Victoria welcomes unsolicited bids

The second-most-populated state in Australia has issued new guidelines that welcome unsolicited infrastructure investment proposals from the private sector.

The Victoria state government in Australia has issued new Unsolicited Proposal Guidelines through which the government will actively welcome proposals from the private sector on how they can deliver infrastructure projects and services where they offer “something genuinely unique and the best value for Victorians”.

This effectively means that the private sector can go direct to government with their proposals rather than only through formal procurement processes. The process can also work the other way around – with government able to directly approach a private party to deliver a project.

A summary of the guidelines on the Victorian government’s Department of Treasury and Finance website includes a five-stage assessment process for unsolicited bids:
1) A private party submits an unsolicited proposal for government consideration, with full information requirements;
2) The government conducts a preliminary assessment of the merits of the proposal and decides whether to enter into an exclusive negotiation;
3) The government and private party enter into an exclusive negotiation to develop a full proposal for government consideration;
4) The government enters into final negotiations to finalise outstanding issues with an intent to enter into a final and binding offer;
5) The government awards the contract.

The government has committed to responding to any proposal within 30 days to confirm how the proposal will be evaluated. At this point, it will also detail how confidential information will be protected and whether there are any additional information requirements.

The move brings Victoria into line with New South Wales (NSW), the most populated state in Australia, which allowed unsolicited bids in 2012. NSW has been hailed for its infrastructure pipeline and ability to deliver projects – and unsolicited bids are seen to have played a role in this.

“Construction of Sydney’s new motorway [WestConnex] will commence later this year, with the project only moving forward because of the new framework to assess and progress it,” said Brendan Lyon, chief executive of infrastructure lobby group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

“This [ the Victoria framework] provides a strong signal for companies to spend time and money looking at how new options could be used to accelerate critical projects, like the later phases of the East West corridor, the Melbourne Metro and solve Melbourne’s level crossings,” added Lyon.