and opening tender documents, evaluation methodology, indicative timetable, etc.; and,
  • formation of the Submission Evaluation Committee, which should agree on the substance of the Request Document and Evaluation Plan before the market is approached.

The CPGs require the mandatory issue (electronically, where practicable) to potential suppliers of Request Documentation that must include a complete description of:

  • the nature and scope of the procurement, including technical details;
  • any conditions for participation, such as financial guarantees or documents that must be provided by potential suppliers;
  • evaluation criteria to be used in assessing submissions; and,
  • any other terms or conditions relevant to evaluation.

Request Documentation is intended to provide potential suppliers with sufficient information to permit them to lodge responsive submissions. To this end, inclusion of the following could help ensure a smoother procurement process:

  • a copy of the draft contract;
  • a website such as Austender for potential suppliers to check for any variations to the Request Document, or for responses to queries by any of the potential suppliers; and,
  • details of arrangements to debrief unsuccessful tenderers.

Check draft documentation with legal and probity advisers, or subject experts. A word of caution is warranted, however: no set of summary points can cover the full gamut of considerations involved in arranging a specific tender process. The need to ensure fair and ethical dealing, for example, can involve various unforeseen issues.

Release of a Request Document may in itself generate an obligation on the client, in the form of a so-called Process Contract. The client may be bound to observe the procedures (eg., selection criteria) specified in the documentation. Legal advice should be sought before public issue of any documents.