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Subject 665-2-4 PROCUREMENT AUTHORIZATION AND PROCEDURES

Rule 665-2-4-.01 Procurement Procedures

All technology purchases involving the expenditure of public funds by agencies or GTA shall be in conformity with the "Best Value" information technology procurement requirements set forth in these rules. Exemptions may be granted by GTA where a waiver, special delegation, exemption or an emergency or pressing need purchase is permitted by rule. Information technology procurements not covered by statewide firm, convenience or service contracts issued by GTA shall comply with the following delegations and procedures:

(a) Small Purchases: A small purchase is defined as the purchase of goods and services, where the expenditure of public funds is twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500) or less. If the needed technology resource can reasonably be expected to be acquired for less than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) and are not available on state contracts or through statutorily required sources, the purchase may be effectuated without competitive bidding. Nothing in this rule shall apply to, or effect the laws, rules and regulations governing emergency purchases. The using agency or GTA shall award contracts for small purchases.
(b) Purchases Governed by General Delegation:
1. For purchases made by an agency or GTA involving an expenditure of public funds over two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) up to the general delegation limit established by the CIO, the agencies or GTA shall use the following methodologies to encourage competition:
(i) The agency or GTA shall issue solicitation documents requesting or inviting offers;
(ii) The agency or GTA shall include in solicitation documents standard language, including terms and conditions as published by GTA on GTA IT procurement website. If additional terms and conditions are used, they shall not conflict with GTA's standard terms and conditions unless prior written approval is obtained from GTA for unusual requirements; and,
(iii) The agency may request distribution lists, if available from GTA, and use them in addition to distribution lists maintained by the agency for the purpose of soliciting competition.
2. Agencies shall advertise their solicitations through GTA for purchases exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) up to the general delegation established by the CIO. Agencies must advertise the purchases through the Georgia Procurement Registry.
3. The agencies may award contracts under their general delegation.
(c) Procurement Procedure: Where the total requirements for goods or services involve an expenditure of public funds that exceed the general delegation established by the CIO, offers shall be solicited as follows:
1. Competitive offers for goods and services shall be solicited by GTA via advertisement, unless the advertising requirement is waived by the CIO or his designee subject to the provisions of Rule 665-2-4-.14 of this Section. This shall include offers for statewide term or convenience contracts.
2. Notwithstanding any waiver, general delegation, or exemption rules; all telecommunications goods and services shall be procured by GTA.

Rule 665-2-4-.02 Methods of Sources Selection

Competitive source selection may be conducted in accordance with the following best value methods.

