Understanding the Bidding Process
If you are a business that wants to sell your products or services to New York State, you need to go through a competitive bidding process to show you either have the lowest price or that your product or service is the best value. Here are some simple things you need to know about the bidding process.
All state bid opportunities are posted on the New York State Contract Reporter. New opportunities are posted every day by government organizations. State agencies are required to post all their bids and most local governments in New York are as well.
After finding a bid you may be interested in, you need to decide if you want to bid yourself, or if you want to become a partner instead. Some bids are written to encourage subcontracting or joint partnership opportunities between businesses. Subcontracting is when you do business with an organization who already has a contract while partnering together with another business to respond to a bid is called joint partnering. Keep in mind too that for Minority and Women-Owned Enterprise businesses and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned businesses, there are certifications and resources available to you to help make your bid response more competitive.
Before bid requests are even submitted, there are often activities that may take place that businesses must participate in. Some of these are mandatory so make sure to read the bid carefully. These activities may include:
- Pre-bid conferences
- Request for Comment (RFC), Request for Information (RFI), or Request for Quote/Qualifications (RFQ)
- Notice of Intent (NOI) or Invitation/Intent to Bid (ITB)
All of these are different depending on the type of bid and should be explained in the bid notification. Failure to participate in mandatory activities may result in disqualification of your bid.
The following are examples of common bidder mistakes to avoid:
- Late bids, missing forms, or no price information
- Blank USB drives or CDs
- Failing to follow directions by providing the wrong number of copies, improper labeling or using the wrong version of the bid documents
- Failing to provide the required certification.
Actively participating in the bid evaluation process is being a responsive bidder. The bid evaluation process can involve a variety of procurement tools and techniques including:
- Reference checks
- Product or service demonstrations
- Requests for clarifications
Contract awards are generally made on the basis of lowest price for commodities or best value for services. In situations where none of the bid submissions met their needs, a government entity may also choose not to award a contract.
Following the bid opening a decision will be made to either award or not award the contract based on the responses received. The final decision is typically provided to each business who submitted a bid. After that, a bid debriefing provides you with an opportunity to discuss what you did well and what you need to work on for your bids. If your business is selected, there are a few additional steps before the contract is awarded:
- Contract negotiations
- Drafting and reviewing the contract
- Completion of various administrative forms
For state agency contracts, you will also need to obtain a vendor ID in order to sign up for receiving payments through the Statewide Financial System (please see below).
Seven Tips for a Successful Bid
Successful bids include the following elements:
- Participation in activities seeking bidder input like Requests for Information (RFI), Requests for Comment (RFC), and pre-bid conferences.
- Paying close attention to mandatory vs. optional requirements in the solicitation.
- Carefully reviewing specifications, bid packaging, delivery instructions, and the calendar of events.
- Actively looking for solicitation updates and amendments.
- Not waiting until the last minute.
- When in doubt, reaching out directly to designated solicitation contacts.
- Post-bid submission, participating in bidder debriefings.
Evaluating Responsible and Responsive Businesses
To do business with the State you must be able to demonstrate your ability to provide the goods and services before a contract is awarded. You must be responsive to all bid requirements and maintain responsibility throughout the term of the agreement.
To make this determination, Procurement Services uses the CLIP review:
C Evaluating financial and organizational capacity.
L Gauging legal authority to do business with the state.
I Demonstrating the integrity of the owners/officers/principals/members and contract managers.
P Assessing past performance of the bidder on prior government contracts.
Procurement Services considers a responsible and responsive bidder to be a business that has skill, judgment, and integrity, and that is found to be competent, reliable, experienced, and qualified financially. A responsive bidder is a bidder whose offer meets the specifications or requirements provided in the bid document or solicitation.
Administrative & Policy Requirements
Statutory, Regulatory & Policy Requirements
There are many laws, regulations and policies that bidders are must comply with when bidding on a State procurement.
1. Procurement Lobbying Law (S.F.L. §139-j; §139-k) requires the completion of the:
- Affirmation of understanding and agreement
- Certification of compliance
- Disclosure of prior non-responsibility determinations
- Certification made by submitting bid, or separate form may be required
2. Non-Collusive Bidding Certification says that the prices were developed independently, without collusion, consultation, communication, or agreement with any competitors for the purpose of restricting competition.
