Rapid responses to queries and complaints about live tenders
There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.
#10 Tender Advisory Service
An outlet for suppliers to raise concerns in relation to a live tender process carried out by the Office of Government Procurement or other public body.
The Tender Advisory Service (TAS) liaises with potential suppliers and contracting authorities to clarify or query tender documentation. It makes suggestions to contracting authorities on how to resolve the issues before the closing date for the tender.
The SFA and other organisations have highlighted the difficulties that small companies face in competing for public contracts. The TAS is designed as an easy-to-access service to answer queries and provide clarifications to these companies. In most cases, a response is provided within three days, giving support to potential applicants while the tender is still open.
If you have a query or complaint in relation to a Request for Tender (RFT) that has been published by the Office of Government Procurement or other public body, the first step is to avail of the query/clarification option detailed in the RFT.
If you are not satisfied with the response, or you have not received one, you can contact the TAS. This is done by filling out the short Standard Enquiry Form and emailing it to the TAS (email@example.com) – any relevant correspondence with the contracting authority should be included. The TAS can also be contacted by phone on 076 100 8000.
Following their review, the TAS may answer the query directly, direct more complex questions to the contracting authority for a reply to be issued to all interested parties or suggest improvements/changes to information contained in the tender documentation.
If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:
- The query must relate to a live tender. The RFT must be published and the company must have registered as an interested party.
- The latest an interested party can contact the TAS is six days before the closing date for receipt of tenders. However, the earlier the query is submitted the better.
- The service is free of charge.
- The TAS is an informal service. It does not have the right to investigate or instruct or overturn a decision by a contracting authority but, in accordance with best practice, the contracting authority should comply. Availing of the TAS does not affect your access to the Remedies Legislation.
- If the TAS requires more than 3 days to respond, it may propose for the closing date for receipt of tenders to be extended.
- TAS will ensure that any enquiry that a supplier has made will be handled in good faith and will not be used to disadvantage the supplier in the future.
**Tendering training for small firms**
The Small Firms Association has partnered with Go-2-Tender to offer a number of workshops to those interested in tendering – from complete beginners to more experienced tenderers looking to improve their success rate.
The Go-2-Tender Lite programme is a FREE one-day course for those that want to know where to start. It is available in Dublin on 15 March and in Cork on 13 September. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
The Go-2-Tender Workshop is a two-day course with one-to-one mentoring for those looking to hone their tendering skills. The cost is €100 and it is available in Dublin on 18 and 25 February. Register at www.gototender.com/courses