4.6 Competitive Purchase of Services – Health and Human Services
The Competitive Purchase of Service utilizes the request for proposals process and is the most frequently used procurement method for purchasing health and human services. In this process, award is made to the applicant whose proposal is determined to be the most advantageous to the State, based on the evaluation criteria set forth in the RFP.
The purchasing agency may engage in discussions with applicants for the purpose of clarification to assure full understanding of, and responsiveness to, the solicitation requirements. Applicants must be accorded fair and equal treatment with respect to any opportunity for discussion and revision of proposals. In conducting discussions, there shall be no disclosure of any information derived from proposals submitted by competing applicants.
The Competitive Purchase of Services process is outlined in the graphic above, and detailed in the following sections.
Applications for federal funding: Refer to Section 126.96.36.199.
4.6.1 Develop the Request for Information
The RFI is required to be in writing, but responses can be received in various ways, including but not limited to writing, a meeting, by email, or by other electronic media.
The public notice for the RFI shall be posted on the internet for a minimum of seven days. For the executive branch and participating jurisdictions, the public notice is posted on the SPO Procurement Notices website.
188.8.131.52 RFI for RFPs
In accordance with HAR §3-142-202, the RFI must be conducted whenever developing/preparing to issue a RFP. “. . . At a minimum, a purchasing agency shall prepare a request for information prior to the development of a request for proposals to obtain community input, and facilitate community planning activities…” More than one RFI may be issued, especially if it is a new or complex procurement, but at least one shall be conducted.
The RFI allows providers to plan for services more effectively and it benefits the clients as well.
The recommended time to conduct a RFI is two (2) to nine (9) months prior to issuing the RFP depending if it‘s a new or repetitive procurement and also the complexity of the services. If issuing a RFP that is the same as the one that is expiring, at least one RFI is required to be conducted.
The following shall be included in the RFI notice:
- The name of the purchasing agency
- Description of the information that is being sought
- Procedure for responding, and
- If applicable, means by which the responses can be submitted such as a presentation, meeting, telephone survey, electronic media, or any combination of these methods.
There are also two statements that are required to be included in the RFI:
- Participation is optional, and is not required to respond to any subsequent procurement action a purchasing agency may take, and
- Neither the purchasing agency nor the interested party responding has any obligation under the RFI.
The RFI and summary of responses shall be included in the procurement file and mentioned in the RFP as part of planning activities.
184.108.40.206 RFI – Federal Grant Application
The RFI for federal grant applications shall include, but is not limited to:
- State agency name
- Statement that the RFI is being issued for the purpose of including a provider or providers in a federal grant application which may result in a contract with the provider if the state is awarded
- Service description
- Evaluation criteria by which applicants will be selected
- Deadline for responses to the RFI
- Other requirements deemed relevant to the request
Refer to Section 220.127.116.11 for more information on federal grant applications.
4.6.2 Develop the RFP
In accordance with HAR §3-143-201, the following are the minimum required components of any RFP for a competitive purchase of services procurement:
- The service specifications for the services to be procured
- All applicable general and special conditions and tax clearance requirements that will be imposed on the successful applicant by contract
- A statement indicating that the award of a contract and any allowed renewal or extension shall be subject to the availability of appropriated funds
- Instructions and information for applicants including but not limited to the date, time and place for the orientation for the request for proposals, the submittal deadline, and the place where proposals shall be submitted
- Planning activities utilized
- Specific criteria to be used in evaluation of proposals
- A statement of the relative priority of the various evaluation criteria
- A statement regarding any secondary purchasers participating in the request for proposals
- A statement regarding the ability to submit multiple or alternate proposals
- A statement that provider participation in a purchasing agency’s efforts to plan for or to purchase health and human services, prior to the purchasing agency’s release of a request for proposals including the sharing of information on community needs, best practices, and providers’ resources, shall not disqualify providers from submitting proposals
- The criteria by which the performance under the contract will be monitored and evaluated
- Any specific requirements or qualifications that an applicant must meet in order to submit a proposal including, but not limited to, licensure or accreditation
- A statement that upon request from the purchasing agency, each applicant shall submit any additional materials and documentation reasonably required by the purchasing agency in its evaluation of the proposals
- Any other statement, disclaimer, or waiver required by law
To assist agencies in developing the RFP, an RFP Template is available. If the Procurement Team has developed a comprehensive Procurement Strategy Plan, including detailed specifications, the template will expedite RFP development.
The RFP may require agency-level approval prior to posting the Public Notice. The Procurement Officer should ensure the required approvals are received prior to posting.
4.6.3 Public Notice
The purchasing agency shall advertise the approved RFP to potential applicants through a public notice pursuant to HAR §3-143-202. Public notice is intended to maximize competition. At a minimum, public notices shall be posted on the SPO Internet site. In addition, the purchasing agency has several options for public notice including, but not limited to the following:
- Statewide newspapers
- County-wide publications
- Industry-specific publications/journals
A public notice shall include the following information:
- A brief description of the health and human services
- Where interested parties may request and obtain a copy of the solicitation and other information
- The submittal deadline for responses to the solicitation
- The orientation date, time and place
- Point-of-contact information
- Other appropriate information
Opportunities shall be published for a minimum of twenty-eight (28) calendar days prior to the proposals submittal deadline unless the Procurement Officer makes a written determination that a shorter time will provide for adequate competition and the shorter period will allow potential applicants reasonable time to prepare their proposals.
During the solicitation period, prospective applicants may contact the purchasing agency for inquiries and clarifications in accordance with the solicitation requirements. These inquiries may require the RFP to be amended, corrected, or clarified by way of an addendum. The purchasing agency shall consider the addendum impact to potential applicants and extend the proposal submittal deadline, if applicable.
A provider orientation is mandatory and shall be conducted for all competitive purchase of services to provide greater efficiency and uniformity in the planning and procurement of health and human services.
The orientation information shall be specified in the RFP, including date, time and location of the event. The orientation shall be held between five (5) and fifteen (15) working days following the Public Notice, or long enough after the request for proposals has been issued to allow applicants to become familiar with the request for proposals, but sufficiently before proposal deadline to allow consideration of the orientation in preparing their proposals.
An orientation shall be conducted on the island on which the requested service will be provided. If a request for proposals seeks services to be provided on multiple islands, then the purchasing agency shall hold its orientation on the island that will receive the largest share of the requested services at the location or locations specified in the request for proposals.
Best Practice: Use of electronic media is encouraged to include potential applicants from neighbor islands to participate in the orientation.
4.6.5 Discussions – Pre-Proposal
The competitive purchase of services process allows for discussions to be held with providers during the period after public notice of the procurement and before the deadline set for receipt of proposals. During this phase, the purchasing agency may engage in discussions with applicants as often as the purchasing agency deems necessary or convenient. During the discussion period, the purchasing agency must ensure the reasonably fair and equal treatment of all prospective applicants if discussions are conducted.
Discussions during this period provides an opportunity for the prospective applicant to better understand the agency’s service needs and associated requirements. If at any time during discussions a prospective applicant provides details of the prospective proposal to the purchasing agency, the agency is required to hold that information in confidence and prevent disclosure of proposed proposal contents to competing applicants.
4.6.6 Receive Proposals
All written proposals received by the purchasing agency shall be kept secure and unopened until the proposal submittal deadline set forth in the solicitation. Proposals shall be date-stamped and if possible, time stamped.
Hand delivered proposals shall be considered received when actually received. Proposals submitted by U.S. mail shall be considered received on the postmark date, provided the proposal is actually received within 10 days from the postmark date (submittal deadline). Proposal received electronically shall only be allowed as authorized by the RFP.
Within 10 working days, a register of proposals shall be prepared and made available for public inspection. For all proposals, the register must include:
- The name of each applicant; and
- RFP Identification.
Any proposals submitted after the proposal submittal deadline are considered late. A notice of rejection shall be given to the applicant and the rejected proposal may be disposed of after 30 days, or the applicant may retrieve the proposal from the purchasing agency.
