Author: Graham Allen
In the second of two parts of “Navigation the Five Steps of the Procurement Journey” we’ll be covering posting, evaluation, award and close out.
Step 3 Posting
Once the procurement document is developed and approved it is posted online for bidders to respond.
The posting time is determined primarily by the procurement’s estimated value. In instances, such as a limited number of potential bidders, a complex procurement or a new or innovative concept a procurement may be posted longer to attract more bidders.
During posting there is an opportunity for bidders to submit questions. The number of questions can indicate interest in the procurement or reflect the ambiguity of the procurement. Responses are posted as an addendum which becomes part of the procurement.
The RFx may include a bidder information session. The presentation and all questions and answers are posted as an addendum in keeping with the public procurement tenets of open, fair and transparent.
Construction tenders may include a mandatory site visit where attendance is required in order to bid.
Step 4 Evaluation
Once the procurement closes bids are evaluated. The evaluation can be simple, such as tenders which are price only, or complex which includes technical criteria, pricing and sometimes an interview or demonstration.
The first evaluation stage is the mandatory requirements which are evaluated either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If a submission does not pass the mandatory eligibilities, it should be disqualified. Bidders must declare any actual or perceived conflict of interest (COI).
Disqualified bids are rejected and do not proceed to the next evaluation stage. Bidders who pass the initial stage progress to the technical (qualitative) stage. Procurements with open ended technical rated criteria are scored using consensus evaluation. This compares to tenders and less complex procurements which are autoscored due to the closed ended evaluation criteria.
Evaluation teams should consist of a minimum of three evaluators. Very complex procurements, specifically IT and politically sensitive procurements can have more evaluators. An odd number of evaluators requires the consensus team to come to an agreement should an item require a vote.
Similarly, to bidders declaring a COI (Conflict of Interest), evaluators must sign a COI and a confidentially agreement before beginning the evaluation. If a COI exists the evaluator should be replaced.
Individual evaluators complete their evaluation and then progress to the consensus evaluation. The purpose of the consensus meeting is for the team to arrive at a final score for the rated criteria for each compliant bid. The team’s comments on the bids’ strengths and weaknesses forms a permanent record for vendor debriefings and in the case of a bid dispute.
Sometimes a bid response requires clarification. A clarification letter is sent to the bidder for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. No other response is permitted and no additional information can be submitted as that is considered ‘bid repair and may lead to a bid dispute.
Some RFBs may contain additional evaluation stages such as a demonstration or an interview which are scored separately. To ensure bidders are qualified to provide the required good / service it is recommended they score at or above a minimum technical threshold to proceed to the next evaluation stage.
The pricing evaluation follows the completion of all technical evaluation stages and is usually the easiest to evaluate. For a more complete review of the evaluation process see the following link.
The scores of all compliant bids are totalled and ranked with the recommendation to award the procurement to the highest ranked bidder.
Step 5 Award & Close Out
The highest ranked bidder is notified of the award subject to signing the contract and providing Certificates of Insurance. In some jurisdictions the award is contingent that there are no outstanding taxes.
Unsuccessful bidders are notified once the preferred bidder has complied with all the award requirements. Sometimes the procurement is awarded to the second ranked bidder if the preferred bidder is unable to proceed.
The procurement may be cancelled if the bid price exceeds the approved value, the procurement is no longer required or there are no bidders. In exceptional instances the procurement may be awarded to the second highest ranked bidder if their price is at or below the approved value.
As part of the close out process unsuccessful bidders are offered a debriefing to discuss their bid submission. The session is to review the bidder’s submission and suggest improvements. Constructive bidder feedback about the procurement process is encouraged.
Finally, all procurement documentation is filled electronically according to the organization’s document retention policy The name of the successful bidder and the total value of the procurement is publicly posted.
Let’s do a quick recap of the “Procurement Journey,” which is a systematic approach suitable for both public procurement and private industry subject to some variations. The journey, begins with the “Concept” and “Development” phases which generally require the most time and were covered in Part 1.
Once the draft procurement document is prepared it may be subject to legal review and final approval before “Posting”. The minimum posting time is determined by the estimated value of the procurement. The posting interval includes an opportunity to submit questions about the procurement of which the responses are posted. There may be a vendor information session.
When the procurement closes bid submissions are evaluated first for mandatory requirements, if applicable, then for technical criteria and finally pricing. A bid that does not meet either the mandatory requirement or pass the technical evaluation will not proceed to pricing.
The evaluation process should be strictly followed and documented. Evaluations may be autoscored for procurements with closed ended technical questions. Consensus evaluations are used for complex procurements may include an interview or a demonstration. Sometimes evaluations required a clarification which can only be answered ‘yes’ or ‘
When the evaluations are completed, the scores are totaled and the recommendation is made to award the procurement to the highest ranked bidder. The award process includes signing the agreement by both parties. Unsuccessful bidders are notified and offered a debriefing session to review their bid submission.
In the “Close Out” phase the total awarded value and the name of the successful bidder is posted. All related documentation is filed electronically and retained according to each organization’s document retention policy.
Once the Procurement Journey is completed the procurement is passed to the contract manager for execution.
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Written by Graham Allen
Graham Allen is recently retired from Supply Ontario where he managed the entire procurement life cycle for a number of vendors and individual ministry procurements. His hobbies include white water canoeing, hiking, traveling and reading.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the Subject Matter Experts and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Procurement School.