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Published February 2009
This guide is relevant to suppliers looking to do business with Australian Government departments and agencies that are required to apply the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (the Guidelines).
The Australian Government is a large potential market for businesses of all sizes.
From advertising and cleaning services to engineering and office equipment, and from training and project management to research and recruitment—Australian Government departments and agencies purchase a wide variety of goods and services from the private sector.
As a potential supplier to the Government you need to know how procurement is undertaken, who to contact and, importantly, how to find the opportunities and submit a competitive tender.
If you are interested in doing business with the Australian Government, then this guide is your starting point. It answers basic questions on the essentials, such as:
The Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) has developed this guide to help you identify opportunities and compete for government business.
At first glance the Australian Government market might seem like a maze of different departments, restrictive processes and bewildering jargon.
However, selling to a Government agency doesn't have to be difficult if you understand your market and focus your efforts.
To successfully sell to an Australian Government agency, you need to:
The Business Entry Point  includes a glossary, which provides definitions of common terms you may come across when dealing with government. There is also a glossary of key terms at the back of this guide.
For most products, there is no single procurement market at the Australian Government level, rather a diverse range of undertakings by the many Government agencies. One exception is coordinated procurement where a whole of government approach is being adopted for selected goods and services.
There are currently more than 120 Australian Government departments, agencies, authorities and companies subject to the Guidelines. For the purposes of this guide, all these government bodies will be referred to as agencies.
While the Guidelines set out the overall framework for Australian Government procurement, individual departments and agencies are generally responsible for their own business decisions and processes.
Amongst these agencies, there are often many different areas responsible for buying private sector goods and services. This means that for most products there is no single 'government market', but many agencies effectively operating as separate markets.
There are literally thousands of people across Australia making purchasing decisions on behalf of the Australian Government.
It is worth investing the time to get to know the particular business requirements of different agencies so you can better target the most relevant markets for your business.
A good place to start your research is online. All public tender opportunities are listed on a central website, AusTender (www.tenders.gov.au  ). Agencies also have their own websites that provide information about what they do, and strategic business opportunities are included in their Annual Procurement Plan. There is an A-Z listing of government sites at www.australia.gov.au  .
While the responsibility for procurement is devolved to each agency, they are guided in their purchasing decisions by the overarching procurement policy framework.
The Guidelines are issued by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and articulate the Australian Government's procurement policy. The Guidelines provide agencies with a framework of principles and standards aimed at ensuring agencies achieve value for money in their procurement activities. Included in the Guidelines are a set of mandatory procurement procedures which must be followed when the value of the property or services being purchased exceed the thresholds set by the Australian Government.
Value for money is the core principle underpinning Australian Government procurement. The Guidelines explain how value for money is to be achieved through:
Information about the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and supporting guidance on the policy framework for Australian Government procurement is available at the Finance Website.
Value for money is not just about price. To get the best possible value for the money being spent, procurement decisions are based on an assessment of all the costs and benefits of each proposal.
A value for money assessment, based on the published conditions for participation and evaluation criteria, may include consideration of factors such as:
The Australian Government considers value for money is best achieved by adopting appropriately competitive and non-discriminatory procurement processes.
Agencies must comply with a range of mandatory obligations and procedures where the value of the goods and services they are buying exceed applicable thresholds set by the Australian Government. By following these strict procedures, agencies offer you a process that is transparent, accountable and equitable for all competing suppliers.
When purchasing, agencies also are required to comply with their own specific operational procedures and guidelines. While the details of these procedures may vary from agency to agency, all align with the overall framework provided by the Guidelines.
The value thresholds that trigger the mandatory procurement procedures that agencies need to follow vary according to the type of agency and the nature of the procurement. The thresholds for all non-construction procurements are $80 000 for FMA Act agencies and $400 000 for CAC Act agencies. The threshold for procurements of construction services is $9 million for all agencies.
