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BVP Post Decision-Respondent Debriefing

Posted 2/28/2017

You have informed the leading respondent to your RFP that they have won the contract and similarly informed the others that they have not. Some or all of the loosing respondents will ask why they did not win the contract. Are you prepared?

Unsuccessful respondents have a right to a debriefing and it is in the buying organization’s best interest to provide a professional debriefing. A proponent debriefing is an essential component of supplier development and good relationship building. This is what I do:

  • Prepare. This means right from the disclosure of the evaluation criteria in the request document through the post close evaluations;
  • Ensure that evaluators put in writing the reasons for scoring criteria the way they do. If proponent A’s response was weak in comparison to proponent B’s say why. Do this  for each scored criterion;
  • The relative scores and most importantly the reasons will form the basis for the debriefing interview.

Guidelines for a debriefing:

  • Set a reasonable time window for proponents to request a debriefing in your outcome notice; you should not be expected to do this months after notice;
  • Do the debriefing verbally, in person or on the phone, never in writing;
  • Be professional. Respect the confidentiality of other proponent’s responses;
  • Based on the criterion scores and notes tell the proponent where they excelled and what could be done to improve their response next time;
  • You will get asked about price. I consider the prices offered to be confidential. I may tell the proponent which quartile in the range of prices their total price was. I never discuss component or unit prices. Explain why the confidentiality, would they like their prices known to all?

The outcome of a successful debriefing should be a satisfied proponent better equipped to respond to future requests. You will have created a professional relationship with a potential supplier. A debriefing done well can avoid FOI requests and additional administrative costs.

Nothing in this message is intended to convey legal advice nor should it be considered exhaustive.