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State and local government tenders and contracts
Before you bid for government work
If you want to win government business, it is a good idea to do some research and make contact with the agencies most likely to buy your goods and services.
The SA Tenders and Contracts website lists South Australian state and local government public tenders. You will also find other business leads, such as:
- requests for proposals
- limited or selected tenders
- expressions of interest
- registrations of interest.
Building relationships with government buyers
Products and services of low value tend not to be advertised although they may sometimes be found on agency websites. This is why building relationships with government buyers is so important.
Here are some tips on doing business with agencies:
- identify agency buyers most likely to buy your goods or services
- find out where they source supplier information
- provide background such as brochures, a corporate profile, pricing schedules, references and contact details
- maintain a relationship through regular contact.
Sub-contracting to head contractors
Many high-value government contracts are let to suppliers who perform the role of head contractor. Developing a relationship with these organisations, as a sub-contractor, is another way of accessing the government market.
Alternatively, small to medium-sized operators can form a consortium to tender for work as the head contractor.
Register with the Industry Capability Network
Registering with the Industry Capability Network SA (ICN) is an effective way of being noticed by government procurement officers.
The ICN provides government agencies and private industry with information on local providers of goods and services as part of a free import replacement service.
Australian Government tenders
The AusTender website lists Australian Government business opportunities, annual procurement plans, multi-use lists and contracts awarded.
Set up your AusTender profile on the website by registering your area of business interest.
Submitting a tender for government work
The first priority when bidding for government business is to ensure you understand the tender documentation. Your tender may be rejected if you fail to follow the rules.
Call the nominated contact officer if any information is unclear. Suppliers may be invited to attend a pre-tender briefing, particularly in complex cases.
Preparing a tender
Developing a bid strategy is useful for large tenders to identify the resources needed to fulfil the project and provide a competitive solution.
Tender templates are often provided to assist with compliance along with attachments for additional information.
If there are no templates, present the offer in a simple, structured format. However, to avoid the risk of submitting a potentially non-compliant response, check with the agency contact officer before venturing outside the specified requirements.
Responses are judged on content, not on elaborate presentations. In the submission:
- respond to criteria
- explain why your solution offers best value for money
- identify any value-added service.
Lodging a tender
It is important to follow all tender document instructions carefully. Tenders must:
- be submitted in the format specified
- arrive prior to the stated closing time - remember daylight saving if bidding from interstate
- be lodged at the specified location.
Late tenders are not often accepted, unless there are exceptional circumstances or if the integrity of the tender process is not compromised.
All submissions are treated in the strictest confidence.
Presenting alternative solutions in your tender
Suppliers may be able to present alternative or innovative solutions, if the tender process allows flexibility - eg this is sometimes the case in requests for proposal.
However, to avoid the risk of submitting a potentially non-compliant response, check with the agency contact officer before venturing outside the specified requirements.
How tender bids are judged
Tender bids are judged against key factors in order of importance. Sometimes these evaluation criteria are included with the tender documents as a guide. Some of the reasons for a winning bid may include:
- demonstrated ability to provide the goods or services
- project management experience and methodology
- proposed staff and their capability
- ability to manage risk
- compliance with contract conditions.
Occasionally a second evaluation is held as a part of the original tender plan or if there is little to choose between shortlisted submissions. This may involve:
- a presentation of the project and methodology
- supplying additional information
- clarification of certain aspects
- responses to additional requirements.
Negotiating a deal
In some tenders the agency will want to negotiate key parts of the bid. Typical areas of negotiation include:
- project delivery
Suppliers are notified if such a meeting is required. You should clarify areas of discussion and any additional issues you want to raise. It is a good idea to have alternative solutions prepared.
After the negotiations, all respondents are notified of the outcome.
Suppliers who are unsuccessful can seek feedback or attend a debriefing if one is held. This is a good opportunity to:
- find out about the strengths and weaknesses of a submission
- gain useful information to submit a more competitive bid next time
- provide feedback to government on the tender process.
Agencies sometimes include a questionnaire in the tender documents and this feedback is used to improve future bid processes.
Managing your contract with government
A successful contract is built on a strong relationship between you and the government. Rather than relying on terms and conditions, it is in your interest to develop a partnership based on good performance.
Projects of high value or risk may require a management plan agreed by both parties.
Effective contract management involves:
- regular communication - work with the contract manager and keep written records.
- managing risks - the level of contract management depends on the complexity of the project and risks involved. Managing the risks is a key part of good performance.
- monitoring progress - make sure any issues are identified early and rectified quickly.
- project delivery - ensure all delivery requirements are understood and details clarified.
Any additions or variations to the contract need to be documented. Significant amendments may require approval from the contract signatories.
Invoices are paid upon receipt of an acceptance note signed by an authorised officer or on completion of a compliance certificate.