The bidding processi Procedures
The GRPP provides for three different procurement procedures to award government contracts:
- a public bid (the principal method of procuring), which implies a broad call to tender;
- a private bid, which consists of an invitation to tender addressed to certain specific bidders already enrolled with the National Procurement Office Registry; and
- direct award, where there are no competitive procurement procedures. This exceptional procedure is applicable only to cases expressly authorised by the GRPP, including:
- whenever the contract is valued at below 1.3 million pesos;
- whenever, according to the applicable rules, it is not possible to apply a different procedure;
- whenever the service to be hired or asset to be acquired are exclusively carried out or produced by a certain company, artist or specialist (e.g., goods or services that are covered by exclusive IP rights);
- in the event of the failure of a previous tender or competitive procedure;
- whenever, for duly proved urgency or emergency reasons, it is not possible for the contracting entity to call for a public or private bid; and
- whenever the procuring entity is contracting for the repair of machinery, vehicles, equipment or engines whose disarmament, removal or prior examination is essential to determine the necessary repair.
The procedure to be used in each case of direct award depends on the threshold value of the contract. If the contract to be awarded is valued at less than 1.6 million pesos, the contracting entity is authorised to award a contract without a competitive procedure. If the contract to be awarded is valued at over 1.6 million pesos, a competitive procedure is required. In this case, if the contract is valued at over 1.6 million pesos but less than 8 million pesos, the contracting authority shall call for a private bid, submitting invitations to tender to bidders already enrolled with the National Procurement Office Registry. Public contracts valued at over 8 million pesos must be awarded after a public bid procedure, which implies a broad call to submit offers and a general announcement.
Finally, under the public–private partnerships regime, Decree 118/17 states that the mechanism of direct award is not applicable in any case.ii Notice
The GRPP and its Regulation set forth that, in cases of open tendering, procuring entities must publish notices of invitation to tender in the official publication of the government (i.e., the Official Gazette) and either on the National Procurement Office's website or in the Electronic Contracting System. In practice, the invitation to tender is also commonly published in the relevant national or local newspapers. The aforementioned publication must take place over two days, and at least 20 or seven days in advance of the date fixed for the opening of the bids, depending on whether the call is published or not on the website. For international public tenders, at least 40 days before the date fixed for the opening of the bids, notices of an invitation to tender must be published on the official website of the United Nations (UN Development Business) or the World Bank (DG Market).
In the case of private bids, the contracting authority must send invitations to at least five suppliers that are already enrolled with the National Procurement Office Registry for the category of goods or services to be awarded. Such invitations must be sent a minimum of seven days in advance of the date for the opening of the bids. In addition, calls for private bids shall be advertised on the National Procurement Office official website as of the date on which invitations were sent.
In the case of direct awards, the contracting authority must send invitations to at least three suppliers and, in certain cases, make available procurement information on the National Procurement Office's website.
In accordance to the Regulation of the GRPP, certain information and documents must be published on the National Procurement Office's official website, such as notices of invitation, drafts of specification documents, specification documents that are in force and their clarifications, minutes of a bid's opening, comparison tables of bids, opinions on the evaluation of the bids and the objections raised against them, awards, contracts and any other data that the regulations establish.
The Regulation of the GRPP provides a list of the information that the procuring entities must always include in the notice of invitation to tender in the case of an open tender. Such information includes:
- the individual details of the procuring entity;
- the type of procedure (i.e., whether or not it is an open tender);
- the identification number of the procurement administrative record;
- the prices of the tender documents;
- the place and time frame for consultation of the tender documents; and
- the email address of the procuring entity.
Regarding the public–private partnerships regime, Decree 118/17 states that the notice of invitation to tender must be published in the Official Gazette of Argentina for the term of three days. The last publication must take place within a minimum of 60 calendar days in advance of the date fixed for the presentation of the bids or for obtaining of tender documents, whichever is first. In addition, the notice of invitation to tender must be published on the website of the Subsecretariat of Public–Private Participation and on the website of the contracting authority.
Additionally, in the case of international bidding, the call must also be made through the publication of a notice on the United Nations website (UN Development Business), on the World Bank website and on the Inter-American Development Bank website; in any case, for a term of three days with a minimum of 60 calendar days in advance of the date fixed for the presentation of the bids or for obtaining of tender documents, whichever is first.
Additionally, depending on the nature of the project, the contracting authority may order the publication of the invitation to tender in mass circulation media in the country or abroad.iii Submitting and amending bids
Prior to the submission of a bid, it is necessary to comply with the federal tax regulation in order to participate in a public procurement for contracting with the federal government. In this sense, Resolution 4164-E/2017 of the Federal Administration of Public Revenue states the procedure throughout the federal administration can verify that the bidders comply with tax regulation. Also it is necessary to register before the Suppliers System of Information (SIPRO). At the provincial and municipal levels, the prior registration of bidders in different local registries of suppliers is also mandatory.
According to the Regulation of the GRPP, bids must be submitted at the place and within the time frame specified in the tender documents. Therefore, the procuring entity must reject any bid that is submitted after such deadline. Bids can also be submitted by mail, according to the rules stated in the GRPP.
The submission of a bid implies, for the bidders, full knowledge and acceptance of the rules and clauses governing the tender; therefore, such rules and clauses cannot be validly challenged after such submission.
According to the Regulation of the GRPP, as a principle, the bid shall not be amended after the expiry of the bid submission term. The amendment of bids is exceptionally accepted to correct some correctable errors, such as data or information already included in databases of public bodies, being written in a foreign language, or, in general, when it does not alter the principle of equal treatment of bidders.
To be admitted, every bid must accomplish certain formal requirements, such as the bid being written in Spanish, the original bid being signed on every page by the bidder or his or her representative, or the bid being submitted with the number of copies stated in the tender documents. The bidder must also establish a special address where every notification must be issued within the tender, and the price offered that, as a rule and unless something different is stated, must be established in the national currency. Any other information or document that may be required in the tender documents must be also included. Although there is not an established fee to submit a bid, suppliers must give a guarantee that the offer will be maintained for the duration of the tender. The maintenance bid guarantee is 5 per cent of the final price of the bid.
Unless a different term is established in the tender documents, bidders must maintain their bids for at least 60 calendar days from the date of the opening of the bids. This term can be automatically extended, for the same 60-day period, every 60 days. A bidder who has decided not to maintain his or her bid for a new time period must give notice of this decision at least 10 days before the expiry term. As a consequence, the bidder will be excluded from the public tender, but will not lose the maintaining bid guarantee.
The bids must be opened at the place, date and time stated in the tender documents, at a public event. The original version of each bid must be available to the bidders for the following two days.