eBid System’s Transparent Sourcing Toolkit

Mar 6, 2015 by Tim Schmidt

While for the past 15 years eBid Systems has been serving the needs of local governments in the United States, recently we have enjoyed international growth serving public and private organizations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South Pacific.

The key reason for our international acceptance?

Our focus on transparency.

Transparency can have different meanings and applications depending on the organization. For example, in the public sphere there is the need for an open and fair bidding process for interested vendors. Meanwhile private organizations desire visibility to their procurement procedures to ensure staffs are following best practices for sourcing and minimize the risks of collusion.

eBid eXchange has a set of tools and features that let organizations implement their own unique mix of business rules to address areas of concern. In this article, I will review how eBid eXchange provides the essential tools for transparency for different types of organizations.

Open Bidding for Public Organizations

Governments and quasi government organizations typically need to have an open bidding or tendering process for most purchases over a specific value. This means that anyone can access information about the solicitation and submit a bid on it. To foster this approach, eBid eXchange provides:

  • Open vendor registration
  • Posting bid solicitations
  • Automated solicitation notification
  • Public access to bid documents and addendums

These capabilities can be deployed in an infinitely flexible approach that allows organizations like the City of Surprise, AZ post solicitations and receive bids for larger public solicitations while receiving bids from select invited vendors on smaller solicitations. Other organizations like Oman Dry Dock have a public registration process but only prequalified vendors are allowed to access and respond to tenders.

Automated Information Publishing

Some public organizations take transparency to another level by sharing “everything.” For instance, I’ve seen governments go as far as to publish individual transactions from their accounting system. For these organizations that want to share as much information as possible, eBid eXchange provides the ability to automatically publish on the procurement portal:

  • Bidder/Planholder lists
  • Submitted bids
  • Award information
  • Contract information

Each organization can decide which information will be automatically published in the public procurement portal and which information is not. Rules can be established for all solicitations or only apply to those with specific criteria. For example, Sound Transit publishes the planholder list for large construction projects but not for other types of procurements. Regardless if the information is posted to the public site, it is automatically generated and available to system administrators and auditors.

Enforcement of Sourcing Best Practices

There are a number of best practices for competitive sourcing. I reviewed a number of them in “Eight Rules for Competitive Bidding.” The purpose of these rules is to prevent collusion and ensure the integrity of the bidding process. Some of those best practices that can be enforced in the system are:

  • Sealed Bidding: The system prevents ANYONE from viewing bids prior to the closing date. This prevents internal staff from sharing information about a company’s bid with another company. Once sealed, the bids must be unlocked by an authorized person and even that person cannot do it until after the bid deadline.
  • Deadline Enforcement: The key deadlines in the bidding process are the submission of questions and the submission of bids. eBid eXchange prevents vendors from having an unfair advantage by controlling these deadlines.
  • Share Consistent Information: In addition to the document and communication features previously discussed, eBid eXchange has Q&A management tools where vendors submit their questions and view the responses online. All questions and answers can be shared with all potential suppliers.

Complete Transaction and Notification logs

eBid eXchange helps ensure compliance by recording all relevant activities so that management has increased visibility into the integral sourcing activities such as when and by whom solicitations were posted, notices sent and received, bids were submitted by suppliers and unlocked by staff, and much more. The logs, along with a series of exportable reports, give management increased visibility into the sourcing process by manager and auditors to quickly validate organization policies are followed.