Route 2 - Post Tender Clarification - Tender Clarifications

The objective at the clarification stage is to clarify the tenders as submitted.

Tender, or bid clarifications, may become necessary during the evaluation of tenders. For example, where there are aspects of the bids that are unclear or contain minor errors. The Procurement Officer should consider whether, where a certain aspect of the bid seems anomalous, it might be prudent to request clarification. For example, if a bid appears abnormally low or especially high on price, it may be that an arithmetical error has been made. Clarification may also be sought from tenderers on matters of quality performance or particular terms and conditions of contracts.

In seeking clarification, all communications with tenderers must be properly recorded so that an audit trail is maintained. If PCS-Tender is being utilised, this can be recorded on the system in the messaging area.

Negotiations in relation to price or other areas where bid improvements may be possible should not take place.

The Procurement Officer should give all tenderers which are able to meet the requirements of the tender the same opportunity to engage in tender/bid clarification. Extreme caution and care must be exercised to avoid either unfairness to potential tenderers or the impression of unfairness to some tenderers.

Procurement Officers should examine tenders to ensure that tenderers are not making fraudulent claims, and have delivered similar types of work, if they have claimed to do so. In doing so the following points should be considered:

  • Are the claims made in the tender submissions legitimate and verifiable
  • If tenderers are inexperienced in the type of work being tendered, tenders may appear excessively high or abnormally low. In both cases Procurement Officers should ensure that  suppliers have understood the scope of the requirement
  • Have there been any perceived or obvious attempts to influence/interfere with the process?
  • Were late tenders accepted and if so was there a legitimate reason? 
  • Are there similar tenders with a large price discrepancy between different submissions? This could suggest collusion
  • Was anyone involved who should have been excluded as part of the selection process?
  • Should a conflict of interest have been identified earlier in the process?
  • Have conflict of interest declarations been examined and ratified?
  • Are there tenders with large price discrepancies from tenderers, who have worked in the same industry for some time? This could again suggest collusion
  • Read and digest the tone of emails. Do they appear over friendly or allude to additional meetings either professionally or socially? Information is often exchanged during a visit or a social event. Procurement Officers should always maintain an audit trail of all correspondence
  • Were all tenders submitted on time and delivered in the prescribed manner? Examples of tenders being sent via a person within the tendering organisation could constitute a breach of protocol and should be examined

Abnormally Low Tenders

Where tenders appear abnormally low in relation to the supplies and services being offered, organisations should clarify the price or costs proposed in the tender.

These clarifications may relate to some of the following:

  • the cost of the manufacturing process of the services provided
  • the proposed technical solutions
  • the originality of the supplies or services proposed by the tenderer
  • the tenderers subcontracting arrangements
  • the possibility of the tenderer obtaining state aid

Post-Tender Negotiation (PTN), where it is practiced by an organisation, should be handled as a separate exercise from Tender Clarification.

Note that if it is found that the tender is abnormally low as a result of breach of environmental, social or employment law obligations, including collective agreements and certain international law measures, it is best practice to reject the tender.

Before awarding the contract you should ensure you receive the most up-to-date supporting documents referred to in the selection stage response e.g. certificates. For Framework Agreements this should be done prior to a contract based on the Framework being awarded.

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