DANGER OF IGNORANCE You will get the wrong item/service It won’t be compatible with what you already have It will cost far more than the actual good/service you NEED The market won’t have a solution You have to start all over again Specs can be geared towards a particular good or vendor Specs can be geared away from a particular good or vendor Can “overbuy” (needs vs. wants) DANGER OF MISUSE Dangers of Specs Ignorance and Misuse Can Sink Your Procurement
In a perfect world, you would know exactly what you need, be able to explicitly describe it, and have several vendors that understand it. We don’t live in a perfect world. So…How Do You Develop Specs??
You need to talk to your internal users of the good/service. Find out: What they need What it will work with (integration) What legal requirements surround it You need to talk to the vendor community to find out: What they have that could work What it could cost If there are better solutions we haven’t thought of Talk, Talk, Talk
Before you start a solicitation process During the solicitation process through: Bid conferences Q&A Negotiations BAFO THROUGH an RFI Process When Can You Speak with Vendors?
Beware of §2155.004, Gov’t Code This statute says: A state agency may not accept a bid or award a contract that includes proposed financial participation by a person who received compensation from the agency to participate in preparing the specifications or request for proposals on which the bid or contract is based. (b) A bid or award subject to the requirements of this section must include the following statement: "Under Section 2155.004, Government Code, the vendor certifies that the individual or business entity named in this bid or contract is not ineligible to receive the specified contract and acknowledges that this contract may be terminated and payment withheld if this certification is inaccurate."
Beware of §2155.004, Gov’t Code If a state agency determines that an individual or business entity holding a state contract was ineligible to have the contract accepted or awarded under §2155.004, the state agency may immediately terminate the contract without further obligation to the vendor. This section does not create a cause of action to contest a bid or award of a state contract. This section does not prohibit a bidder or contract participant from providing free technical assistance to a state agency.
Get Close, Get Personal Your end users are usually your subject matter experts (SMEs) Get to know their needs! Understand their work processes If you don’t understand what is needed and how it will be used…the vendors probably won’t either!
So, What Should Specs Look Like? They should be clear and concise They should enhance, not limit, competition This means avoiding language that focuses on a particular make or model, whenever possible Reference brands are acceptable, but should state “or equivalent” Be comprehensive If you have a project that requires the solution to do 12 things, spell out all 12 things it must do Explain your need fully
So, What Should Specs Look Like? Use “shall” and “must” when describing mandatory requirements. For example, “program must work on Windows XP or newer”…”vehicle must operate on propane”…. If there are delivery requirements or installation needs, include them in detail If the vendor must have a license to perform the work, require the license List your insurance requirements
So, What Should Specs Look Like? If you use a reference brand, provide a link to the Web site that has the specs for that brand item. If you are using measurements, spell them out: Write “pounds,” not “lbs” to avoid confusion
So, What Should Specs Look Like? List out requirements Do NOT embed them in long, narrative paragraphs. Something will be missed, if you do. It is best to use an Outline format for spec requirements, with a new number or letter for each individual requirement
Get Your Specs Reviewed Two sets of eyes are better than one Have reviews of the RFx and Specs by: End Users Other Purchasers Contract Managers Legal Counsel
Every Vendor’s Crazy About Sharp Dressed Specs Good specs not only make it easier for vendors to bid, they make you and your agency look good, too! Vendors want to work with organized, knowledgeable customers Good specs also prevent Addenda during the RFx process
Keeping the Price Down Providing an accurate physical and functional description of the product/services needed prevents the potential for inflated pricing. If the spec is vague, the vendor will have to add in costs to cover the risks of the unknown
Market Research Often known as “Google” Network with other agencies who have similar needs Research the prices usually paid for the goods/services. Use this knowledge in negotiations
Good Specs Usually Mean Good Contract Questions? Dee.firstname.lastname@example.org Ron.Pigott@cpa.state.tx.us