Probity – maintain confidentiality of tender participants’ confidential information (Construction Guidance 4.1.3)

Explains how the principles of probity relate to maintaining the confidentiality of tender participants’ information.

Effective date: 1 July 2018

Objective: To explain the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of tender participants’ information.


The probity-specific directions and instructions should be an ongoing reference at all points of a tender process and contract management.

This guidance discusses the probity requirements in relation to handling confidential information in the public construction procurement processes.

How to maintain confidentiality of participants’ information

To uphold the integrity of competitive procurement, Agencies should maintain appropriate confidentiality to protect information and to give tender participants the confidence to do business with the Victorian Government.

Confidential information may include:

  • designated or defined elements of the tender responses
  • proprietary methodologies held by the tender participants
  • specific intellectual property and pricing and staffing structures

Most of the information contained in tender responses should be kept confidential.

Confidentiality and security can be achieved in a number of ways, which should be scaled to match the size, complexity and risk of the procurement.

Follow defined document management and control procedures, including the physical security of submissions (and related documents) and confidentiality of commercial information and inform staff of these procedures.

Establish clear physical security measures for handling documents, such as:

  • using a specific lockable tender room
  • maintaining a document register
  • providing secure storage and working areas
  • limiting the number of document copies
  • restricting access to controlled documents to authorised personnel
  • ensuring strict movement controls on all offer-related documents

Implement documented procedures for paper and electronic security including information storage and communication processes. This should include:

  • controlling how documents are delivered electronically
  • protecting data stored on networks
  • segregating information held on networked devices
  • using independent security passwords
  • transmitting documents securely, such as via password protected files and verifying procedures to ensure the correct transmission of emails and attachments

Obtain specific advice from security experts or from a probity adviser if one has been appointed.

The need to maintain the confidentiality of participants’ information continues after the contract has been awarded. In particular, when contracts must be disclosed in full, commercially sensitive information should be redacted (see Publishing the details of procurements undertaken (Construction Instruction 5.2).

Maintaining confidentiality is not absolute and should be assessed in terms of contract disclosure requirements for Freedom of Information and audit purposes.

Useful resources

Privacy by Design – Effective privacy design in the Victorian public sector (Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection)

This paper provides information and content about privacy by design and explains how and why privacy by design is helpful for the community and Agencies.

Tools and support

The Construction Toolkit includes key documents, guidance and information about the Ministerial directions and instructions for public construction.

For further information about the Ministerial directions and instructions for public construction procurement, please contact the Construction Policy Team.