In order to insure that procurements of goods or services 1 by the Department of State (DOS) are conducted in a fair, equitable and open manner, the procedures set forth below shall apply to the procurement process.
The DOS Ethics Officer shall have general responsibility for the prevention of improper influence relative to all procurement contracts awarded by DOS.
A copy of the Procurement Integrity Procedures will be given to every DOS employee, consultant, or other person assigned to any task related to a DOS procurement. A copy of these procedures will be incorporated into every Request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposals (RFP) or Invitation for Bids (IFB) issued by DOS.
Any DOS employee who violates these procedures may be subject to disciplinary action, such as a reprimand, suspension, demotion, or dismissal. Any vendor who violates these procedures may, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, be determined to be a non-responsible vendor, and on the basis of such a determination may be ineligible to receive a contact award.
Every reasonable effort will be made to assure compliance with these procedures, but a minor deviation from these procedures that does not impair fairness and integrity of the procurement process will not require the invalidation of a contract award.
1. DOS employees must provide every interested vendor 2 with an equal opportunity to compete. No information may be given to one vendor without being made available to all other interested vendors. Vendors should be asked to submit every substantive question 3 concerning the procurement in writing not later than the date specified by DOS for such questions; and a copy of each question, together with DOS’s written answer, should be supplied to all interested vendors and included in the procurement record.
2. Unless otherwise directed by DOS’ Ethics Officer, the contact person designated on page one of the bid document will serve as the coordinator for all procurement-related contacts between DOS personnel and vendor personnel. All telephone calls, correspondence, and meeting requests must be routed to the contact person designated on page one of the bid document. That contact person will forward a record of all such contacts to the DOS Fiscal Office for inclusion in the procurement record.
3. A vendor may not exert or attempt to exert any improper influence 4relating to the vendor’s bid or proposal. When a record of contact which contains an attempt to influence a procurement is forwarded to the DOS Fiscal Office pursuant to the procedure set forth in paragraph 2 above, the Fiscal Office will notify the DOS Ethics Officer, who shall thereupon cause an investigation to be made and shall recommend such action, if any, as may be necessary.
4. Unless otherwise directed by the DOS Ethics Officer, the Division Director of the contact person designated on page one of the bid document will be responsible for approving and scheduling all contacts between DOS employees and vendor personnel concerning procurements.
5. Vendors are expected to obtain information relating to a DOS procurement only from the DOS designated contact listed on page one of the bid document.
6. Every IFB and RFP shall require vendors to identify in their bids or proposals the persons authorized to represent the vendor by name, address, telephone number, place of principal employment and occupation. This requirement applies not only to vendor employees involved in the submission of the vendor’s bid or proposal but also to every individual or organization employed or designated by the vendor to attempt to influence the procurement process. If, after submission of a bid or proposal, a vendor retains an individual or organization to attempt to influence the procurement process,5 then the name, address, telephone number, place of principal employment and occupation of such individual or organization shall be disclosed in writing to DOS prior to any contact with DOS and such disclosure shall be included in the procurement record. IFBs and RFPs shall require that vendors indicate in their bids or proposals or subsequent disclosures whether each contact individual or organization has a financial interest in the procurement.
7. All contacts between DOS personnel and vendor personnel during which a procurement-related matter is discussed in any way must be by telephone, in writing, by e-mail or in person at the place of business of DOS or the vendor or at a place designated by DOS. Written documentation of all such discussions must be filed with the DOS’s Fiscal Office for inclusion in the procurement record.
8. During the procurement process, no lunch, dinner, or other meal or other gift shall be accepted by a member of the DOS staff from an interested vendor, except that a presentation, interview or similar session occurring at the place of business of DOS or a vendor or at a place designated by DOS may include a refreshment break.
9. The evaluations of competing bids or proposals and recommendations and deliberations of DOS evaluation or selection committees shall be based solely on the merits of the bids or proposals, free from any improper influence.
10. Prior to the public release by DOS of an Invitation for Bids (IFB) or Request for Proposals (RFP), no DOS employee may disclose the contents of any portion of an IFB or RFP to any person not employed by DOS or any other person not authorized by the DOS Ethics Officer unless such disclosure is specifically authorized by the DOS Ethics Officer, who shall only authorize such disclosure if he or she determines that such disclosure will not impair the fairness and integrity of the procurement process.
11. The evaluation of competing bids or proposals shall be conducted strictly in accordance with the detailed evaluation and selection procedures documented in the procurement record prior to the initial receipt and opening of the bids or proposals. The DOS designated contact person’s Division Director shall issue the detailed evaluation or selection procedures to the members of the evaluation and selection committees prior to the distribution of the bids or proposals to the committee members for evaluation.
12. During the evaluation and selection phases of the procurement process, no DOS employee may disclose any part of a bid or proposal to any other person, except that (i) a member of an evaluation or selection committee may discuss a proposal with another member of the same committee, and (ii) a member of an evaluation or selection committee may disclose a proposal or a portion of a proposal to a person assigned to assist in the evaluation or selection process, as described below.
13. With the approval of the DOS designated contact person’s Division Director, evaluation or selection committees may appoint DOS employees or other experts to provide supporting services or information to assist in the evaluation of proposals and selection of a Contractor.
14. At the discretion of the Department of State, any person to whom a bid or a proposal or a portion of a bid or proposal is disclosed may be required to comply with a written non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement setting forth the terms and conditions under which such person is entrusted with the bid or proposal or portion thereof.
1These procedures apply to determinations by DOS to award a contract for the acquisition of any goods, services, or information technology.
2 For the purposes of these procedures, the term “interested vendor” means a person or firm that has received or requested an RFI, RFP, or IFB issued by DOS.
3 For the purposes of these procedures, the term “substantive question” means an inquiry concerning a material requirement of the procurement process, such as a technical specification or a financial prerequisite. The term does not apply to ministerial matters, such as the time and place or manner of submitting a bid or proposal.
4 For the purposes of these procedures, the term “improper influence” means any attempt to achieve preferential, unequal, or favored consideration of a bid or proposal based on considerations other than the merits of the proposal, including but not limited to, any conduct prohibited by the Ethics in Government Act, as set forth in Public Officers Law sections 73 and 74, and State Finance Law § 139(j) and (k).
5 For the purposes of these procedures, the term “attempt to influence the procurement process” means any attempt to influence any determination by DOS by a person other than a DOS employee with respect to (i) the solicitation, evaluation or award of a procurement contract; or (ii) the preparation of specifications or a request for submissions of bids or proposals for a procurement contact.