Probity issues by stage and task

Understand how to plan for probity at each procurement stage.

Manage information

Manage information and confidentiality procedures

Set up information management and confidentiality procedures, such as:

  • ensuring that all tenderers have access to the same information
  • commercial-in-confidence information is only available to those who need it
  • providing clarification or further detail to all bidders equally
  • making file notes of conversations
  • controlling and monitoring the flow of information to and from bidders
  • ensuring confidentiality of information obtained during a tendering process
  • ensuring that proprietary information is not communicated to competitors

Managing Records

Keeping records is integral.

Keep all paper and electronic records that result from procuring activities. Follow the Agency’s records management policy.

A systematic approach to making and saving records will ensure that:

  • there is evidence of procurement activity and decisions,
  • legal and other risks are being effectively managed, and
  • accountability obligations, as individuals and as an Agency, can be meet.

Making and keeping records is an integral part of procuring and managing contracts.

Restrict access to purchaser and supplier records people who have a 'need to know'.

Keep records for at least the period required by the Public Record Office Victoria.

Establish governance and resources

Define responsible parties

Define the parties who will make decisions at various stages, such as:

  • prepare offer documents
  • approve the offer documents
  • handle bidder information
  • communicate with bidding parties, including:
    • providing information to them
    • negotiating with them
  • evaluate bids
  • prepare recommendations and make decisions on short-listing and preferred bidder selection
  • consult with Ministers and other parts of government interested in the outcome
  • resolve probity and process questions

Plan for the project team

Ensure that the project team contains people with skills and knowledge appropriate to:

  • what is being purchased
  • the proposed contract

Brief all staff involved.

Actively promote probity and ethics principles, so they become an integral part of day-to-day operations and decision-making.

Manage separation of duties and responsibilities, where required.

Declare and manage potential conflicts of interest in writing following Agency policy.

Declare and manage gift and benefits following Agency policy.

Probity issues in planning the procurement

When planning the procurement ensure:

  • to the extent possible that planning tasks are not biased in favour of particular tenderers or products
  • people involved in the planning tasks are free from conflicts of interest
  • relevant law and policy is complied with
  • proper records of decision taken are maintained

Probity issues in developing the specification

When planning for probity during Developing the specification:

  • ensure that the specification includes essential performance requirements
  • use functional and performance specifications wherever possible
  • specify explicit, objective and measurable performance measures
  • detail how performance will be assessed
  • ensure to the extent possible that the specification is not biased in favour of particular tenderers or products.

Probity issues in completing the evaluation criteria and evaluation plan

When planning for probity during Completing the evaluation criteria and evaluation plan:

  • define evaluation criteria before preparing tender documents
  • ensure evaluation criteria reflect the defined need
  • select an appropriate evaluation method
  • document the process how bids will be evaluated before inviting tenders
  • approve evaluation plans before tenders are invited
  • allocate responsibility for:
    • evaluating the bids
    • making recommendations on selecting preferred bidder
    • making final decisions
  • maintain evaluation criteria throughout the process (they are not to be changed)
  • ensure the project team discloses any potential conflicts of interests, and
  • ensure to the extent possible that the evaluation criteria are not biased
  • ensure to the extent possible that the evaluation method is fair and balanced

Probity issues in organising documents

When planning for probity during Organising the Offer Documents:

  • advise the evaluation criteria in offer documents
  • document the rules of the tender process clearly in the offer documents
  • design offer documents to obtain the information necessary to assess offers
  • clearly set out
    • legal issues
    • accountability
    • intellectual property restrictions
  • state how late and non-conforming tenders are handled
  • request declarations of conflicts of interest
  • include transition in and transition out arrangements

Probity issues in inviting offers

When planning for probity during Invite offers:

Information availability:

  • prevent discrimination between potential tenderers in the provision of tender information
  • appoint a single person to be responsible for arranging advertisements
  • release offer documents at the time listed in the tender notice
  • record all potential tenderers that request offer documents
  • ensure potential tenderers have the same access to tender information

Arrange a pre-tender briefing if required. Record who attends the pre-tender briefing.

Changes and additions:

  • give all potential tenderers the same information at the same time
  • ensure that any changes are not perceived as favouring or disadvantaging any tenderer
  • advise all potential tenderers if the time for closing tenders is extended

Apply the rules governing the tender process transparently to all tenderers. Consistently enforce:

  • any restrictions on the eligibility of parties to tender
  • any mandatory requirements for tenderers, such as skills or experience
  • the deadline for tender submission
  • the location at which tenders are to be lodged
  • procedures for handling day-to-day contact between the project team and tenderers
  • the offer documents' approach to evaluating non-conforming tenders

Probity issues in closing tenders

When planning for probity during Close tenders:

  • ensure tenders are received according to Conditions of Tendering
  • ensure no tenders are read before tender closing
  • open the tender box in the presence of at least two Tender Officers
  • complete a tender registration form for each tender received
  • record late tenders
  • place future tenders back in the tender box, marked as having been removed and replaced

Probity issues in evaluating offers

When planning for probity during Evaluating offers:

Security and confidentiality:

  • establish clear security procedures for handling tender-related documents
  • ensure the confidentiality of tender information
  • maintain confidentiality during a tendering process to protect:
    • the competitive position of individual tenderers
    • the commercial interests of the Government


  • limit the number of copies of tender-related documents produced and number each copy
  • restrict access to commercially sensitive information people with a direct 'need to know'
  • restrict the number of people allowed to deal with tenderers


  • document key discussions with tenderers, including minutes of face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations
  • develop systems for filing and retrieving correspondence with tenderers and other tender-related records

Decision making

  • evaluate the tenders against the requirements of the specification and evaluation criteria consistently
  • prepare a written evaluation of each tender in line with the evaluation criteria
  • assess tenders as quickly as possible
  • detail reasons for the choice of the preferred tenderer
  • ensure these reasons are clear and defensible

Maintain an audit trail, including:

  • the evaluation plan
  • correspondence with tenderers
  • negotiation minutes
  • compliance statements
  • external reports such as whole-of-life costs
  • recommendation report

Probity issues in selecting the preferred tender

When planning for probity during Select the preferred offer:

  • undertake negotiations ethically
  • maintain an audit trail including:
  • ensure the contract is drafted to reflect both parties' expectations
  • negotiation plans (including clear negotiation objectives)
  • minutes of all negotiations
  • any follow up correspondence

Probity issues in debriefing tenderers

When planning for probity during Debrief participants:

  • notify unsuccessful tenderers at the same time
  • give unsuccessful tenderers an opportunity for a debrief
  • maintain confidentiality of any information when giving feedback
  • Do not discuss other offers

Probity issues in managing the contract

When planning for probity during Managing the contract:

  • manage and evaluate performance according to the terms agreed between the parties
  • disclose potential conflicts of interests in writing