Award to Highest Score
If a ministry determines that no existing supply arrangement will meet its needs (refer to the Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM) section 6.3.2.a.1 and the Goods and Services Catalogue), a decision may be made to compete the requirement where the award is made to one or more of the highest scoring submissions. However, ministries may have their own approved templates and/or differing processes from the templates and guidance below. Refer to the ministry links at the right or contact the ministry’s Procurement Specialist prior to using the corporate templates and processes described here.
- Request for Proposals (RFPs)
- Short-form Request for Proposals (SRFPs)
- Request for Standing Offers (RSOs) and Request for Corporate Supply Arrangements (RCSAs)
- Joint Solutions Request for Proposals (JSRFPs) and Negotiated Request for Proposals (NRFPs)
Although highest-scoring competitions allow some flexibility on how to award a contract (i.e. more than just price can be considered), these processes still must be clearly and carefully designed and described and the selection criteria applied in a fair and consistent manner. For best outcomes, the ministry should clearly articulate what it is buying, what proponents/respondents should include in their submissions, and how the award is going to be made.
Highest-scoring competitions should include clear evaluation criteria describing how the successful proponent/respondent will be determined. This usually includes disclosing the categories that will be evaluated (e.g. Capabilities/Experience, Approach/Methodology, Price), and the point allocations for each of these categories. Each category should then be described in detail including benchmarks that identify the basic requirements that the ministry is seeking, and instructions on what information proponents/respondents should include in their submissions. However, it’s extremely important that the points allocated to the categories clearly match to the sections that describe the benchmarks and what information proponents/respondents should provide.
In addition to elements that will be evaluated, a highest-scoring competition may include mandatory requirements. Mandatory requirements are used to screen out those submission that do not comply; therefore, solicitation documents should keep the mandatory requirements to a minimum so as to avoid rejecting a submission because it did not meet a mandatory requirement that, in hindsight, was not critically important.
The typical process allows proponents/respondents to submit amendments to or withdraw their submissions up until the closing date and time, but afterwards, all compliant submissions are irrevocable and cannot be materially changed.
See Mandatory and Weighted Criteria for more information.
Highest-scoring competitions need to identify how long the contract, standing agreement, purchase order or offer will be in place, and any options to renew that might apply. Remember that proponents/respondents are promising to be bound to what they offered for the initial term and any options to renew, if applicable and depending on how such options are described in the solicitation document. The Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM) section 6.3.3.e.10 only allows options to renew if the number and duration are disclosed in the solicitation.
When planning a highest-scoring competition, Strategies to Receive Quality Submissions may be helpful for making critical decisions on the process. If unclear on what solicitation format to use, refer to Select a Solicitation Process and Template Guidelines.
Highest-scoring competitions also require a separate evaluation handbook that is used by evaluators and developed in tandem with the solicitation document in order to comply with policy (see the Core Policy and Procedures Manual, section 6.3.3.b.2). The full text of this document is usually not disclosed to the vendors. This document must be consistent with the solicitation document (i.e. point allocations, evaluation criteria, etc.). Evaluators will record their scores and comments for each proposal/response using the evaluation document, which provides the support needed for the decisions made. Awards are based on the ranked order of the evaluations. See Submission Evaluations for more information. This documentation is also critically important for any debriefs that unsuccessful proponents/respondents may request.
If using a corporate template, refer to Solicitation Templates for guidance to select the one that best suits this acquisition.
RFPs are intended to result in one or more contracts or purchase orders with the successful proponent(s). Do not issue an RFP as a “fishing expedition” to find out what might be offered at what price; other mechanisms (see Market Research and Notifications) should be used if more information is needed before a budget can be approved or requirements can be defined.
A Request for Proposals (RFP) process involves government describing its business requirements and desired business outcomes and inviting vendors to submit proposals that describe how those requirements and outcomes can be met. The term RFP refers to both the RFP solicitation method and the RFP document, which is the tool for soliciting proposals. Proposals submitted in response to an RFP are evaluated using multiple criteria, such as (but not limited to) price, capabilities, and the proposed solution or approach.
Refer to the Preparing RFPs: A Ministry Guide to the Request for Proposals Process for more information.
