The following are responses to your most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the Legal, Policy and Compliance office of the Operational Services Division.

 

  1. What procurement laws and/or regulations apply to the Commonwealth?
  2. What is OSD’s bid protest/appeal procedure?
  3. What is a debriefing?
  4. Are Departments required to offer debriefings to bidders?
  5. Is OSD approval required for a Department to conduct an emergency procurement?
  6. What are my options as a Department if the relevant Statewide Contract for a particular good or service does not meet my specific needs?
  7. How Do I Get on the Bid List?
  8. How Do I Find Required Solicitation or Contract forms?
  9. What is the fundamental intent of the WTO/GPA?
  10. What types of procurements does the WTO/GPA apply to?
  11. How frequently does this US dollar threshold change?
  12. Are there any procurement exceptions to the application of the WTO/GPA?
  13. What steps must be taken by state officials in order for their procurements to comply with the Treaty?
  14. Can the 40-day notice period be reduced and, if so, under what circumstances?
  15. What must the notice contain?
  16. What would happen if another country challenges one of my contracts?
  17. Where can I go for any further answers to my WTO/GPA issues?

 

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  1. What procurement laws and/or regulations apply to the Commonwealth?

Procurements of commodities and/or services by Commonwealth entities must be done pursuant to M.G.L. c. 7, s. 22, M.G.L. c. 30, s. 51 and M.G.L. c. 30, s. 52. In addition, all Executive Agencies (and entities that have opted to follow these regulations) must follow 801 CMR 21.00, which establish uniform rules and standards governing the procurement of commodities or services, or both, including human and social services for clients.  In addition, Executive Agencies must follow the procurement policies and procedures found in the Best Value Procurement Handbook.  For more information about OSD's legal and regulatory authority, please visit OSD's Legal, Policy and Compliance Office webpage.

 

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  1. What is OSD’s bid protest/appeal procedure?

OSD’s rules and regulations permit an appeal process only for procurements related to purchase of human and social services, as specifically defined.  There is no protest or appeal process for other categories of bids for goods and services.

 

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  1. What is a debriefing?

A debriefing is a meeting between a non-successful bidder and member(s) of the Strategic Sourcing Services Team or Procurement Management Team to review specific questions relevant to the evaluation and scoring of that bidder’s bid.  The purpose of a debriefing is to allow bidders to understand how their bids were evaluated and how they might improve upon their bid submissions in response to future solicitations.

 

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  1. Are Departments required to offer debriefings to bidders?

No.  It is within the discretion of the department or individual Strategic Sourcing Services Team or Procurement Management Team to decide whether to allow debriefings.  Generally, an RFR will state whether this option is available to non-successful bidders.

 

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  1. Is OSD approval required for a Department to conduct an emergency procurement?

No.  OSD has in place specific criteria that govern the circumstances in which an emergency procurement is appropriate (See 801 CMR 21.05(3) and Procurement Exceptions docx format of except
); it is up to the procuring entity to determine whether the facts and circumstances meet those criteria.  The procuring entity should always be prepared to document compliance in the procurement file and for purposes of any potential quality assurance review.

 

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  1. What are my options as a Department if the relevant Statewide Contract for a particular good or service does not meet my specific needs?

Executive Departments are required to use statewide contracts 100% of the time. If a Department believes an existing statewide contract does not meet its business requirements and, therefore, feels it is necessary to issue a separate RFR, it must seek approval from the Assistant Secretary for Operational Services, or designee, prior to issuing a procurement. This applies only to the purchase of commodities and services for which a statewide contract exists. The process for seeking approval can be found in  Appendix A (Instructions for Submitting Requests for OSD Approval of Non-Standard Procurement Transactions) of the Best Value Procurement Handbook.

 

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  1. How Do I Get on the Bid List?

There is no general "list". If a potential customer is asking if you are on the list, they are referring to an active Statewide Contract which usually (a) covers a broad range of goods and services (b) is awarded to multiple vendors and (c) is for a specified duration.