Where the value of goods or services sought is below the threshold, agencies have more flexibility to decide on a procurement process appropriate to the scale, scope and relative risk of the proposed procurement. This may be:
While there are few procedural rules for procurements below the thresholds, agencies are still committed to ensuring equitable treatment of competing suppliers and achieving value for money.
Many procurements below the threshold will not be advertised publicly. It is important that officials in agencies are aware of the products, skills and capacities of the marketplace. Therefore, as a potential supplier, you need to promote your products and services as a value for money proposition for the government agency in the same way as you would when dealing with other private sector consumers.
Procedural rules apply to all procurements valued above applicable thresholds, unless covered by a specific exemption. You can expect these procedures to be applied on a consistent basis by all agencies.
The procedures are based on an underlying presumption that there will be an open approach to the market, unless certain limited circumstances apply. They allow for the following procurement methods, which are explained in the table below:
All open approaches to the market are advertised online through AusTender  . Some are also advertised in the Tender sections of major newspapers and on agency websites.
Approach to the Market
Open approach in the form of a Request for Tender.
Agencies use an open request for tender to publicly invite all potential suppliers to bid for the work:
|Agency selects a number of potential suppliers.||
Agencies may conduct a select tender process by:
|Direct approach to a single supplier or a limited number of suppliers.||
Agencies directly approach one or more potential suppliers permitted only in specific circumstances including:
When applying this procurement method, many of the procedural rules that are relevant to open tendering and select tendering are not required.
Multi-use lists are lists of all suppliers who have satisfied certain preconditions to supply particular goods or services. Multi-use lists can be established by a single agency or by multiple agencies. They are typically established for property or services that agencies procure on a regular basis. Multi-use lists must be open for new applicants continuously, or at least annually.
Request to be included on a Multi-use List
This process creates a list of pre-qualified suppliers for specified property or services:
Multi-use lists provide only a starting point as agencies must still undertake an open or select tender process to make a purchase. However, it is a useful tool available to agencies to streamline future tender processes. Agencies can decide that being listed on a multi-use list is a condition for participation for an open tender process. Agencies are permitted to undertake select tenders where they select participating suppliers from a multi-use list.
Being included on a multi-use list that is used by more than one agency may raise your profile in the broader government market. While being on a multi-use list is no guarantee of work, it does mean that agencies have recognised your capacity to provide particular goods or services. As multi-use lists can be used to conduct select tender processes, inclusion on a list could mean the difference between being invited to compete for a particular opportunity or not.
A panel is an arrangement established through a tender process, under which multiple suppliers are selected to supply agreed goods and services. Agencies may then purchase directly from suppliers on the panel, as required. As a member of a panel, you can supply goods or services that the agency needs on an ongoing or intermittent basis without the need to repeatedly participate in tender processes. Typical services provided through panels include legal, accountancy, human resources, building and maintenance, and design services.
Panels are an attractive option for many agencies because the tender process only needs to be carried out once to test the market and to establish the panel. To be included on a panel:
As a supplier, it is worth remembering that panels are often in place for multiple years and you will be held to the terms and conditions of the contract or standing offer, including any price/fee structure you quoted. While no minimum amount of work is guaranteed, being on a panel greatly improves your chance of receiving future work from the agency. It is not possible to later join an existing panel, so take the opportunities to bid for inclusion when they are first published on AusTender.
It should be noted that agencies may include a non-exclusivity clause to allow the purchase of similar services from suppliers outside the panel. However, in cases where the value of the proposed purchase exceeds the procurement threshold, the agency will be obliged to undertake a full tender process if it wishes to allow non-panel suppliers to participate.
These are procurement arrangements which involve more than one Government agency as the purchaser of property or services. Agencies may group together in a single approach to the market (described as 'clustering'). In such cases, one agency is usually nominated as the lead agency to manage the tender process and be the liaison point with suppliers. Agencies are required to advise suppliers, when they publish their approach to the market, of the potential use of the contractual arrangements by other agencies and to include relevant clauses in their draft contract. To assist potential suppliers when tendering, the lead agency should include a list of names of other participating agencies, if known, in the request for tender documents.
