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Release a tender and select a contractor

Release the tender, evaluate responses and negotiate a solution with the preferred tenderer.

Request for tender

Once you have prepared the request for tender (RFT), to select and formally engage the preferred tenderer, you will need to:

  • gain approval to release the tender documentation
  • notify the market of the procurement and release the tender documents
  • interact with the market during the tender process
  • evaluate responses
  • negotiate with shortlisted tenderers, and
  • close the deal.

Expression of interest

The guidance below is primarily focused on the release of RFTs, however, when releasing the expression of interest (EOI) and selecting a shortlist to proceed to the RFT stage, many of the processes are similar to that outlined below, including gaining approval to release the tender documentation, notifying the market of the procurement and evaluating responses.

  • Depending on the project’s size and complexity and its governance structure, you will have different approval requirements before you are able to release the tender documentation.

    Further guidance of typical approval processes is available.

  • Forward notices

    It is a requirement to release a forward notice to provide notification of the upcoming procurement, helping potential participants plan for and allocate resources to participate in the procurement process. If the go-to-market involves a two-stage tender process and you have provided a forward notice for an EOI, you do not need to re-issue one for the RFT.

    Guidance on forward notices and when they are applicable is available.

    Tender notices

    You must release a tender notice to provide notification to potential tenderers that the tender process has begun. If the tender documentation is not included in the tender notice, you must provide details about how to obtain access to the tender documentation.

    Guidance on tender noticesExternal Link and when they are applicable is available.

  • Questions and clarifications during procurement

    Tenderers should be able to raise queries at any point during the procurement process. The tender documentation should outline the process by which tenderers are able to raise queries and seek clarifications to aspects of the project.

    To ensure probity is maintained, it is important to articulate how you will respond to queries and clarification requests in the project’s probity plan. Broadly speaking this may involve:

    • providing equal access to information made available at the same time for all tenderers, and
    • providing additional information or clarification equally to all tenderers (except for responses that are related to the tenderer’s proposed solution and deemed commercial in confidence) and where feasible in writing.

    Interactive Tender Processes

    For more complex projects such as medium complexity and HVHR projects, where there is a need for the tender to clarify the TAFE's (and the user group’s) expectations as well as seek feedback and insight into the development of tenderer proposals, you may wish to consider the use of an interactive tender process (ITP). The ITP refers to formal interaction between the TAFE and tenderers after the release of the request for tender (RFT) and prior to proposal submission.

    An ITP may involve presentations, meetings and/or workshops involving individual tenderers, the project team and key user groups.

    Further information on running an ITP can be found in Section 15 and Appendix E within the National Public-Private Partnership Guidelines Volume 2: Practitioners’ GuideExternal Link .

    Why run an interactive tender process?

    Running an ITP and working with tenderers may help facilitate more innovative solutions that are fit-for-purpose. Other benefits may include:

    • tenderer’s more clearly understanding the intent of the RFT requirements
    • greater confidence in the quality of the solution proposed
    • opportunity to clarify objectives to help tenderers balance competing priorities between service scope, quality, timeframes and budget necessities
    • reduced miscommunication risks as tender participants can hear firsthand what users are looking for and users can understand proposed solutions being developed, including where these may not meet the needs articulated in the RFT, and
    • opportunity for the shortlisted tenderers to refine concepts early, prior to submitting binding proposals.

    Further information about the benefits of running an ITP, including how you can create meaningful and useful interactions with tenderers while ensuring appropriate probity processes are maintained, can be found on the Buying for Victoria website.

    Probity in the interactive tender process

    ITPs should be conducted in accordance with interactive tender protocols to ensure probity is maintained. Guidance on potential probity risks during the ITPExternal Link and how these should best be managed can be found on the Buying for Victoria website.

    Developing an appropriate probity strategy during any ITP should be considered during procurement planning.

    Guidance on probity in procurement, developing a probity plan and engaging a probity advisor, is available.

  • The evaluation criteria are used to assess the tenderers’ responses to the tender documentation and should be included in the evaluation plan. You must follow the evaluation method outlined in the tender documents. The evaluation process will vary depending on whether procurement involves single or multiple stages.

    You should record the key outcomes and rationale for evaluation decisions. To assist you in doing this, you may find it useful to use our template evaluation report.

    Tender Evaluation Report template

    Registration of interest and/or EOI evaluation process

    Use the evaluation criteria to filter any responses that do not meet the mandatory requirements. These criteria are typically categorised as pass / fail type criteria and not weighted or scored.

    Following this initial screening process, you should then proceed to assess submissions against experience, capability and capacity criteria as per the evaluation plan.

    Following the Expression of Interest (EOI), the evaluation panel will recommend a shortlist of Respondents to proceed to the Request for Tender (RFT) stage.

    To gain the relevant approvals, you will need to draft an evaluation report outlining the rationale for decisions to the appropriate decision-making bodies within the project's governance structure.

    RFT evaluation process

    If the evaluation plan allows, you may be able to filter responses so that you will not need to evaluate proposals that do not meet certain requirements, for example:

    • do not meet the mandatory requirements, or
    • are not competitive with other submissions that show value for money.

