Are you ready for government tender season?

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With the Victorian COVID budget on the horizon, we’re predicting a busy government tender season during November and December. Here are some strategies for getting ‘tender ready’ to make the most of it.

The final run to Christmas in 2020 will be like no other we’ve ever known. After a difficult year, most of us are looking forward to taking a holiday. But we still need to navigate November and December, which is a period when traditionally a lot of government tenders are released.

This year is unlikely to be any different. In fact, given the COVID factor, I am forecasting a very busy government tender season ahead.

government tenders

The Victorian government is expected to release its 2020/21 budget in early November. This will include a number of projects to stimulate Victoria’s economy. My prediction is that government will want to progress these projects sooner rather than later, meaning procurement activity is likely to begin immediately after budget announcements.

Following the November budget, I understand that government will revert to the conventional May budget cycle. While the November budget is expected to be a high-spending budget, I suspect the May 2021/22 budget could be more subdued.

Nonetheless, departments will be under pressure to meet their budget targets now, while gearing up for another budget in six months’ time. They will be more likely to get future funding if they have delivered against existing budget outcomes.

So, we can expect a high level of government procurement activity in November and December. A large number of government tenders will be released, ready for submission and evaluation in mid to late January.

Tender season: Forewarned is forearmed

The good news is that you are now forewarned and can get yourself forearmed in time to negotiate government tender season and save your summer holiday.

One thing in your favour is that government procurement officers often build in a couple of extra weeks of response time at this time of the year. They are aware that responding to government tenders during November-December can be a challenge to businesses.

This is due to government policies that stipulate any market approach must be designed around fair and equitable treatment of suppliers. They need to generate maximum participation (and hence the best outcome for government) – including providing sufficient time for potential suppliers to prepare an appropriate submission.

But the additional time is not guaranteed (even though it was once standard practice). Besides, two weeks doesn’t always go very far during the silly season. There are, however, other things you can do to get ‘tender ready’ and prepare ahead of time.

Use forward procurement plans to predict what tenders might be released:

Our state and federal governments publish their 12 month forward procurement plans online for those departments and agencies that are budget funded (for the Victorian government see buyingfor.vic.gov.au). For any planned Q4 releases of interest, try to get detail or predict the proposed dates for market approaches (for example quote or tender), procurement releases and tender deadlines.

However, since COVID many of these haven’t been updated. It’s likely that the procurements that haven’t progressed are waiting for budget approval, so read the forward procurement plans against the budget. This will give you a good idea of what to expect.

NOTE: Since forward procurement plans describe the proposed market approach, it’s your job to make sure you are on the right prequalification registers to be eligible to receive quotations.

Finally, and particularly for construction and works procurements, regularly review the Advanced Tender Notice page on Tenders.vic.gov.au. This can provide up to eight weeks’ notification of government tenders and expressions of interest that are to be released, as well as any prequalification requirements.

Communicate with your government contacts to find out what’s coming up:

If you have a government engagement strategy and implement it effectively, you will have developed good relationships with key government personnel within the agencies and departments that are of interest to your business. Talk to these contacts now to discover whether any relevant procurements are to be released during November and December, and find out the timelines and method.

If you don’t have established relationships with key contacts within government, this highlights one reason why it’s a good idea to build them using a well thought out government engagement strategy. Be active not passive in your engagement with government to build a sustainable government practice. For further information, contact us or see our post How to create a Government Engagement Strategy.

Investigate when existing contracts are due for retendering:

Government publishes a lot of information on existing contracts and when their terms are coming to a close. You can investigate the expiry and likely retender dates of contracts you are interested in via government contract websites – such as Austender (federal) and the contracts section of tenders.vic.gov.au (Victorian Government). Also see our post on How to become an incumbent supplier to government.

Prepare for social procurement:

These days, social procurement is an important facet of most government tenders, even if the procurement value is below the mandatory thresholds. So take the time to get your business ‘social procurement ready’.

An additional requirement that you may see under social procurement is the ‘Working for Victoria’ policy announced on 18 May 2020. The Working for Victoria platform helps find jobs for job seekers displaced due to COVID. Under this policy, some government procurements specify any additional resources required for the contract be sourced from this pool.

So, get together your policies on employment and equal opportunity, make sure you have a policy on gender equality and family violence, and consider how you can build social enterprises into your supply chain. Also consider direct employment from Working for Victoria or employment agencies that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and disadvantaged Victorians.

See our post Social Procurement Policies: What we have learnt 12 months on for some tips.

Get your documentation ready:

Finally, get the rest of your documentation in order. Update your capability statements with references, case studies, and enhancements to your methodology and customer service. Confirm other requirements that are often mandatory, such as work health safety and quality management.

The more prepared you can be for what will almost certainly be a busy tender season, the better!

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