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Capital Infrastructure Services Panel industry briefing transcript

As part of DFAT's responsibility for implementing the AIFFP, it is currently seeking to establish a panel that can provide Client Side Project Management (CSPM) and/or Head Contractor (HC) services in the Indo-Pacific region. 

An industry briefing for prospective panellists to tender for the panel was held on 5 December 2019 in Canberra, and attended by around 90 industry representatives.

Prospective tenderers were advised of the sorts of projects the AIFPP will be funding, which are within sectors including transport, telecommunications, water and sanitation, energy or buildings and developments.  

They were advised that the successful panel will need to be flexible, to meet the diverse needs of the AIFPP, DFAT and its partners, as well as New Zealand Government entities. The panel will have a potential life of ten years with a breadth of projects across size, service and sector.

Attendees were reminded of other considerations, such as fraud, child protection, disability-inclusive development, gender equality and environmental safeguards; and were guided through the full tender process and had the opportunity ask questions of the DFAT and the Australian Government Solicitor’s office. 

A summary of the questions and answers at the industry briefing following the presentations can be found in AusTender.

A transcript of the briefing can be read below.

Tenders are due by 2pm (AEST) February 5 via AusTender.


Procurement information session - transcript

SPEAKER: Good afternoon, everybody. First off, I would like to do an acknowledgement of country, I wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people, and the contribution they make to the life of this region. I pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Welcome, everybody, to this Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific briefing. I would like to also introduce you to some DFAT and other Australian government attendees. Darren Sharp, who is the Assistant Secretary of the Aid Business Branch. Cherie Russell, who is the director for this program. Will Allen, who's DFAT legal, and Helen Curtis, who's from the Australian Government Solicitors.

Some housekeeping before we get going. Emergency procedures, should there be an emergency occurring for whatever reason, please follow the DFAT personnel, they will lead you the exits. And the mustering point is near the swimming pool, public pool outside, so just follow the DFAT personnel. They will make themselves known in the case of an emergency and we will follow them. In terms of amenities, should you ever need to use the bathroom, it's out the door in the back and just down the passage. Please be cognizant of your security passes, they are all escorted passes, so don't go wandering out the building, you don't need to get a DFAT person to accompany you to the bathroom. But please go to the bathroom and come straight back if you have the need to do so. So our agenda for today. Louis, if you could do the clicker for us.

We going to cover four areas. One, the item that is near and dear to all of us and that's probity, just to ensure that we achieve a level playing field. So, I'll walk you through some of the probity elements. Then in terms of the overall program overview, Cherie will do that. And then the RFT and process overview, (INAUDIBLE) will present that. And then we will have a Q&A session, and during the Q&A session, we have a roving microphone that will be handed out. We'll capture all the questions, where we can provide the answers immediately we will do so. Where we need to get further advice, we will take the question on notice. And we will publish all the questions and answers subsequently.

So, without further ado, the probity briefing starts. So, this industry briefing is conducted for the purpose of providing background information only. Tenderers must not in any way rely upon this briefing for the purposes of preparing, amending or negotiating its tender or entry into any contract. DFAT, as for all Commonwealth agencies, wants to conduct this procurement in a way that it achieves the best value for money outcome and in a way that meets the highest standards of probity. DFAT is keen to ensure that you all have a fair and equitable opportunity, to access to the same consistent information in a way that enables you to fairly compete and lodge a tender. The probity approach is in order to manage our probity objectives. All RFT documentation, including addenda, will be uploaded to AusTender to ensure equitable access to information for all tenderers.

As described in the RFT, any and all inquiries are to be submitted to the designated tender mailbox. Tenderers are not to approach DFAT personnel directly, to engage on tender related matters. During this briefing, please do not corral DFAT personnel, including presenters, for individual conversations. This will help avoid the risk of you obtaining incomplete or inaccurate information as well as avoiding unfairness to others who don't get the additional information. During the Q&A briefing at the end, please direct questions to the presenter in a clear way that enables everybody to hear. If there's any doubt, the presenter will repeat the question when giving an answer. If any questions cannot be fully and accurately answered during the briefing, that will be taken on notice and the reply distributed to all tenderers in writing as an addendum or information document depending on its effect.

