Doing Business in Maine

Table of Contents

FOREWARD

INTRODUCTION

POLICY

THE DIVISION OF PURCHASES' WEBSITE

AdvantageME

METHOD OF BIDDING

RESPONSIBLE BIDDER DEFINED

SUBMISSION OF BIDS

CLOSING OF BIDS

AWARD

GENERAL BID CONDITIONS

SPECIAL BID CONDITIONS

TIE BIDS

ALTERNATE BIDS

STATE POLICY ON ACCEPTING GIFTS

OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS

DIVISION OF PURCHASES' OFFICE HOURS

HELPFUL INFORMATION FROM VENDORS

"BACKDOOR" SELLING

COPY SERVICE CHARGES

DISPUTES AND APPEALS

CONCLUSION


FOREWARD

This booklet has been prepared as a guide to you in doing business with the State of Maine.

The Division of Purchases' primary function is to procure materials, supplies, equipment and services that represent the best value to the State of Maine. Our intent is to accomplish this through sound procurement practices and fair dealings.

This booklet is intended to furnish you with information about our policies and procedures, our standards for quality and other considerations. We urge you to ask us any questions you may have about the State, its departments and agencies and how your products and/or services may meet our needs. The more you know of our requirements and needs the better prepared you will be to do business with the State of Maine.

Michael A. Wenzel, Director

INTRODUCTION

The Division of Purchases was established in 1931 and has the responsibility under law (5 MRSA 1811) to purchase all services, supplies, materials and equipment required by State Government or by any department or agency thereof. “Service” refers to manual labor that does not produce a tangible commodity.

Other types of services such as management consulting, information technology, programming, and employee training are the responsibility of the requesting agency. In obtaining these professional services, agencies must follow guidelines set by Executive Order and rules developed by the Division of purchases.

The State of Maine has about 350 organizational units, including Departments, Agencies, and Commissions with locations throughout the State; over 100 are in Augusta alone.

The Division of Purchases buys a wide variety of goods such as automobiles, food products, medicines, machinery, equipment, boats, paper, furniture, and clothing. These items are procured by trained professional Procurement and Contracting Specialists who buy from both small and large qualified businesses.

POLICY

It is the established policy of the Division of Purchases to provide for competitive bidding wherever practicable in buying materials, supplies, and services by State departments and agencies. State standard specifications will be used wherever possible, as well as nationally accepted specifications, such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), federal specifications, etc., to ensure procurement of products that will meet the State's needs.

The objective of the Division is to procure materials and services representing the best value, taking into consideration factors such as initial cost, suitability for intended purpose, operation, quality, maintenance, etc., as well as delivery in time for the need to be met. Requirements, conditions, and terms contained in specifications and bid invitations are intended to accomplish this objective to the extent possible, consistent with the need to also allow the greatest possible competition among suppliers.

THE DIVISION OF PURCHASES' WEBSITE

This site is designed and updated continuously by a Procurement and Contracting Specialist. It includes valuable information for State agencies, municipalities, vendors and the general public and includes:

Bid Opportunities

Requests for Proposal (RFPs)

Contract Listings

Commodity Assignments

List of Purchasing Staff

Purchasing Tools

Vendor Registration Information

Handy Links to Other Sites

Please take a moment to visit the site and become familiar with it. The website address is: www.maine.gov/purchases.

AdvantageME

The State of Maine has upgraded its financial accounting system, and implemented new, integrated treasury and e-procurement modules as part of the upgrade. The new integrated system, AdvantageME, went live on July 1, 2007.

A key feature of the AdvantageME E-Procurement module is the opportunity for vendors to register in Vendor Self Service (VSS) for the commodities and services they are able to provide to the state. Then, when the state issues a solicitation through AdvantageME for a vendor's products or services, the VSS will automatically generate an email message to the vendor alerting the vendor to the opportunity.

