Seminar Notes: Bidding on Opportunities

New! CanadaBuys is here! Suppliers register today!

Register now to ensure you transition to doing business with the new Government of Canada procurement service. Click here to get started.

Procurement Assistance Canada

  • Supports smaller and diverse businesses through the federal procurement process
  • Engages, assists and informs businesses on how to sell goods and services to the Government of Canada
  • Works to reduce barriers to ensure fairness in the process

Objectives

  • Help participants understand:
    • The competitive nature of bidding for Government of Canada opportunities
    • The different types of competitive procurement that the Government of Canada uses
    • The main elements of solicitation documents and how to respond to them
    • How bids are evaluated and suppliers are selected
    • How to follow-up on the bidding process

Opportunities for smaller and diverse businesses

  • Government of Canada is one of the largest buyers of goods and services in Canada
  • Buys a wide range of goods and services each year, with contract values ranging from hundreds to billions of dollars
  • Awarded the majority of contracts to smaller businesses in Canada from 2017 to 2020, including 74% of contracts valued at $1 million or less

Contracting with the Government of Canada

  • PSPC is the main procurement arm of the federal government
  • It is important that all procurement activities be conducted in an open, fair and transparent manner, and that all suppliers have an equal chance at doing business with us
  • Federal laws and regulations as well as Treasury Board of Canada policies guide the Government of Canada’s procurement process

Note: Any contracted personnel accessing a federal government workplace must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of November 15, 2021. For more information, visit COVID-19 vaccination requirement for supplier personnel.

Delegated purchasing authorities within the Government of Canada

  • In many cases, departments and agencies will purchase from suppliers directly. Departments and agencies have the delegated authority to buy:
    • Goods up to $25,000
    • Services up to $2,000,000 and Construction Projects up to $400,000
  • For procurements over these levels, departments and agencies work with PSPC. This is important for you to know, because if you sell goods or services below these amounts, you may wish to directly approach departments and agencies.

Trade Agreements affecting procurement

  • Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA)
    • Goods: $30,300
    • Services: $121,200
    • Construction: $121,200
  • Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement
    • Goods: $100,000
    • Services: $100,000
    • Construction: $9,100,000
  • World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement (WTO-AGP)
    • Goods: $238,400
    • Services: $238,400
    • Construction: $9,100,000
  • Notice of Proposed Procurement must be posted on Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders

Note: The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) is the authoritative source on trade agreements. For the latest updates, visit the TBS policy notices web page.

Competitive Procurement

  • Procurement over $25,000 for goods and $40,000 for services is done through the solicitation of bids and quotes from potential suppliers using a variety of methods
  • The four most commonly used are:
    • An Invitation to Tender (ITT);
    • A Request for Proposal (RFP);
    • A Request for Standing Offer (RFSO); and,
    • A Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA)
  • The tender notice will indicate the method of procurement being used and will outline the solicitation documents

Invitation to Tender

  • When a buyer has a straightforward need (e.g. off-the-shelf goods), they can issue an Invitation to Tender (ITT)
  • Evaluation is based on Lowest Priced Bid meeting all mandatory requirements
  • Typically used for construction

Request for Proposal

  • There are times when the selection of a supplier cannot be made only on the basis of the lowest priced bid received
  • For more complex contracts, a Request for Proposal (RFP) can be issued to solicit a solution based on a combination of price, technical expertise, years of experience, etc.
  • Among all bid solicitation methods, the RFP is the one that requires the most effort. Specifications are performance-based and focus on the desired outcome.

Request for Standing Offer

  • When a buyer needs to purchase goods or services on a repetitive basis, they may issue a Request for Standing Offers (RFSO)
  • If you qualify in the RFSO process, this means you agree to provide your good or service for a fixed price over a certain time frame

Request for Supply Arrangement

  • A buyer may issue a Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA) when:
    • There is a need to purchase goods or services on a repetitive basis, and
    • There are variables such as statements of work or requirements that cannot be defined in advance
  • Bids are solicited from pre-qualified suppliers for specific requirements

Similarities and Differences of Standing Offers and Supply Arrangements

  • Similarities:
    • National/Regional
    • Goods or services purchased regularly
    • Pool of pre-qualified suppliers
  • Standing Offers:
    • Contracted using “call ups”
    • Prices are predetermined and fixed
    • Established under set terms and conditions
  • Supply Arrangements:
    • Contracted using a competitive process
    • Prices are not fixed
    • Specific requirements within the scope of the supply arrangement

Collaborative procurement

  • Provinces, territories and others in the public service can access PSPC standing offers and supply arrangements through the Canadian Collaborative Procurement Initiative (CCPI).
  • Benefits for suppliers:
    • Selling to multiple levels of government
    • Expanding your market
    • Easier and faster bid preparation
    • Increased potential value and scope for each opportunity
    • Reduced supply risks
  • For more information and to view the list of commodities available, visit Canada.ca/buying-together.
  • You can also contact the CCPI team by phone (1-800-811-1148) or by email: tpsgc.pafptCollaboratif-apfptCollaborative.pwgsc@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca

Requests for Information

  • Requests for Information (RFI) are an opportunity for businesses to help shape the resulting requirements and provide input into the procurement process

The non-competitive approach

According to Canadian Government Contract Regulations, sole source purchasing can only be undertaken under the following four circumstances.

