Chapter 07. Management of Submissions
Table of Contents
A Tender Opening Committee (TOC) is an entity responsible for the handling of submissions in response to formal solicitation exercises. Their responsibilities shall include the receiving, recording, and safeguarding of Submissions, as well as conducting formal tender opening meetings. In case of informal solicitation exercises conducted through e-tendering, the TOC will also be responsible of releasing offers to the Procurement Officials.
To ensure the integrity of the procurement process, a TOC must consist of a minimum of two appointed staff members who are not otherwise involved in the procurement process.
As of 1 January 2019, the Chief of the Enabling and Outreach Service, OSCM will appoint the TOC members at UN Headquarters. At all other United Nations Secretariat duty stations, the TOC members are appointed, in writing, by the Chief of Administration/Director of Administration or the Chief Mission Support/Director Mission Support (CMS/DMS) or equivalent function.
Tender Opening Committees may be established and staffed permanently, or they may be designated temporarily to serve during a limited time (e.g. assigned to a specific tender).
No substantive information, except for Solicitation Documents, amendments thereto, questions, clarifications, and answers to vendor inquiries, shall be disclosed by the TOC or any other UN staff members to any individual or otherwise made public, unless otherwise explicitly written in this chapter.
It is the responsibility of vendors to ensure that offers are submitted to the UN in accordance with the stipulations in the solicitation documents.
The solicitation documents shall clearly indicate the chosen method of delivery and time of receipt. Submissions may be received by hand delivery, courier service, mail, facsimile, e-mail, or e-tendering system, as specified in the solicitation documents. Submissions that are not received in strict accordance with instructions as specified in the solicitation documents may be rejected.
Receipt and safeguarding of submissions, in response to formal solicitation exercises, shall be performed by TOC members. In order to facilitate receipt of submissions, the Procurement Official shall provide in advance (i.e., immediately following the issuance of a solicitation to the invitees) to the TOC a summary of the solicitation details, which shall contain, inter alia, the tender closing and opening dates, tender reference and title, solicitation method, list of invited vendors, and bid abstract in case of an ITB. Upon receipt of a Submission, the TOC member must record time of receipt and ensure that satisfactory evidence of the time of receipt is secured (e.g. hand delivery receipt signed by both parties, courier tracking information, facsimile/e-tendering log files). All hard copies of tenders should be recorded with a date and time stamp.
Immediately upon receipt, submissions must be secured in a restricted area, where they shall remain sealed until the formal opening time. From the time of receipt until the time of their formal opening, only the designated individuals (i.e., TOC members) shall have access to the restricted area where the submissions are stored. Exceptional access required by others (e.g. maintenance personnel) shall be limited in time and under escort by a TOC member. TOC members shall take all necessary measures to ensure the confidentially of the Submissions received.
A submission that is inadvertently opened before the submission opening date and time shall be brought to the attention of the Director PD or CPO and shall be noted in the procurement file. If the Director, PD or CPO decides to accept the submission, it shall immediately be placed in a sealed envelope and be marked.
The TOC shall ensure that Submissions by hand delivery, courier, or mail can be received during the duty station’s normal business hours and in accordance with tender instructions. Submissions shall be delivered in a sealed envelope with the name of the vendor, tender number, and tender opening date and time marked on the outside. For Submissions delivered by hand, the vendor representative shall be provided with a copy of the receipt time-stamped and signed by both parties.
Prior to securing a submission in a restricted area, the TOC shall review the envelope to ensure it is marked completely and verify the vendor’s eligibility to participate in the tender by checking the list of invited vendors and marking date and time of receipt as well as any security instruments (e.g. bid bonds) received as part of the Submission.
The TOC shall ensure that all security instruments are carefully recorded, tracked, and securely stored as would be typically required for instruments with monetary value. The Procurement Official shall submit the original bid bonds to the TOC through the Bid Bond form detailing all bid bonds received in relation to the solicitation for onward safekeeping with Treasury.
Facsimile Submissions shall be received on a dedicated fax line only accessible to TOC members, preferably located in the same restricted area where tender Submissions are securely stored until opening.
Facsimile Submissions must be treated with the same degree of control as other Submissions. The TOC will check the list of invited vendors to ensure participation eligibility and mark the date and time Submissions have been received against the List of Invitees. The Submission shall be placed in a sealed envelope(s) with tender reference number, vendor name, date/time received, the tender opening date and time, and the TOC member’s initials marked on the outside of the envelope. The TOC will not issue an acknowledgment of receipt for facsimile Submissions.