The other form of cooperative procurement is where one agency approaches the market but signals its intention to allow other agencies to join the contractual arrangement at a later date (described as 'piggybacking'), for the property or services specified in the approach to the market. When such requests arise, agencies should consult with their suppliers to ensure that they are willing and able to supply those property or services to the third party agency(ies).
The Australian Government will undertake coordinated procurements, from time to time, for common goods and services used by all, or most, Australian Government departments and agencies. These coordinated procurement arrangements will extend to all FMA agencies
The business process and procedures Government agencies use when purchasing from the private sector are generally similar. The scale of the process and specific approach adopted will vary depending on the scope and complexity of the job, but the roles of the agency and supplier remain essentially the same.
The following table provides a good reference point for you, at every major stage of a procurement process.
|Agency Role||Your Perspective|
|Planning the Procurement|
|The agency defines its desired outcome and specifications, identifies risks and develops its business case.||You may be approached informally by an agency that is researching the size and maturity of the market, or sounding out the availability of products and services.|
|Deciding which Process to Use|
|The agency determines which process it will use to find its supplier- this usually involves an open approach to the market, but possibly a select tender process or direct source approach.||
To give your business the best change of being considered, be sure you:
|Approaching the Market|
|The agency approaches the market using whichever process it decided was most appropriate.
The general principle is that all suppliers are provided with an equal opportunity to make a submission.
|The agency evaluates submissions in accordance with the procedures and criteria outlined in the request document, selects a preferred supplier(s), and notifies unsuccessful tenderers.||
|Concluding the Process|
|The agency concludes the procurement process by awarding a contract. This may require some final contract negotiations, and a number of accountability measures must also be complied with, such as reporting the contract through AusTender and the finalisation of records.||
|Managing the Contract|
|The agency manages the contract to ensure ongoing performance and that value for money is achieved. This may include managing contract extension options, termination or transition to a new supplier.||
You will find all forms of publicly available business opportunities advertised online through AusTender 
There are a number of basic categories of information listed on AusTender:
Search facilities on AusTender help you identify individual tenders or contracts which may be of interest. For example, you can search for relevant business opportunities based on a variety of indicators including the agency name, category of goods or services, or the closing date for submissions.
There are also links to many related government agency sites, procurement policy information, the Business Entry Point, and State and Territory Government sites.
One of AusTender's most useful features for any potential supplier to government is the subscription service that allows you to register your area of business interest. You can then receive free automatic email notifications of the latest opportunities as they are advertised. Depending on the agency involved, you may also be able to:
When you register with AusTender, it is important to specify the widest range of relevant product categories to make sure you are notified of all possible opportunities.
Approaches to the market advertised through AusTender include requests for tender (including proposals to establish panels), requests for expressions of interest and requests for applications for inclusion on a multi-use list.
Note that there are several technological requirements for viewing and downloading tender documents, and for submitting tender responses electronically.
The AusTender website is also where you will find agency annual procurement plans. Annual procurement plans are published before 1 July each year and give advance notice to potential suppliers about expected significant procurements for the forthcoming financial year. They:
The content and level of detail will vary from agency to agency.
AusTender allows you to follow procurement processes through to the stage of the contract being awarded.
Details of all contracts and standing offers valued at $10 000 or more are reported in AusTender as Contract Notices and can be viewed online. This information may be particularly useful for unsuccessful tenderers in identifying key competitors, and for general background research on what agencies are buying.
The search facility helps you identify contracts of interest. Information available includes the name of the agency and the contractor, the total contract value, contract start and end dates, and a brief description of the contract.
There are many steps you can take to understand the needs of government agencies and market your business as providing attractive, value for money solutions. You will need to invest time and resources to enter the government market with success.
