Tender Procedure

Document Number000947
Date Approved14 October 2011
Date Last Amended13 June 2012
     

1.      Context

This procedure supports the University's Procurement Policy and outlines the process which must be followed for the procurement of all goods and services for the University of Newcastle valued at over $150,000 (GST exclusive) or any procurement which is assessed as presenting a significant risk, regardless of the source of funding.  This includes capital works for the construction and improvement of facilities, IT projects and infrastructure as well as professional services and independent contractors.

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Procurement Policy as well as the Purchasing Procedure and Quotation Procedure.

 

2.      Relevant Definitions

In the context of this document:

bid shopping means the practice of playing one potential supplier or bidder against another to obtain a lower price, either before or after the submission of a quotation or tender;

procurement means the overarching activities and processes undertaken to acquire goods and services for the University;

procurement strategy means the defined and structured way in which the University will approach the market and conduct the tender process for any given procurement, taking into account risk and the nature of the goods or services;

tender means an offer made in writing in response to an invitation to supply goods or to perform a service as set out in the relevant specification and tender documentation; and

tenderer means any entity submitting a tender to the University.

 

3.      Procedure

Tendering

i. A competitive tender process will be conducted for the procurement of all goods and services valued at over $150,000 (GST exclusive) or any procurement which is assessed as presenting a significant risk to the University. 

ii. Procurement of goods and services cannot be split into parts or instalments to fall below the tender threshold value. 

Tender planning

iii. The tender process will be informed by Commercial Services' strategic sourcing framework that is based on the stages of definition, measurement, analysis, implementation and control (DMAIC).   

iv. A procurement strategy will be developed by Commercial Services and approved by an authorised officer(s) to ensure that the University acts with intent to proceed, clear tender specifications and available funding  in accordance with the Procurement Policy.

v. The University uses a variety of approaches to tendering, sometimes in a staged process, and the most appropriate will be determined as part of the procurement strategy according to the nature of the specific procurement.  Consideration will be given to the following:

  • Call for Registration (CFR);
  • Expression of Interest (EOI);
  • Request for Information (RFI);
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ);
  • Request for Proposal (RFP); and
  • Request for Tender (RFT).

vi. A Call for Registration is an approach to market used by the University to seek details about potential suppliers of a good or service.

vii. An Expression of Interest is used primarily to determine the market's ability or desire to meet the University's procurement need following which the University may need to collect additional information to make procurement decisions.  An EOI is not an invitation to bid, is not binding on either party and is usually followed by a selective Request for Tender based on a more detailed specification.

viii. A Request for Information is commonly used on major procurements particularly if the University's requirements could potentially be met through several alternate means.  A RFI is not an invitation to bid, is not binding on either party and in some circumstances may be followed by a selective RFT, RFP or RFQ.

ix. A Request for Quotation is used when detailed specifications of a good or service are known and competitive bids are to be evaluated mainly on price.

x. A Request for Proposal is used to directly purchase goods or services when the University clearly understands its business needs but does not have defined details of the solution.  This approach is often used for the procurement of professional services or as part of information and communication technology projects.

xi. A Request for Tender is used when the University is seeking potential suppliers for a scope of work that has been designed and specified in detail.  A RFT is often used for building and construction works and evaluation is based on price and a range of technical factors.

Exemptions to tender

xii. Certain circumstances may justify or necessitate an exemption to the University's tender procedures such as:

  • existing contractual arrangements for the same or similar goods and services;
  • functional, technical, logistic and/or geographic requirements;
  • alternative procurement methods offer better value for money and/or lower cost, risk and complexity; and/or
  • there is a sole supplier in the market.

xiii. An exemption to tender may be approved by the Vice-Chancellor or Chief Financial Officer on the recommendation of the Associate Director, Commercial Services provided that there is adequate documentation to support the request.