If the fax is incomplete or illegible, the TOC will issue a memorandum to the appropriate Approving Authority to decide whether to accept/reject the submission and/or request the vendor to resubmit via facsimile or alternate means.
E-tendering is a system that enables Procurement Officials and vendors to manage the tender process and the associated exchange of documents online through the Internet.
Electronic Submissions are legally binding as long as they are signed off by the authorized representative of the bidder and are submitted in a file format, as determined by the UN, in the tender documentation.
Electronic submissions received via e-mail shall only be received on a dedicated email account, accessible to TOC members only, to be accessed only from a dedicated terminal located in the restricted area where tender Submissions are securely stored till their opening.
While the UN Secretariat shall take every reasonable step to ensure that it does not upload corrupt or unsafe tender documents, bidders should check any documents downloaded from the e-tendering system for viruses prior to opening them. The UN will not be liable or responsible for the loss, damage, destruction, corruption, or illegibility of documents in any electronic submission, however caused. The UN is also not able to consider electronic documents that are corrupt, infected, or otherwise unreadable.
The TOC shall ensure that e-Submissions are not opened until the time of the tender opening. It is important to note that the tender submission deadline stated in the solicitation document applies equally to hard copy and electronic tender Submissions. In the case of Submissions via electronic means, the receipt timestamp is the date and time the submission has been received, as indicated by the log files of the relevant IT platform(s). It is the sole responsibility of bidders to ensure that the UN Secretariat receives their Submission on or before the prescribed deadline.
Electronic means of data interchange are permitted, provided that the electronic means uphold the procurement principles and allow for an adequate audit trail of the procurement process.
In case of informal methods of solicitations conducted through e-tendering that resulted in less than three (3) offers, the TOC shall release submissions only following the written approval of the Director, PD or CPO. n an entity without a CPO, the approval of the official with the highest delegated procurement authority shall be sought.
Submissions may be modified by bidders in writing prior to the closing date and time of the solicitation. In the case of modified Submissions, the latest submitted offer prior to the Submission deadline is the binding one. The modification shall be submitted as per the original Submission instructions as stated in the solicitation documents and shall be treated like any other offer.
If the modified Submission is received after the Submission closing date and time, it shall not be considered, and the Procurement Official will notify the bidder in writing. The UN is not responsible for errors in price made by the vendor, and the vendor is bound by the prices provided. If there are discrepancies between totalling prices and unit prices, unit prices shall govern unless it is clear that the unit prices contain a typographical error or mistake.
If it is considered to be in the best interest of the Organization, the Procurement Official, in consultation with the Procurement Approving Authority, may request any missing documentation/data/information (See Chapter 8.8.1 for details). If the bidder does not furnish the documentation/data/information within a specified period of time after it has been requested, normally five (5) UN business days, the submission may be rejected, and the bidder shall be notified accordingly in writing.
Submissions may be withdrawn by bidders in writing prior to the closing date and time of the solicitation. Withdrawal of a submission by a bidder can only be accepted if the UN is notified in writing prior to the announced deadline for submission of offers. Immediately after receipt of the formal withdrawal by a vendor, the TOC shall separate the withdrawn offer from the other submissions and ensure that the withdrawn offer is not opened during the opening ceremony. After receiving agreement in writing from bidder and Procurement Official, the TOC shall destroy the unopened submission or return it to the bidder at its cost, if so requested.
If received after the submission deadline, the UN Secretariat should not honour withdrawal of, or modifications to, submissions and shall open the submission together with the other submissions and shall notify the vendor in writing.
If the bidder has furnished bid security with the submission, the UN Secretariat shall withhold that bid security, with the intention to invoke the security instrument in case the submission is selected after evaluation and the bidder is not willing to provide the goods/services offered in its Submission. The Procurement Official shall ensure the bid security remains valid. If no bid security was requested, the issue should be resolved through negotiations. OLA’s advice should be sought as appropriate before taking action on the bid security as needed. The procedures of Chapter 3.3 on the VRC may be applicable.