Responding to agency approaches to the market is not the only way for you to sell to government.
When seeking quotes for smaller purchases, agencies may choose to approach suppliers they know.
Just like business development in the private sector, it is important to build relationships and ensure your potential government customers are aware of your capabilities and have confidence in your ability to deliver.
To help get you started, here are some basic tips on marketing to and doing business with Australian Government agencies:
A good reputation is an effective way of promoting your services within the government sector. When an agency is pleased with your goods or services, ask if you can use them as a referee for future opportunities.
Officials and suppliers should at all times aim to conduct business on the basis of mutual trust and respect.
Australian Government officials are required to buy goods and services in an ethical, accountable and transparent manner. They must not seek gifts or other favours from potential suppliers, and should follow procedures and protocols designed to ensure a fair and consistent approach to procurement activities.
Likewise, potential suppliers should not approach agency officials in a way that might be interpreted as an attempt to improperly influence agency purchasing processes.
It is not always necessary to have a direct relationship with an agency to sell to it. An important alternative way of accessing the government market is through building relationships with other businesses that are already selling or want to sell to the Australian government.
Strategic business relationships can take a number of forms and can offer substantial benefits. For example, by forming a consortium to pool resources and capabilities and submit a joint bid, you can reduce your tender costs and participate in projects you could not bid for individually.
Probably more common than joint bids are prime/sub-contractor arrangements. Under these arrangements, suppliers who are awarded prime contractor status use sub-contractors to perform some or all of the services required by the agency. Developing relationships with these prime contractors can be a relatively simple and attractive way to access the government market.
The key is to build relationships with other businesses in your industry and related industries, and make full use of your business networks. Networking can be the best way to find other suppliers to work with, but industry associations and business consultants can also act as brokers on your behalf. It is important to plan ahead—it is much easier to develop your relationships before a tender is announced than during the bidding process.
You need to understand all aspects of your strategic partnerships to make sure they work for you. It is worthwhile investigating your partner's record of supplying to government, their capabilities and key staff. Be sure to address issues such as payment arrangements, risk sharing and intellectual property before you enter into contractual arrangements that bind you to your partner.
One of the difficulties associated with marketing directly to government buyers can be how to identify which agencies might use your goods or services, and then finding the appropriate people within those agencies.
AusTender can be a useful source of information for this purpose. In addition, the Government Online Directory is another useful tool to help you understand the structure, roles and functions of the agencies that comprise the Australian Government. It provides functional descriptions of all agencies, including contact details and information on key senior staff.
The Government Online Directory can be accessed at Government Online Directory 
The Business Entry Point provides a wide range of information for businesses, particularly in relation to interactions between business and government. Information includes details about setting up and registering a business, licences and permits, and getting your business online.
Importantly, the website provides links to business opportunities and related information at the Commonwealth, State, Territory and local government levels.
The Business Entry Point also supports a government and business directory, providing contact details for a large number of government and business organisations.
The Business Entry Point can be accessed at Business Entry Point 
The Department of Defence receives many 'unsolicited proposals' from industry due to its unique business requirements. These proposals may range from small, off-the-shelf supply items to more complex capability solutions. Defence has therefore established an Unsolicited Proposals Gateway to provide a single entry point for businesses and individuals to submit their proposals to Defence.
More information, including the types of proposals accepted and processes for lodgement, is available at Unsolicited Proposals Gateway 
The Industry Capability Network is an independently managed non-profit national organisation that introduces local buyers and sellers for the development of effective supply chains using Australian and New Zealand companies. Registering with Industry Capability Network can introduce your products and services to buyers seeking competitive and capable local suppliers.
While there is no obligation for Australian Government procurement officers to use the Industry Capability Network, registering through the network may help you access business opportunities in both the public and private sectors, in Australia and internationally.