These potential customers may be required by law or by internal policy to purchase only from authorized vendors on active Statewide Contracts. Only OSD issues these Solicitations/Bids. Once vendors submit bid responses or quotes, those who are awarded get listed on the Contracts/Blanket (or Master Blanket Purchase Order) search link of www.commbuys.com.

To find a Solicitation/Bid for Statewide Contract which is OPEN for response, follow these steps on www.commbuys.com:

  • Go to www.commbuys.com
  • Select the “Contract & Bid Search” link
  • Select the “Bids” checkbox
  • Select the “Organization” drop-down box
  • Select “1080 - Operational Services Division”
  • Select the “Type Code” drop-down box
  • Select “Statewide Solicitation”
  • Select Find it
  • See the list of all open solicitations that will become statewide contracts and select the desired solicitation by clicking on the “Bid#” in the left column.

 

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  1. How Do I Find Required Solicitation or Contract forms?

Generally, all solicitation and contract forms are located on the OSD Forms webpage.  For a specific solicitation/bid or contract/master blanket record that is posted on www.commbuys.com, the Issuer is responsible for providing all required forms associated with the record as File Attachments.  For solicitations/bids, Issuers might attach other documents to the record.  File access is also the Issuer's responsibility, so contact them for alternate access in the event a file cannot be read.  If required forms are not provided, contact the person listed on the record.

 

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FAQs regarding THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION /GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT AGREEMENT (WTO/GPA)
  1. What is the fundamental intent of the WTO/GPA?

The WTO/GPA is an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Its basic mission is to create an effective, multilateral, international framework of rights and obligations regarding governmental procurements with a goal of achieving greater liberalization and expansion of world trade.  Historically, it has been the United States’ most effective negotiating tool for opening up opportunities for U.S. suppliers to compete for foreign government contracts on a non-discriminatory basis.  To date, the GPA has given U.S. firms and their workers access to overseas procurement markets estimated to be worth more than $200 billion annually.

 

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  1. What types of procurements does the WTO/GPA apply to?

The WTO/GPA applies to all procurements for commodities/goods and/or services if the maximum potential value of the contract will be in excess of $558,000 (US). Construction services procurements in excess of $7,864,000 (US) are also subject to the WTO/GPA.

 

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  1. How frequently does this US dollar threshold change?

It changes every two-(2) years. These thresholds were updated in January 2014 and the next expected change will be in January 2016.

 

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  1. Are there any procurement exceptions to the application of the WTO/GPA?

Yes. Procurements under $552,000 (US) or for transportation services, public utility services including telecommunications and electricity provision, research and development and related services, printing services and dredging services are exempt from the treaty’s application. Also, small- and minority-business set-asides and other requirements associated with socio-economic preference programs and procurements from workshops for the sight-impaired, disabled or the products of prison labor are exempted.

 

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  1. What steps must be taken by state officials in order for their procurements to comply with the Treaty?

First of all, a notice of the procurement must be advertised by publishing it at least forty (40) days prior to the RFR Response due date to allow vendors to prepare and submit Responses.  This notice can be the RFR itself or a notice of planned procurement.  Therefore, the notice can be published before the RFR itself is available to the public. This allows for the 40-day period to commence running.

 

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  1. Can the 40-day notice period be reduced and, if so, under what circumstances?

Yes.  The 40-day period may be reduced to 24 days and to as little as 10 days under documented extenuating urgent circumstances, which justify the reduced period.

 

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  1. What must the notice contain?

The Notice must contain at a minimum: the anticipated contract subject matter, the response due time, date and place, award criteria, terms and conditions, and a statement that the procurement is covered by the WTO/GPA.

 

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  1. What would happen if another country challenges one of my contracts?

If WTO dispute settlement proceedings arise, which challenge a particular state’s measures, the United State Trade Representative’s office will notify the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office and other designated state offices as appropriate, and will coordinate closely with them to resolve any questions.  Until such time as the challenge is resolved, performance of the contract can go forward unless we agree to suspend its performance or a local court orders its suspension.

 

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  1. Where can I go for any further answers to my WTO/GPA issues?

You could contact your Department’s legal counsel, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in Washington, D.C., or log onto the WTO web site at www.WTO.org.

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