General reminders, please direct your questions to presenters in a clear way that enables everyone to hear it. If there's any doubt, we will repeat that. We will take questions on notice where you don't have the answer and distribute later on. Collusive bidding is strictly prohibited and may result in a tenderer being excluded from the process. There will not be any one on one briefings, to ensure equality and consistency of information shared with tenderers. And tenderers must notify the Department as soon as practical after becoming aware of an actual or potential conflict of interest. With that said, I would like to hand over to Cherie, thank you very much.

CHERIE RUSSELL: Good afternoon. I'm Cherie Russel, I work in the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, within the Office of the Pacific within DFAT. So, thank you very much for making the time to come and see us today. We are really excited to see so much interest in the tender. So, today I'd like to take the next 20 to 30 minutes to talk about the AIFFP and the Pacific Step-up. To talk a little bit about DFAT's broader infrastructure programs, and also how we see the panel working.

Thank you. So, stepping up on infrastructure. This stepping up our support in the Pacific is one of five priorities in the 2017 Foreign White Paper. The Foreign Policy White Paper. It's also highlighted in the 2016 Defence White Paper. The step up was first announced in 2016 at the Pacific Islands Forum, as a change in the way Australia engages with the region. So, on 8 November, 2018, Prime Minister Morrison announced that Australia would step up and launched a new level of relations with our Pacific family. The step up builds on decades of Australia's engagement and support in the region. And this year marks the biggest aid program in the Pacific, which is $1.4 billion in 2019-20.

As part of the Prime Minister's November announcements, the AIFFP was one, he announced three pillars of initiatives, promoting economic development, deepening our strong People-to-people links and enhancing security cooperation. So, the AIFFP is the government's signature initiative under economic prosperity. It significantly boosts Australia's support for much needed infrastructure development. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the Pacific region needs 3.1 billion US dollars every year until 2030 to meet its infrastructure needs. Following the announcement in November, was a seven month design phase that DFAT undertook. And the AIFFP became operational on 1 July 2019. So, that's just over five months ago.

The AIFFP services the Pacific, as well as Timor-Leste, and it comprises of $1.5 billion in loans and $500 million in grants. DFAT estimates it will spend $514 million on infrastructure this financial year globally. So less than 10% of that is attributed to the AIFFP this year. This includes bilateral, regional and global programs. It includes not only hard infrastructure but policy reform, infrastructure governance, as well as feasibility studies for capital infrastructure works as an example. So some examples of the current infrastructure programs being delivered by DFAT.

On the top right, you'll see the coral sea cable. It's 4,700km of cable that connects Sydney to Honiara and Port Moresby. The picture on the top left is the cable coming into the landing site in the Solomon Islands. So that project will be completed by the end of this month. The picture on the right is from the Papua New Guinean Transport Sector Support Program. So that's a highway in PNG that DFAT is supporting the upgrade of. And the bottom left is the Parliament House in Samoa.

So in addition to these programs, the Vanuatu Roads Program, Australia's contribution to the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project in Tonga, construction of the ANGAU Memorial Hospital in Papua New Guinea, redevelopment of a hospital in Nauru, community Sports complex upgrades in Nauru, various medical clinics around the Pacific, school facilities and infrastructure related to schools, particularly after Cyclone Winston in Fiji, water and sanitation upgrades in Kiribati, and widening of bridges in Samoa.

So that list is just a snapshot of some of the work that broader DFAT does outside of the AIFFP in infrastructure. Some of you would have heard this morning from the Solomon Islands program as well around the infrastructure program that's being designed at the moment. So these programs are designed to complement each other, including that AIFFP. It's not our intent to replace these programs or support that we provide to the multilateral development banks. But we will work together to ensure that they're complementary. And I hope this demonstrates to you that the use and the demand from the panel is not just from the AIFFP, but its use will certainly be available to the rest of the DFAT staff to meet these other infrastructure projects as well.

In addition, we're really pleased to make this panel available to the New Zealand government. So there is plenty examples of where we've collaborated with the New Zealand government, particularly in the Pacific, including some proposals for buildings in Tonga at the moment and a Kiribati vocational training centre. So we're very pleased that we could deliver this with access to New Zealand entities as well.

Also, the panel is available to Commonwealth entities, not just DFAT. So hopefully, there's some opportunity and demand for the panel from the Commonwealth as well. In addition to DFAT aid programs, DFAT's Overseas Property Office delivers a range of infrastructure projects. My understanding is, in the near future, it includes projects in Tarawa and Honiara for new High Commissions. So the overseas property office does have its own panel that services their needs. But in the future, they may come to this panel as well. So that's an additional demand within DFAT for such services.

The AIFFP offers grants and loans. The grants are largely available to sovereign borrowers. It does lend to sovereign borrowers and can finance the private sector projects as well. There are some countries in the Pacific with limited capacity to take on loans. So these countries are eligible for grant-only financing and they're also eligible for private sector projects to operate in those countries as well. So the panel will be offered to sovereign recipients of AIFFP financing. It's not a mandatory condition of our loans or our financing.

We expect that there'll be more uptake in those countries that are receiving 100% grant financing. Or where there is a need to move quickly to implementation, the panel can offer that ease and that timely response. Where sovereigns contract directly with the panel or outside of the panel through their own tender processes, DFAT is delivering the AIFFP with support for some of the loan functions from Export Finance Australia, which was previously EFIC. So EFIC, or Export Finance Australia, now have the ability to pay contractors directly if the loan with the sovereign gives us authority to do so. Obviously, there's still verification needed from the sovereign borrower. But hopefully, that makes the flow of finances... Gives you some assurance around that process.

The AIFFP priority sectors, these are not exhaustive and we can work outside of this list. But telecommunications, both undersea cable as well as satellite, water, energy, with a focus on renewables, and transport. So we have discussed tourism, social infrastructure, and agriculture projects, and they are based on their merits. It's not that they're not possible. It's just that they're not in the initial focus sectors.

There are a number of principles that guide the AIFFP's work. So, number one, the partner government priorities. No project, whether it's private, sovereign, including state-owned enterprises, will proceed unless it has partner government endorsement. AIFFP financing will align with the priorities and needs of the Pacific Island countries. Number two, high-quality construction. So construction will include compliance with the relevant standards, including occupational health and safety, high-quality materials. Number three, using local labour and upskilling workers.

The AIFFP will aim to maximise local labour and local private sector participation and upskilling. Number four is planned infrastructure maintenance for ensuring maintenance and operations are included in the project considerations. Number five, climate and natural disaster resilience. The Pacific region is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change and natural disasters. So every project will incorporate resilience considerations. And number six, environmental, gender, and disability safeguards, environmental protection and social inclusion, women, children, people with disabilities. It's not only safeguards but the AIFFP aim to deliver projects to maximise the positive impacts.

I'll just play you a short three and a half minute video that summarises some of the points that I've raised.


PABLO KANG: The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific supports infrastructure to promote sustainable economic growth in the Pacific and Timor-Leste. This $2 billion financing facility is the Australian government's signature initiative to advance economic prosperity across the region. The AIFFP, operational from 1 July 2019, builds on decades of sustained engagement with our region and is now actively considering quality infrastructure projects in the areas of telecommunications, energy, water, and transport.

The facility is housed within the Office of the Pacific in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. DFAT will establish a Capital Infrastructure Project Management Panel with services ranging from feasibility and engineering studies, design, construction, construction management and provision of technical assistance. Tenderers will need to demonstrate capability in at least one of the following sectors: Water, energy, telecommunications, and transport. The Panel will service the AIFFP, other areas of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as other Commonwealth agencies. What do you need to know about our tender processes? The selection criteria emphasises our infrastructure values. Quality, gender equality and social inclusion, use and upskilling of local labour and private sector, and climate and disaster resilience.

Our procurement is bound by the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, which informs the way we manage procurement processes. We are committed to maintaining transparent, fair and competitive processes and achieving a value for money outcome. When considering participation in our tender processes, there are some important policies to consider, including the following: Fraud control, child protection, disability-inclusive development, gender equality, women’s empowerment, Indigenous strategy, environmental and social safeguards, climate change, disaster resilience, prevention of sexual exploitation and harassment.