The Industry Capability Network has 24 offices located around Australia and New Zealand and all its core services are free of charge. For further information, or to contact your local Industry Capability Network office, go to Industry Capability Network 
AusIndustry delivers a range of services to Australian businesses, including grant programmes, small business services and industry support. For more information, go to AusIndustry 
The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) provides practical advice and support, including financial support, to Australian business looking to develop international markets, and can assist in accessing business opportunities in international government procurement markets. For more information, go to AusTrade 
When you have identified an opportunity to supply to the Australian Government, the next step is to compete for the business.
Of course there is no guarantee of success when competing for any business, but there are some basic rules and better practices that will help to ensure your bid for government work has the best possible chance of success. It is absolutely vital that you pay careful attention to the requirements set out in the tender documentation.
Tender documents will usually include some, if not all, of the following elements:
|Tender Content||What does that mean?|
|A description of the procurement||
The request document describes the goods or services being procured. The description should include:
|Conditions for participation||
The conditions for participation are the minimum requirements you must meet to be considered for the work. Agencies include these to make sure you have the legal, financial, technical and/or commercial capabilities to perform the contract. Some examples are:
|Evaluation criteria and methodology||
Your submission will be assessed against the evaluation criteria.
The evaluation criteria will provide critical guidance on what you need to demonstrate to win the business.
Evaluation criteria are often weighted according to their relative importance, and of course will vary from tender to tender.
Some examples are:
|Minimum content and format requirements||
Minimum content and format requirements explain what information your tender response should contain and the format that you need to use. For example:
Process rules relate to how the tender will be run. For example:
|The draft contract||
A draft contract is usually included in tender documents to allow you to clearly understand the requirements of the agency:
Agencies will typically provide a draft contract as part of the tender documents. Draft contracts will include a number of requirements relating to public liability and professional indemnity insurance, confidentiality of both contractor and agency information, auditor access to contractor records, conflicts of interest, and the use of sub-contractors (where applicable). Agencies will generally ask that you indicate your preparedness to accept the terms of the contract. It is your responsibility to negotiate any variations to contract clauses before you sign.
The following checklist presents some key points to consider when preparing your tender submission.
Participating in tender processes can involve substantial costs with no guarantee of success. Take the time to determine whether each opportunity is potentially rewarding and cost-effective to pursue, based on whether you have a reasonable chance of winning the business.
It may sound simple, but be sure to read the tender documents carefully, highlight key points, and seek clarification from the agency contact if you are uncertain about any issue. For example, are you required to quote prices inclusive or exclusive of Goods and Services Tax?
To be fully informed, whenever an industry briefing is offered make every attempt to attend. Industry briefings provide an opportunity to ask questions and understand the process in depth. They allow you to make direct contact with the agency representative in charge of the tender process.
Late tenders will not be accepted, so make sure you know where and when your tender must be lodged. If you need to form a consortium or engage sub-contractors to complete the work, be sure to allow others enough time to provide input into the tender submission.
There is no standard format for tender responses—they vary depending on the nature and complexity of the procurement. However, you will always need to complete any mandatory forms and follow suggested formatting style or templates and schedules provided. Your tender will be evaluated on content, not extravagant presentation. It is also a good idea to use simple, straightforward language and keep to the point.
It is extremely important to demonstrate that you comply with all specified conditions for participation, and that you address all the evaluation criteria and any other specified requirements. Make sure you can comply with the terms and conditions of the draft contract. Remember, if you do not address the evaluation criteria, there is no point in submitting a tender response.
Value for money is the key consideration of government agencies. Price is obviously important, but so too are service standards, quality, performance and whole-of-life costs. Always bid competitively the first time; you will probably not be given a chance to improve your offer later in the process. Equally, don't underprice to win the work assuming you will be able to extend the value of the contract or increase your price once the contract is signed—you will be expected to hold to the price you have quoted.
