New Regulations on Contractor Selection Procedures on the National Bidding Network in Vietnam
From 1 March 2018, Circular No. 04/2017/TT-BKHDT detailing contractor selection procedures on the national bidding network ("Circular No. 04") came into effect. Among other issues, Circular No. 04 widens the scope of bidding packages that are eligible for contractor selection procedures via the national bidding network ("e-procurement procedures"), changes requirements for contractors' submission of bid security and provides additional guidance / technical solutions that allow most contractor selection procedures to be carried out online.
1. Bidding packages eligible for e-procurement procedures
Bidding packages subject to e-procurement procedures under Circular No. 04 on mandatory basis are national bidding packages under the form of open bidding, competitive offer for provision of consultant services, non-consultant services, goods procurement, construction and installation using either "single-stage single-envelop" method or "single-stage two-envelop" method.
Before the effective date of Circular No. 04, the legal framework only provides for e-procurement procedures for bidding packages using "single-stage single-envelop" method (i.e., the most simple contractor selection method under the bidding regulations, in which the opening of bids shall be conducted at once). Circular No. 04 has expanded the application scope of e-procurement procedures as to include bidding packages using "single-stage two-envelop" method (i.e., the contractor selection methods in which the opening of bids is conducted twice, separately for dossiers of technical proposals and dossiers of financial proposals).
2. Requirements for submission of bid security
Contractors who participate in e-procurement procedures are required to submit bid security before the time of bid closing. There is only one permissible form of bid guarantee, i.e., a guarantee letter issued by a bank or a credit institution legally operating in Vietnam.
3. E-procurement procedures
Circular No. 04 allows the following contractor selection procedures to be carried out online, via the national bidding network:
- Preparation, appraisal and approval of the dossiers of invitation to bid;
- Publication, issuance of the dossiers of invitation to bid;
- Contractors' request for clarification to the dossiers of invitation to bid and amendments thereto (if any);
- Contractors' submission of the bid dossiers;
- Opening of bids;
- Announcement of contractor selection results.
Other procedures, including but not limited to the evaluation of bid dossiers, contract negotiation, approval of contractor selection results, contract finalization and execution are still subject to the standard procedures under the Bidding Law and its guiding documents.
In addition to the above issues, Circular No. 04 makes other amendments / guidance, including (i) shortened timeline for e-procurement procedures, in comparison with the general timeline requirements under the Bidding Law, and (ii) amended template for online dossiers of invitation to bid.