Learning from Bids Service

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Table of Contents

The Learning from Bids service provides feedback to eligible suppliers looking to improve their bidding strategy. Using a supplier's unsuccessful bid as an example, the service explores the strengths and weaknesses of the supplier's procedural approach to bidding. Suppliers will receive a free analysis and confidential report. The goal is to leave suppliers with best practices they can implement in future solicitations and give them an in-depth understanding of how the federal procurement process works.

The service, which is managed by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and Strategic Engagement (OSME-SE) in Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), is a six-month pilot program launched on March 4, 2014.

Benefits

The Learning from Bids service provides eligible suppliers with:

  • a free analysis and confidential report;
  • expert advice from impartial former procurement officers;
  • constructive support and guidance; and
  • concrete and practical suggestions to improve a supplier's approach to bidding.

The service does not:

  • help write, review, or edit eligible suppliers' bids; or
  • replace or challenge the results of supplier debriefings (please see the related Frequently Asked Questions); or
  • provide advice on substantive content of bids.

Eligibility

Bids that are too large (above $2M) and/or too complex to be reviewed in a timely fashion or too small (below $25,000) to require a formal bid submission are excluded from the service.

Participants must meet all of the following criteria :

  • have an office in Canada;
  • have bid on PWGSC procurement opportunities valued between $25,000 and $2 million in the past three years; and,
  • have been awarded no more than three contracts (including standing offers and/or supply arrangements) issued by PWGSC between $25,000 and $2 million in the past three years.

The bid that is submitted for analysis must be for a PWGSC issued opportunity valued between $25,000 and $2 million and should have been prepared within the last three years.

Additional considerations include:

  • The supplier should be committed to improving its future bid submissions and intend to bid on future Government of Canada procurement opportunities within one year of receiving the report.
  • The request for a bid analysis should be made at least one month after contract award for the relevant opportunity.
  • Learning from Bids service is not a complaints mechanism. If suppliers believe that there was an issue with the process or that their bid was unfairly evaluated, they must follow the proper supplier complaint process. To ensure this distinction is clear, OSME-SE will not provide this service for bids related to ongoing complaints or investigations.
  • During the pilot phase, a supplier may only apply once and receive one report.
  • If demand for the service exceeds capacity, OSME-SE will prioritize the applications received. Suppliers will be kept up to date on the status of their request and timeline.
  • At this time, this service will only look at PWGSC solicitations, which may include solicitations for goods/services purchased on behalf of client departments.

Note: Suppliers who do not meet the eligibility requirements but feel that they would benefit from this type of service can contact OSME-SE at bpmedp.osmepd@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca. The eligibility requirements are in place for the pilot and will be reviewed as part of the project evaluation. Your feedback is important so we are able to validate or change the eligibility criteria. As this is a pilot project, OSME-SE will be reviewing all elements and your feedback will assist us in the final evaluation. We welcome any and all feedback you may have about the service.

Before applying

Although not mandatory, suppliers are encouraged to request a supplier debriefing before registering for the Learning from Bids service. Debriefings provide suppliers with information not available through the service. Although we encourage suppliers to request a debriefing, the service does not review debriefings and will not use them for the analysis of the bid.

Please note we will not have contact with the contracting authority therefore suppliers must be able to provide OSME-SE with a copy of the bid package and solicitation document (if available). Suppliers will have the option to do so via email, fax, or mail.

The process

Learning from Bids participants must agree to take part in all stages of the process.With the exception of the three month check-in, eligible suppliers can expect to receive their report within approximately four to six weeks of the initial application. Timelines may be more or less depending on the number of applicants; suppliers will receive regular status updates.

  1. Application
    1. Initial online application: An interested supplier completes the Application for the Learning From Bids Service to determine basic eligibility. To allow for confirmation and prioritization, OSME-SE may take up to three business days to follow up on the results of their initial application.
    2. Pre-analysis telephone discussion: The discussion will confirm that a supplier meets the basic eligibility requirements. During the discussion, a former procurement officer (henceforth referred to as "the Analyst") will ask specific questions to determine if the bid in question is a good candidate for this type of service. If so, the Analyst will discuss the process with the supplier, outlining the scope of the report and proposed timelines and answers any questions. If not, the Analyst will explain why the bid does not meet the requirements for the service and will make referrals to other services, as appropriate. After this discussion, the supplier will send the bid package to OSME-SE for analysis.
  2. Bid analysis/report drafting: The Analyst will assess the bid's strengths and weaknesses in relation to best practices in public sector procurement and will prepare a written report.
  3. Post-analysis follow-up: After the receipt of the report, the Analyst will follow up to discuss the report with the supplier and to answer any questions. The Analyst will also seek participant feedback.
  4. Three month check-in: Three months after the report is issued, OSME-SE will contact the supplier to discuss whether and how the service was helpful and if the supplier has been able to apply any of the lessons learned.

