Vendor Information: What to Expect When Responding
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Now that the decision has been made to participate in a government competitive solicitation, what should vendors expect in this process?
Deciding to respond to a competitive solicitation is a big step. You may put in many hours researching, making decisions and writing your response, with no guarantee that you will be successful and offered the work.
The Province’s solicitations are conducted under defined policies (Chapter 6 of the Core Policy and Procedures Manual), and therefore the processes that ministries use have some similarities. However, each solicitation is unique; there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Even those solicitations using the same corporate templates can be quite different. You should review each solicitation independently to be sure that you have a solid understanding of what is required and how the successful response will be determined.
There are a variety of activities that might occur through the competitive process, and these pages provide an overview of those most commonly experienced by vendors.
- Vendor Meetings: Some solicitations will include a meeting that interested vendors can or must attend. Refer to Proponents’/Bidders’ Meetings for more information.
- Asking Questions: The solicitation document may not be entirely clear to you on everything that should be considered and included in responses. Refer to Asking Questions for more information on this process.
- Amendments: Solicitations are commonly amended, either in response to vendor questions or when new information applies. Refer to the Solicitation Amendments page to understand how this impacts the solicitation process.
- Writing Submissions: Vendors will spend a great deal of time writing their submissions, which can be a daunting task, particularly if the writer hasn’t done this often before. Guidance that may be helpful can be found in Writing Submissions.
- Delivering Submissions: Once the submission is written, everything hinges on delivering it on time to the appropriate location. For most solicitations, delivering a submission late will result in rejection (e.g. if the solicitation has a closing time of “before 2 p.m., and your submissions arrives at 2 p.m. on the closing date, it will be rejected as it did not arrive “before”). Therefore, you should confirm that your submission was received. Refer to Delivering Submissions and Submission Confirmation for more information.
- Evaluations and Debriefs: What happens after closing? This can be a frustrating time for vendors. Refer to Submission Evaluations and Debriefs for a description on what the Province is doing during this period and how you can get feedback on how your submission was evaluated.
- Tax Compliance: Effective January 1, 2020, unless certain exceptions apply, all vendors must provide a Tax Verification Letter to demonstrate they met certain tax obligations before the Province may sign, extend or renew a contract valued at equal to above $100,000 (including all fees, expenses and all options to extend or renew). Although the Tax Verification Letter is not required in order to participate in a competitive procurement, where a solicitation relates to a contract subject to the Tax Verification Letter requirement, obtaining such a letter will be a condition of contract finalization. In other words, if a lead proponent in a competitive procurement is unable to provide the Province with a required Tax Verification Letter within the contract finalization period established by the solicitation, the Province will have the right to reject that proponent and move on to contract finalization efforts with that solicitation’s next ranked proponent. Obtaining a Tax Verification Letter is easy and free. For more information on the tax verification requirement click here.
- Timelines for the Process: One of the most important questions for vendors about the process is how long it takes for a decision to be announced. Timelines can vary considerably, depending on the complexity of the solicitation, the number of responses received, and the availability of the evaluators. Timelines provides more details on how these factors may affect how long is needed before announcements are made.