Writing government tenders? Here’s advice on asking the procurement team questions

Government tenders present a lucrative opportunity – the Australian Federal Government alone awards 80,000+ contracts annually via tenders issued on the different government procurement websites. 

What you may not know is one of the biggest myths of government tenders is just that: a myth. 

The strict procurement rules government bodies must follow for tendering has led many businesses to believe they cannot ask the procurement team questions through the process. 

Thankfully, we can confirm that’s not the case, as once you’ve read the Request for Tender (RFT) documents supplied it’s highly likely you will have many questions! 

Ultimately, asking questions to ensure your tender responds fully to the government body’s RFT questions ensures your considerable investment in preparing a tender is not wasted.  

Here’s our advice on why, who, how, what and when to ask questions of government procurement teams. 

Why should I ask questions? 

Two important reasons: 

1. To clarify or correct ambiguous requirements 

Government procurement teams are expert buyers, responsible for purchasing a diverse range of services and products, but they’re unlikely to be experts in your area. These teams want the best possible responses to their RFTs to achieve value for money. In our experience, this makes them very open to tenderers making enquiries to help correct any omissions or errors in the RFT, clarify conditions or refine the scope. Doing this also allows them to speed up the evaluation process by eliminating poor or incomplete tenders.  

2. To avoid relying on assumptions  

If you make assumptions about what the government body wants, you risk misunderstanding their needs. Government procurement teams want ‘complying tenders’, so if you’re unclear about any questions asked in the RFT or the tender process, ask for clarification. Otherwise, your tender could be evaluated as ‘non-complying’ and will not be considered, even after all your hard work. 

Who do I talk to, and how? 

All Government RFTs include details of a contact person to whom you can direct your questions, along with information on how to submit them (usually via email or a tender portal).  

It’s vitally important you only contact the nominated person via the channels advised. Contacting other people within the organisation can be viewed as soliciting and result in you being eliminated from the process. 

While asking questions this way might seem overly complicated, procurement teams follow this process to ensure all questions are tracked and promptly answered. It also supports keeping the procurement process free from corruption. 

What should I ask? 

Everything! If you have a question, ask it! If the response received prompts other questions, ask them! 

All government bodies will circulate answers to all questions asked to all registered tenderers. That way, you can see the concerns and queries of other tenderers too. 

When should I ask? 

The earlier, the better! This gives you the maximum amount of time to prepare your tender.  

You should check the RFT document closely as it often provides a cut-off date for questions – after this, you’re on your own. Don’t risk being left in the dark with a critical question unanswered. 

Preparing tenders can be challenging at the best of times. Preparing tenders for government is even more so. Proof Communications is always here to lend a hand to guide you through the process.  

Don’t hesitate to give us a call on 02 9314 7506 or 0411 123 216, or contact us via our form

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