$200k - $1m

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$200k - $1m

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This contains conditions that you need to first consider when conducting your procurement.

Key regulations and policies that apply to procurements in this value range are:  

  • Use of the Commonwealth Contract Suite for procurements within this value range is optional
  • The Workplace Gender Equality Procurement Principles may apply

This page will guide you through the process for procurements between $200K-$1m.

  • + provides additional detail under each step of the process
  • ► denotes an action step
  • Notes and text in the blue boxes provide additional information and tips
  • Click the orange “Why?” box to see the relevant section/s of the policy

Start at Step 1 below and follow the entire process

 

1. Check for an Existing Panel Arrangement
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Panel (or standing offer) arrangements are set up by entities for frequently sourced goods or services. The benefits in using a panel are:

  • a competitive process has already been undertaken and suitable suppliers identified which allows you to approach one or multiple suppliers as required
  • contract terms and rates have already been agreed
  • entities may use panels that have been set up by other entities which provide efficiencies to both purchaser and supplier.

 How do I find a panel? 

  • Panels are listed on AusTender.
  • All panels are listed under a Standing Offer Notice (SON). The SON will show you approved suppliers and provide details of the panel.
  • Check to see whether your entity is eligible to use the panel - there is a section on the SON that notes who can use the panel. 
  • If the panel also has a panel ID then it can be managed through Dynamic Sourcing for Panels (DS4P) tool within AusTender.
  • If your entity is approved to use the panel, you can access the relevant documents through DS4P once you have registered as a government buyer. If you cannot access DS4P you will need to contact the panel manager via the contact details provided.

► Review panel arrangements to see if there is a panel that suits your requirement.

If you find a Panel, do not continue with this $200k - $1m process. Follow the Using an Existing Panel process.

Why?

2. Conduct Market Research
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You need to understand the market from which you are going to procure. This will help you decide on the best approach.

► Are there many suppliers in the market or is it quite limited?

► Are these goods/services available off-the-shelf or do they require customisation or development?

► Are there any limitations in the market such as capacity to supply goods/services or availability of goods? Does this affect the price or the competitiveness of the market?

► Are there any other risks inherent in this market?

► Do you a have good understanding of the estimated price of your procurement?

You can contact potential suppliers when conducting market research. Be mindful of the information that you give them so as not to advantage one supplier over another that may be eligible compete for this procurement.  Avoid the specifics of your requirement and keep your enquiries generalist in nature.

If you are unable to assess what is available in the market, you may consider conducting an information finding approach such as a request for information (RFI).  This is a formal process that is used to gather information about supplier’s capabilities and products that may form a solution or contribute to the outcome of your requirement. This will inform further approaches to market such as a request for tender (RFT) or a request for proposal (RFP).

Why?

3. Clearly Define the Requirement
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You will need to define your requirement in a way that can be easily understood by the supplier(s). This description will be key information in your approach to market (ATM) documentation.

Here are some tips:

► set out the specifications in terms of performance and functional requirements where applicable

► specifications should be succinct and to the point - do not over specify

► avoid “mandatory” or “essential” requirements unless you are prepared to reject all submissions that do not specifically meet these requirements. Requirements should be limited to those that will ensure that a potential supplier has the legal, commercial, technical and financial abilities to fulfil the requirements of the procurement

► minimise the use of jargon and avoid the use of specific brands, products or trademarks

► think about your required timeframes and if long lead times may be required

► consult subject matter experts where required (technical, operational etc.)

► include any relevant standards.

Further information on developing a specification can be found here (CPR  10.9 - 10.13).

It is good practice to have someone not involved in the process to review your description for clarity and understanding.

Why?

4. Plan Your Procurement
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You need to decide what will be the best way to approach the market in order to get the right outcomes for your procurement.

How will I approach the market?

Procurements valued at or above the relevant procurement thresholds (i.e. $80,000 for general procurements or $7.5 million for construction procurements) are required to go to open tender unless an exemption or a condition for limited tender applies.

Exemptions to open tender

► Check CPR Appendix A to see if your procurement is exempt under this provision.

There are several exemptions for certain goods and services where it is not practical to apply the conditions for open tender. If your procurement is exempt under this provision, Division 2 of the CPRs does not apply.  Exit this process and follow the $10K-$80K process from Step 2: Plan your procurement.

Conditions for limited tender

► Check CPR 10.3 to see if your procurement may be carried out as a limited tender.

