Questionable contract?

If you want to volunteer for our Citizens Contract Oversight Committee, or have a tip to share, please email us at

Monday, June 27, 2016

Primer on Purchasing Methods Employed by DOE

The purpose of this post is to provide some explanation of how NYC public school contracts are presented to the Panel for Educational Policy for approval. 
To secure internal DOE and PEP approval, the DOE prepares a document summarizing the contract called a Request for Authorization (RA).  The RA includes basic facts about the contract: vendor, contact info, term, funding source, estimated amount, whether the contract is retroactive, as well as a description of the purpose and a discussion.  Negative findings about the vendor reported through the City's VENDEX system or other sources are included in the discussion. 

The RAs for each PEP meeting are packaged up in a single large pdf file and published online.  

While the documents are mostly self-explanatory, the different procurement methods warrant some explanation:
  • competitive sealed bidding (RFB)
  • request for proposals (RFP)
  • multiple task award contracts (MTAC) 
  • listing application
  • expedited competitive solicitation;
  • sole source goods procurement
  • negotiated services 
  • emergency purchases
  • simplified procurement
  • purchases through government contracts
  • demonstration projects for innovative products, approaches, or technologies;
  • innovative procurement methods; 
  • government-to-government purchases
  • consultant contracts with individuals
Here's a brief explanation of the major types sourced from the full policy document with some editing for readability:  (For more information see the purchasing policy and procedures defined by the DOE and approved by the Panel for Educational Policy)

Competitive Sealed Bid (RFB)

Competitive sealed bidding is the preferred method of procurement where specifications can be made sufficiently detailed and exact to permit award of a contract to a responsive and responsible bidder solely on the basis of price, except where award on the basis of best value is in the DOE’s best interests as provided for in Section 3-02(o)(1)(ii) of the procurement policy.

Request for Proposal (RFP): 

The Request for Proposals (RFP) method should be utilized when it is not possible to fully detail the scope of work to be provided, and when it is necessary to evaluate proposals on a number of factors including experience, staffing, suitability for needs and quality of vendor, in addition to price. Contracts are awarded to the vendors whose proposals are determined to be the most advantageous to the DOE. 

Multiple Task Award Contract Process (MTAC):

A contract specifying specific services at set prices distinguished by: (1) multiple vendors are awarded contracts for the same or similar services; (2) the contract does not specify a quantity of services or, where applicable, a location or specific recipient of the services to be provided (instead the solicitation or contract may indicate, for example, that students in certain grades are targeted recipients); and (3) usage of the contract is through a streamlined process for placing orders for the performance of tasks during the period of the contract. MTAC’s are awarded where there is a demand for a service among multiple schools/offices, it is necessary to contract with multiple vendors to meet the demand, and it is efficient to offer schools/offices a choice of service providers at specified unit prices and a streamlined ordering process. 

Because the final decisions on how much of an item to buy and from which vendor included in an MTAC is the prerogative of schools or departments within DOE, the estimated amounts provided on the RAs are based on prior years of purchasing and anticipated volume for new vendors.

Listing Application

A listing application is used to purchase content provided directly to students, materials that are available only from the publisher, artistic performances, and admission to programs offered by cultural institutions. 

It may also be established for: (1) presentations or workshops where the cost is incidental to the entire expense of the contract and which are specifically geared to explain the methodology of a specific published/copyrighted item, or (2) admission to a cultural institution program that includes workshops or presentations where the cost is incidental to the entire expense of the contract and which are considered teaching tools that will enhance the use of the original materials, performances or programs purchased.

These materials and services are considered unique as they can not be purchased
by open, competitive means. 

Similar to MTAC, amounts on listing applications are estimated.

Expedited Competitive Solicitation

Expedited competitive solicitation may be utilized when time constraints require procuring the services of a vendor quickly and use of another source selection method would not be practicable and/or feasible. Under such circumstances, if there is a reasonable belief that competition exists in the marketplace, an expedited competitive solicitation process may be employed. 

Sole Source Goods Procurement

Sole source goods procurement shall be used for the purchase of goods when there is only one source through which the goods can be purchased and when no other product is available in the marketplace that meets the same or substantially similar requirements of form, function and utility. Sole source  contracts for goods may include installation, maintenance or other services associated with the proper use or operation of the goods where it is beneficial to the DOE to include such services in the contract. The price, terms and conditions shall be achieved through negotiation between the DOE and the vendor. 

Negotiated Services

Negotiated Services shall be used when other methods of procurement are not practical or possible and it is in the best interest of the DOE to procure services under the circumstances specified herein. The award of a contract shall be based upon a combination of cost, quality and efficiency. 

Emergency Purchases

An emergency condition is an unforeseen danger to life, safety, property, or a necessary service. The existence of such a condition creates a need for goods, services or construction that cannot be met through normal procurement methods. An emergency procurement shall be limited to the procurement of those items necessary to avoid or mitigate danger to life, safety, property, or a necessary service.

Simplified Procurement

Simplified procurement is a streamlined method of competitive procurement for purchases less that $15,000. Public notice of solicitation and award, vendor protests, and written notice to the low bidder or offeror of non-responsiveness shall is not required.  Written requirements and competitive bids are still required.

No comments: