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How to Respond: The Process

Can any business respond to a Government Approach to Market (ATM)?

Generally speaking, for an open approach to market (ATM), any business that considers it has the potential to provide the required goods and/or services could respond to the ATM.

For a purchase valued below $80,000, the Government organisation may invite only a limited number of potential suppliers to respond to the ATM.

For a purchase from a multi-use list, only businesses that are appointed to the MUL can respond to the ATM.

For a purchase from a standing offer, the Government organisation may choose to invite one or more businesses that are appointed to that standing offer to respond to the ATM. In rare circumstances and if the terms of the standing offer permit, the Government organisation may invite one or more businesses that are not currently appointed to the standing offer to respond to the ATM.

See the free guide “Selling to the Australian Government: A Guide for Business” for further information regarding these specific buying situations.

I’m a small business. Can I compete successfully for Government work?

Most definitely.

Many small businesses currently supply goods and services to the Australian Government. The Australian Government encourages small businesses to compete for Government work and is committed to sourcing at least 10 per cent of purchases by value from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). As a small business you may also find a profitable market in supplying to other businesses that supply to the Australian Government.

Does the Australian Government have typical terms and conditions for its contracts?

Most contracts valued under $200,000 contain the Commonwealth Contract Terms. Where there is a specific need to include additional contract terms these will be clearly stated in the ATM and the draft Contract.

Typical ATM terms are also available.

How can I make sure that Government buyers know my business is here?

Across the Australian Government, there are different areas within the various government organisations responsible for buying goods and services from the private sector. This means that for most goods and services there is no single ‘government market.’

It is worth investing the time getting to know the particular business requirements of the different Government organisations so you can target the most relevant markets for your business. In many respects, you should treat the Government as you would any other client. An active, attractive and easy to find and navigate web site is typically the best marketing tool you can have. If appropriate, you may want to have your business listed in the Yellow Pages or other relevant industry directory of services. You might want to make participate in “meet the buyer” functions or other professional networking opportunities. All of these things make it easier for Government buyers to find your business when they are carrying out their market research.

For more hints on how to market your business effectively to government buyers see the free guide “Selling to Government”.

I’ve never sold to government before - can I still win a contract?

There is no requirement to have previous experience supplying to Government in order to win a Government contract.

When assessing the suitability of your business to meet their requirements, Government organisations will naturally take into account the risks associated with dealing with your business. If you do not have previous experience selling to Government, it will be in your best interests to clearly demonstrate the capability and capacity of your business to perform the requirements.

For hints on how to demonstrate the capability and capacity of your business see the free guide “Selling to Government”.

My business is interested in responding to an ATM. What do I have to do?

You will need to prepare a response that complies with the ATM documentation.

You must prepare and submit your response by the specified date and time, to the specified location and in the specified format (for example electronically or a certain number of printed copies) that will be outlined in the ATM documentation.

A short checklist to assist you to prepare and submit your response is included in the free downloadable guide “Selling to Government”.

Is there a particular format for my response?

Most Approaches to Market (ATMs) will included a template response for you to complete. You will simply need to answer each of the criteria.

If a template response document is not included with the ATM package you will need to ensure you have included all the mandatory requirements specified in the ATM. If specific formatting is required, this should be clearly stated in the ATM.

Be sure that your response addresses all the requirements and evaluation criteria, completes any mandatory forms and contains enough information to assist the Government buyer in understanding your offer.

What criteria will be used to evaluate my response?

You must be advised in advance of the criteria that will be used to evaluate your response. This information will usually be contained in the approach to market (ATM) documentation.

What are mandatory (or essential) evaluation criteria and why are these important?

These are the criteria that describe the minimum essential requirements that must be met.

If there are any mandatory (or essential) evaluation criteria, these will be clearly identified as such in the ATM documents.

Pay careful attention to mandatory (or essential) criteria. If your tender response does not clearly show how your goods or services meet the mandatory criteria, your response will be set aside and excluded from further evaluation. This is not discretionary - the Government procurement officer must set aside any responses that do not comply with mandatory criteria. It is always disappointing for both parties if it becomes necessary to set a tender response aside.

What are desirable criteria and why are these important?

Desirable criteria indicate features or characteristics of the goods or services that are not essential, but which may add value for the buyer.

When responding to desirable criteria, you have the opportunity to show how your goods or services are different from those offered by your competitors, and to demonstrate any key advantages or unique features that your goods or services provide. Your response should remain consistent with the requirements otherwise you risk extending beyond the scope of the request.

Is it true that the Government won’t accept late tenders, even if I have a good reason?

Yes.

Government organisations cannot accept your offer if it is submitted after the deadline, unless the delay is due solely to mishandling by the Government organisation. It is therefore vital that your offer is submitted by the deadline. If it is late for any other reason, by even a few minutes, it will not be accepted. If the response is collected through AusTender the system will NOT allow a late tender.

Case Studies

Bringing unique Indigenous flavours to the government

Indigenous catering company Bandu is a great example of a small business that’s doing big business with the Australian Government.