3. Sales Tax Certification is completed by filing two forms:
- ST-220-TD: Filed with the Department of Taxation and Finance
- ST-220-CA: Filed with the agency conducting the procurement
4. Workers’ Compensation & Disability Insurance Requirements
- Workers’ Compensation Law requires the State or municipal agency to ensure that businesses applying for permits, licenses or contracts document have appropriate workers’ compensation and disability benefits insurance coverage.
- Failure to provide proof of such coverage or a legal exemption will result in a rejection of a bid.
- Contract may automatically become void if Contractor does not provide and maintain coverage for all employees required to be covered under W.C.L. (S.F.L §142).
5. Other Additional Insurance Requirements - Depending on the solicitation, successful bidders may be required to procure additional insurance policies with specified levels of coverage as a condition of contract award. Examples include:
- Commercial General Liability
- Comprehensive Business Auto
- Professional Liability
- Technology Errors & Omissions.
6. MWBE/EEO Requirements as outlined by Executive Law Article 15-A includes the following elements:
- Policy Statement
- Staffing plan (EEO 100)
- Utilization report (EEO 101).
7. Iran Divestment Act requires certification that the contractor is not on the prohibited entities list and agreement that Contractor will not use any entity on the prohibited entities list as a subcontractor (State Finance Law §165-a).
8. Demonstrate Encouraging Use of NYS Businesses by:
- Identification of any New York State businesses proposed to be used as subcontractors in the bidder’s performance of the contract.
- Disclosure of certain information regarding contracts for consulting services
- Completion of Form A: Planned Employment and Form B: Annual Employment Report
9. Completed Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire. Prior to contract award, agency is required to make determination that bidder is a responsible entity based in part on the bidder’s responses to the questions. The VendRep system is administered by Office of State Comptroller (NYS Vendor ID required to enroll) and is where the bidder can submit their responses to the questionnaire.
10. Other requirements may include:
- MacBride Fair Employment certification
- Diesel Emissions Reduction Act
- Executive Orders (EO-4 Green Procurement)
- Use of Recycled or Remanufactured Materials
- Mercury-Added Consumer products
Solicitations often include strict administrative requirements to protect the integrity of the competitive procurement. Noncompliance with these requirements may result in disqualification.
- Packaging requirements (separately sealed and labeled)
- Bid submission deadline
- Format and content of bid submittal
- Number of electronic and hard copies
- Discrepancies between electronic and hard copies
- Bid solicitation updates
- Proper signature and notarization
- Using correct forms and versions
- General Bidder questions document
- Bid submittal checklist
Completing the Financial Proposals/Pricing Sheets
Generally the most important part of your bid.
- Price is always “material” and except in very limited circumstances, may not be changed, corrected or altered after bid submission.
- Carefully review pricing proposals prior to submission
- Fill out all required fields/cells
- Use proper format (markup/discount, negative/positive, units of measure)
- Take advantage of any built-in error messages to check for mistakes
Understanding the Restricted Period
Procurement lobbying laws in New York say that the period of time between when a contract solicitation begins and the contract is awarded or the decision to not pursue an award is made, the Office of General Services (OGS) Procurement Services staff, other than the designated contact, cannot discuss the contract with you. This is often called the restricted period. A complete listing of bids currently in the restricted period can be found on our website on the Restricted Periods page.
Obtaining a Vendor Identification & Registering with the VendRep System
Before being awarded a contract, your businesses must have a ten digit vendor identification number from the Office of the State Comptroller. We will work with OSC to get this on your behalf. First, you need to complete the OSC Substitute W-9 form that must be returned to OGS Procurement Services staff.
Once you have your vendor identification number you can go online to complete your Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire by registering with the VendRep System to ensure that your business evaluated fairly during the competitive bidding process.
Dispute Resolution Policy
Should you have complaints, inquiries or want to dispute solicitations, contract awards or contract administration a formal policy has been developed for you to follow. OGS Procurement Services encourages you to seek informal resolution before submitting a formal dispute by speaking with the Contract Manager listed on the contract page.