There are likely to be a few red faces at Office of Access Card this week following the announcement of delays in the release of the second tender covering Access Card Issuance and Management. The announcement was released only on the Austender website late last week. It now sets the tender release at an unspecified date during the fortnight commencing today (Monday 29 January).
Previously the timeframe for the tender had been set at mid to late January. This timeframe was confidently announced at the 13 December 2006 Industry Briefing, and was reinforced in a Press Release from Minister Hockey. With the end of January looming, it was clear the mid January target had already passed, and late January was becoming increasingly unlikely. There was an urgent need for some announcement to clarify the obvious delay.
So does a delay of a couple of weeks really matter? For this particular tender it matters a great deal. From the beginning, the Department has made it clear that timeframes, for the overall project, were tightly set and that any delays would not be acceptable. Indeed, the public overview document for the System Integrator Procurement Process outlines severe penalties per day for every day that any milestone is delayed. These penalties are combined with unlimited liability, financial guarantees, and the potential to also seek damages from the parent company.
The Access Card Issuance and Management tender is more than just a request for commodity items. The card management aspects of the tender will require some careful consideration. So far it appears that tenderers will be asked to absorb the delay with no projected change to the tender close date.
In its first tender the Department went to great lengths to provide a specific release date and to provide plenty of advance notice. But the rigor appears to have dropped a little for the second.
In any tenderer’s bid qualification process, risk management and project deadlines are significant issues. Tenderers for any large RFT must necessarily look at the possibility that the Department itself may add additional risk as a project partner. The delays in the current process would do little to ease those concerns.