The Bid Process - The Main Players
The Public Sector is, by its nature, more rigid than private industry. Within private industry roles can be more easily blended to accomplish a goal. However, the public sector have different pressures.
There are two main entities within public sector procurement. These are the ‘Client’ and the ‘Procurement”. The purpose of these divisions are twofold. First the public sector is concerned with checks and balances. Second, the public sector is concerned with responsibility and accountability. The division addresses these two key elements.
The Client is known by many names such as sponsor, project authority and technical authority amongst others. The Client is responsible for the non-procurement tasks. This starts with the formation of the need and any subsequent business case and internal approval required. From there, a statement of work (or requirement definition) needs to be developed. Along with this, an estimate of the financial cost and a commitment of the funds are required. The final step in this initial process is the development of a requisition form (a written request to procurement to proceed). This process is often extensive and complex.
At the point of the transfer from development to procurement, we refer to the Client as the Project Authority to differentiate it from the Contracting Authority.
There are at least two further steps that the Project Authority is involved with. First is the evaluation of the bids under the direction of the Contracting Authority. Secondly, and equally important is at the Contract Administration phase after the contract has been awarded. The Project Authority works closes with the successful bidder and will be the first one aware of any problems. In Contract Administration, the Project Authority and the Contract Authority will work together to ensure a successful contract.
Procurement is often referred to as the Contracting Authority. He/she determines the method of supply – contracts, purchase orders, etc. and whether the procurement will be competitive or negotiated. The Contracting Authority is responsible for drafting the appropriate procurement document and proceeding with the RFP.
While the bid is active, the Contracting Authority receives all questions from potential contractors. As necessary, these questions are referred to the Project Authority for an answer. Once the response is determined, the Contracting Authority issues this to all bidders.
The work of the Contracting Authority is equally extensive. Bidders’ Conferences and Site Visits all part of its responsibility . Once the bid closes, the Contracting Authority is responsible for the evaluation of bids. For services, this involves chairing the consensus meetings, ensuring that evaluations are done properly and that the ‘winner’ is selected fairly. Subsequently the Contracting Authority may have to prepare internal approval documents in addition to preparing the contract.
Once awarded, the Contracting Authority’s responsibility does not end. He/she must ensure that the contract is completed according to the specifications and contractual conditions. This work is done with the Project Authority. Changes may require the Contracting Authority to prepare and issue amendments to the contract.
All this work done by both parties is performed under an accountability and transparency matrix. Files by both parties have to be documented closely to reflect actions and justifications for the actions.