There are a number of circumstances where a limited tender may be more appropriate. If your procurement meets the requirements for a limited tender, you may approach a single supplier or a select number of suppliers rather than a full open tender. Some requirements under Division 2 of the CPRs still apply and they can be found at CPR 10.4. While you do not need to do an open tender, you will still need to follow this process.

► Record all decisions concerning exemption or condition, including supporting reasons and proposed approach to market.

Using an open tender approach

If your procurement does not meet either of the above conditions for an exemption or limited tender, you will need to go to open tender.

Note

If your market is unknown or if your requirement has developmental aspects then you may need to consider a multi-stage approach to market.  This may include:

  • a request for information (RFI) to find out more about your market

OR

  • an expression of interest (EOI). This is sometimes called an invitation to register interest (ITR) and helps you to find companies that are capable of fulfilling your requirement and may also provide a shortlist for a later request for tender/proposal approach to market.

► Conduct a risk assessment using your entity's risk management framework. If significant risks are identified then you may need to develop a risk management plan.

► Develop a procurement plan. This document records the issues you consider, the decisions you make and how you will approach the market. You may wish to use the CCS Procurement Plan template.

► Gain your delegate's agreement to your procurement plan.  

 What is a limited or open tender?

Open Tender involves publishing an open approach to market and inviting submissions. In this approach, you do not know who or how many potential suppliers will reply to your tender.

Limited Tender involves approaching one or more identified potential suppliers directly to invite submissions.

Why?

5. Assess Conflicts of Interest
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Now that you know the market and have assessed the best way to approach the market, you will need to assess whether any of the people connected with this procurement have a potential conflict of interest. 

A conflict of interest arises where a person has an affiliation or personal interest that might prejudice, or be seen to prejudice, their impartiality.

► Ensure all people materially involved in the procurement process complete a conflict of interest declaration. Your entity may have a conflict of interest template.

► Discuss and manage any potential conflicts of interest in accordance with your entity's AAIs (see your intranet or seek advice from your central procurement area)

Conflicts of interest are common occurrences and do not infer any misconduct in itself. However, not declaring a conflict of interest or not managing a conflict appropriately may be construed as misconduct.

You may need to assess conflicts of interest multiple times throughout the process to take account of additional people becoming aware of procurement details or as more information becomes available, particularly when potential suppliers have responded.

Why?

6. Prepare the Approach To Market (ATM) Documentation
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When going out to potential suppliers, you must ensure that your approach is consistent and equitable to all potential suppliers.

► Develop your ATM documentation. For procurement valued at under $1 million, you may wish to use the CCS approach to market template. A risk assessment will indicate what form of contract is appropriate for your requirement.

You will also need to document how you intend to evaluate the responses (evaluation criteria are set out in the CCS ATM terms). This should be done before your approach the market but MUST be done before any responses are received.

► Develop an evaluation plan. 

 Handy Hints

  • use the approach to market that the delegate approved in your procurement plan developed in Step 4: Plan your procurement
  • use the description of your requirement as developed in Step 3: Clearly define the requirement
  • carefully consider the use of mandatory conditions of participation, as you must exclude any tenders that do not fully meet these requirements
  • do not use unnecessary mandatory language (i.e. ‘must’, ‘will’), jargon and acronyms within the ATM documentation
  • include a draft copy of the contract in your ATM documentation.  You may wish to use the CCS Contract. If your procurement is for ICT goods or services, it may be more appropriate to use a Digital Sourcing Contract template
  • adhere to minimum time limits for your tender to be out in the market (see CPR 10.20 – 10.27)
  • non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees in Australia must supply a letter of compliance with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 with their tender submission or prior to contracting with the Australian Government.  If you use the CCS ATM this will already be addressed.  (this applies to general goods and services over $80k and construction services over $7.5million).

Why?

7. Obtain Delegate Endorsement Before You Approach The Market (ATM)
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Prior to approaching the market, you must obtain the endorsement of your delegate to proceed. This is because when you release your ATM you are obliged to continue the process to finalisation and award of a contract should you find a suitable supplier (see CPR 10.37).

► Obtain delegate endorsement for the release of your ATM. If you use the CCS procurement plan, an approval minute will have been generated automatically.

► Ensure that unallocated funds are available.  

Why?

8. Release the ATM
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AusTender is the Australian Government’s procurement information system and is a centralised web-based facility that publishes a range of information, including entity’s approaches to market.