  • Pressing Emergency: delays could be injurious to public interest.
    • Example: boats needed for an emergency evacuation
  • Cost not exceeding $25,000: not considered cost effective to compete.
    • Adjusting to $100,000 for architectural, engineering services as well as international development assistance projects
  • Not in Public Interest:
    • Example: national security
  • One Known Supplier:
    • Examples: copyright, licence or patent

Advanced Contract Award Notice

  • When there is only one known supplier for a requirement (for example when only one company holds the IP or for a particular security requirement), a buyer may choose to post an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN)
  • This is a public notice posted on Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders allowing other suppliers to signal their interest in bidding on the opportunity and to demonstrate their ability to meet the requirement

Five Steps to Bidding

  1. Review solicitation document
  2. Decide whether to bid or not
  3. Collect information about your bid
  4. Prepare your bid document
  5. Submit your bid

Reviewing the solicitation document

  • Follow the instructions and read all the terms and conditions thoroughly. Skimming a solicitation document and missing out on one key requirement could result in a non-responsive bid.
  • If you are uncertain about any aspects of the document, make sure to contact the contracting authority to get more details
    • Submit questions in writing to the contracting authority before the deadline for questions
    • Answers to all questions received will appear as amendments on the tender notice page
  • Your only point of contact is the contracting authority indicated in the solicitation document.

Overview of a solicitation document

  • Solicitation documents are usually divided into parts plus annexes

Part 1 – General information

  • Usually provides a general description of the other parts of the document and a brief summary of the requirement

Part 2 – Bidder instructions

  • Often referred to as Offeror Instructions
  • Contains instructions, clauses and conditions applicable to the solicitation document
  • Includes information about: site visits, bidders’ conferences and applicable laws

Part 3 – Bid preparation instructions

  • Provides bidders with instructions on how to prepare their bid (page numeration, # of copies etc.)

Part 4 – Evaluation procedures

  • Describes the evaluation process and how the contractor will be selected (basis of selection)
  • The evaluation criteria is the most important part of the solicitation document.

Part 5 – Certifications

  • Includes the certifications to be provided
  • Includes examples such as employment equity requirements and certifications regarding former federal public servants and conflict of interest
  • The Government of Canada is taking action to ensure that it does business with ethical suppliers in Canada and abroad. The Integrity Regime applies to all federal procurement and real property transactions regardless of dollar value.

Part 6 – Resulting contract clauses

  • Includes clauses and conditions that will apply to any resulting contract
  • For Standing Offers, Part 6 is divided into 2 parts: 6A and 6B
    • Part 6A includes the Standing Offer containing the offer from the Offeror and the applicable clauses and conditions.
    • Part 6B includes the clauses and conditions which will apply to any contract resulting from a call-up made pursuant to the Standing Offer.
  • Includes the Period of contract which tells you the amount of time you have to complete the work

Annex A – Statement of Work

  • Sets out the nature of the required good or service
  • Provides a narrative description of the work required and stipulates the deliverables or services required to fulfill the contract
  • Identifies and summarizes the various phases of the project

Other possible annexes: Security requirements checklist

  • There may be multiple annexes attached to the solicitation document
  • In this particular example, a scanned copy of the security requirements checklist is included as an annex

Other possible annexes: Non-disclosure agreement

  • Other annexes could include: evaluation criteria, geographic regions, corporate profiles, and authorization letters
  • In this case, Annex C is a required non-disclosure agreement

Your company’s capacity

When deciding whether or not to bid on an opportunity, you need to consider several factors. As a supplier, you should ask yourself:

  • Is your business capable?
  • Does your business meet the evaluation criteria?
  • Are the terms and conditions acceptable?
  • Is your business able to accept the pricing method?
  • Should you partner with another supplier?

    If you answered no to any of these questions, then that particular requirement may not be the one for you.

Security requirements

  • A security clearance is necessary when a Government of Canada contract requires your personnel to access classified or protected information, assets or sensitive federal work sites
  • Security requirements are identified in the solicitation document.
  • For contracts that require organization clearance, you can apply for screening in advance.
  • For contracts that require personnel clearance, you can apply for screening once you have been awarded a contract or qualified for a Standing Offer or Supply Arrangement.
  • For questions about clearance processes and requirements, contact the Contract Security Program.
  • For questions about the security requirements of a specific opportunity, contact the contracting authority listed in the solicitation document.
  • For more information: Organization and personnel security screening.