(a) The following steps may be employed in the application of the best value procurement methodology:
1. Appropriate best value bidding method is determined by purchasing authority.
2. Solicitation document is developed and advertised in accordance with other rules of this Chapter.
3. Scheduled conferences or site visits are held in accordance with solicitation requirements.
4. Offers are received and a public bid opening is conducted. For solicitations that allow for negotiation after receipt of offers, only the names of responding bidders are revealed. Price information shall be made public after evaluation and award.
5. An evaluation committee evaluates offers in accordance with the stated evaluation factors. For solicitations that include a best value ranking process, scoring and ranking may be determined by using any consistent rating methodology, including adjectival, numerical, or ordinal rankings. The results of the evaluation committee shall be documented in the contract file. Evaluation factors may include but are not limited to quality factors; delivery and implementation schedule; maximum facilitation of data exchange and systems integration; warranties, guarantees, and return policies; vendor financial stability; consistency of the proposed solution with the state's strategic program direction; effectiveness of business solution and approach; industry and program experience; prior record of vendor performance; vendor expertise with similar projects; proven development methodologies and tools; and innovative use of technologies.
6. Clarifications, communications to establish a competitive range, or negotiations may be conducted with offerors after receipt of offers in accordance with instructions and procedures set forth in the solicitation document and as appropriate to the method of source selection chosen. In those cases where negotiation is permitted by procedures set forth in the solicitation document, offerors may be allowed to submit best and final offers subsequent to negotiated changes in the initial offer or previous offer.
7. The evaluation committee shall determine a final ranking of all offers under consideration using only the criteria set forth in the solicitation document. All offerors shall be ranked from most advantageous to least advantageous to the state.
8. Award must be made to the responsive and responsible offeror whose offer is determined in writing to be the most advantageous to the state, using all evaluation factors set forth in the solicitation. If the lowest price technically acceptable method is used, award must be made to the responding and responsible offeror with the lowest price.
9. The following types of solicitation may be used:
(i) One-step Invitation for Bids (IFB) or Request for Proposals (RFP) Technical and price response is submitted at the same time.
(I) If the lowest priced technically acceptable method of source selection is used, only clarifications are allowed.
(II) If the trade off or ranking method of source selection is used, communications to establish competitive ranges or negotiations may be used. Final price adjustments or best and final offers may be allowed.
(ii) Two step IFB or RFP Technical responses (step one) and price responses (step two) to solicitation are submitted separately.
(I) If the lowest priced technically acceptable method is used, technical responses (step one) are evaluated for acceptability only. Only clarifications with offerors are allowed. Price offers are opened (step two) for only those offerors who submitted technically acceptable responses. Selection is made by low price analysis.
(II) If the trade off or ranking method of source selections is used, technical responses (step one) are submitted, after which clarifications, communications to establish a competitive range, and negotiations with offerors may be allowed as specified in the solicitation document. Price responses (step two) are requested only from offerors placed in the competitive range after the technical evaluation and discussion phase has concluded. Subsequent negotiations may be conducted with offerors after receipt of price responses. Final price adjustments or best and final offers may be allowed.
(b) A trade off method of source selection may be utilized when the best value is expected to result from selection of other than the lowest priced offer or other than the highest technically qualified offer. For a solicitation using a trade off source selection method, the following shall apply:
1. Evaluation factors that will affect the contract award decision and their relative importance shall be generally stated in the solicitation.
2. Price must be considered as an evaluation factor in the selection process. The solicitation shall state the importance or numerical weight of all evaluation factors including price.
3. Offers are ranked using the evaluation factors and their relative importance or weight. The relative overall ranking of any offer may be adjusted up or down when considered with, or traded-off against, other non-price factors. For example, an offer with the lowest price when compared to other offers would normally receive the best ranking in the price evaluation category. However, if other non-price evaluation factors received low rankings, the overall ranking of the offer would be reduced.
4. Clarifications are permitted. If specified in the solicitation, communications and negotiations may be permitted after receipt of offer.
(c) The lowest price technically acceptable source selection method may be used when best value is expected to result from selection of the technically acceptable offer with the lowest evaluated price. When using the lowest price technically acceptable method, the following shall apply:
1. The evaluation factors that establish the requirements of acceptability shall be set forth in the solicitation. Solicitations shall specify that award will be made on the basis of the lowest evaluated price of those proposals that meet or exceed the acceptability requirements for non-price factors.
2. Trade offs between price and non-price factors are not permitted.
3. Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but are not ranked using the non-price factors.
4. Clarifications are permitted. If specified in the solicitation, communications and negotiations may be permitted after receipt of offer.
(d) Any source selection process may incorporate the pre-qualification of contractors (Request for Qualified Contractors or RFQC) prior to the issuance of a RFQ or RFP when deemed advantageous by the CIO. If the source selection process anticipates negotiations then all confidentiality provisions of this Chapter shall be in full force and effect from the issuance of the RFQC to the award of the contract.
(e) GTA may employ the use of on-line reverse auctions to arrive at the lowest price. This solicitation method will satisfy any requirement necessitating a competitive sealed bidding. The names of the bidders may be held in confidence until the award of the contract.
(f) Other competitive best value source selection methodologies may be used if they are determined to be advantageous to the state and are approved for use by the CIO or his designee.

Rule 665-2-4-.03 Electronic, Facsimile and Telephone Offers

At the discretion of the CIO, GTA and agencies may accept electronic, facsimile, and telephone offers in response to solicitation documents that are required to be sealed, if specified in the solicitation documents or by general rule.

Rule 665-2-4-.04 Recall of Offers

An authorized agent of a company may recall an offer prior to opening, through a signed request.

Rule 665-2-4-.05 Public Opening

(1) GTA and agencies shall publicly open advertised sealed procurements using the lowest price technically acceptable source selection method at the time, date, and place identified in the solicitation document. At the time of opening, the names of the bidders shall become public record after compliance with all the requirements of the GTA sealed procurement process as in Rule 665-2-4-.02 of this Section.
(2) Under a two-step process, only those offerors that the agency that issued the solicitation determines to have acceptable technical offers shall be invited to submit price offers. The price offers shall be publicly opened and the offeror(s) with the acceptable technical offer(s) notified of the time and place for the opening. After opening, the price offer(s) shall become public record if no negotiation is permitted. At least two agency working days shall be given prior to the opening. There shall be at least two agency employees present at the opening.
(3) Under the two-step process where negotiations are anticipated, only those offerors determined by the agency that issued the solicitation to have acceptable technical offers shall be invited to submit price offer(s). The price offers shall be publicly opened and the offeror(s) with the acceptable technical offer(s) notified of the time and place of the opening. The price offer(s) shall become public record upon point of award.

Rule 665-2-4-.06 Late Offers, Modifications, or Withdrawals

In general the agency or GTA will not consider late offers, modifications, or withdrawals unless these would be timely except for the action or inaction of agency or GTA personnel directly serving the procurement process. Offerors shall deliver all offers on time, regardless of the mode of delivery used. However, the state CIO or agency head may elect to accept any late offer if it is determined that such acceptance did not compromise the integrity of the competitive process and it is determined to be in the best interest of the state.