METHOD OF BIDDING

Commodities

  • A need with an estimated cost in excess of $50,000 will be met using electronic quotes with open competition among all registered bidders, unless waived by the Director under 5 MRSA 1825-A. Emergency procurement may be exempt.
  • A need with an estimated cost between $5,000 and $50,000 will be met via electronic quotes. A minimum of three targeted bidders may be selected, one of which must be the previous successful bidder. Emergency procurement may be exempt.
  • Items under $5,000 or items under current contracts issued by the Division may be purchased directly by agencies. Printing, graphics, or any item considered a public improvement is exempt.

Contractual Services

  • When costs are expected to exceed $10,000, they are bid using a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Notices of RFPs are published for three consecutive days in the Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine. Chapter 110, the promulgated rule governing this process, is available at the Division of Purchases' website.
  • Services costing $10,000 or less may be procured by soliciting a minimum of three quotations after making known the scope of work to be done. The low bidder is awarded the contract.

RESPONSIBLE BIDDER DEFINED

A responsible bidder may be a manufacturer, producer, distributor, dealer, or manufacturer's representative authorized by the manufacturer to sell his product, who has demonstrated integrity, is of good reputation, has a satisfactory record of experience and performance, whose financial status is such as to cause little risk to the State, and who has the capacity and the ability to supply the State on a timely basis.

SUBMISSION OF BIDS

Bids for commodity items must be submitted electronically. Additional and alternate bids may also be submitted. File attachments may be uploaded to the electronic bid response. Supporting documents and literature may be faxed or mailed to the Division of Purchases.

CLOSING OF BIDS

Commodity quotes close at 2:00 p.m., local time, on the announced day. Attempts to enter a bid response after the exact time set for closing are not recorded as received responses and are not considered for award.

Competitive proposals for contractual services as described in an RFP close at 2:00 p.m., local time, on the announced day. After that those submitted will be opened publicly and the names of the bidders announced. All material accepted will be transferred to the agency for review and is not available for inspection until after an award has been announced.

Proposals received after the exact closing time are “Late Bids” and cannot be considered for award.

AWARD

Awards will be made with reasonable promptness by written notice or by issuance of properly executed purchase order. Awards will be made to the bidder offering the best value to the State of Maine , taking into consideration the qualities of the goods or services to be supplied, their conformity to specifications, the purposes for which they are required, the date of delivery and the best interest of the State. (5 MRSA 1825, B7)

GENERAL BID CONDITIONS

General bid conditions applicable to “all state purchases” may be found on the electronic bid response system. The State's “Terms and Conditions” are also contained at that site.

SPECIAL BID CONDITIONS

Special bid conditions applicable to a specific commodity or type of purchase are listed by the State in the invitation to bid under “Special Instructions” or attached file(s). Special bid conditions supersede general conditions, if conflicting.

TIE BIDS

Tie bids will be awarded to in-state bidders or to bidders offering commodities produced or manufactured in the State if the price, quality, availability, and other factors are equivalent. (5 MRSA 1825, B8)

ALTERNATE BIDS

Consideration will be given to responses submitted on alternate commodities to the extent that such action is deemed to serve the best interest of the State. The bidder quoting on a commodity other than specified shall furnish complete identification, descriptive literature or data with respect to the alternate commodity proposed. Lack of such information on the bid shall be construed to mean that the bidder proposed to furnish the exact commodity as described.

The State reserves the right to reject any and all bids, in whole or in part, to waive any formality and technicality in any bid and to accept any item or items in any bid.

STATE POLICY ON ACCEPTING GIFTS

It is against the policy of the State for an employee to accept gifts from any person or business that does business, or expects to do business with the State of Maine.

Further, it is unlawful (Title 17-A, M.R.S.A. Sections 602, 604, 605 and 606) for certain persons or businesses to give gifts to State employees and have them accepted.

For the purpose of administrative guidance, gifts do not include advertising items of nominal value such as calendars, pens or pencils. Goods and services which involve a pecuniary benefit should be considered to be gifts.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS

The Division of Purchases is committed to providing purchasing opportunities for political subdivisions and school districts in Maine by allowing them access, through our vendors, to our contract pricing. For that reason, our solicitations commonly ask bidders: Will you accept orders from political subdivisions and school districts in Maine at the prices quoted? We take a bidder's willingness to extend contract pricing to these entities into consideration in making awards.

