Scoring a government contract can be a huge boost for your small business. Whether you manufacture casters for office chairs or design network security systems, the federal and provincial governments can become your biggest customers. These contracts are worth their weight in gold. They tend to be for very large amounts and can really raise your business profile. On top of that, you’re practically guaranteed to get paid on time. They’re also highly competitive, and other businesses want them too.
Because of the potential for abuse and the need to maintain total transparency in spending public money, the process is subject to a great deal of scrutiny. As a result, the government has strict rules in place to govern the entire bidding process and make sure everything is done above board.
An invitation to tender (ITT), also known as a call for bids, is the first step in a competitive bidding process. It invites suppliers and contractors to submit bids for a supply or service contract. The Standard Acquisition Clauses and Conditions (SACC) Manual reflects Canada’s procurement policies that are the amalgamation of statutes, regulations, trade agreements, and policies, rules, and directives. An invitation to tender can be used only if the following conditions exist:
- At least two sources can fulfill the contract requirements
- Bids can be evaluated clearly according to the criteria
- Bids can be submitted on a common pricing basis
- It is intended to accept the lowest-priced responsive bid without negotiations
- Bid evaluation excludes any Product, Resource, Operating and Contingency (PROC) costs or socioeconomic considerations, other than the equal employment provisions
Bids can be solicited from suppliers on a prequalified list and others that are not excluded. The ITT may be advertised on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) or publicly advertised if the contract is over a stated amount. In addition, the tender must incorporate Canada’s integrity provisions and disqualify bidders that do not meet these standards.