If the bidder can justify the withdrawal of its submission, the UN may accept a withdrawal after the submission deadline. It should be considered whether it is in the interest of the UN to hold the vendor to its Submission after the request for withdrawal. The appropriate Procurement Approving Authority up to the level of Director, PD or CPO, should make this consideration prior to the final decision.
Any bid security instruments provided in connection to a withdrawn bid can be cashed in full by the Organization
It is the responsibility of the bidder to ensure timely delivery and receipt of their Submissions. Submissions received after the submission deadline need not be accepted by the Organization.
Submissions received after the designated date and time should be rejected and noted as such in the tender opening report by the TOC, unless a decision is made to accept the submission or offer based on a holistic evaluation of the circumstances that led to the late delivery and the best interests of the Organization. When deciding to accept or reject a late submission, the following circumstances shall be duly considered, among other considerations:
- The extent of the delay;
- There is clear evidence to establish that it was received at the tender opening location of the UN Secretariat entity or under the UN Secretariat’s physical control prior to the tender closing deadline;
- If an emergency or other event interrupts normal UN Secretariat processes and operations so that submissions cannot be received at the designated location by the closing deadline; or
- Whether best efforts were made by the vendor to provide the submission or offer in time.
Acceptance of late Submissions shall be on a case-by-case basis. In case of late receipt, the Director, PD or the CPO may accept Submissions received after the closing date specified in the tender document as long as it is received prior to initiation of the evaluation process by the evaluation team. This is only permissible where it is established that the delay was not under the control of the vendor and the acceptance of the submission does not create the appearance of, or an actual, unfair advantage to the vendor.
The TOC must submit immediately, for consideration by the Director, PD or the CPO, the relevant details of any late submission and keep a record of the Director, PD or the CPO’s decision, which will subsequently be communicated to the bidder by the Procurement Official.
Submissions that have been rejected shall remain unopened and shall be forwarded to the Procurement Official. The bidder shall be officially notified in writing of the rejection upon such decision. The submission shall be destroyed or returned to the bidder at the bidder’s own cost, is so requested.
Unsolicited Submissions from vendors that the UN has not invited shall be rejected by the Director, PD or the CPO, and the vendor shall be advised of such rejection in writing unless a decision is made to accept the submission on an exceptional basis, as further described below. Such unsolicited Submissions shall remain unopened and shall be destroyed or returned by the TOC to the vendor, at its own cost, if so requested.
Submissions from vendors whose names are not on the List of Invitees but appear to be related to a vendor included in the List of Invitees, should be brought to the attention of the Procurement Official, who shall contact the original invitee to seek clarification.
In cases where Submissions were made by vendors that are related business entities of the original invitees, due to their business arrangements in place, Submissions from such vendors may be accepted upon documented and supporting evidence of the corporate relationship. Submissions from vendors who are appointed by the original invitee as sales, export, or local representatives of the original invitees, and are not financially and legally affiliated with the original invitee in terms of ownership, may be accepted, provided that the invitees inform the UN Secretariat of their appointment in advance with a proof of appointment prior to the submission deadline. Such acceptance is subject to approval by the most senior Procurement Official in an office.
Unsolicited submissions may be accepted at the discretion of the Director, PD or CPO where professional judgment leads to the belief that doing so would be in the interest of the Organization. A decision to accept or reject an unsolicited submission shall rely on professional judgment and a holistic analysis of the potential benefits of the submission.
Proper care should be taken to identify how the submitting vendor obtained information relating to the solicitation. It is important that the Procurement Official, in collaboration with the Vendor Registration and TOC function, ascertains that the vendor is a bona fide vendor and meets all the registration prerequisites and status.
Submissions for ITBs or RFPs shall be opened by the TOC consisting of duly authorized personnel.
Tender openings of ITBs and RFPs are conducted during a formal meeting at a time and location specified in the solicitation instructions. It may be transmitted via webcast for those bidders who have submitted an offer. Only those vendors who have submitted an offer (i.e., bidder) may designate one representative to attend, in an observing capacity, the tender opening of a specific ITB or RFP. The representative may be an employee or agent of the bidder, a local representative designated by the bidder, including appointed personnel from a law firm, or an officer of a Permanent Mission to the UN, a Trade Office of a UN Member State, or other diplomatic office.
The bidders shall advise the TOC in advance of the names of its representatives who will be attending the tender opening meeting using the tender acknowledgment letter.