Tender documentation

xiv. Tender documentation will be prepared by the relevant business areas and Commercial Services to clearly and accurately specify the:

  • statement of work in relation to the goods or services - based on performance, design or quality according to the nature of the procurement;
  • evaluation criteria to be used in the assessment and comparison of potential suppliers - commercial, technical, quality and cost/price including both mandatory and desirable criteria;
  • structure/format of responses from potential suppliers; 
  • draft contract to be executed (wherever possible); and
  • conditions of tendering including details of submission.

xv. The weighting of evaluation criteria will be determined using supply positioning methodology that considers strategic risk and value to the University.  Tender documentation must clearly indicate the relative importance of each of the evaluation criteria and similarly, the overall importance of commercial, technical and cost/price should also be weighted (totalling 100%).  Although weightings must be agreed before tender documents are issued, they do not need to be shared with potential suppliers.

xvi. Tender documentation must be written such that it does not unduly limit the range of potential suppliers.  In this regard, the University does not generally use external consultants to prepare tender documentation.  However if this is considered necessary for a particular procurement, it should be discussed with the Associate Director, Commercial Services to ensure the tender process remains open, fair and competitive.

xvii. All tender documentation must be completed prior to advertising or issuing the tender in accordance with the University's templates and standard documents unless otherwise approved by the Associate Director, Commercial Services.

Issue of tenders

xviii. All tender documents must be issued by Commercial Services to potential suppliers on request or via the University's electronic tendering system.  Commercial Services will record details of potential suppliers to whom documents are issued.

xix. For some tenders, the University may wish to separately advertise the tender in the most appropriate media for the goods or services being procured.  In such cases the tender advertisements must be approved by the Associate Director, Commercial Services.

xx. Potential suppliers will be given the same tender documentation including any background, supplementary or amendment material given out to any other potential supplier at any time during the tender process.

xxi. The University reserves the right to charge potential suppliers a fee for tender documents in exceptional circumstances where the tender documents are extensive and detailed.  Any such fee must be approved by the Vice-Chancellor on the recommendation of the Associate Director, Commercial Services.

Communication during the tender process

xiv.  Communications during the tender process, including any pre-tender briefings/ presentations and site inspections, will be handled with due regard for probity -potential suppliers will receive the same information and no single supplier will be given a potentially unfair advantage.  This includes clarifications on any aspect of the tender unless there are reasons relating to confidentiality or intellectual property.  

xv.  Enquiries about any tenders will be handled and recorded by a nominated officer in Commercial Services.  Phone enquiries will be received but wherever possible all enquiries should be directed in writing via the University's electronic tendering system.

Submission of tenders

xvi. Tenders must be submitted in accordance with the University's conditions of tendering which will generally include the following principles:

  • tenders must be submitted at the specified location by the specified closing date and time;
  • tender documents submitted will become the property of the University;
  • the University is not bound to accept the lowest or any tender; and
  • acceptance of a tender may be whole or in part and is conditional upon execution of a contract or purchase order acceptable to the University.

xvii. Tenders must be submitted via the University's electronic tendering system unless otherwise approved by the Associate Director, Commercial Services.

xviii. The Associate Director, Commercial Services may in exceptional circumstances approve the extension of the tender closing date in which case all potential suppliers will be notified in writing.

Receipt and registration of tender responses

xix. The University's electronic tender box will be opened by two staff members in Commercial Services as soon as practical after the stated closing date and time for the submission of tenders.  Each tender response will be date stamped and initialled by the two staff members and a register of all tender submissions will be established.

Assessment of tender responses

xx. The technical aspects of tender responses will be assessed by a Tender Assessment Panel.  The Tender Assessment Panel will consist of at least three members appointed by the Associate Director, Commercial Services. 

For construction- related procurements, membership will consist of:

  • a subject matter expert who is familiar with the procurement requirements; and
  • at least two staff from Facilities Management.

