Vendor Information: Mandatory Requirements
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Most competitive solicitations will include mandatory requirements that submissions must meet before the time of closing. Mandatory requirements are critically important in the solicitation process – you need to make absolutely sure that you have met every single one when responding to a solicitation.
What Are Mandatory Requirements?
There are two types of mandatory requirements: administrative mandatories that are built into solicitation templates, and those written specifically for a solicitation.
Administrative mandatories generally include the need for submissions to be received on time, in English, be signed, etc. These mandatories are included in templates as they are seen as critical to the solicitation process. For example, a closing date and time is required to provide a clear point-in-time when all submissions have been received and therefore can be evaluated.
Mandatories written for a specific solicitation can be whatever the issuing ministry determines to be critical enough that they are not willing to consider a vendor who cannot meet them. These mandatories can apply to any criteria – from qualifications / experience to methodology / approach to functionality to price.
Mandatory requirements are not scored, but rather are pass/fail or yes/no criteria.
What Happens If I Miss a Mandatory Requirement?
If your submission misses any mandatory requirement, the Province cannot award the contract or purchase order to you. Not only that, if a mandatory requirement is missed, your entire submission will not be evaluated further. This is a good reason to pay particular attention to mandatory requirements.
For example, consider the one mandatory requirement most solicitations include: submissions must be received at the closing location before the closing date and time. It likely seems obvious that if a submission comes in the following day, it would be rejected. However, mandatories are much more precise than that; a submission that came in even one minute late would also be rejected as missing the mandatory requirement.
Pay particular attention to how the mandatory requirement is worded. In the example above, the word “before” is critically important. If the closing date and time is January 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, a submission that arrives before 2:00 p.m. on that date meets this requirement, but one that arrives at 2:00 p.m. is late as it didn’t arrive before.
I Don’t Know What the Mandatory Requirement Means, or How I Would Meet It. What Should I Do?
Never assume what a mandatory requirement means or how you can meet it. If you are unsure, ask the government contact named in the solicitation document to help provide clarity. You are doing yourself and everyone else involved (including the government office that issued the solicitation) a favour with these questions. By asking the question(s), you are making the Province aware that additional information is needed, which they can provide to all interested vendors prior to closing. No one benefits if the Province wasn’t aware of a problem with the wording of its mandatory requirement until after closing.
How Can I Tell Which Requirements Are Mandatory and Which Are Not?
For many solicitations, the word “must” is used to define the mandatory requirements. Tables are often included that repeat all of the mandatory requirements applicable to the solicitation in one place. If anything is unclear (for example if you see “must” in a different context, location or in error), ask the government contact to confirm the mandatory requirements.
Why Is the Province So Strict With Mandatory Requirements?
It’s difficult to find out that your proposal was rejected for missing a mandatory requirement, particularly if you see the problem as a minor error (e.g. arriving one minute late at the closing location, forgetting to sign the submission, etc.).
However, the Province needs to follow the process described in their solicitations to give participating vendors confidence that the rules are uniformly applied and that any award will be fairly made in accordance with the described process.
If the Province were to accept a submission from a Proponent that did not meet one or more mandatory requirements and that Proponent became the successful Proponent for the solicitation, the rules of the solicitation would not have been followed, there would not have been a level playing field among Proponents and the solicitation process would not be fair.
See Mandatory and Weighted Requirements for the guidance provided to government staff for writing mandatory requirements.
Refer to section 3.2 of Responding to Government RFPs: A Proponent Guide to the Revised Request for Proposals (RFP) Corporate Template for the Government of British Columbia and section 2.8 of the Proponents’ Guide: How to Respond to the Short-Form Request for Proposals (“SRFP”).