Policy Summary

Executive Departments (Departments) must award contracts for Small Procurements (all procurements of goods and services with a total value of less than or equal to $150,000) to verified COMMBUYS-registered small business bidders participating in the Small Business Purchasing Program (SBPP) (1) if a response is received from such an eligible small business and (2) if their response meets the Department’s established best value criteria.  While all quotes received in response to these Small Procurements may be evaluated, departments must award a contract to a verified COMMBUYS-registered small business bidder that meets the Department’s best value criteria.  In the event that no verified COMMBUYS-registered small business meets the best value criteria, the award may be made to the vendor who has submitted the highest scoring proposal to the Department that meets or exceeds the best value criteria.

The SBPP does not apply to procurements with a total value of less than $10,000 that are for one-time, non-recurring expenses (referred to as “Incidental Purchases”) or to other procurement exceptions identified in the Best Value Procurement Handbook. However, Incidental Purchases may be awarded to SBPP participants.

Required Notification Language for Bids

Executive Departments must include the following language in their bids for Small Procurements (all procurements of goods and services with a total value of less than or equal to $150,000; defined incidental purchases are not subject to a competitive procurement):

This is a Small Procurement targeted to verified small businesses participating in the Commonwealth's Small Business Purchasing Program (SBPP). The Department intends to award a contract to one or more SBPP-participating businesses verified through COMMBUYS who submits a quote that meets or exceeds the best value requirements. Subcontracting in SBPP procurements is limited to no more than 20% of the total value of the contract, unless it is with another verified SBPP participant. If it is determined that there is inadequate SBPP capacity, or no SBPP-participating vendors provide a responsive quote, the Department may award the solicitation to vendors who submitted responses and are not participating in the SBPP. To determine eligibility and to participate in the SBPP, please review the eligibility criteria and general program information at www.mass.gov/sbpp.

Locating SBPP Vendors in COMMBUYS

To find a complete and current list of vendors participating in the SBPP, use the Registered Vendor Search function on COMMBUYS (check off “Small Business Purchasing Program” at the bottom of the search page and then click “Find It”).  Instructions for identifying SBPP participants that responded to a bid are included in the How to Score and Award a Bid in COMMBUYS pdf format of How to Score and Award a Bid
file size 1MB job aid.

Vendor SBPP Status Validation

Beginning on November 24, 2014, COMMBUYS validates SBPP eligibility information submitted by companies in COMMBUYS through an interface with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR).  All companies registering to participate in the program will receive eligibility validation results immediately after completing the SBPP eligibility questionnaire section of their COMMBUYS vendor registration.  Information on the SBPP validation results for bidders will appear on the Bidder SBPP Status report available in COMMBUYS and described in the How to Score and Award a Bid in COMMBUYS pdf format of How to Score and Award a Bid
file size 1MB job aid.

SBPP eligibility is validated annually and renewed if a vendor continues to meet the SBPP criteria.  Prior to the anniversary of their initial SBPP validation, vendors will receive an automated email from COMMBUYS asking them to update their SBPP eligibility information in their COMMBUYS vendor profiles.

Vendors who are found to be ineligible for SBPP or whose eligibility could not be established, are notified by email and referred to the Potential Reasons for Disqualification, which contains references to tax and employment information those vendors need to review in order to identify why they may not be eligible for SBPP.  The Potential Reasons for Disqualification document also contains instructions for companies who believe that they meet program eligibility criteria and would like to have OSD review their status.  Vendors whose SBPP status review does not result in program eligibility will be eligible to apply to participate in the program one year from the date of receiving notice of disqualification from the program. 

The following guidance applies to existing and new Small Procurements (less than or equal to $150,000):

  • All Small Procurements awarded to vendors who were determined to be ineligible for the SBPP at the time SBPP validation went online (November 24, 2014), at the time of their application for SBPP, or at SBPP renewal, will be allowed to complete their current contract durations.  For those contracts with contract renewal options, at the end of the current contract duration, departments must evaluate whether renewing the contract is in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and either renew the contract or rebid it following SBPP guidelines for vendor selection.  It is the department’s responsibility to make this best value determination and document the reasons for renewal in the procurement file.  Contract spending with a vendor who loses its SBPP status will not count towards meeting departmental SBPP spending benchmarks starting from the date the vendor was disqualified from the program.
  • COMMBUYS will serve as the exclusive method for vendors to apply to participate in the SBPP and the exclusive method for departments to confirm that a vendor is eligible for SBPP benefits.  Contract spending with vendors who receive payments in MMARS but who have not created a COMMBUYS account and whose SBPP status has not been validated will not count towards meeting departmental SBPP spending benchmarks.
  • Prior to making a contract award based on the preference for SBPP-participating small businesses, departments are advised to check the apparent successful bidder’s SBPP status in COMMBUYS to ensure that the bidder is eligible for program benefits.
  • Departments are responsible to ensure that all new SBPP-participating contractors being entered into MMARS are identified with a Small Business (SBUS) business type as described below.  For vendors already existing in MMARS with the SBUS designation, OSD will review and update any SBUS business type based on the validation of the vendor’s SBPP information in COMMBUYS.  An SBUS “Certification End Date” will be entered for vendors who are not registered in COMMBUYS, who have not applied to participate in the SBPP in COMMBUYS, or who have applied and have been found ineligible for the SBPP. 

While Large Procurements (greater than $150,000) may also be awarded to small business bidders participating in SBPP, there is no requirement or preference that such contracts must be awarded to SBPP participants.

Departments receiving questions from vendors regarding their SBPP status should refer them to the Overview of the Small Business Purchasing Program for Vendors webpage, which includes details on the validation of SBPP status and additional information on steps they may take to review their SBPP status with OSD if they received notice that they are no longer eligible to participate in the program.

Departmental SBPP Spending Benchmark

An annual benchmark for departmental SBPP spending is set by the Supplier Diversity Office.  The current benchmark is 3.3%.

Note on subcontracting: All subcontracting relationships are governed by additional contract terms, which can be found in the Commonwealth Terms and Conditions and in the RFR. (See RFR – Required Specifications, “Subcontracting Policies” Section, and the Commonwealth Terms and Conditions, Section 9, Subcontracting By Contractor.)

Managing Small Business Information in MMARS

Managing MMARS information on vendor participation in the SBPP is crucial for accurate tracking of departments’ SBPP spending.  Departments are required to enter and later update, the SBUS (Small Business) business type for vendors with whom they do business, in MMARS. 


Entering New Vendors

Prior to entering any new vendor into MMARS, departments must check the vendor’s SBPP status on COMMBUYS by reviewing the Bidder SBPP Status report explained in the How to Score and award a Bid in COMMBUYS pdf format of How to Score and Award a Bid
file size 1MB job aid. For vendors for whose the "Current SBPP Status" is  shown as "Y" on the report, departments must:

  • Add an SBUS (Small Business) business type to the vendor record in MMARS, and use the “Date Qualified” that appears on the Bidder SBPP Status report as the “Certification Start Date” for the SBUS business type in MMARS.  The “Certification End Date” must be left blank
  • Attach a printout of the Bidder SBPP Status report page with the name of the selected vendor to the VCC request submitted to the Office of the Comptroller..

Managing Small Business Information for Existing Vendors

For vendors already existing in MMARS, OSD will update their SBUS business type based on the validation of their SBPP information in COMMBUYS. OSD will also perform periodic reviews of vendor information entered into MMARS to ensure that all small business information entered into MMARS is accurate.

Additional Resources