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The Post Tender Clarification Process

This guidance is based on information provided by the Scottish

Government and the Office of Government Commerce.
What is Post Tender Clarification?
Post Tender Clarification is a documented exchange with suppliers to clarify
aspects of PQQs / tenders and correct apparent errors so that a full
evaluation can take place. It helps ensure that all outstanding risks are
addressed and that best overall value for money is achieved in terms of
quality and cost.
When can Clarification take place?
Bid Clarifications may become necessary during the evaluation of PreQualification Questionnaires (PQQs) and tenders where there are aspects of
the bids that are unclear or contain errors. It may be that there has been a
misunderstanding of the specification on the part of the tenderer, that there
are outright errors in technical data, or that the style of presentation is such as
to leave doubt as to the precise meaning of the tenderer. Procuring Officers
should consider whether, where a certain aspect of the bid seems irregular, it
might be sensible to request a clarification. For example, if a bid appears
especially low, or especially high on price, it may be that an arithmetical error
has been made. Clarification may also be sought from tenderers on matters of
quality performance or particular terms and conditions of contracts.
Clarification should only take place where appropriate e.g. If clarification is
being undertaken with one tenderer it does not necessarily need to take place
with all tenderers, and the same points or clarification do not need to be
raised with all tenderers if it is not appropriate to do so.
What constitutes Clarification and is it allowed?
The Guide to the Community Rules on Public Procurement of Services
Directive 92/50/EEC states that:
"in open and restricted procedures, all negotiation with candidates or
tenderers on fundamental aspects of contracts, variations in which are likely
to distort competition, and in particular on prices, shall be ruled out; however,
discussions with candidates or tenderers may be held but only for the
purpose of clarifying or supplementing the content of their tenders or the
requirements of the contracting authorities and provided that this does not
involve discrimination."
Make Tenderers aware that Clarification may take place

It is recommended that a clause relating to the possibility of clarification taking

place is included in the tender documentation. Suggested wording is as
Fife Council reserves the right to require the Tenderer to clarify its Tender in
writing and/or provide additional information. Requests for clarification will be
issued via [insert: the selected electronic application or email address].
Tenderers are required to respond to requests for clarification within [insert:
number and hours / day]. If in the opinion of Fife Council the Tenderer fails to
provide an adequate response to one or more points of clarification, the
Tenderer [insert: will / may] be excluded from progressing further in the
The Post Tender Clarification Process
Where clarification takes place the Procuring Officer must be very careful
about how they conduct and document the process. When conducting
clarification, as throughout the procurement process, the Procuring Officer
must bear in mind the rules and principles of the EU Regulations i.e.
transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination. Proceedings must be
conducted in a manner which is not only fair, but which is seen to be fair by
the relevant parties. It must not put other tenderers at a disadvantage, or
adversely affect their trust or confidence in the competitive tendering process
as this could increase the risk of a decision becoming subject to a legal
Clarifications which result in changes to the prices submitted by
tenderers, even if they appear insignificant, must be treated with the
utmost caution. Procuring Officers should double check the effect of
such clarifications against the rules and principles of EU Regulations
and advise their line manager who will seek further advice from Legal
Services as necessary.
It is vitally important that all post-tender communication is meticulously
recorded, particularly where the process has an impact on the score awarded.
Clarification may have been sought because the Evaluation Team felt further
information was required before a score could be awarded / finalised. It is
therefore acceptable to insert / amend a score as a result of the clarification
process but full justification should be provided for the audit trail.
A reasonable time limit should be set for the submission of clarification
information. The same time limit should be applied to all those from whom
clarification is being sought.
Information about any clarification process undertaken should be included in
the Contract Report. If no clarification was necessary, a statement to this
effect should be included in the contract report.
If the clarification process results in significant changes to the requirement or
individual bids, to the extent that there is a substantial change to the nature of

the business to be awarded, the Procuring Officer should consider whether it

is appropriate to re-tender the requirement.
The key point to be remembered when undertaking clarification is not to act
in a manner that is likely to distort competition.
Clarification Meetings
If it is your intention to undertake clarification meetings:

Summarise the purpose in the tender documentation i.e. It is the

intention of Fife Council to undertake Clarification Meetings where
appropriate. These will serve as an opportunity for the Tender
Evaluation Team to obtain a clearer and deeper understanding of the
Tenderers Response.

Ensure details of if and how the clarification meetings will be

evaluated are included within the information about the evaluation

Clarification meetings may or may not be used to adjust tenderers

initial qualitative scores. Tenderers should be made aware of the
methodology to be used.

A record of the clarification meetings should be made and saved on

file. It is preferable to have a person not on the evaluation panel take
the notes so that the panel can focus their attention on the meeting
rather than on writing the record.

John Cosgrove
Procurement & Supplies Manager
18th June 2010