For all other procurements, membership will consist of:

  • at least two subject matter experts who are familiar with the procurement requirements (one of whom may be from Commercial Services if appropriate) ; and
  • at least one key stakeholder as appropriate.

xxi. The Tender Assessment Panel will be chaired by a staff member from Commercial Services.  The Chair will facilitate the proceedings of the Tender Assessment Panel however does not complete a technical assessment.

xxii. The Tender Assessment Panel will be convened by Commercial Services to assess all of the tender responses in accordance with the tender methodology and evaluation criteria as specified in the approved procurement strategy.  Commercial Services supports this part of the process by providing the University's tender evaluation tools, providing advice as needed, coordinating the assessment and preparing reports and recommendations for approval.

xxiii. All members of the Tender Assessment Panel, as well as any Commercial Services staff involved in the tender assessment, are required to maintain confidentiality and to disclose any conflict of interest - perceived, potential or actual.  Each person will be required to sign a Conflict of Interest Declaration Form and Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality Deed.

xxiv. The tender responses will be assessed using an evaluation matrix and the "two envelope" system whereby the technical aspects will be evaluated by the Tender Assessment Panel before commercial schedules are reviewed by Commercial Services.  These two main criteria will be weighted as agreed in the approved procurement strategy.

xxv. In the event that two tender responses are assessed as being equal after negotiations have been completed in accordance with University guidelines, the successful one will be selected by following the processes in the order listed:

  • the first of the two tenders received;
  • local contractor in preference to contractor from outside the region. 

xxvi. For engagements that:

  • are long-term or recurring;
  • are construction contracts valued at more than $500,000; and/or
  • present a significant risk to the University
    the financial viability and stability of the potential supplier(s) will be assessed.  This financial check may be completed by University staff or by an external agent at the request of the University.  In all cases the potential suppliers' financial statements will be treated confidentially.

xxvii. The Tender Assessment Panel's recommendation about the potential supplier will be clearly established and documented with reference to the agreed evaluation criteria using the University's template reports.

xxviii. The Tender Assessment Panel's recommendation should be unanimous however, in the event that there is a material and unreasonable difference between the rankings and evaluation by the members, the matter will be referred to the Associate Director, Commercial Services for advice. 

Negotiations with tenderers

xxix. Negotiations with shortlisted or recommended suppliers regarding the commercial terms and conditions of their engagements may be undertaken by the Associate Director, Commercial Services or their authorised nominee only at the end of the assessment of tenders. 

xxx. Negotiations will be undertaken in accordance with the University's Negotiation Guidelines and Framework to achieve an agreement that is fair, durable, meets the needs of both parties and maintains or improves the relationship between the parties.  The University will not attempt to lower the price by negotiating or trading between shortlisted or recommended suppliers.  The University will not engage in the practice of bid shopping.

Assurance of probity of tender process

xxxi. The Tender Assessment Panel's recommendation will be reviewed by the Associate Director, Commercial Services to ensure that the tender process has been conducted in accordance with the approved procurement strategy as well as the University's policies and procedures. 

xxxii. The Associate Director, Commercial Services will provide an assurance regarding the probity of the tender process and will forward the recommendation to the authorised delegate(s) for approval.

xxxiii. In the event that the Associate Director, Commercial Services has concerns or identifies issues in relation to the probity of the process, the matter will be referred to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Services) for advice and action. 

Rescission of a tender

xxxiv. At any point in the tender process, the University may wish to rescind a tender that has been put to market - particularly if the scope of work has significantly changed or the approved procurement strategy is no longer considered appropriate.  The Vice-Chancellor or Chief Financial Officer may approve the rescission of a University tender on the recommendation of the Associate Director, Commercial Services.

Approval of recommended tenderer

xxxv. The recommendation of the Tender Assessment Panel and the Associate Director, Commercial Services will be forwarded to the authorised delegates for approval to award the contract in accordance with the table below (as extracted from the Procurement, Purchasing and Expenditure Delegation Schedule).