Contract Security Program

  • The Contract Security Program (CSP) provides security screening of organizations and their personnel for contracts with security requirements.
  • Security screening ensures that only trusted individuals and organizations with a valid need to know may gain access to:
    • Sensitive government information, such as military plans
    • Personal information such as financial records of Canadians
  • CSP offers free webinars about its services.
  • Forms for contract security

Mandatory electronic fingerprints

  • PSPC requires mandatory electronic fingerprint requirements for its suppliers to meet RCMP criminal record check requirements
  • The process applies to any organization that works or intends to work on Government of Canada contracts with security requirements. It also applies to any government who uses PSPC CSP Program services
  • Electronic fingerprinting is required for all levels of security screening requests (reliability status, secret, top secret) and for applicants who need to obtain, update (renewal), or upgrade their personnel security screening clearances issued by PSPC

Mandatory credit checks

  • Personnel of organizations working or intending to work on Government of Canada contracts with security requirements require a mandatory credit check.
  • This requirement comes from the Government of Canada Standard on Security Screening.
  • Conducting credit checks as part of the overall assessment helps determine an individual’s trustworthiness and reliability to access government information, assets and sites.
  • A credit check is mandatory for any applicant needing a new security status or clearance or for an update or upgrade of their existing status or clearance.
  • Applicants will not require a credit check for any transfer requests unless:

For more information on security requirements

Contact the Contract Security Program

Collect information

  • Determine security requirements and whether you can apply for screening in advance
  • There may be times when you will need to get hard-copy materials or samples
  • It is important to monitor the solicitation for any amendments
    • Bookmark the webpage of the tender notice and return to your bookmark to see the most current information for the tender
    • Use web feeds to keep yourself informed of amendments

Note: There are standard policies that apply to all government purchases, whether or not they are explicitly stated in solicitation documents. You can learn more by consulting the Standard Acquisition Clauses and Conditions (SACC) Manual and Supply Manual on Buyandsell.gc.ca.

Preparing your bid

  • When preparing your bid, be sure to follow the format stipulated in the bid solicitation document, including signing that you have accepted the Terms and Conditions
  • This signature block is usually found on the first page
  • You may be asked to provide your bid in various separately bound sections such as:
    • A technical section
    • Management section
    • Financial section
    • Certifications
  • The financial and technical sections must follow the format as outlined in the solicitation document
  • Each item must be answered in accordance with the evaluation criteria
  • All requested information must be provided and clearly demonstrate your ability to do the work

Prepare your bid: The technical section

  • Describe:
    • Current situation and need for the project
    • Objectives, reasons and benefits for carrying it out as proposed
    • Work plan, methodology and techniques that you are proposing
    • Feasibility, degree of success anticipated, potential challenges and contingency plans
    • Specific tasks and deliverables and the schedule for completion or delivery
    • How many people will you assign to the various tasks, their levels, and how many hours or days they will be assigned to the tasks
  • Respond to all:
    • Requirements
      • Detail how each requirement will be met
      • Reference past projects or deliverables that support your ability to provide the good or service
    • Evaluation criteria
      • Use simple language
      • Be responsive each bid is evaluated solely on its contents – don’t rely on a past interaction with a contracting authority as they will not be able to consider any information outside the document

Prepare your bid: The management section

  • Introduction
    • Introduce your team
    • Introduce any sub-contractors
    • Demonstrate how all members meet the required qualifications
  • Documentation
    • Include any corroborating information, such as resumes
    • Support how you will meet quality standards

Prepare your bid: The financial section

  • Firm Fixed Price
    • Used when possible to predict the costs involved
    • Must complete work before being paid
  • Cost Plus Contracts
    • Used when there is uncertainty in cost or for longer projects
    • Can be used to offset potential cost risks

Submitting your bid

  • Know the bid closing date and where and now to submit your bid. Check for amendments to the closing date
  • Ensure your proposal follows the format requested
  • Sign the document and include all required signed and completed certifications
  • Review your bid, then have someone else review it too

Submitting your bid through epost Connect

  • One way to submit bids against some PSPC tenders: Canada Post’s epost Connect online service
  • Important
    • Read bid submission instructions to verify method of submission is accepted and if epost Connect is offered
    • epost Connect is used only to submit your bid and receive a confirmation email. If you need to contact the contracting authority, follow the communication instructions in the solicitation documents.
    • Create your epost Connect account in advance so you’re ready to bid on time.
  • Benefits
    • Faster and more efficient
    • Greener
    • A time and date stamp record

