The complexity of government procurement can be intimidating, but a strong compliance program tailored to the risks applicable to your industry and company can help you navigate the process successfully.
Research local procurement laws and regulations
First, start by familiarizing yourself with the applicable bidding rules, ensuring you have read the RFP in its entirety, particularly focusing on the eligibility criteria. Nearly all countries and international organizations have publicly available procurement laws and regulations. An experienced government bid team will review these along with the tender document.
Select the right partners
Once you understand the RFP and applicable procurement rules, it’s time to conduct appropriate due diligence on any third parties who will assist you in, or partner with you on, your bid response. This step is vitally important to your success, as you are legally responsible under applicable anti-corruption laws for any corrupt actions by third parties contracted to represent you or otherwise perform services on your behalf. Misconduct by third parties accounts for most enforcement actions brought against companies, so you must be extremely careful and continuously vigilant in determining which third parties you feel comfortable doing business with. While anticorruption laws have brought attention to third parties, third parties can also cause issues with fraud, self-dealing, false claims, and more. At Entrust, we vet our third party partners even where we will only act as a supplier under the contract.
Develop a process for handling potentially confidential information
Another important area to consider is the handling of potentially confidential information. If you are passed materials in draft form, you should always ask where they came from and who has been given access. Weighing in on or having access to draft tender specs may be entirely appropriate, but only if all other potential bidders have had the same opportunity and level of access. Have a process in place before your team encounters potentially confidential information, so they know what they can and cannot use and how to contact Legal and/or Compliance if they think they have received information they should not have access to. Ensure your team knows to avoid unsecure information channels (e.g., WeChat, WhatsApp) when sharing proprietary, substantive information. Also, be sure that your team is aware of the guardrails in terms of assisting with tender drafting (i.e., don’t provide advice that would eliminate the competition).
Be clear and firm on rules for gifts, travel and entertainment
Finally, institute policies around providing gifts, travel and entertainment to government officials. At Entrust, we allow nominal gifts, meals, entertainment, travel and lodging only if all internal requirements are met; we do not allow entertainment to be provided to government officials under any circumstances and include caps on meals for government officials. We also specify that gifts may never be provided to a government official who has authority over any pending regulatory decision that may directly affect our company.
At Entrust, we do business everywhere we can—our products are in high demand in both the public and private sectors in nearly every geography. Our products can do good for the general population all over the world, but we only win if we do so fairly and in compliance with both the letter and spirit of the law.
To hear more about how Entrust engages in government bidding, attend The Bid War: Navigating the Compliance Battlefield in Government Bids, a webinar hosted by the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and led by Jenny Carmichael, Entrust Compliance Director, on May 18, 2021.