There are some significant changes in the way that tendering will happen for school building projects. CourtHeath’s Pauline Bernard asked Don Burns, Manager Implementation in the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) to tell us what’s happening and when.
What are the major changes?
There are three main changes:
- First, there is a new process to seek expressions of interest from contractors interested in working on school building projects. This started in 2015.
- Secondly, from July 2016, tenders will be submitted electronically rather than in hard copy.
- And thirdly, all projects over $1 million commencing contract documentation after mid August 2016 need to use the VSBA’s NATSPEC system.
Can you tell us about the expression of interest process?
On a quarterly basis, the VSBA will call for expressions of interest from contractors who are interested in tendering for school building projects. This will be advertised in the Herald Sun and a direct communication will be sent to contractors registered in relevant categories on the state’s Construction Supplier Register.
The projects that are going to be tendered in the following quarter will all be listed. Contractors will have an opportunity to select projects for which they would like to tender and to indicate any projects that are not of interest.
It’s expected that EOIs will be invited quarterly but if necessary, the VSBA may issue an invitation for EOIs in addition to the quarterly invitation.
Not all contractors will be invited to tender on every project they select. However, it’s intended that they will all have at least one tendering opportunity.
The quarterly EOI process will be taking a program-wide view rather than project-by- project. So all of the interested prequalified organisations should have an opportunity to tender for projects. The VSBA won’t be choosing each tender invitation list for each project in isolation which means they can consider the tendering workload and construction project workload for contractors relating to all VSBA projects.
The intention is to invite six contractors to tender for each project. Where there is sufficient interest from suitable contractors, at least one contractor who has not previously undertaken work for the Department will be included on the invitation list.
Who can submit an EOI?
Contractors will need to be prequalified on the state’s Construction Supplier Register in a relevant category and at the relevant project value level.
Is it only the mega projects that will go through this new process?
No, this is going to be the new standard process for all VSBA capital projects and for maintenance projects valued over $200,000 scheduled to go to tender in the following quarter.
Who will be running the EOI and tendering process?
The Department’s portfolio program managers Indec-Arup will be coordinating the EOI process in conjunction with VSBA staff and the principal consultant appointed to the project. The process to be followed is in the Department’s Program Management Framework which is well known to the consultants. The new rules to govern the EOI and tender processes are outlined in PMF 6.
The tendering stage will still be managed by the principal consultant but all the transactions throughout the whole tendering process will happen through the Department’s online construction management system, iTWOcx.
What are the differences with online tendering?
With the introduction of electronic (locked box) tendering from July 2016, there will be a number of changes.
- The Request for Tender and all the associated documents including drawings and specifications will be made available online through a new module in the Department’s iTWOcx system.
- This tendering system maintains an audit trail of all interactions with the system including when tenderers download the RFT, clarification requests from tenderers, clarifications and addenda issued on behalf of the Department and when these are accessed by tenderers. The system also logs tender lodgement, maintaining a record of when documents are lodged as well as the full content of all tender documents. The system also keeps track of subsequent clarification requests and responses from tenderers.
- There is no longer a requirement to hold a formal tender opening meeting. The consultants can open the tender responses and start to review the responses once the locked box opens at tender closing time.
- There are some changes to the Department’s standard Conditions of Tendering to support the change to electronic tender lodgement.
Who needs to know iTWOcx?
Consultants and contractors working on school building projects need to know how to use iTWOcx. Training is available from Indec-Arup who also authorise logins.
Where can consultants access more information about these changes?
Information about these changes can be accessed by contractors and consultants through:
- the iTWOcx Quick Reference Guide Tender Administration
- the iTWOcx Quick Reference Guide- Tenders for Bidders
- Section 6 of the Project Management Framework (PMF 6)
- The Conditions of Tendering
Photograph: Zac Couyant Z Image and thanks to Y2 Architecture