The Secret Diary of a Hired Tender Gun

Have you ever wondered how rigorously the tenders you send in are evaluated? If you think it is just the Evaluation Panel that your tenders have to navigate – think again.

Risk Management is the Driver

Some Agencies engage an independent expert to provide a second opinion on the technical merits of each tender; somewhat like the old cowboy movies where the townsfolk call in a hired gun to help them deal with rambunctious ranch hands. Why go to this bother and additional expense when the Evaluation Panel will have internal experts on board that will do their own assessment? Because if the product or service is particularly important they are very concerned about getting it wrong and ending up with a poor result. Agency capabilities and reputations can be severely jeopardised if this happens; not to mention individual careers, so the additional expense is regarded as a good risk management investment.


Profile of a Hired Gun

So who are these independent technical experts or so called “hired guns”?

Usually they’re individuals or companies of considerable standing within their industry. They may be consulting firms or commentators who undertake independent research or regularly publish articles on directly related areas.

Whatever their normal business, it is their in-depth knowledge, ability to stand aside from the Agency and the clarity this brings that makes their input so valuable. In short, they can usually spot inaccuracies or grandiose, undeliverable claims pretty quickly.


The Showdown

How does this independent assessment happen? The Evaluation Panel separates out the purely technical parts of your tender and sends them off to the expert who goes through the material with a fine tooth comb. The relevant technical sections might be an IT solution, your methodology for solving an engineering problem, conducting social research or providing transport services. If your solution has some shortcomings it is highly likely they will be picked up in the process.

Now the “hired gun” will not have access to the broader tender because they don’t have the corporate or contextual knowledge required to assess how the overall solution fits the Agency. This task resides with the Evaluation Panel proper. Rather, the hired gun will report to the Chair of the Evaluation Panel who then shares the assessment with the rest of the Panel. On most occasions the technical expert will also be called in to present their findings so the Panel can ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the assessment.

It is worth noting here that the Evaluation Panel does not have to accept the technical expert’s advice, although it does tend to shape their decision-making in most cases.


What it means for you

So what does all this mean for you and your bid team? It adds to your understanding of how the government customer works and hopefully serves as a reminder to put in your very best response. Being blasé and falling into the trap of only giving high-level descriptions of your proposed solutions can be the undoing of your tender. Yes, you might have a great reputation but you have to give them enough detail to enable the evaluators to fully understand what your offer.