Evaluation criteria

  • The evaluation team may consider mandatory technical criteria only; point-rated technical criteria only or a combination of mandatory technical criteria and point-rated technical criteria

Mandatory requirements

  • You must fulfill all mandatory criteria in order to move forward in the evaluation process
  • For bids that are evaluated on the basis of mandatory criteria only – the bid must meet all the mandatory criteria specified in the solicitation document
  • Some examples include: accessibility features, financial stability, essential performance characteristics of equipment, and performance specifications related to services

Point-rated criteria

  • Used to evaluate the value added factors over and above the mandatory requirements
  • Includes criteria such as: strategy, principles, methodology, company, team or resource experience, and facilities and equipment
  • Ask the contracting authority if you have any questions about point rating

Basis of selection

  • Low Priced Responsive Bid
    • Selection based on the lowest priced responsive bid
    • Mandatory requirements must be met in order for the bid to be considered responsive
  • Best Overall Value
    • Selection is often based on lowest evaluated price per point (as determined using a point-rated scale)
    • Mandatory and point-rated technical criteria will be evaluated
  • Highest Technical Bid Within A Stipulated Budget
    • Selection is based on the highest rated technical bid within a stipulated budget
    • Bidders are invited to propose a solution to a problem or a method of achieving an objective within a stipulated budget

Note: You can consult the Practitioner’s Guide for Procurement Pricing to learn more about the factors that affect pricing decisions in line with the objectives and priorities identified for each procurement. These factors include market maturity and risk factors related to the goods or services being purchased, for example.

Basis of selection Example

Evaluation Criteria Maximum Minimum A. B. C. D.
Technical 35 26.3 32 28 23 30
Execution 25 18.7 21 22 n/a 22
Team 25 18.7 23 21 n/a 16
Company 15 11.3 15 13 n/a n/a
Total Points 100 75.0 91 84 n/a n/a
Price Quoted n/a n/a $466,000 $440,000 Non-responsive Non-responsive
Cost per Point n/a n/a $5,120 $5,238 n/a n/a
  • Lowest priced responsive bid was Company B
  • Lowest cost-per-point responsive bid was Company A with $5,120
  • Highest responsive combined rating of technical merit and price (60/40 ratio) was Company B
  • Highest rated technical bid within a stipulated budget was Company A with 91 points within a maximum budget of $475,000

Frequent reasons for non-responsive bids

  • Mandatory requirements not met
  • Minimum required points in a specific section not achieved
  • Bid exceeds level of funding for the project
  • Mandatory documentation not included in the bid

How can I follow up?

  • Debriefing can be done in person, by telephone or in writing
  • Review the content of your bid and prepare questions
  • For more information, visit the Supplier Debriefings web page
  • Complaints can be referred to the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman or CITT if subject to trade agreements

Federal Contracting Fraud Tip Line

  • Anyone can report suspicious activity in federal contracting including suspected cheating, fraud, collusion and corruption.
  • All tips are valuable and may be the only way to stop a particular fraud from happening.
  • Tips can be submitted anonymously by completing a protected online form.
  • Submitting a tip helps to ensure that all suppliers have an even playing field and the contracting process is fair, ultimately benefitting all Canadians, businesses and taxpayers.
  • The Tip Line is a partnership between the Competition Bureau, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  • For more information on the types of cheating in federal government contracts and what to include in a tip, visit the Tip Line website.

Best practices for bidding – Must

As a reminder, here are some key things that you must do to ensure your bid is responsive as well as suggestions to consider before submitting your bid. You must:

  • Read all terms and conditions thoroughly
  • Meet all mandatory criteria
  • Respond to all sections, regardless of point value
  • Follow the bid preparation instructions completely
    • Including: submitting the correct number of copies of your bid and all of the required certifications
  • Make sure to fill in and sign all required elements within your bid
  • Submit your bid on time and to the right place
  • Contact the contracting authority If you have any questions

Best practices for bidding – Should

  • Organize your bid so that it is complete, concise and precise
  • Include the following on the front page of your bid: the reference number, PSPC file number, the
    date, and your contact information
  • Write an executive summary, paginate, and include a table of contents
  • Put your logo or business name on every page
  • Pay particular attention to sections that may carry more points
  • Have fresh eyes do a quality review of your bid
  • Request a debrief after the contract has been awarded

Seminars

  • Doing Business with the Government of Canada
  • Finding Opportunities on BuyAndSell.gc.ca
  • Bidding on Opportunities
  • Defence and Security Procurement
  • Supplying Professional Services to the Government of Canada
  • Obtaining Security Clearance

View the full schedule of events

Next steps

Request assistance

If you need help understanding the federal procurement process or registering for a procurement business number:

Electronic procurement solution

The Government is moving federal procurement online. During this transition, you may be able to bid on some tender opportunities through the electronic procurement solution. Find out more.