Complete the Application for the Learning From Bids Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

In General

Why is Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) doing this?

PWGSC is launching the Learning from Bids service in response to suppliers indicating a desire for more detailed feedback on unsuccessful bids and more tailored assistance from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and Strategic Engagement (OSME-SE). Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not have the same resources to dedicate to responding to federal procurement opportunities and may not have developed particular expertise in this area. As such, the Learning from Bids service is intended to assist these suppliers in understanding how to improve their approach to bidding and give them an in-depth understanding of how the federal procurement process works.

The service's goal is to help suppliers improve future bid submissions, which in turn will help the Government of Canada by improving the quality of competition for federal procurement opportunities. It will also allow OSME-SE to gather data on common mistakes in bid submissions that can be used to help improve the information we provide to suppliers.

How does the Learning from Bids service differ from a supplier debriefing?

The Learning from Bids service uses a supplier's bid as a learning opportunity to provide feedback on their approach to bidding; it is detailed, personalized, and useful for future improvement. The service does not replace a supplier debriefing, which is focused on the merits of bids for a given opportunity and the reasons the bid was unsuccessful.

Reports developed for suppliers as part of the Learning from Bids service will have a broad focus. Suppliers provide the service with an unsuccessful bid so it can be used as a concrete example from which general lessons can be derived to assist suppliers in preparing bids in the future. The report is not a bid evaluation and will not question or comment on whether the bid should or should not have been successful.

Although not madatory,OSME-SE recommends that suppliers request a supplier debriefing before participating in the service. A supplier debriefing offers information about the bidding process that the service is unable to provide.

Will the service cover bids for opportunities from departments other than PWGSC?

In the pilot phase, the service will be limited to contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements issued by PWGSC only.

Why is the threshold for eligible bids between $25,000 and $2 million?

To best focus the service's limited resources, bids that are too small to require a formal bid submission (below $25,000) or too large and/or complex to be reviewed in a timely fashion (above $2 million) are excluded. Certain government oversight mechanisms are triggered for bid solicitations above $2 million, which is why the upper threshold is aligned with this amount.

What happens if demand for the service exceeds capacity?

The service will seek to analyze all eligible bids. The process may take longer than usual if demand is particularly high. OSME-SE will prioritize the applications received, and suppliers will be kept up to date on the status of their request and timeline.

Can the service's report be used to challenge procurement decisions?

The service is intended to help suppliers improve future bid submissions, not to challenge decisions from procurement officers. Under no circumstances must the report be used to challenge decisions made by procurement officers. The report is not part of a bid evaluation process and will not contain any comments on whether the bid should have been successful or not. The report is to provide feedback to eligible suppliers on the strengths and weaknesses of their procedural approach to bidding.

For Suppliers

If I participate in the service, will my future success rate in federal public sector procurement increase?

While the service seeks to provide constructive feedback that can help in future bid preparation, there is no guarantee that a supplier's success rate will increase.

I have an issue or complaint with a solicitation; can I still use the service?

The service is not a complaints mechanism and will not analyze bids that are subject to an ongoing complaint or investigation. If you would like to file a complaint, please follow the appropriate supplier complaint process. You can submit a bid from a different solicitation to the service.

Will you help me prepare my bid?

No. The purpose of this service is to use an unsuccessful bid to draw general conclusions and advice to tailor your bidding approach. We will not analyze open solicitations or assist in preparing bid documents. You are encouraged to use the lessons learned from your experience with the service when preparing future bids.

Will the Contracting Authority or client know that I have requested this service?

OSME-SE will not be providing details of any supplier that uses the service to Contracting Authorities or clients. The analysis of the pilot may include general information about participating suppliers (i.e. demographic data) but will not include identifying characteristics.

For Procurement Personnel

Will I know if my solicitation is being reviewed?

Your solicitation is not being reviewed. The Analyst will look at the solicitation document for background only; the purpose is not to review or comment on its quality. Only the bid itself will be analyzed to provide suppliers with best practices and suggestions. The Analyst will not share information about the participants.

How can the service provide useful feedback without the full context of the bid solicitation?

The Analyst focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the supplier’s procedural approach to bidding. Bids that are too complex will not be reviewed by the Analyst.

What role will procurement officers and other PWGSC employees play in the Learning from Bids service?

If you are aware of suppliers that might be interested in, or benefit from, the service, please refer them to the registration page. Additionally, if you have comments or suggestions, please send them to bpmedp.osmepd@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca.

For more information

For more information on the Learning from Bids service, contact OSME-SE at bpmedp.osmepd@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca.