Plain LanguageGovernment Solicitations - article THREE
Government solicitations usually make it clear that it is your responsibility to deliver on time using the right delivery method. But what does this mean, and what happens if you deliver to the wrong location or use a method not expressly allowed? This – the third in my blog series on decoding solicitation rules in plain language – answers these questions.
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
Many government solicitations include language such as:
“The Proponent is solely responsible for ensuring that, regardless of submission method selected, the Province receives a complete Proposal, including all attachments or enclosures, before the Closing Time.”
This means that the only one who is accountable for your submission arriving on time is you. If your proposal arrives late, don’t expect the government buyer to be able to accept it no matter why it is late. I’ve heard many reasons for late submissions over the years, such as the courier company was late, the sailing waits between the mainland and Vancouver Island, and even that the coffee shop Wifi went down. None of this matters; if your submission misses the mandatory requirement to be on time, it will be rejected.
This is another reason to set a personal deadline a day or two in advance, so that something as common as the courier delivering a couple of hours later than they promised will not result in you missing the government’s deadline. By the way, you may want to check out the agreement you have with the courier company, as there’s often language saying that they are not responsible for late delivery.
How to Submit
Government solicitations will tell you the acceptable methods for delivering your submissions. Typically, they will provide one or more options, such as hand delivery, via a government website such as BC Bid, and/or via email. You must use one of these allowed methodologies; don’t assume that you can use the same method you used last time, unless it’s expressly allowed. If you use the wrong delivery method (e.g. email, when it was not a stated option for delivery), your submission will not be accepted.
- Hand Delivery
If hand delivery is an allowable option that you would prefer to use, plan on either delivering the submission yourself or hiring a courier company to do it for you. Make sure that you include the right number of hard copies identified in the solicitation, and if requested, an electronic copy (usually on a USB stick). It also helps a great deal if the envelope or box that holds your submission identifies the solicitation name and number, as well as your company name. This makes it easy for government staff to identify your package as a submission and treat it accordingly.
Be certain that you are delivering to the address provided in the solicitation document; check all the addenda issued just to be sure that the address hasn’t changed. If you deliver to the wrong address – even if it’s the address originally given but later changed in an addendum – there is a high probability that it will not arrive at the right location on time, and therefore will be rejected.
When your submission is delivered, get a receipt showing the date and time that your package arrived at the closing location, as this is your proof of delivery just in case anything goes wrong.
- Electronic Delivery
If electronic delivery is acceptable, be clear on what this means. For example, a solicitation may allow eBids through the BC Bid website but not email submissions. You also want to pay attention to restrictions put on electronic files, such as maximum size and whether or not zipped files will be acceptable. Missing any of these can result in the system being unable to accept your submission.
If using a government website for your solicitation (such as BC Bid), make sure that you create your website account well in advance of the closing date and time. It may take a couple of business days to have your account ready for use, and you don’t want to miss the deadline while waiting for your account to be finalized. Don’t be shy about contacting the appropriate help desk if you have any issues or questions about your account or whether your submission has been received.
Be careful about emailing your submission for those solicitations that allow for it. Many things can go wrong with emails, that may cause a significant delay in getting your submission, or even result in the government system rejecting it. (Remember the previous section in this blog about who’s responsible for getting your proposal in on time). Do yourself the favour of reading the “Guidelines for Vendors for Submissions Via Email” to make sure that you understand the risks and know how to mitigate as many of them as possible.
And as always, if anything is unclear about how to deliver your submission, send a question to the government contact person asking for clarification well in advance of the closing date.
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