Think about how you would evaluate your tender against the evaluation criteria if you were the official responsible for assessing tender responses. You may wish to emphasise areas where you exceed the requirements, and where you feel you can add value for the agency. Your tender will usually be competing against several alternative proposals, so be sure to clearly identify potential points of difference from your competitors.
Agencies can not accept your bid if it is submitted after the deadline, unless the delay is due solely to mishandling by the agency. It is therefore vital that your bid is submitted by the deadline for submissions.
Of course, not all tender responses can be successful, no matter how good they are. However, the experience of an unsuccessful tender should not be a signal to give up on doing business with government. Rather, consider an unsuccessful tender process as a chance to learn and improve your offering for the next business opportunity.
Debriefing sessions are an important part of any tender process. The primary purpose of a debriefing is to enable potential suppliers to submit more competitive bids in the future. They can be a valuable source of information on the strengths and weaknesses of your tender and help you prepare better responses to future tenders.
Many agencies will offer debriefing sessions to unsuccessful tenderers as a matter of course. If not, agencies will provide debriefings on request.
Comparative aspects of the winning offer, or any other offer, cannot be discussed—the purpose of a debriefing session is not to justify the selection of the successful tender, rather it is to give you feedback on your response.
Issues that may be discussed at debriefings include:
Debriefings may help you identify real problems with your product, service or pricing, as well as concerns that can be addressed when you prepare submissions to future tenders.
To make the most of a tender debriefing session, prepare in advance by reviewing your tender against the evaluation criteria and scope of work set out in the request documentation. Consider any specific questions you wish to ask.
During the debriefing, take note of all issues covered and clarify any points that are not entirely clear. If the agency undertakes to get back to you on a particular issue, ask for a contact name and number so you can follow up if necessary.
Remember that you may have other opportunities to do business with the agency in the future. Take a positive approach to the debriefing, and treat it as an opportunity to continue to build your relationship with the agency.
After a tender process is over, you may have concerns that it was in some way flawed or the evaluation was inaccurate or unfair. Such concerns can stem from poor communication, leading to misunderstandings or misconceptions about aspects of the tender process. For this reason it is always a good idea to raise your concerns informally with the agency before making a formal complaint.
A possible process for pursuing concerns or complaints relating to procurement processes is set out below.
If you haven't already received a debriefing session, you are entitled to request one. The feedback and information provided at the debriefing session may help to alleviate your concerns, and the meeting will give you an opportunity to raise specific questions with the people responsible for running the tender process.
If, after the tender debrief, you would like to follow up on a particular issue, the agency responsible for the procurement process is always your first point of contact. Approaching the tender contact officer informally will often prove sufficient, but if you are unsatisfied with the response, you can put your concerns in writing to the agency�s Chief Executive for a more formal review. Agencies then typically undertake an internal review of the procurement process, using senior officers not previously involved with the procurement. Be aware, however, that unless there are exceptional circumstances, your challenge is unlikely to change the tender outcome.
If you believe you have taken your concern/complaint as far as possible with the procuring agency, but remain unsatisfied, the Commonwealth Ombudsman has extensive powers to investigate procurement related complaints. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can make recommendations regarding the procurement process and decision, but cannot overturn the decision or specifically direct an agency to do so. If the Ombudsman's office cannot assist with a complaint, it will explain why and suggest other avenues for resolving the matter. The Ombudsman's website is Commonwealth Ombudsman 
The primary external review mechanism is the civil legal system, which can be used to settle disputes through a formal judicial process. A legal challenge is a serious and potentially costly step, and would obviously not be undertaken lightly or without professional legal advice. Litigation relating to Australian Government procurement processes is relatively rare.
As a potential supplier, you have the right to be treated fairly, impartially, consistently and equitably throughout the procurement process. You also have the right to have complaints investigated promptly and without disadvantage. Making a legitimate complaint should not prejudice your involvement in ongoing or future procurement processes.