Tender documents are being finalised and are expected to be released in 2019. The panel tender will be published on AusTender. You can register your interest on DFAT's business opportunities page publishes designs, concepts, updates, and expressions of interest at AusConnect advertises subcontracting opportunities within the Australian Aid program at You can also join the DFAT Supplier Network on LinkedIn or visit the AIFFP website for more information at Any more questions? Feel free to contact us at Thank you for your interest in working with DFAT.


CHERIE RUSSELL: I wanted to talk a little bit about project pipeline as well to give you a sense of what we're considering. Renewables, electrification, water outputs, transmission and telecommunication. So, many of you would know about the $250 million PNG Electrification Project that Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Marape announced recently. The projects that are being scoped under this $250 million package include new gas fired power plant at Hides, a refurbishment of existing hydro electricity plants, a new solar power plant, which would be first of its kind in Papua New Guinea, and upgrades to transmission lines in the Ramu and Port Moresby grids.

Foreign Minister Payne has also discussed support for the Nadi River Flood Project with the Attorney General in Fiji recently. And Prime Minister Morrison recently announced on a visit to Timor, support for a subsea cable connecting Timor-Leste to Australia. So there's certainly projects that the team are considering. There's no country quota or cap on the type of assets or projects that we would support, but we're mindful that it is to service all of the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

So my last slide is to talk a little bit around how we see the panel being used. The panel is established to be very flexible. It has a potential life of 10 years. So, to meet the diverse needs of AIFFP, the rest of DFAT, the rest of the Commonwealth, potentially sovereign recipients of AIFFP financing as well as New Zealand government entities. It's designed to be quite flexible. That's in terms of the services that it provides, the size of the projects, the location of the projects and the sectors.

Our motivation is to establish a panel that the team can access or to have resources on tap to service us relatively easily. It's also efficient for us to establish the panel rather than approaching the market from scratch each time. Once our projects are known or we have a requirement for support, we'll approach those on the panel for proposals and we'll make a value-for-money assessment at that stage. This is where the teams and the pricing and the proposal details will be assessed. I might pass to Louie to go over some of the details of the tender document. Thank you.

SPEAKER: OK. Thank you. Just gonna talk through around what's being released in the RFT and some of the requirements for responding.

So first up, you will have noticed that the RFT has been structured with two service categories. The first is the client side project management service category and the other is the head contractor services. So, client side project management consists of the full project life cycles and minor services and pre designed through to project closure. And the head contract services cover direct physical delivery of capital infrastructure projects and assuming of pre-project and design phases completed prior. So, in responding to your tenders, you can either respond to either one of these service categories or you can respond to both of the service categories.

With regard to the CSPM, the client side project management, suitable CSPMs must have the capability to deliver an end-to-end project, but they must also be prepared to deliver individual services for CSPM, which are described in the scope of works at RFT phase 2. So in that, the project phases include pre-project, for example, business case development and feasibility studies, the design development, construction, delivery, and the maintenance. Individual projects that get released through the panel will determine the required services and the most appropriate contractual models. As CSPM may be requested to directly subcontract to a head contractor, whether that's from this panel or otherwise.

Tenderers who do not have the capability or capacity to directly subcontract a HC and assume the necessary contractual responsibilities should indicate that in their tender. The Department acknowledges that components of the projects are likely to be subcontracted by those on the panel. The RFT is also being structured with a number of industry sectors, which you can respond to in your tenders.

There's five of the industry sectors. Transport, and that may include land transport such as roads and bridges, maritime transport, including ports, wharves, and jetties, air transport, including airports and associated civil works and equipment. The second one is telecommunications, which may include ICT components, satellite services, mobile telephony and other applications. Now, the third one is water, which may include intakes, treatment, supply and distribution. Underwater projects, that may also include catchments management, flood alleviation, seawalls and dams. Fourth industry sector is energy, which is focused on renewable and lower emissions energy and may include generation, transmission and distribution. The fifth industry sector is buildings and development. It may include, but isn't limited to, civil works and social infrastructure, for example, hospitals.

