General Comm-PASS FAQ's

G-1. What is Comm-PASS?

G-2. Which public organizations are required by law to use Comm-PASS?

G-3. Which public organizations may choose to use Comm-PASS?

G-4. How much does it cost to use Comm-PASS?

G-5. Who is in charge of Comm-PASS?

G-6. Why shouldn't I use my browser's Back Button while in Comm-PASS?

G-7. What are the best Browser Settings to optimize Comm-PASS activity?

G-8. Why don't my bookmarks save the whole record in Comm-PASS?

G-9. Who is responsible for answering my procurement questions?

General Comm-PASS Answers

 

G-1. What is Comm-PASS?

The Commonwealth Procurement and Solicitation System (Comm-PASS) is the only official procurement record system for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Executive Departments.

Comm-PASS offers free internet-based access to all public procurement information posted here in order to promote transparency, increase competition, and achieve best value for Massachusetts taxpayers.


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G-2. Which public organizations are required by law to use Comm-PASS?

Three groups of public purchasers are required to post specified records:

1. Executive agencies of the Commonwealth including the state's central purchasing agency, Operational Services Division, must post every procurement for goods and services not available on Statewide Contract including human and social services, with an Estimated Value of $5,000 or more.


2. Public awarding authorities in Massachusetts conducting public works or public construction must post not less than two (2) weeks before the deadline for submitting responses:
 

  • Solicitations for building projects with estimated construction costs greater than $10 million and,
  • Requests for pre-qualifying general contractors and pre-qualifying subcontractors for said building projects ;
  • Solicitations for building projects employing a Construction Management (CM) at risk firm,and
  • Requests for selecting the CM at risk and Trade Subcontractor for said building projects

For complete descriptions, see MGL c. 149, §§ 44A - 44M and MGL c. 149A.
 

3. Recipients of Commonwealth-distributed federal stimulus funds, also known as American Revitilization and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds, must post bids and grant offers and resulting contracts and grant awards per a policy doc format of    NEW Comm-PASS Guidance ver4.0 with ARRA info  file size 4MB memo issued by the Commonwealth's Secretary for Administration and Finance and the State Purchasing Agent.


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G-3. Which public organizations may choose to use Comm-PASS?

All within the borders of Massachusetts may use Comm-PASS at no charge to post their procurement records.

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G-4. How much does it cost to use Comm-PASS?

Comm-PASS is free for both public purchasers and interested bidders.

So, why are visitors offered a JOIN link which explains how to access SmartBid functionality?

The SmartBid functionality is now offered at no cost. It is an optional service with additional features.

If vendors decide to bid on a Solicitation for a Statewide Contract, they must subscribe to SmartBid because OSD only accepts bids submitted online through this service. Online submission reduces paper consumption, record creation and management and archiving costs.

The BuySmart functionality is offered at no charge to eligible purchasers in Massachusetts.


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G-5. Who is in charge of the Comm-PASS system?

Each public entity posting records on the site has full responsibility for record management and content.

However, the Comm-PASS system itself is run by the the Commonwealth's central purchasing agency, led by the State Purchasing Agent.

The Comm-PASS system and related system services including hosting and technical support are provided by Deloitte.

A steering committee makes decisions about operating rules and system functionality based on principles that support flexible, non-proprietary business processes to support public procurement best-practices.

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G-6. Why shouldn't I use my Back Button when navigating Comm-PASS?

Using your Back Button can get you kicked out of Comm-PASS because the site contains security which operates like a bank or purchasing transaction. Back up too far, and you're out!

Instead, use the small links provided just below the main navigation bar on each Comm-PASS page. As you move from one page to the next, you will notice that a link for each location is added. These links are referred to as "breadcrumbs" and you may select any of them to travel back and forth to previously visited pages.

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G-7. What are the best Browser Settings to optimize Comm-PASS activity?

You can set your Browser to ensure that you access the most up-to-date Comm-PASS information and reduce error messages.

The following directions will allow you to (a) limit the use of temporary files or cookies; (b) automatically clear temporary files each time you close your Browser; and, (c) check for the latest version of a Comm-PASS page each time you visit it:

To Change Your Browser Settings if you are using Internet Explorer 6:
 

  1. Open a Browser Session by accessing the Internet
  2. Select the Tools menu
  3. Select Internet Options…
  • On the General tab:
    • Select Delete Cookies and include offline content
    • Select Delete Temporary Files (this may take time but can improve performance)
    • Select Settings
      • Set "Check for new versions of the stored pages" to "Every visit to the page"
      • Set disk space below 100MB to improve performance
    • Select OK
  • On the Advanced tab:
    • Scroll down until you reach the Security options
    • Make sure that "Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed" is checked
    • Select OK

To Change Your Browser Settings if you are using Internet Explorer 7:

 

  1. Open a Browser Session by accessing the Internet
  2. Select the Tools menu
  3. Select Internet Options…
  • On the General tab:
    • Under Browsing History, select 'Delete"
    • Select Delete Cookies
    • Select Delete Temporary Files and include offline content (this may take time but can improve performance)
    • Select Close to return to the General tab
    • Select Settings
      • Set "Check for new versions of the stored pages" to "Every visit to the page"
      • Set disk space below 100MB to improve performance
    • Select OK
  • On the Advanced tab:
    • Scroll down until you reach the Security options
    • Make sure that "Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed" is checked
    • Select OK


 

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G-8. Why don't my bookmarks save the whole record in Comm-PASS?

Bookmarks save the address for a single web page, but Comm-PASS records are composed of multiple web pages. Bookmarking the Summary page omits the addresses for the remaining pages, like Rules, Issuer(s), etc.

Instead of using bookmarks, take careful note of the Document Number and the Issuer displayed in the upper left-hand of every page in a Comm-PASS record. Use Search tools to locate records by Document Number or use Browse tools to located records by Issuer.

BuySmart members and SmartBid subscribers can add any record to their Items I'm Tracking list for rapid one-click access.
 

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G-9. Who is responsible for answering my procurement questions?

The person listed on the Issuer(s) tab under "Contact Information" is solely responsible for ensuring access to accurate, complete information regarding a procurement.

The Comm-PASS HelpDesk staff does not have authority or knowledge regarding particular procurements.

Contact the Help Desk at comm-pass@state.ma.us for any questions regarding the Comm-PASS site itself.

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