There are requirements under trade law relating to the minimum posting requirements for applicable procurements, and the required time varies depending on a number of factors. Generally, RFPs should be available to vendors (e.g. posted on BC Bid) for a minimum of 20 business days (i.e. four weeks) notwithstanding trade law requirements. A longer term should be considered if the RFP is complex or lengthy or if the time frame includes a popular holiday period (e.g. July, August or late December). A posting period of up to 40 calendar days may be required if the World Trade Organization – Agreement on Government Procurement applies.
The SRFP template has been developed as a Smart Form, some of which is completed by the ministry issuing it, and some by the vendors responding (i.e. Appendix A Proposal Form).
The SRFP is not suitable for all goods and/or services that a ministry may purchase; it is intended for only those acquisitions that meet the definition of in-scope.
The SRFP needs to identify the form of agreement that the successful proponent will be expected to sign (e.g. General Service Agreement, an approved ministry template or an approved customized contract), how long the agreement will be in place and any options to renew that might apply.
SRFPs should be available to vendors (e.g. posted on BC Bid) for a minimum of 20 business days (i.e. four weeks), although three weeks is acceptable if submissions are expected to be small (e.g. under 10 pages). A longer term should be considered if the timeframe includes a popular holiday period (e.g. July, August or late December).
More information on the SRFP for ministry buyers can be found here. This includes links to the templates for the SRFP Smart Form, addenda and evaluation handbook; informational and instructional videos; and the Ministry Writers’ Guide to the SRFP.
Standing offers and corporate supply arrangements are not a contract or a purchase order. Most standing offer and corporate supply arrangements operate on an as, if and when requested basis. The contract or purchase order is not created until an order is placed.
Standing offers are developed to meet the needs of the entities that issued them (e.g. generally an individual ministry or a Crown Corporation). A standing offer is not intended to be used by entities not expressly identified in the RSO solicitation document.
Corporate supply arrangements are developed for the use of all ministries and will identify if they are available to the broader public sector as well. Ministries may run their own RSOs, but RCSAs must be managed corporately, usually by Shared Services BC.
The solicitation process for a highest-scoring RSO is similar to the RFP process. However, a different form of solicitation document is required to ensure that the end result is clearly defined as a standing offer rather than a contract or purchase order.
The RSO needs to identify how long the offer will be in place and any options to renew that may apply.
If the RSO will result in standing offers with multiple vendors, a process needs to be clearly described on how one SO vendor will be chosen over another when requesting the goods and/or services.
Highest-scoring RSOs should be available to vendors (e.g. posted on BC Bid) for a minimum of 20 business days (i.e. four weeks). A longer term should be considered if the RSO is complex or lengthy or if the timeframe includes a popular holiday period (e.g. July, August or late December). Refer to Sufficient Time Posting Guidelines for more information. A posting period of up to 40 calendar days may be required if the World Trade Organization – Agreement on Government Procurement applies (see Trade Agreements for information on the dollar thresholds that apply to this and other trade agreements).
Shared Services BC has developed the Joint Solutions Request for Proposals (JSRFP) and Negotiated Request for Proposals (NRFP) processes. These processes are not to be used by the ministries without the assistance from Shared Services BC and the Legal Services Branch.
Joint Solutions Request for Proposals (JSRFPs) are used for complex opportunities where a more collaborative process may be preferred or necessary. JSRFPs are used for large-scale, long term service contracts, and may also include some form of business transformation.
JSRFPs are always a multi-stage process that involves multiple evaluation criteria.
The JSRFP process supports the sharing of ideas between proponents and the Province. In some situations, the JSRFP process can lead to a partnering for the service delivery.
Negotiated Request for Proposals (NRFPs) are used for those requirements where flexibility is required in the procurement process and the final contract negotiations that cannot be accommodated within a traditional Request for Proposal.
The length of time that JSRFPs and NRFPs should be available to vendors will vary, but expect the process to be much longer than any other type of solicitation.
No corporate templates exist for the JSRFP or NRFP, as each solicitation is unique and complex. Contact Shared Services BC for assistance if considering either of these solicitation types.