    Following this initial screening process, you should then proceed to assess submissions against technical, pricing and commercial criteria as per the evaluation plan.

    During the evaluation process, you may seek clarity from tenderers.

    When evaluating make sure to:

    • check that the tenderers have the capacity and capability to deliver over the life of the contract
    • capture and identify the severity of issues requiring resolution with each tenderer
    • check the TAFE has no conflicts of interest with a tenderer, and
    • keep a record of evaluation decisions.

    Following the request for tender (RFT), the evaluation panel may recommend a preferred tenderer or a shortlist to either engage or negotiate with, as well as the proposed strategy to resolve any outstanding issues.

    You will need to draft an evaluation report outlining the rationale for the evaluation panel's decision. This report should contain an issues log, detailing elements of the proposal requiring resolution, prior to executing a contract with the tenderer. If the evaluation panel contains sub-panels (aligned to key discipline areas such as technical, commercial and other), it is likely that each sub-panel will produce its own sub-panel evaluation report which will need to be incorporated into the overall evaluation for decision-making purposes. You will need to provide the evaluation report to decision-making bodies within the TAFE's governance structure to gain the relevant approvals to proceed to the next stage of procurement.

    Tender Evaluation Report template
  • BAFO is a process that is typically conducted when tenderers’ responses significantly fail to meet your requirements and new tender documentation requirements are required to be issued to the market.

    Due to the time-intensive nature of conducting a BAFO for both the TAFE and tenderers, this should be a last resort and used only when the market has failed to deliver an acceptable solution. Before issuing a BAFO, it is a good idea to clarify aspects of the tender documentation to ensure that BAFO responses are more likely to be in line with expectations.

    You can conduct a BAFO process at any stage of the evaluation or negotiation phase. The process involves inviting all shortlisted bidders to submit their final offer to a new set of refined tender documentation, subject to subsequent negotiations.

  • Negotiation gives you an opportunity to improve value for money and resolve issues in tenderers’ responses (often while retaining competitive tension).

    Negotiation processes

    There are different types of negotiation processes that can assist in achieving clarification and commitment from tenderers to provide value-for-money outcomes, whilst maximising competitive tension. Types of negotiations include:

    • structured clarification
    • parallel negotiation, and
    • single negotiation.

    Where negotiations will be undertaken, a negotiation strategy should be developed and aligned with the procurement objectives outlined in the procurement plan. It is important to understand the range of matters that you are willing to consider when carrying out negotiations such as pricing, technical specification, and risk allocation.

    You should keep a record of each stage of the negotiations in a negotiation log and seek legal advice before finalising the terms of the contract.

    Negotiation Log template

    Structured clarification

    Structured clarifications allow the issue of targeted questions to the shortlisted tenderer to clarify aspects of their response and resolve any issues identified through evaluation. This type of negotiation is typically used to resolve outstanding issues, whilst under competitive tension, to incentivise improvements in tenderers’ overall offer and does not involve the TAFE moving from its position in the original tender documentation. To ensure probity is maintained, if you are sending questions to tenderers to resolve issues with their offer, you should ensure this is done under the guidance of a probity advisor. Following the structured clarification process, you may proceed to other forms of negotiation to resolve any outstanding issues at this point in time.

    Parallel negotiation

    A parallel negotiation involves entering into a negotiation with multiple tenderers. This typically involves negotiating in person with two to three of the shortlisted tenderers. To ensure probity, you should only negotiate with parties that have offered genuine competitive value in their tenderers and where negotiation is likely to change which tenderer is successful.

    This type of negotiation is typically used to negotiate wholesale changes that require competitive tension to elicit value-add changes in the tenderer’s response.

    Single negotiation

    A single negotiation involves entering into a negotiation with a single preferred party identified during the evaluation process. This type of negotiation is typically used to refine aspects of the preferred tenderer’s response, rather than negotiate wholesale changes that would require competitive tension to elicit value-add changes in their response.

    In some circumstances where there is only a single preferred tenderer and you wish to pursue wholesale changes, you can retain some competitive tension by not informing the tenderer that they are preferred. Where you elect not to inform the market of the proposed single negotiation approach, negotiations should be capable of being resolved in a short and efficient manner, so unsuccessful tenderers can be notified as soon as possible.

  • Once you have selected the contractor, you will need to update the draft contract documentation to reflect their tender and agreements made during BAFO or negotiation processes before it is signed by the relevant approving body. You should also consider whether there are any latent conditions, potentially involving further site investigations, that may need to be resolved prior to contract execution.

    Once you have awarded the contract, you may need to publish brief details about the successful tenderer on the Buying for Victoria portalExternal Link . This must be done if the contract value is equal or over $100,000.

    You must also inform all tender participants of the outcome of a tender and offer a debriefExternal Link to all tenderers and, if requested, ensure a debrief is provided promptly.

    After the contract has been signed, you can now proceed to the project delivery phase.

Reviewed 22 March 2023

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