At a set date that is specified in the bidding documents, the regulator or Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) department typically holds a pre-bid meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to allow potential bidders to ask questions and request clarifications. It should also be seen as a last chance to make some modifications to the UAS project and bidding documents, based on suggestions and comments from potential bidders. These changes are likely to be minimal, as the industry had the opportunity to make comments and suggestions during the earlier public consultation process.
The pre-bid meeting can be open to all interested parties, or it can be restricted to companies that purchased the bidding documents. Both options are fine, and deciding on either is more dependent on logistical issues such as location and meeting room size. However, typically all participants are required to register (i.e., provide their name, position, company and contact details). This enables the regulator later to distribute the pre-bid meeting minutes.
Attendance at the pre-bid meeting is typically not mandatory. However, pre-bid meeting minutes which might include amendments to the bidding documents (either to clarify or modify based on feedback) are distributed to all entities that purchased the bidding documents as well as all additional entities that were represented at the pre-bid meeting.
It is helpful to start the discussion at the pre-bid meeting through a brief introductory presentation outlining the main features of the UAS project and the key elements of the bidding process and bidding requirements.
The pre-bid meeting should be held early, e.g., two to three weeks after bid document availability. This allows potential bidders time to thoroughly review the bidding documents and gives them enough time to prepare the proposal once they have received important clarifications, if applicable. The bidding process should also allow for written requests for clarification or comments, but this should be limited to a certain deadline similar to the process involved in the pre-bid meeting. Answers to written requests are published jointly with the pre-bid meeting minutes, or a separate document is issued and distributed to all potential bidders. Typically the written questions are treated anonymously.
The bidding documents should also include a date at which operators are required to register their intent to participate in the bid or to decline. The written clarifications of the questions can include a reminder of this deadline. While this cannot be legally binding, it is helpful for the regulator to see early on, if there is sufficient interest among operators to bid.