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Communicating with Tenderers during Tender stage

During the Tender process, the focal point and, responsibility for any and all communication between Client and Tenderers should be with the Contracts Engineer. All communications should be in accordance with company policies and procedures.

Any queries modifying any provisions of the ITT should be thru issue of Tender Bulletins pre award and Tender Clarifications post award. Commercial communication related to prices should not be entertained.

Tender Bulletins and Tender Clarifications

During the Tendering process, any communication from Client to Tenderers generally prior to the opening of Tenders is termed as a “Tender Bulletin” (TB).

Any piece of communication subsequent to opening of Tenders is generally termed a “Tender Clarification” or simply “Clarification”.

Tender Bulletins are communication that could modify the provisions of the Invitation to Tender (ITT) documents and hence they should be communicated to all the Tenderers that were originally issued the ITT. Even if a particular Tenderer has declined to Tender, it could be prudent, depending on circumstances, to issue the TB to such Bidder as well since, the cause of the declination could have been a provision that could well be modified thru a Tender Bulletin.

The reasons for issue of a Tender Bulletin could be one or more of the following:

  1. to clarify a query from either one or more Tenderers; and/or
  2. a Suo Motu clarification from the Client to all Tenderers seeking either to provide further clarification to any of the provisions of the ITT or modify certain provisions of the ITT, subsequent to its issue.

In exceptional or extreme circumstances, a TB could also be used as a tool to speed up a Tender Cycle. For example if the Works/Services schedule were to be of prime importance and, if in the opinion of Client’s management it is felt that the Tenderers need to get the essence of the scope of Works/Services in advance of any other provisions of the ITT, an ITT could be issued pending finalization of other issues such as pricing formats, terms and conditions or any other provisions which could be issued in due course thru a Tender Bulletin. This is a potential tool that could be used in situations where the Tendering Cycle is large i.e. in high value or large EPC Works. This example is provided only for understanding, highlighting strengths of a TB.

The reason a TB is issued to all Tenderers is to ensure all Tenderers have the same understanding of the ITT and Tenders received shall be on a like-to-like or on the same basis.

It is one of the major responsibilities of Contracts Engineers to ensure Tenderers confirm receipt, understanding and inclusion of the effect of all TB’s issued during the Tender Period, in their Tenders submitted.

Thus, while compiling the Contract document for signatures/execution, the form of Contract should be modified by the effect of all TB’s issued to reflect the current status of the document.

Likewise subsequent to receipt of Tenders, clarifications with Tenderers on their Tender are issued as “Tender Clarifications” and these may need not be issued to all Tenderers if they are specific to a Tenderer. The clarifications in this instance pertain to a particular Tenderer’s Tender and not to the ITT. Similarly as with the Tender Bulletins, effect of all clarifications should be reflected into the final Agreement or Contract Documents to be executed between the parties.

It is also possible that Tender Bulletins could be issued after Tender opening during Tender Clarifications. They have the same effect as discussed above.

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