After the tender is evaluated according to the relevant criteria provided in the RFP and any negotiations are satisfactorily completed, the award decision is made by the relevant authority, usually based on the recommendation made by the evaluation team.
In some countries/jurisdictions, this does not imply a definitive selection because endorsement of the decision may be required at a higher level (for example, by the cabinet). Alternatively, bidders may challenge the evaluation decision within a certain time limit, which is known as a “standstill period” (see box 6.5). A standstill period, with challenges prohibited after that period expires, can be beneficial to ensure that any challenges to the process are made promptly and not strategically deferred by the losing bidders.
If any necessary endorsement has been received and there are no appeals, the award decision will become definitive and, in some countries, will be published in the respective official journal (although this is not a universal practice). After official or definitive awarding, the winning bidder (awardee) will be called for the contract signing.
In some jurisdictions (but uncommonly), it may be necessary at this point to obtain the authorization or validation of a general attorney and/or of a general auditor, or it may even be necessary to obtain a ratification by the legislature.
If there is a delay in the awarding process beyond the timelines provided in the RFP, the procuring authority should consider whether the winning bidder will still be capable of meeting the contractual milestones and the commitments made in its bid. It may be necessary to agree to revised dates as a result of the delay — although if the changes are substantial, this may provide a basis for other bidders to challenge the award decision. The best means to mitigate this risk is to establish realistic timelines for the award process from the outset, and to ensure that decision-makers understand the risks associated with delays.