The purpose of most government procurement processes and policies is to obtain the best possible value for public funds while minimizing the risk of conflict of interest and corruption. By following specific guidelines on how to set and evaluate procurement criteria, governments can ensure all potential vendors are assessed equitably and reduce opportunities for bribery and favouritism.
Most processes fall into one of the following three categories, although some countries may use different names for them:
- Open tendering – In this type of process, the contracting government will put out a request for proposal, and anyone can bid.
- Two-stage procurement – This is similar to an open process, but potential bidders must meet an initial set of criteria before they can be invited to bid.
- Restricted procurement – This process limits bidding to a small number of potential vendors. Only those invited may bid on the contract.
The stages of procurement
Whatever the type of procurement process, it will generally include these stages:
- Contract notice - Most governments have a dedicated platform where contract notices are posted (e.g., buyandsell.gc.ca in Canada, TED in the EU or SAM in the U.S.).
CCC now also offers an online tool, The Global Bid Opportunity Finder, that hosts bid opportunities from 30+ sources, covering 200+ countries, and 5,000+ new opportunities daily. You can review notices on these platforms or sign up to receive notifications when appropriate opportunities for your business are posted. When you find a promising opportunity, be sure to read the notice carefully and request the full tender documents before you start preparing your bid.
- Pre-selection process - If the process includes a pre-selection phase, submit the requested information as indicated to qualify for bidding.
- Bid submission - Submit all information and documentation as indicated in the tender documents. Be sure to follow all instructions precisely, provide all elements of your submission in the format and language specified, and submit your bid package before the deadline. For more information, see our post on submitting bids.
- Contract award - If your bid is selected, you’ll move on to final negotiations or contract signing, and then to delivering the product or service.
Competitive dialogue: An alternative contracting approach
Most procurement processes include precise specifications that detail exactly what the selected vendor will provide. Larger-scale or more complex projects, however, may be better served by a less rigid approach, such as competitive dialogue, also known as value-based procurement.
According to Global Affairs Canada, “In a competitive dialogue only a broad description of the work is provided; contract specifications are not determined in advance.” The initial contract notice describes the desired final result and potential bidders are invited to propose solutions to achieve it.
The dialogue is “competitive” because the contracting government may negotiate with multiple vendors at once, weighing their solutions against each other. Whichever is deemed best moves on to a final negotiation.
In Canada, the competitive dialogue approach has made inroads in the health sector. The Conference Board of Canada published a report on its potential uses in 2016, and it was included in the recommendations of the country’s Health and Bio-sciences Economic Strategy Table in 2018, which called on the sector to “accelerate innovation adoption by employing value-based procurement across Canada’s health systems.”
Around the world, infrastructure and other complex projects have also been found to lend themselves to the competitive dialogue approach. Small, innovative companies often benefit from this type of procurement process because it allows them to put forward unique, often emerging solutions that strictly defined price-focused project specifications might not allow for.
Contact CCC to learn more about how we can help you navigate the procurement process or support you with a government-to-government contract.
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