|Revision Date||September 7, 2018|
In accordance with Texas Government Code §2155.090 and State of Texas Procurement and Contract Management Guide, DFPS employees may interact with current vendor or potential vendors in relation to future solicitations.
“Texas law authorizes the exchange of information between an agency and a vendor related to future solicitations. Contractors are often experts in their respective fields and can offer insight on potential purchases, such as current trends, industry practices, and available products or solutions. The result of these interactions may lead to increased competition, a more detailed and up-to-date description of technical requirements or scope of work, and ultimately better value for the State.”
It is critical that DFPS maintains a fair and open opportunity for competition and avoid any appearance of favoritism. DFPS staff must:
- Ensure all vendors are treated equally and impartially;
- Only share public information with vendors;
- Be mindful that one-on-one communication with vendors are subject to enhanced scrutiny;
- Never tailor specifications to benefit a particular vendor;
- Avoid the appearance of favoritism toward certain vendors in the fact-gathering process;
- Avoid consulting exclusively with the incumbents or a small number of vendors;
- Never make any commitments to any vendor;
- Consult with Contracts Legal if there is any doubt about appropriate communication or engagement with vendors;
- Not accept any gifts (anything of value or benefit) from vendors; and
- Not share any future procurement plans or business requirements with vendors.
For DFPS staff engaging with technology vendors who provide demonstrations prior to a formal solicitation process, they must also:
- Request HHS-PCS approval prior to scheduling a demonstration/discussion with the vendor by emailing PCS_CST_HHSC;
- Ensure the appropriate business/data owners and management that may have interest in the activity have been notified of the demonstration/discussion with the vendor prior to the session(s) occurring;
- Notify the vendor that there is no guarantee or implication that there will be a solicitation related to the demonstration;
- Notify the vendor that DFPS will not be responsible for any costs incurred by the vendor to conduct demonstrations of their product/services;
- Not endorse the vendor or other vendor’s products or services;
- Not provide or give insight into DFPS business requirements;
- Not give the impression or appearance to be bound, obligated or in any way to give any special consideration to the vendor on any future solicitations; and
- Ensure that no “real data” or confidential policy/technical design is divulged, displayed or delivered through hardcopy or media at any time during the session/engagement.
Failure to comply with procurement protocols (e.g. direct communication during the solicitation process) could result in disciplinary action.
Additional information on vendor engagement can be found in the HHS Vendor Interaction Policy.