View Section IV for information about the type of references to request of your bidders.

References are an important part of any bid solicitation. As the purchaser, you need to know if the vendor has the capability, integrity, and reliability to fulfill your contract. Information about vendors' past performance can help you make that determination. Unfortunately, obtaining an accurate picture of a vendor's past performance through the use of reference checks can be difficult. Too often, the references provided by vendors omit prior contracts that included performance shortfalls.

To avoid this problem, you might require that vendors submit a complete list of contracts they have performed that are similar in size and scope to your contract, including contact names and telephone numbers. You may choose to limit this list to contracts performed in the past year or in whatever time period makes sense for your contract. By asking for a complete list, rather than allowing the vendor to self-select three or four "good" references, you will get a more accurate picture of the vendors' past performance. You can then contact all the names on the list or select just three or four if the list is too long. Make sure that you treat all vendors equally by contacting the same number of references for all bidders. You should also include in your IFB a statement that poor references may be a basis for a determination that the vendor is not a responsible bidder.

When you check bidder references, it is important to ask the same objective questions about all bidders. Did the vendor satisfactorily perform the contract? Did the vendor perform on a timely basis? Would the contact person rehire the vendor? Tailor the reference check to get the information that is most important to you. For example, if one of your primary concerns is durability of the equipment after the first two contract years, then ask for references from all customers who have had the equipment two years or longer, and ask questions of these references about any service problems after the initial two years of the contract.

In sum, you should focus your attention on what distinguishes a "good" performer from a "poor" performer for the type of supply or service that will be performed on your contract. Obtain references from those who will give you the most useful information, and ask questions designed to elicit that information.

Sample Requests for References

Example: Bidders must submit a complete list of all jobs performed in the past two (2) years that are similar in size and scope to this project, with contact names and telephone numbers.

Example: Bidders must submit a complete list of all current customers who have had the proposed network installed and operational for at least two (2) years, with contact names and telephone numbers.

Financial References
You may want to ask for additional reference information in order to assess a vendor's financial viability. Awarding authorities often require vendors to submit audited financial statements or annual reports with their bids. However, these materials are only useful if you have the expertise to analyze them. If you lack such expertise, you should consider other means of assessing vendors' financial viability such as requiring the vendor to be bondable or obtaining information from a credit reporting agency. [Note: Sources include Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW), TransUnion, and Dun & Bradstreet].

Sample Requests for Financial References

Example: Bidders must include a credit report from a credit reporting agency indicating the bidders' credit history for the last seven (7) years. The credit report must be dated no earlier than 60 days prior to the bid submission date.

Example: Bidders must include a business information report or business profile from a credit reporting agency dated no earlier than 60 days prior to the bid submission date.

Example: Bidders must include financial statements attested to by a certified public accountant (CPA). The CPA must attest that the financial statement is true and accurate to the best of his/her knowledge.


REFERENCE FORM

Bidder:_____________________________________________

IFB Title:___________________________________________

Bidder must provide references for:

 

_____________________________________________________________________

[Fill in the appropriate requirements: for example, all contracts performed within the past two (2) years of similar size and scope to this contract; or all current contracts where the vendor's equipment has been operational for at least two (2) years; or other requirements that define an appropriate reference pool.]

Reference: _____________________________________________
Address:_____________________________________________
Contact:_________________________________________
Phone:___________________________________________
Fax:_____________________________________________

  • Description and date(s) of supplies or services provided:




  • Reference: _____________________________________________
    Address:_____________________________________________
    Contact:_________________________________________
    Phone:___________________________________________
    Fax:_____________________________________________

    Description and date(s) of supplies or services provided:




  • Reference: _____________________________________________
    Address:_____________________________________________
    Contact:_________________________________________
    Phone:___________________________________________
    Fax:_____________________________________________

    Description and date(s) of supplies or services provided:




Attach additional sheets if necessary