Public Affairs Ireland | Training and Development | Conferences

Breakfast Briefing: Construction Procurement Masterclass

On Friday 8 February 2019, Public Affairs Ireland and Quigg Golden hosted a Procurement breakfast briefing at PAI’s premises on Mountjoy Square. William Brown of Quigg Golden led this Construction Procurement Masterclass which focussed on Evaluating Tenders, Debrief Letters and Awarding Contracts. PAI were delighted to work with Quigg Golden who are leading specialists in Construction Law and Procurement. Delegates from organisations such as the Department of Justice and Equality and the Higher Education Authority arrived early for this Breakfast Briefing, starting the day off with coffee and pastries before William Brown began the masterclass.

The two main focuses of the masterclass were centered on Evaluation and Debriefing. The talk provided delegates with practical information, clear examples and illustrative case studies. Before delving into the more intricate details of the often-challenging Tender Evaluation Process, William first provided an overview of the core principles that must be taken into consideration throughout the evaluation process. The characteristics of a fair tender process are based on the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

They include:

  • Transparency
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Equal Treatment
  • Proportionality
  • Mutual Recognition

Taking these points into consideration William Brown placed an emphasis on commencing the evaluation process by clearly setting out the award criteria and scoring rubric. By setting out the award criteria this ensures that the expected standards of the evaluation process will be met. One particular point that William conveyed effectively was the importance of note-taking within the tender process. Note-taking can sometimes be disregarded in this process, yet William highlighted effectively the necessity of it for a successful evaluation.

When carrying out the evaluation process it is always necessary to consider this process from a legal standpoint. While William made it clear that the courts do allow for a margin of appreciation there are still set regulations that all procurement professionals should keep in mind as they carry out the evaluation process:

  • Derived Treaty Principles
  • Confidentiality
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Informing Tenderers
  • Verify Information Provided


Once legal considerations have been taken into account, tenderers can focus on the four key stages of the evaluation process which include: selecting the panel, individual marking, group moderation and drafting. While all of these stages are key to the evaluation process, William focused principally on the moderation stage, highlighting its value in a successful tender process. The moderation process reflects that under TFEU equal treatment must always be a priority. The role of the moderator is a vital one for the procurement process. Moderators are entrusted with the responsibility to oversee the procurement process with duties including chairing meetings, applying procurement rules and reviewing assessment criteria. Considering that the courts are slow to intervene in these cases, the contribution of the moderator is key to the process. Alongside moderation the ability for the award criteria to be understood by the REWIND T is highly important. Rewind T stands for reasonably well informed and normally diligent tenderer. The concept of Rewind T is used in the courts to decipher tender documents, as well as assessment criteria and scoring indicators to ensure transparency.

Debrief Letters:

The second half of this talk focused on what comes after the evaluation period; the Debrief Letter. Once the evaluation process has been followed through and you have a score and reasons why that scored has been granted it is highly important to write the debrief letter for that evaluation process.

Debrief letter requirements include:

  • A state decision must be reached
  • There must be a state standstill period
  • Characteristics and relative advantages must be given

A debrief letter must be clearly outline the reasons behind the award criteria; the information provided should be robust and detailed. The reasons outlined need to be tailored to the specific procurement process and facts/examples must be provided. Lastly William encouraged delegates to organise Debrief Letter meetings and to view these meetings in a positive way, they should be employed as a tool for successful procurement processes.

This breakfast briefing concluded with an open forum for Q&A with delegates in which many interesting and insightful points were raised. This masterclass provided delegates with a close examination of the evaluation process, debrief letters and award criteria, providing them with guidance and useful tips and tricks to apply within their roles.

Public Affairs Ireland also host a range of other Procurement events which include our Eight Day Certificate in Public Procurement (commences 2 April)and our Two Day Overview of Procurement Essentials. (13 & 14 March)

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