So, RFT is being structured so that there's - Four of the industry sectors are considered primary industries for the purpose of the RFT. That's transport, water, energy and telecommunications. The buildings and developments industry sector is considered as a secondary industry for the RFT, noting the objectives of the program. So, tenderers need to nominate at least, in the tender, at least one industry sector that is a primary industry. So, you need to respond in your RFT, with your tenders, either transport, water, energy or telecommunications, one of them, as a minimum. And then you can have any other combination of industry sectors.

OK, so, the schedule for the RFT. It was released on AusTender on 29 November, we are at the industry briefing here today. The RFT closes on 5 February 2020. Evaluation of the tenders is anticipated to be completed by 26 February. With the plan to get - finalise the negotiations with those tenderers by 29 May, with the panel commencement date in July 2020. In accordance with clause 4.10 of the RFT, tenderers will be informed in writing of the outcome of the tender. Tenderers may then request a debrief within 14 days of being advised of the tender outcome.

So, in the RFT that's available on AusTender, there're two primary documents related to the procurement process. That's the actual RFT and also the draft deed of standing offer. The RFT itself has three parts. First is the tender conditions, which provides the details of all the tender conditions. Second is the scope of requirements, and that's a detailed overview of the requirements and the required services for the tender. And the third part is the tender response forms, and we'll touch on them in more detail shortly. Tenderers are advised to review all aspects of the draft deed of standing offer, including the associated schedules with that draft deed.

It's mandatory that tenderers indicate in their compliance with the draft deed. And there's a tender response form number six to indicate where you comply or of there's elements which you partially complied or did not comply with to declare that in your response. Additional schedules may be added to the deed as appropriate following negotiations.

So, tenders need to be lodged through AusTender and their closing time is 2pm Canberra time on 5 February 2020. So, we can't accept tenders submitted by other means, via email or dropping them at the office here. They need to be done through AusTender. AusTender provides an official receipt with the submission number when you successfully submit your tender through AusTender. And there's an AusTender help desk that's available for technical and operational support for AusTender, which, the details are in the RFT and on the AusTender website. No tenders will be accepted after the closing date and time and AusTender enforces that with shutting down automatically, their ability to submit tenders. If there's any amendments or addenda to the RFT, we'll be issuing them to tenderers through the AusTender site as well.

OK, so, minimum form and content requirements for your tenders. Four points first. Tenders need to be in English. Measurements in Australian legal units of measurements. Tenders must contain a completed and executed tenderers declaration in the form provided in the response form number eight and tenders must contain a completed pricing schedule substantially, in the form of the response form number ten, which is the pricing response form, and the Department will only accept tenders lodged that are compatible with the Microsoft Windows Seven that we operate here. So, whether that be Microsoft Word, Excel or PDF files.

Tenders that are not lodged in accordance with the RFT part one clause 3.3 by the closing date and time will be nonconforming and will not be able to be evaluated. Tenders that don't satisfy the minimum form and content requirements will also be considered nonconforming and may not be evaluated. The only exceptions to these matters of nonconformance include where the Department considers that the failure to satisfy the minimum form and content requirements are due to unintended error by the tenderer or where the tender was not lodged by the closing date and time solely due to the mishandling by the Department.

OK, in terms of what is required for the tender response, there's - Part three of the RFT has the tender response forms. It is comprised of 11 forms that need to be completed for your submission. We'll go through them briefly. First is the mandatory conditions for participation and minimum form in content where you confirm that you've complied with those minimum requirements. Also, confirm whether you're a relevant employer under the Workplace Gender Equality Act, and there's directions for minimum forms and content requirements as we've talked about on the previous slide.

Response form number two is the tenderer details where you indicate which service category. Whether the CSPM or the HC service categories, which you're tendering for. It's also where you will indicate which of the industry sectors which you are offering, and able to provide as part of your tender. And just a reminder there, you need to nominate at least one of those primary industry sectors that we listed on the previous slide.

Number three of the respond - number three is the conflict of interest, where you declare whether you believe there's any real or perceived conflicts with your tender and acknowledging that if that conflict does not necessarily exclude a tender from the process. But you just need to declare that.

