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Debriefing and Feedback

You are entitled to request a debriefing from an Australian Government buyer after the completion of every approach to market you respond to – whether you have been successful or unsuccessful in securing a contract.

Receiving feedback on your tender response can help you to compete more effectively in future procurement processes. Many Australian Government organisations will offer debriefing sessions to unsuccessful tenderers as a matter of course. If not automatically offered, Australian Government organisations must provide debriefings on request.

The primary purpose of a debriefing is to enable potential suppliers to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their tender response, and help development of more competitive tender responses in the future. Please note that aspects of another business’s tender response cannot be discussed with you. The Australian Government takes its responsibilities of confidentiality and probity very seriously. All tender responses are treated with the utmost confidentiality.

The purpose of a debriefing session is not to justify the selection of the successful tender, but to give you feedback on your tender response.

Issues that may be discussed at debriefings include:

  • Compliance with mandatory minimum requirements or conditions of participation
  • Comparison of your tender response to the evaluation criteria (not in comparison to other tender responses received)
  • The strengths of your tender response
  • The weaknesses of your tender response
  • The suitability and attractiveness of your experience, qualifications, referee reports or past performance
  • An indication of cost competitiveness
  • The adequacy of your administrative or management systems
  • Any quality management issues
  • The nominated personnel, e.g., number, experience, skills, knowledge, and quality of management
  • Any facilities or equipment issues
  • Sub-contracting issues, e.g., inadequate control mechanisms
  • Understanding of the Australian Government procurement process.

The debriefing may be conducted by phone, email, or face to face according to what is convenient for you and / or the policies of the Australian Government organisation running the approach to market.

To get the most out of a debriefing session, it is important to consider what you hope to get out of the session in terms of feedback ahead of time.

The following checklist presents some key points to consider when seeking feedback to prepare for a debriefing session:

  • If you were approached through a panel, or a limited tender – was there anything that encouraged the buyer to approach you with a tender request?
  • Were there any issues with meeting minimum requirements and conditions of participation for your tender response?
  • How well did your tender response address the buyer’s requirements?
  • How was your tender response assessed in relation to the evaluation criteria?
  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of your tender response?
  • Were there any areas where your tender response could be improved?
  • Was your tender response easy to assess?
  • Were the examples and evidence you provided relevant and appropriate?
  • Were your referee reports suitable?
  • Was it clear what set your tender response apart from competitors?
  • Was it clear how your tender response demonstrated value for money?
  • Was your tender response cost competitive?
  • Does the buyer have any further feedback on your tender response?

The questions in this checklist have been expanded below to give you some further things to consider when seeking feedback. This section complements the information available under:

If you were approached through a panel, or a limited tender – was there anything in particular that encouraged the buyer to approach you with a tender request?

If you responded to a limited tender Approach to Market (ATM), or a request for tender through a panel arrangement, the buyer will have had to specifically identify your business to be approached for potential work.

It may be useful for your business development activities to understand how or why the buyer identified your business to be approached in the first instance.

Were there any issues with meeting minimum requirements and conditions of participation for your tender response?

Each ATM will typically have minimum requirements and conditions for participation that tender responses must meet to be considered for the work.

Some examples are:

  • Response submitted in required file format
  • Relevant licenses or professional accreditations
  • Statement of Tax Record
  • Ability for specified personnel to obtain any security clearances required to deliver the work.

If your tender response did not meet these requirements, it will have been set aside and excluded from further evaluation. This is not discretionary – the Australian Government procurement officer must set aside any tender responses that do not comply with mandatory criteria and conditions for participation. 

If your tender response has been set aside and excluded because it did not meet any minimum requirements or conditions for participation, be sure to clarify which specific requirements. Taking steps to address these minimum requirements will position you to competitively tender for similar work in the future.

Further information on common minimum requirements is included in the Frequently Asked Questions – Minimum requirements section of this website.

How well did your tender response address the buyer’s requirements?

Each ATM will outline the buyer’s requirements. This is typically outlined in a statement of requirements included as part of the ATM documentation.

It is worth asking to what extent your tender response met these requirements, or indeed, if parts of your tender response were beyond the scope of the buyer’s requirements.

Your tender response will need to have met these requirements to be considered value for money. Understanding whether the Australian Government buyer considers that your tender response met these requirements is important in considering how you can competitively tender for similar work in the future.

How was your tender response assessed in relation to the evaluation criteria?

Your tender response will have been assessed against evaluation criteria as outlined in the ATM documentation. Evaluation criteria will include the consideration of financial and non-financial costs and benefits, and will vary from tender to tender. 

