Understand government tenders

Learn about the types of tenders and how to apply to a government tender process.
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What you need to know
  1. Tendering has traditionally been the main way the NSW Government approaches the market.
  2. The details of each NSW Government tender and how to apply must be published on eTendering.
  3. Tenders may be open to the market, or limited to invitation only (called closed or limited tenders).
  4. Suppliers who are part of a prequalification scheme may often be invited to limited tenders.
  5. Tenders must remain open for a minimum period of time, depending on the nature of the tender.
  6. To be included in a prequalification scheme, you can register any time at our Supplier Hub.

How the NSW Government runs tenders

Tenders have traditionally been the main way NSW Government approaches the market and awards contracts.

  1. The agency must publish the details of every upcoming tender on eTendering. When they do, they must give as much notice of the tender as possible.
  2. Anyone can view the website and see open tenders. If you want to receive email notifications on upcoming opportunities then you must register on eTendering.
  3. Once you’ve registered, you can also respond to tenders and apply for prequalification schemes.

The different types of tenders

There are specific ways of tendering that the government can choose to use. Some of the most frequently used tenders are listed below.

An RFT or open tender is one that is publicly advertised. You can access and apply for an open tender on eTendering.

In an open RFT, anybody can submit a tender response. Each tenderer must show they satisfy the evaluation criteria and meet any specific requirements.

Typically, a request for proposal (RFP) is used when the government agency knows the final outcome it wants, but it’s not sure what the best solution is for providing it.

An RFP will ask suppliers for a proposal on how they'd solve the problem. It may also include criteria which it will use to evaluate your expertise, experience and capacity to deliver.

An RFP can often be a great opportunity for you to suggest an innovative solution to the tender.

In a request for quote (RFQ), an agency asks you to provide a price quote for specific goods or services.

To be part of an RFQ, you usually need to have an existing contract and be part of a prequalification scheme.

In a limited tender, an agency approaches a supplier or suppliers directly.

A supplier might have the opportunity to participate in a limited tender if they're included in a prequalification scheme and have a specific skillset.

A limited tender will otherwise be used when the agency has already held an open tender but hasn't yet awarded a contract.

NSW Government uses an expression of interest (EOI) in order to determine whether there are any suppliers capable of providing a good or service, and whether the suppliers are interested in performing the work.

You usually won’t have to respond with a detailed response or price quote. Instead, if the agency believes you’re qualified based on your response, they may then open a tender and invite you to submit a tender response.

How to respond to a government tender

Agencies will provide you with all the information you need to respond to a tender by publishing it on eTendering.

Most tenders come with strict time limits, which agencies can't usually extend.

You can read about the minimum tender periods in the guidance for government buyers.