By Michelle Collins | June 30, 2003
You've followed all of the steps, fine-tuned your proposal bid and yet you lost that government contract. What's next? You could walk away and focus on the next project your interested in. Or you could request a debriefing session from the department or agency that reviewed and evaluated your bid. These sessions can help you learn how to improve your bids and get closer to winning that next contract.
“[It is] mandatory in cases where large expenditures are involved or when considerable professional, technical, or production resources or equipment (e.g. charter aircraft) must be marshalled and held in reserve by bidders pending a contract award decision,” says Francois Dussault, Director of Risk Management and Quality Control for the Acquisition Business Solutions Sector of the PWGSC.
Dussault says that in all other cases it is a recommended practice that the Procurement Officer contact you if you've lost, but not a requirement. In other words, it is up to you to keep track of what is happening with your bid and request a debriefing if you lose a bid. Fortunately, there is no deadline for requesting these sessions.
What happens in a session
If you have requested a debriefing session you will meet with the PWGSC Procurement Officer and a representative of the department that issued the bid request to go over the proposal that you have submitted. You will be given the opportunity to ask specific questions about what you missed in your bid. Dussault points out that most people who ask for a session are interested in finding out what the relative strengths and weaknesses of their proposal was.
“The bidder is debriefed concerning the particulars of their proposal, as it relates to the evaluation process and criteria outlined in the solicitation document. The bidder is advised of the score, if applicable, they achieved in accordance with this criteria, as well as of any area of their proposal which was found to be non-compliant with such criteria.”
For tips on writing a winning proposal read Winning Government Work.
What can you do if you feel the process was unfair
You may follow all of the correct channels, including the debriefing session and feel that the selection process wasn't judged fairly. There are additional options that you can take, as the process is legally bound to be fair and open to all who wish to bid.
“If the requirement is subject to one of the Trade Agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, bidders can submit a challenge to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) within 10 working days from when the basis of their complaint became known,” says Dussault. “If a requirement is not subject to one of the Trade Agreements, bidders can bring action to the Federal Court.”
If you submit a complaint to the CITT it will be reviewed and there may be an inquiry into the bidding process, or the Tribunal may decide that the process was fair and accurate. The Tribunal can end the review process at any time and make recommendations and awards in regards to the contract.