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Doing business with DPH

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Table of Contents

Competitive bid requirements

My organization would like to do business with DPH. How do we go about doing this?

With very few exceptions (e.g. emergency contracts), contracts with DPH are awarded through a competitive bid process. Prospective vendors must respond to publicly posted bid opportunities. The Operational Services Division (OSD) oversees most of the procurement processes used by DPH. In general, DPH’s procurement activities are governed by 801 CMR 21.00.

What if I have an idea for a program needed for my community, can I send a proposal to DPH? 

Due to procurement laws, DPH cannot accept unsolicited proposals. All Requests for Response must be publicly posted by DPH on COMMBUYS. See questions about COMMBUYS, the Commonwealth’s electronic procurement system.

Does DPH fund pilot programs?

DPH funds programs through publicly posted, competitive procurements. The exception is if the Department is applying for a federal grant opportunity and identifies partners in the application. In this situation, DPH posts a Notice of Intent on COMMBUYS. See questions about COMMBUYS below.

COMMBUYS requirements

Where would I find bid opportunities?

DPH posts Requests for Response and other bid documents on the state’s electronic procurement system, COMMBUYS. COMMBUYS is maintained by OSD.

How can my organization be informed of bid opportunities on COMMBUYS?

The best way to receive information about bid opportunities in COMMBUYS is to become a registered COMMBUYS vendor.   During the registration process, vendors identify the types of commodities or services that they provide. COMMBUYS automatically generates email notifications when bid opportunities in identified areas of interest are posted.

Are there resources available to help with the COMMBUYS registration process?

Information is available at the COMMBUYS website. In addition, the COMMBUYS Help Desk provides assistance. The Help Desk can be reached at (888) 627-8283 Monday through Friday from 8AM until 5PM or by email at COMMBUYS@state.ma.us 

Is there anything else that I need to know about COMMBUYS?

Most bid opportunities require electronic response through COMMBUYS.  Only COMMBUYS-registered vendors can submit responses electronically.   In addition to the Help Desk resources identified above, OSD provides on-line training. Links to training resources can be found at the COMMBUYS website. Other resources available to assist vendors when they submit responses through COMMBUYS include:

Qualified lists of vendors

I have heard that there are lists of vendors eligible to provide goods or services to state agencies. How does my organization join one of these lists?

Most commodities purchased by DPH and many commonly-used services (e.g. management consulting services, media services, waste removal services, tradespersons services) are provided through statewide contracts. OSD manages the statewide contract system. If a commodity or service is available through a statewide contract, DPH must use that contract when purchasing an item or service. Statewide contracts are established through a competitive bid process; Requests for Response are posted on COMMBUYS. The contracts are rebid every few years. Being on a statewide contract list does not guarantee that a vendor will receive any work. However, if your service or commodity is covered by a statewide contract, the only way to pursue business opportunities with the state is to be awarded a contract through this competitive process. 

More information about statewide contracts can be found at:

Operational Service Division - Statewide Contracts

Does DPH have similar lists?

DPH also maintains several lists (or Master Agreements) for services or commodities that are commonly used by the Department. These Master Agreements include Health and Safety Consultants, Research and Data Analysis Consultants, Statewide Capacity Building Services and Specialized Training Services. Like the statewide contracts, these lists are established through a publicly posted procurement process where prospective vendors present their qualifications to be on the lists. Most DPH Master Agreement procurements are reopened periodically; a few are open for application all the time.  Also similar to OSD statewide contracts, there is no guarantee of work once a vendor has qualified to be on one of these lists. 

If my organization has qualified to be on a list, how do I get work?

There are a variety of ways to obtain work. For vendors providing commodities through statewide contracts, COMMBUYS generally posts catalogs of products. State purchasers use the catalogs to buy needed items. 

Many statewide contracts (and some of the DPH Master Agreements) require a competitive quote process before a state agency can make a purchase. In many cases, particularly for consulting or capacity building engagements, DPH posts a Request for Quotes (RFQ) on COMMBUYS. Bidders respond to the RFQ electronically through COMMBUYS.

Human and social services provided to clients

Besides these opportunities to qualify to be on a list, are there other bid processes used by DPH?

Not all of the services and commodities purchased by DPH are available through lists established by statewide contracts or DPH Master Agreements.   For example, DPH manages many programs that involve human and social services provided to clients where contracts are executed only with vendors that will actually be providing services (as opposed to a list where a vendor is only eligible to provide services).  These services are procured through a competitive Request for Response process.  Like all of the other bid processes described above, RFRs are posted on COMMBUYS and bidders must submit responses electronically.

Are there any special requirements involved with human and social service programs provided to clients?

In addition to 801 CMR 21.00, human and social services contracts are governed by 808 CMR 1.00. This regulation includes definitions of reimbursable and non-reimbursable costs as well as audit requirements for providers of human and social services. Human and social services contractors undergo an annual provider qualification process to comply with audit requirements. The primary goal of this qualification process is to ensure that providers are administratively and fiscally stable.  New providers of these services submit some initial financial information as part of the procurement process through submission of a Contracting Qualification Form and Supplement. Refer to the Qualification Review Instructions for Potential New Providers for assistance in completing these forms.

Existing providers submit Uniform Financial Reports (UFR) annually to OSD’s eFiling system, which can be accessed at the OSD eFiling home page.

Further information about UFR requirements is available in the UFR Audit and Preparation Manual.

Questions during the bid process

If I have questions about a bid opportunity, whom do I contact?

While a bid opportunity is posted on COMMBUYS, questions can only be asked if the procurement allows them. Some Requests for Response have a question and answer period. In the RFR, a deadline is set for the submission of questions to an email address and responses to those questions are posted in COMMBUYS. This procedure ensures that all bidders are receiving the same information.

For some large bid opportunities, the Department might schedule a Bidders Conference. While documents, such as questions and answers and/or PowerPoint presentations, relating to the Bidders Conference may be posted in COMMBUYS following the conference, DPH is not obligated to post anything. Bidders failing to attend the conference do so at their own risk.

Contractual requirements

Are there contractual requirements that my organization should be aware of?

Prior to beginning any work, your organization must sign a contract with the Commonwealth. The start date of the contract is generally the date on which the Department signatory signs the contract. In some instances, a later date is specified in the contract and that becomes the start date.

There are a number of forms that vendors must sign in order to do business with the Commonwealth. These forms include the Standard Contract Form, Terms and Conditions (including Terms and Conditions for Health and Social Services providers) and the W-9 form. The Comptroller of the Commonwealth requires vendors to receive payments electronically so there is also an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form.

In addition, for most procurements, there are Supplier Diversity Program (SDP) requirements. Bidders are required to submit a Supplier Diversity Plan as part of the application process. The plan proposes a business relationship with a certified SDP vendor. Certified vendors may be Minority Business Enterprises, Women’s Business Enterprises, Veteran Business Enterprises, Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Business Enterprises. More information about the SDP program, including a list of certified vendors, can be found at the Supplier Diversity Program.

Each Request for Response may have further requirements around the submission of forms. Required forms and instructions concerning submission of forms are posted in COMMBUYS with the Request for Response.

Last updated: March 9, 2018

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