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Top Tips for Making Clarification Questions Work For You

03 November 2016 #Public Procurement


Clarification questions are an integral part of any procurement process. Do not be afraid of submitting them – it is better to raise a question (even if it then means that your competitors get the benefit of the responses provided) than to make an incorrect assumption about what the contracting authority wants.

  • Follow our top tips set out below to get the best out of the process and help you submit a winning bid.
  • Read the tender documents carefully and do not assume that you understand what the contracting authority is asking for. If the documents are ambiguous and could impact your submission submit a clarification question at the earliest opportunity. Contracting authorities do not select or reject bidders based on the content of clarification questions.
  • Make sure that you understand the process and timescales for submitting clarification questions. If the process does not give you the chance to submit questions, then ask the contracting authority if questions can be raised.
  • Follow the process, if there is one, in the tender documents. Failing to comply with that process might detrimentally impact your submission.
  • Work out whether your clarification question will reveal anything about your submission (a Specific Clarification) or if it is generic to all bidders (a Generic Clarification). If it is a Specific Clarification, then check out the process to work out the circumstances in which your question will be revealed to all bidders and when it will be kept confidential.
  • If the process deals with Generic or Specific Clarifications in a different way, then make sure when you frame your question you are clear to the contracting authority which category it should fall in. If the process is silent then your first clarification question to a contracting authority is whether you may submit a clarification question that will not be disclosed to the other bidders.
  • Frame your questions so they are one issue per question, keeping them clear, and concise. Do not ask one question with a number of component parts unless they are linked and set out in bullet points. That way you encourage the contracting authority to cover all issues that you have raised and you can easily check off that the contracting authority has answered all of your questions.
  • If the response received to a clarification question does not properly address the issue, ask another clarification question.
  • Make sure that you know the deadline for submitting clarification questions and submit them at the earliest opportunity. Missing a deadline will probably mean you cannot raise any clarification questions prior to submitting your bid. Equally if the question has a significant impact on the way you will structure your bid make sure that you submit it early so that you can get the response in sufficient time to then prepare your proposal.

So follow the rules, make sure that your entire team reviews the tender document early and raises any questions as soon as you can.

For further information please contact kparker@clarkslegal.com 

Clarkslegal, specialist Public Procurement lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Public Procurement matter please contact Clarkslegal's public procurement team by email at contact@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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Kirstin Parker

Kirstin Parker
Senior Consultant

E: kparker@clarkslegal.com
T: 0118 953 3936
M: 07876 740 984

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Public Procurement team
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