Rule 665-2-4-.07 Error/Clarification

When the agency or GTA determines that an offer appears to contain an obvious error or otherwise where an error is suspected, the agency or GTA may investigate or act upon the circumstances. Any action taken shall not prejudice the rights of the public or other offering companies. Where offers are submitted substantially in accordance with the solicitation document but are not entirely clear as to intent or to some particular fact or where there are other ambiguities, the agency or GTA may seek and accept clarifications or may open communications.

Rule 665-2-4-.08 Extension of Acceptance Time

When the agency or GTA determines it is in the public interest, the agency or GTA may request that the offerors extend the time offered for the acceptance of offers.

Rule 665-2-4-.09 Evaluation

(1) In determining the award of contracts, the agency or GTA shall consider and evaluate bona fide offers as provided by statute and applicable rules. The agency or GTA shall identify in the solicitation document the evaluation criteria to be used in determining the award of contract.
(2) Unsigned offers shall be rejected by the awarding agency.
(3) During the period of evaluation and prior to award, only the information provided in the tabulation is public record. Only persons in the agency who are responsible for handling the offers and accompanying information, and others determined necessary by the agency that issued the solicitation document, shall possess offers, including any accompanying information submitted with the offers for the purpose of evaluation and award of contract. Any communication with an offeror that may be necessary for purpose of clarification of its offer shall be conducted by the agency that issued the solicitation document. Further offeror participation in the evaluation process shall not be permitted except as deemed necessary by the CIO or his designee to effectively conclude the award process or as otherwise permitted under these rules. After award of the contract or when the need for the item or service is canceled, the complete file shall be available to any interested party with the exception of information excluded from disclosure under the Georgia Open Records Act.

Rule 665-2-4-.10 Notification of Award

If a solicitation is required to be advertised, then notice of the resulting contract award shall be posted via the Georgia Procurement Registry website or otherwise made publicly available by the agency issuing the solicitation document. After contract award, successful companies shall be notified in writing or electronically by the agency issuing the solicitation document.

Rule 665-2-4-.11 Lack of Competition

The agency and GTA shall make every effort to maximize competition. Where only a single offer or a single acceptable offer is received, the agency shall ascertain the reason and make it a matter of record.

Rule 665-2-4-.12 Solicitation Documents

An agency or GTA shall use a solicitation document when soliciting offers on contracts valued over two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) unless the CIO or his designee waives the requirement pursuant to rule. In their solicitation documents, the agencies and GTA shall require offerors to certify that each offer is submitted without collusion and the proposed price is independently determined.

Rule 665-2-4-.13 Division of Requirements

An agency or GTA shall not divide requirements to keep the expenditure under GTA's general delegation and thereby avoid following the appropriate contracting requirement. In the case of similar and related items and services and groups of items, the dollar limits apply to the total cost rather than the cost of any single item.

Rule 665-2-4-.14 Advertisement Requirements

(1) All advertisements required by rule shall be through the Georgia Procurement Registry website. Solicitations required by rule shall be advertised continuously and at least 15 days prior to the date designated for opening unless the CIO or his designee waives advertising requirements. Conditions permitting waiver of advertising requirements shall include, but not be limited to the following:
(a) Acquisition of goods or services subject to rapid price fluctuations or immediate acceptance;
(b) Emergency situations (pressing need);
(c) Acquisition of goods or services needed for any ongoing job, task, or project;
(d) Acquisition of goods or services where performance or price competition is not available; and
(e) Any determination that no useful purpose would be served by requiring advertisement.
(2) This Rule does not prevent solicitation of offers by additional direct mailings or additional advertisement by an agency.
(a) If there is an attachment to a solicitation that the agency determines will not be electronically transmitted, then the solicitation document, when it is electronically transmitted, shall include instructions to contact the agency that issued the solicitation to obtain the attachment.

Rule 665-2-4-.15 Mandatory Conferences/Site Visits

(1) When a solicitation requires potential offerors to attend a mandatory conference or mandatory site visit, the date, time, location, and other pertinent details of the conference or site visit shall be given in the solitation document and in the advertisement.
(2) If only one potential offeror attends the mandatory conference or mandatory site visit, the conference or site visit may be conducted, but the agency shall investigate why only one potential offeror was in attendance and ascertain if there is any competition available. If it is determined that competition is available, time permitting, the agency may schedule another conference or site visit, if deemed to be to the advantage of the state. If it is determined that there is no competition available, then the procurement may be handled as a waiver as permitted by rule.
(3) Any and all questions by a potential offeror regarding a solicitation document shall be addressed to the purchaser named on the document. Any and all revisions to the solicitation document shall be made only by written addendum from the purchaser. Verbal communications from whatever source are of no effect.