4.6.7 Evaluate Proposals
The Procurement Officer may schedule an initial evaluation committee meeting where evaluators are provided copies of the proposals and are given a brief overview of the general rules for the RFP evaluation. An additional evaluation committee meeting to score the proposals is scheduled after adequate time is allowed for evaluators to review the proposals.
The evaluation committee may score proposals as individuals or as a group. Individual evaluations become part of the procurement file. In group scoring, only the group evaluations become part of the procurement file. Evaluation of proposals shall be based solely upon the evaluation criteria and relative priorities as established in the request for proposals. Numerical evaluations shall be accompanied by written explanation of scores. The written evaluations shall be part of the procurement file and made available for public inspection after execution of all contracts. After evaluation, the proposals shall be ranked from most to least advantageous based on the evaluations.
Once the final scores have been determined, proposals shall be ranked from most advantageous to least advantageous, based on the evaluation criteria set forth in the RFP.
4.6.8 Discussions – Evaluation
The purchasing agency may engage in discussions with applicants as often as the purchasing agency deems necessary or convenient. During this discussion period, the purchasing agency must ensure the reasonably fair and equal treatment of all applicants.
Discussions at this stage provide an opportunity for the purchasing agency to:
- Clarify elements of the request for proposals or the proposal;
- Facilitate the refinement of proposals to produce the contract that will be most advantageous to the state in light of the evaluation criteria set forth in the request for proposals; or
- Negotiate with providers to arrive at a more advantageous set of proposals for the state to consider.
The purchasing agency must maintain the confidentiality of the contents of individual proposals during the course of any discussions conducted in order to prevent the disclosure to competing applicants.
4.6.9 Final Revised Proposals
To allow fair and equal opportunity to all responsive and responsible applicants, a purchasing agency may request applicants to submit final revised proposals. The final revised proposal enables an applicant to make a best and final offer or to respond to matters raised during discussions.
To request final revised proposals, the purchasing agency shall issue an addendum to all responsive and responsible applicants that includes the following information:
- The addendum is a request for final revised proposals;
- The deadline for submission;
- The procedure for submitting final revised proposals if that procedure is different from submitting the original proposals;
- Instructions that only the section or sections of each applicant’s last proposal that are amended should be submitted; and
- A statement that if an applicant does not submit a final revised proposal, then the applicant’s last proposal shall be deemed to be the applicant’s final revised proposal.
Unless specifically stated in the addendum, the final revised proposals should be submitted in the same manner as stipulated in the original RFP.
Upon review of the final revised proposals, unless the purchasing agency determines, in writing, that there is a need to issue an additional addendum requesting another final revised proposal, final evaluations shall be conducted for an award.
4.6.10 Notice of Award
Award shall be made to the provider(s) whose proposal is considered most advantageous to the State based on factors set forth in the RFP.
The notice of award shall be sent to each responsive and responsible applicant by U.S. mail.
Each notice of award shall contain a statement of findings and decision that includes:
- Identification of the purchasing agency
- Identification of the request for proposals
- Identification of the selected applicant(s)
- Evaluation comments or scores received in support of the award/non-award of only the applicant to whom the notice is being sent
- Copy of the proposal evaluation worksheet of only the applicant to whom the notice is being sent.
An aggrieved applicant may protest an award, in writing, within five working days after the postmark date on the notice of award. Refer to Section 18.104.22.168.
4.6.11 Discussions – After Award and Before Contract Execution
Discussion may be held during this period to negotiate a more advantageous contract for the state. Discussion shall be limited to:
- Contractual terms and conditions not specifically addressed in the request for proposals that would not constitute a material change to the proposals; and
- Contractual terms and conditions which are not substantially the same or that do not constitute a material change to the proposal.
Material change is one that would adversely affect the proposal’s rating during the evaluation process.
4.6.12 Inadequate Response to RFP
Inadequate response to an RFP exists when:
- There is only one responsive proposal is submitted from a responsible provider;
- All proposals submitted are nonresponsive or submitted by providers who are not responsible; or
- No proposals are received in response to the RFP.
Refer to HAR §3-143-609 for procedures for inadequate responses to a RFP.