Every individual attending the meeting shall have his or her name, title, and proper representation for a submitting vendor verified and recorded prior to the start of the tender opening meeting.
The appropriate Procurement Approving Authority may authorize other parties to attend tender openings in an observing capacity.
The bidders’ representatives and other parties attending the tender opening shall act solely as observers and not as active participants in the opening process. At no time during the tender opening can UN staff or attending parties engage in discussions or other forms of information exchange other than the formal announcement of opening proceedings and results by the TOC.
All bids received in response to an ITB shall be opened and recorded by the TOC during a tender opening meeting at the time and location specified in the solicitation instructions.
During the meeting, the TOC shall record and announce for each bid the bidders’ names and, in the case of an ITB, may also include the grand total price of each bid. At the discretion of the TOC, more detailed pricing information at the subcategory or line-level may be announced and recorded.
Submissions cannot be rejected or invalidated at the time of opening by the Tender Opening Committee. The TOC shall reflect any inconsistencies (e.g. late Submissions) in the tender opening report and mention during the public tender opening that inconsistencies are brought forward to the Director, PD or the CPO for deciding how to proceed.
After the conclusion of the tender opening meeting, one member of the TOC shall escort the bidders’ representatives and other parties attending the meeting out of the meeting room. All TOC members shall certify the tender opening procedure by signing the tender opening report. All paper submissions shall be marked or perforated with an indication of the tender reference number and opening date.
Only the technical proposals received in response to an RFP shall be opened and recorded by the TOC during a tender opening meeting at the time and location specified in the solicitation instructions. The financial proposals shall remain sealed and the contents undisclosed until after the technical evaluation of the proposals has been completed4.
During the meeting, the TOC shall record and announce, for each bid, the bidder’s name.
Submissions cannot be rejected or invalidated at the time of opening by the TOC. The TOC shall reflect any inconsistencies (e.g. late Submissions) in the tender opening report and mention during the public tender opening that inconsistencies are brought forward to the Director, PD or the CPO for deciding how to proceed.
After the conclusion of the tender opening meeting, one member of the TOC shall escort the bidders’ representatives and other parties attending the meeting out of the meeting room. All TOC members shall certify the tender opening procedure by signing the tender opening report. All paper documents contained in the technical Submissions, except catalogues and brochures, shall be marked or perforated with an indication of the tender reference number and opening date.
The UN shall reserve the right to reject any or all Submissions received which do not comply with the Solicitation Documents instructions, or whenever such rejection is in the interest of the Organization in accordance with Financial Rule 105.15(c).
Following the tender opening for ITBs, Submissions shall be kept secure and their access limited to authorized TOC members only, until formal handover of Submissions to the Procurement Official. The original tender opening report and all Submissions shall be handed over to the Procurement Official who signs for receipt. The TOC shall retain a copy of the tender opening report.
Following the tender opening for RFPs, the original tender opening report and all technical Submissions shall be handed over to the Procurement Official who signs for receipt. The financial Submissions shall be kept sealed in a secure location under the custody of the TOC, pending completion of the technical evaluation.
Upon receipt of confirmation from the Procurement Official that the technical evaluation has been completed, the TOC shall open the financial envelopes of those Submissions that have been found to be technically compliant. In the case of a paper-based solicitation exercise, the TOC shall mark or perforate with the tender number and the date of the request said financial proposals and hand over to the Procurement Official both the aforementioned financial submissions and sealed financial envelopes of technically non-compliant Submissions. The Procurement Official then signs for receipt of the Submissions. In the case of an e-tendering solicitation exercise, only the financial files of technically compliant Submissions are handed over to the Procurement Official in the system. For Submissions received through dedicated secured e-mail address, the TOC shall forward the financial Submissions to the Procurement Official and save an electronic copy with the TOC for audit trail.
The Procurement Official shall provide the appointed evaluation committees with relevant Submission documents to conduct the evaluation of the ITB or RFP.
The tender opening reports for ITBs and RFPs shall be available for consultation by vendors for a period of thirty (30) days from the tender opening date. A vendor may consult only those tender opening reports for which the vendor has submitted a tender.
SOP on Management of Submissions in Response to Formal Solicitations
- For RFPs for movement services for COE, Financial and Technical Proposals are opened simultaneously, as an exception to the Opening procedures for RFPs.