Number four is the confidential information. So, specific information where the tenderer wishes to keep confidential. You need to provide justification for the request and the period you need that confidential. And there's a list of examples provided in the RFT. Insurances is provided at response form number five where you provide details and evidence of proposed levels and terms of security and insurances. Number six is the compliance with the draft deed of standing offer where you state compliance or otherwise, to the draft deed of standing offer that's being issued with the RFT.

Number seven is the response form to do with work, health and safety. Tenderers should provide information regarding the WHS management systems and must carry out the requirements in such a way to protect the health and safety of their workers and to enable the Department to comply with its obligations under the WHS act. Response form number eight is the declaration by the tenderer declaring that all the information provided in the tender is response and relevant compliance and conformity requirements.

Number nine is the response to the evaluation criteria. So, if you are responding to both the CSP and the HC services, should complete one TRF number nine. So, one response form number nine for each of the services. So, one for the CSP and one for the HC. The response in - scheduled in response form number nine is limited to 20 pages and that's for each of those two service categories. So, if you're providing two, responding to both the service categories, you can fill in up to 20 pages for each of those service categories. Number ten is pricing, and so, we're asking that pricing be submitted in accordance with the form provided. You should provide pricing details for up to five resourcing roles and levels with the daily rate breakdown for each of those resourcing roles levels provided. Where you intend to provide - charge different rates for different industry categories, industry sectors, they should be completed with a separate personnel rate table for each of those industry sectors.

And finally, number 11 of the tender response forms is the response to economic benefit to Australia. So, 4.7 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules states that procurements above four million will require to consider the economic benefit of the procurement to the Australian economy. And so, that is the opportunity to provide the response and... tender response form.

OK. So, a few considerations. First with regard to joint bids and consortia. We are able to accept joint bids from a consortia for this tender. Tenderers should note that ultimately, a single organisation needs to be identified and acknowledged as the lead of the consortia particularly for the purposes of the tender. Letters of association in accordance with the tender response form, number nine, which is the response to the evaluation criteria. Tenderers that identify as a joint venture or consortia must provide a one page letter of association addressed to the lead tenderer from each organisation represented on the tender. The letter must outline the role of the organisation, their strengths, and list any activities they will be involved in. Each letter must also be signed by an authorised representative from the lead tenderer.

Regarding pricing, tenderers should provide pricing details for up to the five resourcing roles and levels and provide a daily rate breakdown for each. And as I mentioned, if you are submitting for both the CSP and the HC services, you can include up to five resourcing roles and levels for each of those service categories. Pricing information should be restricted to what's provided in TRF number ten, which is the pricing response form. We don't want pricing information included in the other response forms, particularly the evaluation criteria responses - response form number nine. If a tenderer intends to charge different prices for services within an industry sector, they should provide separate details specific for each industry sectors pricing.

And finally, on pricing, administrative cost provided by tenderers will be regarded as indicative but will be used for the purposes of evaluating tenders. Final administrative costs will be negotiated with panel members on a per project basis and will be specified in an official order issued to the panel members at that time. Regarding benefits to the Australian economy. So, tender - The response form number 11 is the response to the economic benefit to the Australian economy. It is mandatory to complete that response form in accordance with the CPRs. That tenderers should note that this should not restrict, prevent, or deter international organisations from submitting a tender. And also to note there that tender response form number 11 is a non-weighted component of the Department's evaluation of these tenders.

Regarding sovereign contracts and New Zealand contracts. Tenderers should note that clause four of the draft deed of standing offer outlines the potential use of the panel by sovereign nations and the New Zealand government. Clause four specifically acknowledges that sovereign nations and the New Zealand government may elect or approach members of the panel, but that any engagement would be subject to their own contractual arrangements. There's no guarantee from the Department that any services of works will be undertaken by those other countries or governments. Standards outlined in clause four must be adhered to in delivering services to those partner governments through the panel. With regard to contractual models, as we discussed earlier, the contractual models for the delivery of the services will be determined as part of each individual project. For the head contractor services, in particular, contracts are likely to be based on the FIDIC Suite of Contracts as appropriate to the nature of the required works. Special conditions including performance guarantees, collateral warranties and WHS compliance, have been incorporated into the draft deed. In practice, additional terms will be drafted to compliment those... the adopted suite of contracts for a project.

[End of transcript]