Route 3 - Issue ITT - Open Suppliers' Meeting
A Suppliers' Meeting is where all potential tenderers are invited to attend at the same time and venue to discuss the Invitation to Tender (ITT). This can happen before or after the ITT is issued. The purpose of the meeting is to highlight and clarify aspects of the ITT. Commercially sensitive information must be guarded at all times (e.g. you may not wish to reveal project/budget information).
The Organisation must share any information provided to any other potential tenderers at the pre-tender stage together with any other relevant information to ensure that the process is conducted fairly and transparently in accordance with Regulation 42 of The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015.
As with all aspects of the Procurement Journey, the activities at this stage must be carried out in a carefully managed manner that supports the Principles of Procurement. As a minimum the processes must be carried out in a transparent way that ensures there is no distortion of the market place, the outcome cannot be a procurement that unduly favours or disadvantages a particular bidder and it is the responsibility of the Organisation to make sure that these requirements are met. Sufficient time must be allowed for tenderers to take account of outcomes from the suppliers' meetings.
The meeting should be opened by setting out the agenda and introducing the personnel involved. This should be followed by a presentation, setting out the aims of the procurement process and expected business benefits. If appropriate, there can then be a walk round of the facilities/site (note that where potential tenderers are afforded the opportunity to attend a site visit or on-the-spot inspection of documents, the time limits for the receipt of tenders must be fixed so that all potential tenderers, whether they were represented at the meeting or not, must be made aware of the information needed to produce tenders).
Then there should be a question and answer session. The overriding principle that should be applied is equality of information. Questions raised and answers provided should be confirmed in writing and sent to all tenderers whether they were represented at the meeting or not. This information should be provided not later than six working days before the tender return date, and in any case, in sufficient time for bidders to be able to act upon it.
In conjunction with the information provided, suppliers may wish to take notes of the proceedings. Suppliers' meetings will not always be necessary for every tender exercise. A judgement will have to be made, prior to the issue of the ITT, whether or not such a meeting is required, in order that it may be planned into the procurement timetable.