Equally, as a supplier, you have a responsibility to attempt to resolve concerns or complaints directly with the agency involved before seeking external intervention. You are also expected not to waste time and resources by making frivolous complaints, for example in an attempt to derail a procurement process or win a contract by means other than the merits of your offering.Agencies and suppliers should at all times aim to conduct business on a basis of mutual trust and respect.
For most products, there is no single Australian Government procurement market. Individual agencies are responsible for their own procurement processes and outcomes. Responsibility for purchasing is typically spread throughout the agency, which means there may be many buyers in any one agency.
The government market has some unique features. Some aspects of doing business with the government (such as how your con?dential information will be treated and the potential need for auditors to access your records and premises) are different to what you would encounter with private sector buyers. You may need to make some adjustments from your normal business practices.
The Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines is the most important policy document covering Australian Government procurement, but individual agencies have their own rules to back up these guidelines at the practical level. The key focus is always on value for money and the equitable treatment of competing suppliers.
For business opportunities below thresholds set in the Guidelines, agencies can determine a process appropriate to the scale, scope and risk of the proposed procurement..
For business opportunities above the relevant threshold, there is a more comprehensive set of rules, including the presumption of an open approach to the market.
Gain a basic understanding of the Australian Government�s procurement policies and processes.
Carefully read the tender documents as they should tell you everything you need to know about a particular process.
Gather background knowledge on the specific agency.
All publicly available business opportunities are advertised through the AusTender system at AusTender 
You can register with AusTender and receive automatic emails about relevant business opportunities as they are advertised.
Agencies publish their annual procurement plans on AusTender. The plans provide a strategic procurement outlook and detail specific procurements planned for the coming year.
You can search AusTender for awarded contracts and standing offers valued at $10 000 or more. This can help you to find out who is buying what and which agencies you should be targeting.
Not all business opportunities are publicly advertised. For smaller purchases, below the covered procurement thresholds, agencies are permitted to approach suppliers directly. This provides additional opportunities to sell to government, but first agencies will need to know what you do and be confident you have the capability to supply.
Register with AusTender and get to know the website and the opportunities it presents.
Try to identify which agencies might have a need for your goods or services, as well as the buyers within those agencies. Agency websites and the Government Online Directory can be good sources of information on what agencies do and how they operate.
Provide agency buyers with relevant information about your business so they know what sets you apart from your competitors (but don't put them off with a flood of advertising material).
Maintain contact with agencies to ensure you know when relevant opportunities arise, and they know your credentials and what you have to offer.
Understand the Government's business environment
Understand each agency's specific requirements and business needs.
Agencies look for suppliers who can add the most value to their activities, so try to emphasise what sets you apart from your competitors.
Agencies cannot accept late submissions.
Agencies cannot evaluate submissions that do not meet the required conditions.
If you do not meet all the conditions for participation or address the evaluation criteria, your submission cannot be evaluated.
As a general rule, the best value for money proposition from a reliable supplier
will win the business.
Before you invest time and resources in preparing a tender, decide whether the opportunity is potentially rewarding and cost-effective to pursue, and if you have a reasonable chance of winning the business.
Build relationships with agencies and make sure they are aware of your capabilities and your ability to perform—as many lower-value purchases are not advertised publicly, your reputation in the marketplace may be the key to accessing these opportunities.
Consider the benefits of strategic partnerships and sub-contracting arrangements for reducing your tender costs and gaining access to the market.
When submitting a tender, be sure you comply with all the specified conditions.
Ensure that your tender is submitted on time, otherwise the agency will not accept your submission.
Make sure you have read and can comply with the terms and conditions of a contract before you sign. The government may have specific requirements and conditions that differ from those you are familiar with in the private sector.
If you are unsuccessful in a tender process, ask for a debriefing and treat it as an opportunity to improve future bids and build your relationship with the agency.
If you have a concern or complaint about a tender process, approach the agency involved. If necessary, put your concerns in writing to allow the agency to respond formally.
The Government Online Directory  is a useful tool to assist in understanding the structure, roles and business activities of the agencies that make up the Australian Government.
