Use of pre-qualification in competitive bidding

Pre-qualification is a process of assessing the capability of bidders before requesting them to submit their technical offers and prices.

Section 14 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (General) Regulations states that, pre-qualification shall be used where the procurement requirement is highly complex or specialised or requires detailed design or methodology.

It is also used where the costs of preparing a detailed bid would discourage competition, or the evaluation of bids is particularly complex and the evaluation of a large number of bids would take excessive time and resources, or the bidding is for a group of similar contracts, for the purposes of facilitating the preparation of a standing list.

Pre-qualification may be conducted for a single procurement or for the purpose of establishing a standing list for future repetitive tenders that shall be limited.

The requirements for pre-qualifications should be reasonable and efficient and must not unnecessarily create constraints that limit the number of participants or the possibility of maximising competition.

Best practice entails that the request for pre-qualification should be announced and publicised well in advance of the date for submission.

The procuring entity is expected to publish the intention to award a (Project), describing clearly the characteristics of the project and the minimum technical, financial and operational qualifications and requirements for participation.

Section 43 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDPA) Act (Chapter 22:23) states that, applications to pre-qualify shall be submitted in writing, duly signed, before the end of the bidding period or, as the case may be, before the date stated in the invitation to pre-qualify as the date by which applications to pre-qualify must be submitted.

The Authority has designed some guidelines which stipulates that applications to pre-qualify may be submitted to the procuring entity by hand or by post or by courier, at the option of the bidder.

Provided that, subject to any e-procurement policy laid down by the Authority, a procuring entity in its bidding documents may authorise other methods of submission of bids, such as by electronic mail, as long as the confidentiality and security of bids are assured.

Where an application to pre-qualify is received by the procuring entity after the deadline specified in Section 43 subsection (1), if the bid or application is received in electronic form, the procuring entity shall not consider it. In circumstances where the bid or application is received in hard copy, the procuring entity shall not open it but instead shall permit the bidder to collect it within thirty days after the deadline, following which the procuring entity may return it or destroy it unopened.

Pre-qualification by nature does not require bid validity. A bidder may modify or withdraw a bid before the closing date of the tender changing substance of submission after closing date would lead to the disqualification of the bidder.

Clarification of the pre-qualification documents

In the pre-qualification stage the procuring entity shall provide pre-qualification documents to all bidders responding to the invitation to pre-qualify, and the pre-qualification documents shall provide bidders with the information they need to prepare and submit applications for pre-qualification.

The procuring entity shall, in accordance with section 41 of the PPDPA Act, respond promptly to any request by a bidder for clarification of the pre-qualification documents, where the procuring entity receives the request within the specified period.

Assessment Criteria

In assessing applications to pre-qualify, the procuring entity shall use only such criteria as are necessary to establish whether the applicants have the resources and technical skills to perform the procurement contract satisfactorily.

Thereafter, the procuring entity shall make a decision with respect to each application to pre-qualify and shall invite all the bidders that have been pre-qualified to submit bids in the procurement proceeding.

At any time before awarding the contract, the procuring entity may require a pre-qualified bidder to demonstrate again its qualifications in accordance with the same criteria used to pre-qualify the bidder, and the procuring entity shall disqualify any such bidder that fails to such a requirement.

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