► For Open Tender: you MUST publish open approaches to market on AusTender - do this as per your entity's established procedures (search your intranet or seek advice from your central procurement area).

► For Limited Tender: You may either use AusTender or choose to publish and receive submissions in another manner (e.g. email, tender box).

If you are using a method other than AusTender then you should ensure that you have suitable governance and processes in place for the receipt and opening of tenders.

AusTender Help Desk

Phone: 1300 651 698 (between 9am and 5pm ACT Local Time, Monday to Friday, excluding ACT and national public holidays)

International: +61 2 6215 1558

Email: tenders@finance.gov.au

Why?

9. Manage the Tendering Period
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Potential suppliers may seek clarification of information in the ATM documentation before the end of the closing time for questions within the ATM.

► if you receive questions from potential suppliers during the tender period:

» if received prior to any closing of questions deadline, answer them promptly (in writing to all suppliers, without identifying the source of the question)

» if required to provide additional or revised material then ensure it is made available to all potential suppliers in a timely and equitable manner. This can be directly if undertaking a limited approach to the market, and must be via an addendum openly on AusTender if undertaking an open approach to the market

» if you receive questions after the closing of questions deadline then you are not obliged to answer them. However, you should consider responding if the issue risks compromising the procurement. If a change needs to be made that would impact on potential supplier submissions you can consider extending the approach closing deadline

► If a potential supplier requests an extension of time in order to submit their response, you are not obliged to agree.  If you are going to consider an extension of time then careful consideration should be based on:

» whether genuine grounds exist (e.g. not due to the potential supplier ‘s disorganisation)

» that it must not unfairly disadvantage any other potential suppliers and the extension is applied consistently to all potential suppliers

» that it is requested within a reasonable period before the closing deadline.

Why?

10. Receive ATM Responses
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Procedures to receive and open ATM responses must guarantee fairness and impartiality and must ensure that ATM responses are treated in confidence (see CPR 10.34 - 10.36).

► Download ATM responses from AusTender or open/collate responses if delivered in another manner.

► Responses must be treated as confidential before and after the award of a contract (see CPRs 7.23). Ensure that only those identified within the evaluation plan have access to the responses or information relating to those responses in accordance with the evaluation process.

► Follow the screening process as set out in your evaluation plan. This may include screening for:

» whether the response was received by the ATM closing time
» completeness of the response
» compliance with the minimum content and format requirements
» conditions of participation.

► Exclude responses that do not meet the requirements of the screening process.

► Identify and manage new conflicts of interest (if any).

● AusTender automatically closes at your specified closing time (Note: If suppliers have any issues in the lodgement process, direct them to contact the AusTender Helpdesk 1300 651 698).

● Late submissions cannot be accepted unless it is due to the mishandling of AusTender or your entity (see CPR 10.28).

● Minor unintentional errors of form may not constitute a non-compliance with ATM requirements.  You may contact potential suppliers to correct such errors (see CPR 10.35).

Why?

11. Evaluate Supplier Responses
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Evaluation of any responses to the approach to market will need to follow your evaluation plan. Tender responses are confidential and should only be distributed to those in the evaluation team (see CPRs 7.23). 

► Follow the process identified in your evaluation plan and evaluate against the evaluation criteria documented in your ATM. This will generally involve:

» each member of the evaluation team individually evaluating each responses

» the team then meeting to agree the strengths and weaknesses of each response. This will also generate the information for any future supplier feedback (see CPR 7.6)

» the team recommending a preferred supplier(s), based on best value for money, to the delegate for approval. If no response represents value for money, your recommendation may be to stop this process and further refine the procurement.

► Prepare an evaluation report based on your findings and recommendation (You may wish to use the CCS Evaluation Report) including identifying any issues for possible negotiation or reconsideration.

► Gain written delegate endorsement of the recommendations in your evaluation report.

  • Evaluation best practice is to consider all potential suppliers' capability and capacity to meet your requirements first and then to consider pricing information to enable an unbiased assessment of value for money.
  • Do not materially change the evaluation plan or the evaluation criteria (including any weightings) after the opening of ATM responses.
  • The delegate may not accept your recommendation and instruct you to take another course of action.
  • A potential supplier's submission may not completely fulfil your requirements but may have the potential to represent value for money subject to the negotiation of certain issues.
  • If you recommend a preferred supplier that will present value for money subject to certain issues being negotiated and subsequently these issues cannot be satisfactorily resolved, you may decide to go to the next potential supplier. This scenario needs to be well documented in your evaluation report.
  • Non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees in Australia must supply a letter of compliance with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 with their tender submission or prior to contracting with the Australian Government.  If you have used the CCS ATM this should have been addressed in the preferred supplier’s response.