Many industry associations offer various forms of assistance to members in their business activities and dealings with government. There are also business consultants
in the marketplace who specialise in helping suppliers to win government business.
Annual Procurement Plan (APP) - a planning tool through which agencies provide a short summary of the strategic procurement outlook for the coming year and information on specific procurements they plan to undertake. APPs are published on AusTender before 1 July each year.
Approach to the market - any notice inviting potential suppliers to participate in a procurement. This may include a request for tender, request for expression of interest, or request for application for inclusion on a multi-use list.
Australian Government - this guide relates to the procurement activities of the Australian Government; it does not relate to the activities of State, Territory or local government bodies.
CAC Act - the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 . Bodies subject to section 47A of the CAC Act are included in references to 'agencies' for the purposes of this guide.
Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines - (the Guidelines) – the principal policy document that sets out the framework governing Australian Government procurement activity. The Guidelines are available at www.finance.gov.au under the Procurement menu, along with a range of other policy guidance material and related information.
Conditions for participation - the minimum conditions you must meet to participate in a procurement process or for your submission to be considered.
Covered procurement – a procurement, other than one that is specifically exempt, where the value of the property or services being procured exceeds the specified financial thresholds in the Guidelines. Covered procurements must comply with the mandatory procurement procedures.
Deadline for submissions – the precise time and date by which submissions must be received.
Direct sourcing – a procurement process, available only under certain defined circumstances, in which an agency may contact a single potential supplier or suppliers of its choice and for which only a limited set of mandatory procurement procedures apply.
Evaluation criteria – the criteria used to evaluate the compliance and/or relative ranking of tender responses. All evaluation criteria must be clearly stated in the request documentation.
Expression of interest – a response to an open approach to the market requesting submissions from businesses interested in participating in a procurement. The list of potential suppliers who have submitted expressions of interest may be used as the basis for conducting a select tender process.
FMA Act - the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 . All agencies governed by the FMA Act are included in references to 'agencies' for the purposes of this guide.
Mandatory procurement procedures - a set of procedures, outlined in Division 2 of the Guidelines, which must be followed by agencies conducting a procurement valued over the thresholds specified in the Guidelines
Multi-use list - a list, intended for use in more than one procurement process, of pre-qualified businesses who have satisfied the conditions for participation for inclusion on the list.
Open tender process – a procurement procedure where a request for tender is published inviting all businesses that satisfy the conditions for participation to submit tenders.
Panel – an arrangement under which a number of suppliers may each supply agreed property or services to an agency for a set period of operation and as specified in the panel arrangements.
Request for applications for a multi-use list – a published notice inviting businesses to apply for inclusion on a multi-use list. The notice must be published on AusTender, either continuously or at least once per year.
Request for expressions of interest – a published notice inviting businesses to register
an expression of interest in a procurement.
Request for tender – a published notice inviting businesses who satisfy the conditions for participation to submit a tender in accordance with requirements of the request for tender and other request documentation.
Select tender process – a procurement procedure in which the procuring agency invites specific potential suppliers to submit tenders. For procurements with a value greater than the relevant specified threshold, a select tender process may only be conducted in accordance with certain procedures and circumstances set out in Division 2 of the Guidelines.
SME – small and medium enterprises, defined for the purposes of the Guidelines as an Australian or New Zealand firm with fewer than 200 full time equivalent employees.
Standing offer – often referred to as deeds of standing offer, these arrangements set out the terms and conditions, including indicative pricing, under which a supplier agrees to supply specified goods or services to an agency for a specified period.
Thresholds – the value above which a procurement, unless exempt, is subject to the mandatory procurement procedures. The procurement threshold for all non-construction services procurements is $80 000 for FMA Act agencies and $400 000 for CAC Act agencies, rising to $9 million in both cases for procurements of construction services.
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Contact for information on this page: Procurement Agency Advice