For those in the construction industry, particularly those companies focusing on refurbishment and upgrade, the Defence Estate Works Program offers a variety of opportunities. In a series of national industry briefs held late last year, Defence provided advice to prospective tenderers on the key features of their rolling three year Estate Works Program. With a predicted budget increase it is expected that this will lead to the release of a large number of work packages to address the needs of aging Defence establishments. On average, each week at least five new Requests for Tender (RFT) are released seeking contracted services for everything from demolition to asbestos remediation to carpark, building, washroom extensions to complete building refurbishments.
So what do you need to consider when submitting against a Defence construction RFT? While costing and technical aspects may be the same as any other tender, it’s important that you show an understanding of the nuances specific to Defence projects in the details of your response. The main points to consider are:
Security Access Requirements: Unlike most construction projects, Defence has stringent security requirements that need to be taken into account when considering schedules, site access and appropriate project staffing. Contractor access passes will need to be arranged to allow unescorted access on site for repetitive visits. At a minimum, staff would need to undertake police checks for receipt of a Contractor access pass. It also means material deliveries need to be planned in advance and access permissions obtained for delivery drivers.
Operational Requirements: Like most upgrades or refurbishments on large multi-purpose sites, building occupants need to continue operations either on site or nearby. Defence places high priority on its operational requirements, and all contracts will allow for this. As a tenderer, you need to be aware that this could introduce potential delays in construction work schedules at short notice and demonstrate awareness and the flexibility to manage this in your tender response.
Contracting Templates: Defence requires use of its own contracting templates as opposed to the Australian Standard templates. These contract templates can be found here. Most commonly used templates for Estate Works Program will be either the Minor or Medium Works templates and it is worthwhile to make yourself familiar with the format and requirements contained within ahead of time. All RFTs will be single stage (ie no Expressions of Interest first), and will have about 25 days response time.
Federal Safety Commission (FSC) accreditation: For all companies intending to be Head Contractors on Defence projects (or any Australian government projects) with an anticipated project cost of greater than $4 million, you will require Building and Construction WHS accreditation by the FSC. Accreditation lasts three years and requires the submission of an application and a two day on-site audit of your WHS Management System. Note that if you are in the process of preparing a tender submission, the FSC will seek to prioritize the timing of your audit if possible. Further information is found at the FSC Website.
Indigenous procurement policy: This policy aims to grow the Indigenous business sector to which Defence as a department is the largest contributor. Mandatory minimum requirements will apply to any contract greater than $7.5 million. However, while not always mandatory, RFTs may still require you to outline your indigenous procurement policy and detail how you incorporate indigenous businesses in your company’s supply chain. So it is worth your while having an indigenous procurement plan in place especially for work undertaken in regional areas. Supply Nation is a register of verified indigenous businesses which can assist with ensuring your tender complies.
Building Code 2016: for all RFTs that you bid on post 2 December 2016, compliance with Building Code 2016 will be a mandatory requirement. This also flows through to your subcontractors. Further details on the code’s application can be found here.
As with any tender response, never assume the evaluator knows who you are, be clear about key personnel and their experience and link these back to projects that demonstrate the company’s relevant experience. If you require any further assistance or advice feel free to contact Engineering Business for your tendering needs.