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On 17 June 2024 the Minister for Finance, Senator Katy Gallagher, announced updates to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs), and the introduction of the Commonwealth Supplier Code of Conduct (Code). Both the CPRs and the Code came into effect on 1 July 2024. Information on the Code is available on the Finance website, and the Responding to an Approach to Market and If you are awarded a contract sections of the Selling to Government website. Further information on the changes to the CPRs is also available on the Finance website.

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 the Australian 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 procuring official after the completion of every approach to market, even if you were successful. Receiving feedback on any tender response can help businesses compete more effectively in future 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 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’s 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 Australian 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 Australian 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 the Australian 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 Australian Government organisation in the future. Take a positive approach to debriefing and treat it as an opportunity to continue to build your relationship with the Australian Government organisation.

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 Australian Government organisation that managed the procurement process before making a formal complaint.

Approaching the tender contact officer in writing will often prove sufficient, but if you are not satisfied with the response, complaints can be forwarded to an independent central registration point, such as a Central Procurement team. Each Australian Government organisation should publish details of how you can make a complaint to this central registration point on their website.

Complaints should only relate to the process followed by the Australian 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 Australian Government organisations select preferred suppliers based on 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.

If, following a complaint to the Australian Government organisation running the procurement process, you are not happy with the outcome, you may raise the matter with Australian Government Procurement Coordinator.

The Australian Government Procurement Coordinator 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.

If you are not satisfied with the Procurement Coordinator's final decision, there may be other courses of action available for you to consider, such as approaching the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Public officials (including services providers under a Commonwealth contract) who suspect wrongdoing within the Commonwealth public sector can raise their concerns under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act). Allegations made under the PID Act are public interest disclosures (PID). The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s website outlines processes for public interest disclosures (whistleblowing) under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act).

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.

Is there anything else I should consider prior to making a complaint?

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 Australian Government organisation involved before seeking external intervention. You are also expected not to make frivolous or vexations complaints, for example to derail a procurement process or win a contract by means other than the merits of your response.

Australian Government organisations and suppliers should always aim to conduct business on the basis of mutual trust and respect.

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