Common mistakes in tender responses

John Sheridan - CIO & CISO

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Common mistakes in tender responses


I recently gave a presentation that covered common mistakes suppliers make when tendering for Commonwealth contracts and thought it may be useful to share this more broadly. 

Set out below are some practices my team have observed which may impact on the success of a potential supplier’s bid.



  • Prepare responses against the evaluation criteria and address all elements of each criterion.
  • Seek to understand the mandatory requirements and terms and conditions.
  • Demonstrate your organisation’s ability to provide the required services - provide factual and focused responses using examples.
  • Provide sufficient detail on any assumptions being made.
  • Quantify and qualify responses, e.g.:
    • 'up to 24 hours' - this could actually be only five minutes.
    • 'we will save you 50%' - of what, when and how?
    • 'we are the only one' - based on what?
  • Ask questions - if unsure of the meaning of something, ask the tender team for clarification. They are there to help.
  • Leave sufficient time to lodge your bid on AusTender.


  • Assume that the tender evaluation team knows about your organisation and its capabilities - this is particularly relevant to incumbent suppliers. Tender teams can only evaluate what is submitted in written responses and obtained through verification activities.
  • Submit broad, vague or repetitious statements, or irrelevant marketing information. 
  • Cut and paste information from previous tender responses without checking if the information is relevant to the current tender.
  • Assume there will be a second opportunity to provide pricing - submit the best offer the first time.

Useful links 

Here are some ideas and useful links for potential suppliers looking to work with the Commonwealth.

  1. Check out the Selling to Government guide here.  
  2. Browse AusTender for opportunities and ensure your business profile is appropriate so you can be automatically notified of relevant new opportunities (the AusTender team can assist with this on Ph: 1300 651 698 or via email:
  3. Be aware of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite (CCS) for procurements valued between $10,000 and $200,000 here, entities are required to use the CCS from January 2016, when a formal contract is required. For ICT goods and services the SourceIT templates are available here.
  4. Gain an understanding of the Commonwealth’s payment policies. These include the credit card policy here and the pay on time policy here.

If you have any questions on these changes let me know in the comments below, or email



Comments (1)

Hi John,

Running a similar session in the next few weeks. Any chance getting a look at your presentation?


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Last updated: 24 January 2018