Submission evaluations are a critical piece of every competitive procurement – it’s the final step that determines who will be offered the contract, allowed a standing offer or supply arrangement with the Province, or included on the pre-qualification list. It’s a vulnerable step in the procurement cycle, where decisions can either be logically supported or viewed as bias against or preference for one or more of the bidders / proponents / respondents.
For the first-time evaluator or for someone who has had problems with past evaluations, the process may appear daunting and full of risks. What does someone need to know to manage this process in a fair, open and transparent manner? And what should evaluators watch out for?
- The Golden Rule
- Evaluation Overview When Awarding to the Lowest Price
- Evaluation Overview When Awarding to the Highest Score(s)
Ministry staff who are new to the evaluation process may want to contact their ministry's Procurement Specialist for assistance when developing their evaluation criteria, particularly if awarding to the highest scoring submission(s).
The golden rule for government staff involved in evaluations is simple: Say what you’re going to do, and do what you said you would. By following this one rule, many issues can be avoided.
The solicitation document should clearly identify what bidders / proponents / respondents should include in their submissions (from which the detailed evaluation criteria are built), and should identify how successful submissions will be determined. This will inform vendors on what to expect in the evaluation process, which will help them to determine whether or not to participate in the opportunity and what to include in their submissions.
Following the golden rule provides support for the decisions made, as the ministry can correlate the process described in the solicitation document to the ultimate decision that was made.
Here’s an example of what can happen if the golden rule is not followed:
A ministry issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) that was evaluating experience, methodology and price. After evaluating all proposals, the two highest scoring proposals scored within a point of each other. A decision was made to interview the key personnel named in these proposals, even though this interview process was not mentioned in the RFP.
Points were assigned for the interview, and they were scheduled and evaluated. This process changed the ranked order of the proponents, and the contract was awarded to the highest scoring proponent when the interview score was included.
The second ranked proponent complained that the process was unfair, as they would have been awarded the contract if the ministry adhered to what was stated in the RFP. This proponent claimed there was a preference for the winning proponent, and the interview process was added to change the legitimate results of the original evaluations. The ministry then had to explain why they awarded the contract outside the process described.
In the example above, if the RFP had included the interview process – even if it was conditional on one or more proposals scoring within x points of the highest scoring proposal – the decision to interview would simply have been part of the process rather than the basis of a vendor complaint.
Evaluations are usually very straight-forward if the award will be made to the bidder offering the lowest price, as per the following guidance:
- After closing, open all bids or tenders received, and confirm that each one has met the mandatory requirements.
- Of those that met the mandatory requirements, identify the lowest-price offered, as described in the solicitation document.
- Review the lowest-price bid to ensure that all specifications, as described in the solicitation document, have been met.
- If any of the specifications were not met, document the deficiency and repeat step #3 with the next lowest-priced bid.
- Once the successful submission has been identified:
- Award the contract or purchase order to the lowest-priced bid that met all mandatory requirements and specifications.
- Once the contract or purchase order is executed, announce the results on BC Bid if the opportunity was posted on this website. If the solicitation is a goods acquisition that was managed through the Procurement Services Branch, this step is automatically done when the purchase order is created.
- Ensure the file includes the full documentation of the evaluation process, including the solicitation documents (complete with any addenda), all bids received, any explanatory notes about missed mandatory requirements and / or missed specifications, and all correspondence between the evaluation team and with the bidders. See the video on Procurement Files for more information
For those solicitation processes that are awarded to the highest scoring proponent(s) / respondent(s) or for the creation of pre-qualification lists, evaluations generally include the following steps. More detailed information can be found in the Step-by-Step Guide on How to Evaluate Submissions:
- Write the solicitation document with the evaluation criteria in mind. Include a description of what will be evaluated in submissions and how the award will be made or the pre-qualification list created. Remember the golden rule!
- Create the evaluation handbook that is consistent with the information contained in the solicitation document but that also contains additional evaluation details. Ideally, a substantive draft of the handbook should be created before releasing the solicitation document.
- Finalize the handbook before opening any submissions, including all point break-downs. Submissions are to remain sealed until the handbook is finalized, which preferably should occur before the closing date and time in order to avoid any delays.
- After closing and once the evaluation handbook has been finalized, check all submissions for mandatory requirements.
- Distribute all submissions that meet the mandatory requirements to the evaluation team.
- Individually, evaluators document their evaluation of each submission that met the mandatory requirements.
- The evaluation team meets to discuss, agree upon and document the final scores and comments for each submission. This meeting results in a ranked order of submissions.
- Announce results of the evaluation process to proponents / respondents.
- Offer debriefs to all unsuccessful proponents / respondents, and schedule debrief meetings for those who request them.
- Once the contract is signed with the successful proponent(s), the offers are in place or the pre-qualification list is established:
- Post a contract award summary on BC Bid if the opportunity was posted on this website.
- Ensure the file includes the full documentation of the evaluation process, including the solicitation documents (complete with any addenda) a copy of all submissions, the final evaluation handbook template, any explanatory notes about missed mandatory requirements, the evaluators’ individual evaluation notes, the final evaluation documentation, and all correspondence between the evaluation team and with the proponents / respondents. See the video on Procurement Files for more information.