DIVISION OF PURCHASES' OFFICE HOURS

Procurement and Contracting Specialists may be seen by sales representatives at the Division of Purchases, Burton M. Cross Building, 4th Floor, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine on Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. We encourage making appointments in advance to allow the most advantageous use of everyone's time during the business day.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FROM VENDORS

Potential vendors may submit brochures, photographs, facilities lists, descriptive materials and price lists which will enable Procurement and Contracting Specialists to form a valid idea as to your capabilities and products. These materials may be used in bid development or in determining sources of supply.

"BACKDOOR" SELLING

Attempting to make a sale without going through the central purchasing authority is prohibited. Executive Order 2 FY 81/82.

COPY SERVICE CHARGES

When photocopies are requested, the Division of Purchases will charge one dollar for the first page and $0.25 for the second and subsequent pages of that file.

DISPUTES AND APPEALS

The Director of the Bureau of General Services has promulgated Chapter 120—Rules for Appeal of Contract and Grant Awards which govern the procedures by which an aggrieved person may appeal a contract award decision. A brief synopsis of that rule follows, but potential appellants are encouraged to read the full text of the rule before filing an appeal request. Chapter 120 is available from the Division of Purchases or can be found on Purchases' website.

Appeal Guidelines

  1. Only aggrieved persons may request a Stay of Award or an Appeal. An aggrieved person is any person who bids on a contract and who is adversely affected financially, professionally, or personally by that contract award decision.
  2. A Stay must be requested in writing within ten calendar days of award notification and must state clearly the specific nature of the grievance, demonstrate irreparable injury to the petitioner, a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal, and there being no substantial harm to adverse parties or to the general public.
    1. The Director's decision regarding the request for Stay will be communicated in writing within seven days of receipt of the request.
    2. Failure of the petitioner to obtain a Stay does not affect the petitioner's right to request a Hearing of Appeal.
  3. An Appeal must be requested in writing within fifteen calendar days of award notification and must clearly demonstrate why the petitioners believes that at least one of three criteria has been met. The appeal criteria are: (1) a violation of law; (2) an irregularity creating a fundamental unfairness, and (3) an arbitrary or capricious award.
    1. The Director's decision regarding the request for a Hearing of Appeal will be communicated in writing within fifteen days of receipt of the request.
    2. A hearing will be granted unless: (1) the petitioner is not an aggrieved person; (2) a prior request by the same petitioner about the same contract award has been granted; (3) the request was made more than 15 days after the notification of contract award; and, (4) the request is capricious, frivolous, or without merit.
  4. An Appeal Committee consisting of three members will be appointed to hear the appeal. The Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services will appoint two members from departments not involved in the contract award. The third members of the Appeal Committee will be the Director of the Division of Purchases or a designee.
  5. The hearing must be held within sixty days of receipt of the initial request and will provide the opportunity for both the petitioner and the awarding department to present testimony and documentary evidence related to the issues on appeal. The Appeal Committee will keep a written record of the hearing and will meet after the close of the hearing to make its determination.
  6. The Appeal Committee's actions are limited to one of the following:
    1. Validate the contact award decision under appeal, or
    2. Invalidate the contract award decision under appeal.
  7. The Appeal Committee will submit its written decision to the Director of the Bureau of General Services not later than fifteen days following the hearing after which the Director must notify the petitioner, the contracting State agency, and all intervenors within ten calendar days.
  8. This notification is considered final agency action and, as such, may be eligible for judicial review.

CONCLUSION

Source Selection is the search for suppliers who can supply the goods and/or services needed in the required quality and quantity, provide a continuous source of supply under all conditions, keep their delivery promises and other service obligations and be competitive as to cost.

It is our desire to do business with responsible suppliers in order to establish competition among those who offer the products and services required.

We thank you for your interest in providing goods and/or services to the State of Maine.