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Tendering and Awarding the Contract

68.1. Managing the Risk of Meetings with Individual Bidders

Having separate meetings with each potential bidding organization or consortium can provide better outcomes than only having a single meeting attended by competing organizations. However, meetings with individual bidders also entail a range of risks. The better outcomes arise because meetings with individual bidders enable greater depth of discussion, and potential bidders may be less willing to discuss their concerns or issues in front of competitors but be more willing to do so in a meeting where competitors are not present.

The risks of conducting such meetings include the greater demand on the time and resources of the government team, and the potential (either in reality or as matter of perception) for one bidder to be given information not provided to other bidders, thus compromising the fairness of the process. As a matter of good practice, a number of measures are used to mitigate this risk.

  • Rules for conduct of the meetings are circulated to all participants in advance.
  • If the meeting occurs prior to the release of the RFP, a project information memorandum is circulated to all participants in advance, and additional information is not given during the meetings.
  • The government uses a pre-prepared script during the meetings to ensure that, as far as possible, the same questions are answered in the same way in each meeting.
  • At least two government representatives attend each meeting (more than two may be appropriate to minimize the risk of allegations of impropriety).
  • The process is well documented through records of attendance and minutes of the meetings.
  • In some projects, the questions and answers are circulated to all bidders in de-identified form, without disclosing any information specific to an individual bidder.
  • In some projects, an independent party is appointed to attend the meetings and to provide confirmation that no bidder was given an unfair advantage over other bidders.
  • Even if meetings with individual bidders are held, it is often also beneficial to conduct a forum or presentation at which all bidders are present. This provides an efficient forum in which the government can convey key messages in relation to the project.

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