Some common examples are:

  • Demonstrated ability to provide the goods or services
  • Pricing
  • Compliance with stated contract conditions
  • Environmental sustainability.

It is worth asking questions to understand how you performed against each evaluation criteria or sub-criteria as outlined in the ATM documentation.

While the Australian Government buyer may not give you specific scores against each criteria, they should be able to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of your tender response for each criteria.

This will help you to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of your tender response, and any potential areas for improvement, in relation to the specified evaluation criteria.

What were the strengths and weaknesses of your tender response?

It is worth clearly asking what the strengths of your tender response were. You may wish to consider if you can further emphasise these strengths when responding to future approaches to market to articulate a point of difference from other tenderers.

It is also worth clearly asking if your tender response had any specific weaknesses. You may consider opportunities to address these weaknesses when responding to future approaches to market.

Were there any areas where your tender response could be improved?

It is worth clearly asking if there were any areas where your tender response could be improved. These will give you some specific areas you may consider addressing and strengthening when responding to future approaches to market.

Was your tender response easy to assess?

It can be valuable to seek the Australian Government buyer’s views on whether it was easy to assess your tender response.

Your tender response will be easiest to assess where:

  • It follows any formatting style, templates and schedules provided in the ATM documentation
  • Responses to evaluation criteria are simple, straightforward, and to the point
  • It is simple for the Australian Government buyer to navigate your tender response and score against the evaluation criteria
  • Important information is not hidden in additional glossy attachments
  • Language and tone are appropriate – remember there is no guarantee that the Australian Government buyer will be a technical expert in your field.

If the Australian Government buyer does not think that your tender response was easy to assess, you may wish to consider opportunities to address when responding to future approaches to market.

Were the examples and evidence you provided relevant and appropriate?

It is worth asking the Australian Government buyer for feedback on if the evidence and examples you provided were appropriate, and if they substantiated the claims your made in your tender response.

If the Australian Government buyer thought that your examples and evidence were not relevant, or insufficient, you may consider opportunities to use alternative examples when responding to future approaches to market.

Were your referee reports suitable?

It is worth seeking the Australian Government’s views on any feedback they received from your referees. This is important in understanding if your referees are reflecting positively on their experience of working with you. 

Remember, you should always ask your proposed referees if they agree to provide a reference for you before you include them in your tender response, and confirm up to date contact details. It is not very helpful to your chances if the referee cannot be contacted, is not expecting the contact, or worse still, does not wish to give a reference for you.

If your referees are not effectively verifying the claims you have made in your tender response, you may wish to consider using alternative referees when responding to future approaches to market.

Was it clear what set your tender response apart from competitors?

Remember that there may have been a lot of responses to the ATM. Even for small tenders, your tender response will usually be competing against several alternative tender responses. 

It is important to understand if the Australian Government buyer felt there were specific aspects of your tender response that set you apart from your competitors. These can be areas of strength you may wish to further emphasise when responding to future approaches to market. 

Conversely, if the Australian Government buyer does not consider that there were any aspects of your tender response that set you apart from your competitors, you may wish to consider if you can address this when responding to future approaches to market.

Was it clear how your tender response demonstrated value for money?

Remember that value for money is the key consideration for Australian Government buyers. 

When assessing value for money, an Australian Government buyer must consider the relevant financial and non-financial costs and benefits of each tender response, including, but not limited to:

  • The quality of the goods and services
  • Fitness for purpose of the proposal
  • The potential supplier’s relevant experience and performance history
  • Flexibility of the proposal (including innovation and adaptability over the lifecycle of the procurement)
  • Environmental sustainability of the proposed goods and services (such as energy efficiency, environmental and climate change impacts, and the use of recycled products)
  • Whole-of-life costs.

With this in mind, it is worth seeking feedback from the Australian Government buyer on if they thought your tender response was considered positively on a value for money basis, and if so, which specific aspects of your tender response.

Was your tender response cost competitive?

You may also wish to seek feedback on whether your tender response was cost competitive. The Australian Government buyer will only be able to provide you a general indication of cost competitiveness, usually in comparison to the winning tenderer if the contract notice has been published on AusTender.

Remember that value for money is the key consideration for Australian Government buyers – if the winning tenderer was more expensive than the price quoted in your tender response, they have been selected on the basis of the non-financial aspects of their tender response.

Does the buyer have any further feedback on your tender response?

Finally, it is worth asking if the Australian Government buyer has any further feedback on your tender response – there may be other aspects of your response that they have not covered in other questions. Any insights may be useful for you when responding to future approaches to market.