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State Guidelines for Awarding Service Contracts by Contracting Units


June 16, 2010
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By Sheri K. Siegelbaum | The State Comptroller on March 4, 2010 issued a “best practices” guide for government contracting units for awarding service contracts. Although it is not mandatory that entities follow these guidelines, the State Comptroller is recommending that these “best practices” be adopted as law. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all public entities follow these practices and develop a procedure for awarding professional service contracts that meets the goals set forth in this update. The guidelines do not apply to contracts awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. There are six main principles:
    1. The pool of contractors solicited should be as expansive as possible.
 
    1. Statement of work to be performed should be drafted in clear and unambiguous terms.
 
    1. Proposals should be judged on the basis of predetermined, merit-based evaluative criteria, made known to vendors before proposals are submitted.
      • Evaluative criteria should include management criteria, technical criteria, cost and past experience and performance.
 
    1. The evaluative criteria should be judged by a qualified evaluation committee.
      • The committee should be established before the request for proposals are sent.
 
      • The committee members should include someone with the expertise to analyze that service (ie., engineer for engineering services.)
 
      • Committee members should be screened for conflicts of interest.
 
    1. The evaluation process should be explainable to evaluators and competing vendors and capable of withstanding scrutiny under a protest challenge.
 
    1. The scoring process and award recommendations should be well-documented and retained.
 
  1. A contracting unit should establish an evaluative process including, scoring sheets, written record of permitted negotiations, written comparative analysis of proposals and written recommendation of the committee.
This Scarinci Hollenbeck Legal Update has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.