Why?

12. Draft Contract
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You will need to update your draft contract to incorporate the preferred supplier's ATM response.

► Draft a contract that ensures you meet your requirements and is consistent with your approach to market documentation and the preferred the supplier's ATM response.

  • It is important to use the same contract model (CCS Contract, Digital Sourcing Contract, an entity template or a bespoke contract) with the same terms that was released with your ATM. Different terms may give rise to different obligations on the supplier which may affect the costing offered in the tender or impact the capability of the supplier.
  • If you are using the CCS, it is a condition of submitting a response that the supplier agrees to enter a contract under the terms set out in the Commonwealth Contract Terms. This means that the Commonwealth Contract Terms may not be re-negotiated.

Why?

13. Obtain Delegate Approval under PGPA Section 23
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Once you have completed your evaluation and before entering an agreement, you MUST seek approval under section 23 of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA).

► Prepare the Section 23 approval minute (If using the CCS Evaluation Report this will be automatically generated).

» Ensure that the evaluation recommendations and draft contract are attached.

» You should also to include a list of any negotiation issues. Note: the Commonwealth Contract Terms are not negotiable and the supplier should have agreed to these in their response.

► Submit to delegate for approval.

 When does the Contract get signed?

The delegate should not sign the Contract at this point. The Supplier should sign the contract FIRST but not before PGPA Section 23 approval is granted.

Why?

14. Negotiate
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Once relevant approvals have been granted, you can notify the preferred supplier and proceed to finalise your contract.

There may be issues arising from the preferred suppliers tender that will need some level of negotiation or clarification.

► Notify the successful supplier in writing (email may be sufficient) and provide the updated contract.

► If the delegate has agreed that negotiations are required, invite the preferred supplier to negotiations. Include an agenda identifying the issues to be discussed (note: the Commonwealth Contract Terms are not able to be negotiated).

► Conduct negotiations (bring in subject matter experts if required).

► Document the outcome of the negotiations and get endorsement from your delegate.

► Incorporate agreed positions into the contract.

  • You may not have any significant issues for clarification. Usually minor issues can be dealt with through email.
  • Your negotiation is generally about finalising the contract details. There may be opportunity to refine some details such as:
    • price, rates or fees
    • schedule and delivery
    • performance including key performance indicators (KPIs)
    • service levels
    • security requirements
    • ICT integration
  • Negotiations may not necessarily be about getting a cheaper price. The preferred supplier has made an offer in their tender that you have judged as providing value for money. If you push the supplier too low you may not get a satisfactory outcome or achieve the anticipated value for money. However you may be able to find economies through refining requirements and processes.
  • Ensure that the effort expended in your negotiations is commensurate with the potential benefits.

Why?

15. Formalise the Contract
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Once the contract has been agreed by you and the preferred supplier you can proceed to finalise your contract.

► Provide the final contract for signature. The preferred supplier is required to return a signed copy of the contract (either physically or electronically).

► The Commonwealth is also required to sign and return a signed copy of the contract to the supplier.

► After the contract has been formalised, enter this procurement into your entity's Financial Management Information System (FMIS). (You may also be required to submit supporting documentation).

► Entities MUST report contracts on AusTender within 42 days of entering into a contract (see CPR 7.18). Your FMIS may facilitate this reporting or you may have to do this manually. Check with your CFO or your central procurement area.

Why?

16. Advise Unsuccessful Suppliers
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Once the contract has been formalised in Step 15: Formalise Contract, you are required to notify other suppliers that provided responses. You may use the CCS unsuccessful supplier letter template (link).

► You MUST notify the unsuccessful supplier(s) in writing (an email may be sufficient).

► You MUST offer all suppliers (including the successful supplier) the opportunity to receive feedback on their response.

Tip: How to conduct a Supplier Debrief.

Why?

17. File Documents
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You are required to retain all relevant documents in accordance with the Archives Act 1983. Relevant documents include any documents that record decisions and/or approvals, including those with signatures.

► File documents in accordance with your entity's records management practices.

Why?