Advice to suppliers and the invitation to be debriefed
After the completion of any procurement evaluation process, and once a contract has been arranged with the successful supplier, the unsuccessful suppliers must be advised, preferably in writing, of their non-selection. This advice must include the name and the total value of the successful offer, eg lump sum price (where appropriate).
Where a multi-staged purchasing process is used, eg where Expressions of Interest are used to short-list suppliers, those not short-listed or placed on a multi-use list are to be advised that they have been unsuccessful.
In addition, all unsuccessful suppliers must, on request, be debriefed. It is recommended that an offer to debrief be included in the advice on non-selection. For goods and services, advice on the availability of debriefing must be included in all tender and quotation documentation (Treasurer's Instruction 1109) and it is advisable that this advice is also contained in building and construction / roads and bridges procurement documentation.
Where the procurement is subject to the provisions of free trade agreements, if requested by an unsuccessful supplier, the supplier must also be promptly provided with a written explanation of the reasons that its submission was not selected.
The objective of the debriefing session is to help unsuccessful suppliers submit more competitive bids in the future by identifying ways in which the supplier's offer could have been improved.
The team conducting the debriefing interview should include at least two members and at least one of these should be a member of the evaluation committee. Prior to the debriefing interview, the team should familiarise itself with the offer and the reason the supplier was not successful. It should also identify the strengths and weaknesses of the offer.
Discussion at the debriefing is to be limited to the supplier's offer and how the offer performed with respect to the evaluation criteria. Discussion could include a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the offer. The unsuccessful supplier's offer must not be compared to the winning offer and neither should aspects of the winning offer or any other offer be discussed. The debriefing interview is an opportunity for suppliers to learn how to improve their offer preparation skills. The debriefing interview is not to be used to justify the selection of the successful supplier.
In relation to building and construction/roads and bridges, the debriefing interview is usually held with the main contractor; other parties such as sub-contractors who have assisted with the preparation of the tender do not attend. Therefore, to improve the effectiveness of competition at the sub-contract level, agencies should encourage the main contractor to pass on to their sub-contractors any relevant briefing information that impacts on their component of the tender.
Examples of issues that may be discussed at the debriefing, include:
- cost - an indication of competitiveness;
- specification/evaluation criteria - levels of compliance;
- offer/contractual issues;
- design - eg any design deficiencies that would lead to higher operating costs;
- after-sales service - inadequate servicing network, spares held etc;
- delivery dates;
- administrative or management systems;
- industrial relations - eg a poor record with no plans for improvement;
- quality management - ineffective control methods, systems, people, training;
- experience/qualifications/referee reports or past performance - eg inadequate experience or qualifications, or poor performance on previous contracts;
- personnel - number, experience or quality of management and other personnel;
- facilities/equipment - eg outdated, inefficient equipment or facilities; and/or
- sub-contracting - eg inadequate control mechanisms.
The proceedings of the debriefing interview should be fully documented. Notes of the debriefing interview should be taken simultaneously with the interview. The information to be recorded should include:
- names and positions of participants;
- information provided to the unsuccessful supplier;
- any issues arising;
- details of any requested information that was not disclosed due to commercial-in-confidence considerations; and
- any likely future complaints and recommendations for further action.