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For suppliers - Engaging with government on construction projects

There are many opportunities for you to contribute your skills and expertise in planning for or constructing infrastructure to benefit all Victorians.  Tips to help you identify opportunities and plan how you engage with government buyers of construction works and services.

Identifying forward opportunities for public construction

To become a supplier to government, you need to know what opportunities are available.

Opportunities for Victorian construction procurement are published on the Victorian Government tender system TendersVIC.

From 1 July 2018, Government buyers are required to publish a forward notice of future opportunities for works or services, if the works opportunity is valued at more than $500,000, or the services opportunity is valued at more than $200,000.

Forward notices are published using the Advance Tender Notice function in TendersVIC.

The forward notice will indicate the form of competition that will be used for that opportunity.  Any requirements for existing capability, such as holding certifications or prequalification under approved registers, will be detailed in the forward notice allowing suppliers time to arrange for or update their capability status.

Taken together, these forward notices provide continually updated information on the forward pipeline of government construction projects.

TendersVIC allows you to nominate categories of interest and receive notices when an advance tender notice within that category has been published.

Please note information contained in Advance Tender Notices is subject to revision or cancellation. The information contained in an Advance Tender Notice is for planning purposes only. It does not represent a pre-solicitation or an invitation for bids. It is not a commitment by the government to purchase the described works and services.

Engaging with government buyers

Principles and rules

The Ministerial Directions and Instructions for Public Construction Procurement (effective from 1 July 2018) and good practice Guidance for Public Construction Procurement provide a framework to help agencies achieve better procurement outcomes.

The Victorian Government is committed to ethical, sustainable and socially responsible procurement.  In ensuring that suppliers maintain the same values as the Government, the State has established a Supplier Code of Conduct.

How buyers approach the market

Government buyers approach the market on an on-going basis.

There are a number of ways buyers might approach the market, including:

  • open competitive processes, where any supplier can submit a tender or proposal to the buyer for review,
  • closed competitive processes, where selected suppliers are invited to submit tenders or proposals,
  • direct sourcing, where a supplier is directly approached by a buyer to do the work.

Notices for projects using an open competitive process are published on the Victorian Government tender system TendersVIC advising of the opportunity and providing details of that opportunity.

TendersVIC allows you to nominate categories of interest and receive notices when an opportunity within that category has been published.

For projects using a closed competitive process, government buyers may directly approach suppliers after selecting them from registers of prequalified suppliers.

You can streamline your bidding activity and communication of project history to government buyers by prequalifying through these registers.

Types of contract

You can tender for:

  • one-off projects for works or services, or
  • membership of a supplier panel to provide either works or services.

Standard form template contracts are used for the bulk of construction contracting.  You can view these standard form template contracts at Practitioners Toolkit – Standard form contracts.

High value special purpose contracts may be established through the Victorian Alliancing Policy or the Partnerships Victoria Requirements.

Supplier panels

Supplier panels often have multiple suppliers and operate over a period of time.  Supplier panels may cover works or services.

New or renewing supplier panels are usually advertised on the Victorian Government tender system TendersVIC.

You apply following the tender process, and if successful you may be one of a panel of suppliers that buyers within an agency can choose to use.

If you're part of a supplier panel contract, you can be contracted directly to provide works or services to that agency. Sometimes an agency might run a secondary selection process, and invite some or all suppliers on the panel to tender for a specific requirement.

Submitting an unsolicited proposal

You can make an unsolicited proposal to the Government, but it must meet strict criteria to be considered.

Refer to the Market-led Proposal Guidelines for further details.

Planning to tender

Look for opportunities

The Victorian Government tender system TendersVIC allows you to nominate categories of interest and receive notices when an opportunity within that category has been published.

Prepare key documents in advance

To reduce the pressure when you're preparing a tender offer, build up a collection of documents that you're likely to need regularly.

Things you're likely to need for most construction tenders include:

  • History of completed projects, noting whether you were the lead supplier or a subcontractor
  • Referees and their contact details
  • Health and safety management plans and policies
  • Industrial relations management plans and policies
  • Compliance and membership certificates, including any registration required by the Victorian Building Authority.
  • Company information like legal name and capacity

It’s also important to have resumes for key people who will be delivering the work or services.

You can streamline and simplify your process to prepare an offer by obtaining prequalification under an approved register.  When you hold prequalification, a lot of the information required for each tender is held centrally in within the register, so you will not need to resubmit this information with each tender.

Submitting a tender

Prepare your response

Check you know what's required and make sure you know the deadline you're working to.

When you're putting together your offer documents, make sure you:

  • provide the information requested, in the format specified,
  • highlight your strong points, and
  • focus your offer to respond to the evaluation criteria.

Ask questions

You can ask the buyer any questions about the tender documents during the tender open period.

The buyer will include details in the tender documents about asking questions, including:

  • a contact person,
  • how to contact them, and
  • a deadline for submitting questions.

Unless your question includes commercially sensitive information, the buyer will make the question and answer available to all tenderers.

Evaluation, negotiation and selection

The agency will review offers received against the published tender evaluation criteria.  Often the agency may create a shortlist.

Sometimes you will be asked to present to the evaluation team to discuss your offer.  Follow the guidance provided by the agency to determine who should attend such a meeting.

If you are selected as the preferred bidder, there might be further negotiation around things like price, time frames and deliverables.

Results of a tender process

Government buyers are required to notify bidders of the outcome of the tender process.

The results of tender processes with a value greater than $100,000 are also disclosed on the contracts module within the Victorian Government tender system TendersVIC.

Request a debrief

You can request a debrief after the tender process has finished. Use the debrief to find out the buyer's thoughts on where your offer could be improved, and how your capabilities were reviewed.

At the debrief, you can ask about:

  • sections of the offer where you might not have provided enough detail, or areas where you scored low in the evaluation,
  • any strengths and weaknesses the buyer perceived in your offer,
  • overall perception of your company.

Feedback and complaints

If you have feedback or concerns about a procurement process, the usual process is to raise it with the agency directly in the first instance.

You may also make a formal complaint to oversight bodies such as the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission or the Victorian Ombudsman.

Support

For more information about the policies governing public construction contact the Construction Policy team.

Reviewed 09/07/2018
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