Value of Engagement

Authorised Delegates

Over $5 million

Executive Committee of Council

Up to $5 million

Chancellor or Deputy Chancellor; and

Vice-Chancellor; and

Chief Financial Officer

Plus one of the following:

Chair, Finance Committee

Chair, Strategic Development Committee

Up to $1 million

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer

Up to $750,000

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer

Up to $500,000

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer

Up to $250,000

Financial Delegate – Level 1

and one of the following:

Financial Controller, AD, Management Accounting or

AD, Treasury

 

Up to $100,000

Financial Delegate – Level 2

and one of the following:

Financial Controller, AD, Management Accounting or

AD, Treasury

*  Level 1 and 2 Financial Delegates will be maintained in the University's finance system (per section 5.5 xxxi of the Delegation of Authority Policy).

xxxvi. Any tender contract will only be awarded if the value of the engagement is within an approved budget or source of funds.  If the value of the engagement exceeds the approved budget or source of funds, the funding will be reviewed in accordance with the Financial Management Delegation Schedule.  This will be done in a timely manner to ensure that the tender process is not unduly delayed.

xxxvii. In the event that the recommendation of the Tender Assessment Panel and the Associate Director, Commercial Services is not accepted by the authorised delegates, the matter will be referred to the Chief Financial Officer who will form an independent committee of three members (including the Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee) to review the tender process and recommendation.  This independent committee will make a final determination in relation to the tender.

Advising tenderers of the outcome

xxxviii. Commercial Services will advise the approved tenderer in writing that their tender has been accepted conditional upon execution of a contract which is satisfactory to the University.
 
xxxix. All other tenderers will be notified in writing by Commercial Services that they have been unsuccessful. 

xl. The University will not be required to provide any information to the unsuccessful tenderers other than the name of the successful tenderer.  However, if an unsuccessful tenderer requests a debriefing, the Associate Director, Commercial Services has the discretion to provide more detailed feedback in terms of their performance against the evaluation criteria (but not in comparison to the successful tenderer).

Execution of contract

xli. In most cases, the tender process will require the execution of a contract between the University and the successful tenderer.  Wherever possible the University will provide the draft contract as part of the tender documentation.'

xlii. The Associate Director, Commercial Services will be responsible for ensuring that the contract to be executed reflects the negotiated terms and conditions. 

xliii. Legal Services must review all contracts to be signed and must specifically approve any variations to standard University contracts.  

xliv. The contract may be executed by authorised delegates in accordance with the Contracts and Agreements Delegation Schedule and a signed copy must be retained by Commercial Services and the Records Management Office.

Performance of suppliers

xvi. Poor performance on the part of a supplier or contractor should be reported to Commercial Services. 

Complaints resolution

xlv. Any complaints arising from the University's procurement activities will be handled by the Complaints Management Unit in accordance with the University's Complaints Resolution Policy and Procedure.

4.      Audit, compliance and review

4.1 The implementation of and compliance with this procedure will be periodically   audited as part of the University's internal audit cycle.

4.2 Failure to comply with the provisions of this procedure and the relevant    delegations will be taken very seriously.  University staff found to be in    breach of this procedure may be subject to disciplinary action. 

4.3 This procedure will be reviewed by the Chief Financial Officer at least once every three years with advice from the Associate Director, Commercial Services.

 

5.      Essential Supporting Documents

Conflict of Interest Policy
Delegation of Authority Policy and Delegation Schedules
Procurement Policy
Purchasing Procedure
Quotation Procedure
Tender process templates - refer to Financial Services website

 

6.      Related Documents

Code of Conduct
 Complaints Resolution Policy and Procedure
Negotiation Guidelines and Framework

Approval AuthorityVice-Chancellor
Date Approved14 October 2011
Date Last Amended13 June 2012
Date for Review14 October 2014
Policy SponsorChief Financial Officer
Policy OwnerAssociate Director, Commercial Services
Policy ContactAssociate Director, Commercial Services
Amendment History

Updating of Clause xxxiv to reflect change of approval from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Services) to Chief Financial Officer , approved Vice-Chancellor 13 June 2012.

Minor amendment - Change of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Services) to Chief Financial Officer with the move of Commercial Services to Finance, Governance and Policy, 12 June 2012.