Plain LanguageGovernment Solicitations - article TWo
Government solicitations almost always have deadlines by which you must deliver your submission. But how important is it to be on time? This – the second in my blog series on decoding solicitation rules in plain language – answers this question.
Note: This article is intended for general information only, and is not, nor should it be treated as, legal advice. Readers should consult with their legal counsel about anything stated in this article if they intend to rely upon it.
Delivering Submissions: Closing Date and Time
The simple answer is that the closing date and time are extremely important; your submission may get rejected (as in no one reads it) if it arrives late. But why is this rule so strict and the consequences of not following it so severe?
Most solicitations have a closing date and time with language something like the following:
“Proposals must be submitted before Closing Time to the Closing Location using one of the submission methods set out on the cover page of this RFP.”
The government buyer needs this closing date and time, as it defines when the evaluation process can begin. It can be a huge problem if submissions can come in at any time, but a contract is required by a specific date. For this reason, arriving on time is usually a mandatory requirement, which means that any submission that arrives late is rejected and will not be evaluated.
The language used about the closing date and time makes a huge impact as to when a submission is on time. To illustrate this point, let’s say that you are responding to a solicitation that is closing this Thursday at 2 p.m. Pacific Time, and the instructions say that the submission must arrive before closing. A submission that arrives before 2 p.m. on Thursday has met this requirement, but a submission that arrives at exactly 2 p.m. on Thursday is late, as it didn’t arrive before the closing date and time.
The government buyer needs to be strict about this closing date and time. If they accept a submission that arrived late to the closing location – even by a second – they put themselves at risk as all the vendors who submitted on time could complain that this late submission should have been rejected. Some vendors may even sue if the vendor with the late submission is awarded the contract, and the Canadian Courts have repeatedly sided with the vendor in such cases. By the way, this requirement is not just applicable to government solicitations; anyone – public and private sector – that issues a solicitation in Canada with a mandatory closing date and time is subject to this same requirement (something to remember if your company issues solicitations for your own goods and services).
The biggest favour you can do for yourself when responding to a solicitation is to deliver it early to the specified closing location. Set a personal deadline a few days ahead of the actual closing date, and do your best to meet your own deadline. This will give you a bit of extra time if something unexpected happens. Plus, you can always update any or all of your submission – or even withdraw it all together – if you deliver your submission amendments to the buyer by the closing date and time.
And as always, if anything is unclear about the closing date and time (or anything else), send a question to the government contact person asking for clarification well in advance of the closing date.
Get In Touch