Sufficient Time Posting Guidelines
Policy states that the response time must be sufficient to allow interested vendors a reasonable opportunity to compete (see Core Policy and Procedures Manual, section 6.3.2.a.8). But what does “sufficient” mean?
The following table provides some general guidance on how long opportunities should be posted where the value of the opportunity is under the threshold of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement (the "WTO-GPA"); however; ministries may have developed internal policies or practices that recommend different posting periods for their specific requirements. Refer to the applicable ministry's links provided at the right before relying on the information contained on this page.
Refer to Select a Solicitation Process and Template Guidelines for more information about when to use each of these solicitation types.
|SOLICITATION TYPE||RECOMMENDED MINIMUM POSTED PERIOD|
|Invitation to Quote for Goods (ITQ)||8 calendar days|
|Invitation to Quote for Services (ITQS)||10 business days (i.e. 2 weeks)|
|Invitation to Tender (ITT)||
Uncomplicated construction projects, minimum:
Complex construction projects, minimum:
Non-construction services: Varies, can be as low as 10 business days (i.e. 2 weeks), depending on the project.
|Request for Standing Offer (RSO) – price based||10 business days (i.e. 2 weeks)|
|Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement (RCSA) – price based||10 business days (i.e. 2 weeks)|
|Requests for Proposal (RFP)||20 business days (i.e. 4 weeks)|
|Short-form Requests for Proposal (SRFP)||20 business days (i.e. 4 weeks)|
|Request for Standing Offer (RSO) – award to highest scoring||20 business days (i.e. 4 weeks)|
|Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement (RCSA) – award to highest scoring||20 business days (i.e. 4 weeks)|
|Joint Solutions Requests for Proposal (JSRFP) and Negotiated Requests for Proposal (NRFP)||As recommended by Procurement Services Branch|
|Request for Qualifications (RFQ)||20 business days (i.e. 4 weeks)|
|Call to Market Against a Pre-qualification List - Services||5 business days (i.e. 1 week)|
|Request for Information (RFI)||15 business days (i.e. 3 weeks)|
|Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI)||10 business days (i.e. 2 weeks)|
|Notice of Intent (NOI) see NOI FAQs for more information||10 calendar days|
With respect to any opportunity that falls within the scope of the WTO-GPA, applicable timeframes should be calculated in accordance with provisions set out in this agreement. Longer posting periods (i.e. up to 40 calendar days) may apply.
In addition, times may vary depending on requirements, complexity and trade agreement thresholds. The Province's obligations pursuant to trade agreements may be updated and supplemented from time to time. A current list of trade agreements applicable to the Province may be found here. Where an opportunity falls within scope of one or more trade agreements, ministries should review any timeframes set out in the applicable agreements.
Where there are no applicable timeframes specified in within the trade agreements, ministries may choose to post for shorter time frames than recommended, but should consider the following when making this decision:
- A shorter posting period may result in the perception that the Province already knows who is going to be successful in the competition. Some vendors may also choose not to participate, given the allotted time.
- Bidders / proponents / respondents will be challenged to write a quality submission as they will not have sufficient time to review, edit and double-check their work. This may result in submissions that contain errors and/or are unclear, which in turn can create difficulties for evaluations. For those awards made to the highest scoring submission, it can take as much as three times longer to evaluate an unclear submission compared to one that is well-written; therefore, any time saved in a shorter posting period may need to be allocated to additional evaluation time.
- Given the lack of time that bidders / proponents / respondents have to complete their submissions, there is a higher risk that no submission will meet all mandatory requirements, specifications (if applicable) and minimum scores (if applicable). If this happens, the solicitation process may result in no submissions being received or submissions not meeting the requirements. In this case, other solicitation methods would need to be considered, including redrafting the solicitation document and reposting. Therefore, the time spent on the original solicitation was wasted for the ministry and the bidders / proponents / respondents.
- If a bidder / proponent meets all mandatory requirements, specifications (if applicable) and minimum scores (if applicable), the resulting contract or purchase order (PO) award will be based on a submission that may have errors due to the lack of time for quality checks. Remember that most solicitation processes do not allow for material changes between the successful submission and the final contract or PO; therefore, it is possible that the final contract or PO will contain the errors from the submission, which may cause difficulties for the term of the contract or PO.
- Some trade agreements have minimum timeframes required for posting an opportunity. If one or more trade agreements apply, a shorter timeframe may result in non-compliance.
For these reasons, ministries are encouraged to give as much time as possible to vendors for developing their submissions. Ministries can consider longer time frames than the guidance provided in the table above, particularly if some of the vendors expecting to participate may be inexperienced with competitive processes, or if the posting period includes a statutory holiday or is during a high vacation period (i.e. July, August, late December).