Route 3 - 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 ambiguous, it might be prudent to request clarification. For example, if the tender has asked for services to be completed daily and a tenderer responds that the services will be completed seven times per week, you would seek clarification that the services are indeed completed once per day. 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, clarifications  can be recorded on the system in the messaging area. 

Negotiations in relation to price, essential aspects of the tender or other areas where bid improvements may be possible must not take place as part of the clarification process.

The Procurement Officer should give all tenderers who 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 fradulent 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?

  • Are there similar tenders with a large price discrepancy between different tenderers?  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

  • Were late tenders accepted and if so was there a legitimate reason?

Abnormally Low Tenders

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

These clarifications may relate, in particular, to the following:

  • the cost of the manufacturing process of the services provided

  • the proposed technical solutions or any exceptionally favourable conditions available to the tenderer

  • the originality of the supplies or services proposed by the tenderer

  • the tenderer’s compliance with applicable obligations in environmental, social or labour law

  • the tenderer’s subcontracting arrangements

  • the possibility of the tenderer obtaining state aid

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 International Agreements, the tender MUST be rejected.

Where it is established that a tender is abnormally low because the bidder has obtained State Aid, the tender may only be rejected on that ground alone after consultation with the bidder and where the bidder is unable to prove within a sufficient time limit that the aid is not compatible with the internal market.

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.

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


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