Understand the tender turnaround periods

Effective planning implies that the organisation through its management, understand the procurement time frames to allow for effective projects implementation.

Nyasha Chizu

Project schedules need to take into account the internal lead time for effective control of project overruns. Lead time, the time it takes when need has been identified up to the time when delivery is completed in is two parts.

There is external lead time, the promise by various suppliers to deliver the goods or services after receipt of purchase order or conclusion of a contract.

Internal lead time involves the internal processes time from need identification to the time the contract is signed.

In the private sector, the internal lead time can be reduced without any hassle resulting in efficient service delivery and competitiveness of the organisation.

The public sector has specific rules that govern the management of internal lead times. Most of it includes the provision to satisfy the public procurement objectives of fairness, transparency, equal opportunity and integrity and limiting discretion on the process of expending tax-based public funds.

The public sector internal lead time processes are not regulated in total. Some activities are in the control of the procuring entity while others have stipulations in the law. The process of identification of need, compilation of specifications and the criteria for evaluation is initially in the control of accounting officer (AO).

As for formal tenders, it is a requirement in terms of Section 8 (1) of the Procurement Regulations to forward the request for proposal (RFP) to the Principal Officer (PO) of the State Procurement Board (SPB) for approval. The approval of the RFP includes the general verification for consistent with Sections 31, 32 and 34 of the Procurement Act (Act).

The turnaround time for approval of RFPs are aligned to Section 22 (1) of the Procurement Regulations (Regs) that provides a 10-day window for communication of SPB decisions.

However, the process depends of the complexity of the requirements and the level of cooperation of the AO when correcting the RFP.

Section 9 (1) of the Regs, though vague, stipulates a minimum of 30 calendar days closing period, after tender advertisement. In addition, publication of tender adverts must be published in the Government Gazette and any national newspapers.

The Government Gazette is a weekly publication issued every Friday with a preceding Monday at 1000hrs acceptance deadline. Depending with the timing, it might take up to two weeks before the mandatory publication that follows the 30-day floating period.

After tender closing period, the AO has 15 days at law to submit recommendations to the SPB. The SPB has 10 days to advise the outcome of the tender.

After the award a standstill period of 20 calendar days for appeals in terms of Section 43 of the Act is provided. The internal lead time sum +/-90 calendar days for normal formal tender procedures.

The period can, however, be shortened by adopting special formal tenders (SFT) if SPB approves adoption of restrictive tendering under the listed circumstances in Section 7 of the Regs.

The chairman of the SPB may approve SFT for emergency situations or shorter tender closing period in line with Section 7 (1) and Section 9 (1) of the Regs.

It must also be known that queries and clarifications in tenders may require extension of the tender closing period to allow bidders to incorporate modifications of the RFP during the bidding period. Suppliers and the AOs need to plan accordingly in light of this presentation.

Nyasha Chizu is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply writing in his personal capacity. Feedback: nyashachizu@harleyreed.com

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