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If you don't win a contract

How can I find out which business did win the contract?

If the value of the procurement is $10,000 or more, the details of the contract will be published on AusTender within 42 days of the contract being awarded. This will include the name of the winning tenderer and the total price agreed for the contract.

What other details can I find out about the winner?

You cannot obtain any more information about the winning tenderer from AusTender.

Can I get information about what my business needs to improve so we can win in the future?

Of course. Not all tender responses can be successful, no matter how good they are. However, the experience of an unsuccessful tender should not be a signal to give up on doing business with government. An unsuccessful tender process is a chance to learn and improve your offering for the next business opportunity.

You are entitled to request a debriefing from the procurement officer after the completion of every approach to market, even if you were successful. Many government organisations will offer debriefing sessions to unsuccessful tenderers as a matter of course. If not automatically offered, government organisations must provide debriefings on request.

The primary purpose of a debriefing is to enable potential suppliers to understand why their response was not successful, including both strengths and weaknesses, and help development of more competitive bids in the future. Please note that aspects of another business’ response or offer cannot be discussed with you. The purpose of a debriefing session is not to justify the selection of the successful tender, rather it is to give you feedback on your response.

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 government organisation running the approach to market.

What is usually covered in a debriefing?

A debriefing is designed to be an open conversation between the potential supplier and the government organisation. Issues that may be discussed at debriefings include:

  • comparison of your offer to the evaluation criteria (not in comparison to other offers received)
  • the strengths of your offer
  • the weaknesses of your offer
  • 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

If I didn’t win this time, does that mean that I will never win?

No it does not. Many businesses are unsuccessful at first when they try to win a government contract, but later go on to be successful suppliers to government. An unsuccessful tender response is an opportunity to get feedback that will help you learn how to put in a better response next time.

Remember that you may have other opportunities to do business with the agency in the future. Take a positive approach to debriefing, and treat it as an opportunity to continue to build your relationship with the agency.

Can I complain if I did not win?

After a tender process is over, you may have concerns that the process was flawed or the evaluation was inaccurate or unfair. Requesting a debriefing is good practice as you can obtain feedback about your offer and gain a better understanding of the process. If you do not feel the matter is resolved, you should indicate this clearly to the government organisation before making a formal complaint.

Approaching the tender contact officer informally will often prove sufficient, but if you are not satisfied with the response, you can put your concerns in writing to the organisation’s accountable authority for a more formal review.

Complaints should only relate to the process followed by the government organisation and its consistency with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs). The fact that your offer was not selected is not sufficient grounds for complaint.

It is important to understand that government entities select preferred suppliers on the basis of overall value for money which includes both financial and non-financial considerations rather than just the lowest price. Be aware that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, your complaint is extremely unlikely to change the tender outcome.

You may also get useful information about resolving disputes in general, from the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s website

The Procurement Coordinator is an official position and is responsible for handling certain complaints and providing external parties with an understanding of the Commonwealth Procurement Framework. The Procurement Coordinator has no authority to compel an entity to reconsider the outcome of tender processes for which that entity is accountable.

Additionally, for specific complaints that are subject to the requirements of the Government Procurement (Judicial Review) Act 2018, there may be recourse through the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia.

Tip: Mutual trust and respect

As a potential supplier, you have the right to be treated fairly, impartially, consistently and equitably throughout the procurement process. You also have the right to have complaints investigated promptly and without disadvantage. Making a legitimate complaint should not prejudice your involvement in ongoing or future procurement processes.

Equally, as a supplier, you have a responsibility to attempt to resolve concerns or complaints directly with the agency involved before seeking external intervention. You are also expected not to waste time and resources by making frivolous complaints, for example in an attempt to derail a procurement process or win a contract by means other than the merits of your response.

Agencies and suppliers should, at all times, aim to conduct business on the basis of mutual trust and respect.