For those solicitations that are scored, unsuccessful proponents must be notified of the results and offered the opportunity for a debriefing.
But how should they be conducted? Following is general guidance on conducting debriefs; refer to Preparing RFPs: A Ministry Guide to the Request for Proposals Process (section 12) or the Ministry Writers’ Guide: Developing and Managing Short-form Requests for Proposals (SRFP) (section 13) for detailed information.
- Purpose of the Debrief
- Who Should Attend
- Preparation for Debriefs
- Format for Debriefs
- Disclosure of Information
Debriefs are generally not offered for price-based solicitations, as the basis for the award is clear (i.e. the successful bidder has a lower price than any other bidder). However, if a bid was deemed to be non-compliant (i.e. missed a mandatory requirement or specification of the solicitation) AND that bid was lower than the successful bid, the ministry may want to connect directly with this unsuccessful bidder to explain why their bid was deemed non-compliant.
Debrief meetings are offered to explain to a proponent / respondent how their submission was evaluated, including its strengths and weaknesses, so that they can improve their chances of success in the future. Debriefs are also an opportunity for the ministry to demonstrate the transparency of the process, including how the process described in the solicitation was followed. These two outcomes are intended to result in increased competition for future solicitations, as vendors will have a better understanding of what to include in their submissions for future opportunities and confidence that the Province is conducting the process as stated.
Debriefs are not an opportunity to change results or to re-compete the opportunity.
Debriefs are private meetings between the Province and each proponent / respondent that requested one. Proponents / respondents can chose who they would like to attend from their organization. At least one evaluator should attend, as well as someone who can answer questions about the ongoing plans with the resulting contract (this could be the same person, although ideally, at least two people from the Province should attend).
When organizing debriefs, ask proponents / respondents to identify who they intend to have attend from their organization. If a lawyer is included in this list, contact the ministry's Procurement Specialist, who may also contact Legal Services Branch; the Province should not attend a meeting with a proponent’s / respondent's lawyer present without a government lawyer also being present.
Debriefs should be offered in person (at a location determined by the ministry) and via phone, as preferred by the individual proponents / respondents. As general guidance, telephone debriefs should be scheduled approximately 30 minutes apart, and in-person debriefs approximately 45 to 60 minutes apart. Debrief meetings typically take between 10 and 45 minutes to complete, although some can take longer, particularly if the solicitation was complex and submissions large. If multiple debrief meetings are scheduled one after the other, include some down-time in between to allow a meeting to go over its allotted time (just in case it's needed) and prepare for the next one.
Ensure that all documentation that may be needed is available for the debrief meeting. This will include the solicitation document (including all addenda), the detailed evaluation of this proponent's / respondent’s submission, a summary of all submission results, and anything else that may be referenced. If the debrief is in person, proponents / respondents appreciate having a summary of their own detailed evaluation that they can keep.
In addition, have the website addresses for both initiating Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy requests and the Vendor Complaints and Review Process. Provide these websites if a proponent / respondent indicates that they would like more information than you have shared, or if they feel that the evaluation process was flawed and/or unfair.
The format for debriefs can vary, but following is a typical agenda:
- Purpose of the debrief;
- Description of the evaluation process used;
- High level overview of results;
- Detailed review (may include a description of the summary document being provided); and
- Final questions.
The high level review should address overall score and scores for the major categories. The detailed review can be to the level requested by the proponent / respondent; this may result in a focus on one area, or it may cover every score awarded.
Proponents / respondents should be encouraged to ask questions during the debrief session to ensure that all information of interest to them is provided, to the extent possible.
Ministry staff may want to take notes on what was discussed during the debrief, which should be kept with the solicitation file.
Proponents / respondents can be told virtually anything about the evaluation of their own submissions. For any other information that they may request, determine what can be released by referring to the Guidance for the Release of Information and/or Documents Related to Competitive Procurement Opportunities or contact the ministry's Procurement Specialist.