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Vendor Procurement Guide

Appendix H: Frequently Asked Questions

In an effort to address the state procurement process, this list provides some of the most frequently asked questions posed by our participating vendors. A brief answer is offered to help clarify the topic addressed.

What should I do first if I wish to bid on state business?

To learn about bid opportunities, the vendor should first complete a Vendor Registration and Disclosure Statement (Form WV-1 or WV-1A) with the Purchasing Division in order to subscribe to the West Virginia Purchasing Bulletin. Vendors are not required to register to bid on solicitations; however, to receive purchase orders for more than $1,000, vendors must be properly registered and pay the annual fee of $125.00, if applicable. Only paid, registered vendors receive a subscription to the West Virginia Purchasing Bulletin.

Do all vendors have to pay the $125 fee?

No. Vendors are exempt from paying the annual fee if they are supplying sole source commodities and services to West Virginia state agencies or aggregate competitive purchases of $1,000 or less in any one (1) fiscal year. Vendor registration is still required to be completed. According to the Legislative Rule, CSR148, Purchasing Card vendors providing travel-related services or receiving an aggregate total yearly payment less than $25,000 from a spending unit are exempt from registration and the annual fee.

What is an F.E.I.N.?

F.E.I.N. stands for Federal Employer Identification Number. Vendors are assigned an F.E.I.N. by the Internal Revenue Service. Vendors who do not presently have a F.E.I.N. may obtain one by contacting the IRS and completing the SS-4 application. Vendors are to provide their Social Security number on the Vendor Registration and Disclosure Statement (Form WV-1 or WV-1A) in lieu of the F.E.I.N. if they have no employees. The Social Security Number is considered personally identifiable information (PII) and does not appear on any public documentation.

What happens if I can only bid on part of the items on a Request for Quotations?

Unless the bid specifically states that the entire list of items must be bid, vendors are able to complete only a portion of the Request for Quotations by submitting a partial bid and writing “No Bid” in the unit price column beside the items not available. Since some awards are split between two or more vendors, the vendor may be awarded a purchase order for all or part of the items quoted. However, the vendor should also realize that it is not always practical or economically feasible to split some awards. In these cases, the award is made to the vendor submitting the most complete bid.

May I submit an “all or none” bid?

Since the state reserves the right to split awards, vendors have a right to qualify their bids if an award of a portion of the items in the Request for Quotation is not acceptable. The vendor simply should state “bids submitted are based on receiving the entire purchase order.” In this manner, the Purchasing Division will consider the bids as a whole and will consider not issuing a purchase order based on a portion of the items. Note, however, if the order is to be split among several vendors, the quotation based on all or none will be eliminated and will receive no awards.

What should I do if I do not understand the specifications?

Questions relating to the intent of the specifications or any other aspect of the Request for Quotations should be directed to the buyer responsible for purchasing the commodity or service.

May I bid if I cannot supply the brand listed on the Request for Quotations?

Requests for Quotations specifying a particular brand name also contain the words “Or Equal.” Therefore, vendors not handling the specified brand are encouraged to submit a bid for an item of equal or higher quality.

What happens if I make a mistake in the bid or need to make a revision?

Mistakes discovered or revisions necessary prior to the bid opening may be remedied by submitting a modified sealed bid to the Purchasing Division prior to the bid opening date and time. Any modified sealed bid should clearly indicate that it replaces a prior sealed bid and is the only sealed bid to be considered. Please note that the original bid will not be returned to the vendor. When a contradiction occurs, the most recent bid submitted will be considered.

What is a Buyer File?

The Buyer File refers to the particular buyer within the Purchasing Division who purchases commodities or services. Buyers are assigned to specific agencies, which is referred to as their file.  A number is associated with each buyer; for example, Buyer 21.

If I am the low bidder, am I assured of getting the purchase order?

The award of a purchase order is made to the lowest responsible bidder, taking into consideration the quality of the items to be supplied, their conformity with specifications, their suitability to the requirements of state government, and the delivery terms.  Therefore, the low bidder will receive the award if all those conditions are met, except in Best Value Purchasing techniques where cost is not the sole determining factor for award.

Additionally, the Purchasing Director has the discretion to reject all bids if in the best interest of the state. In all cases where any bid is rejected, a written explanation of the reason for the rejection will be available in the Purchasing Division official file. If you have questions concerning the rejection of a bid, you may contact the appropriate buyer.

Can I receive a purchase order if my bid is only slightly higher than the low bid but my quality is much better?

No. If the state has defined the quality level which is required, the contract will be awarded to the lowest bidder who meets these minimum quality specifications.

How does the state evaluate the total cost of an item instead of the low bid price?

With increasing frequency, the Purchasing Division is developing formulas to calculate the total cost of ownership for commodities that will use a considerable amount of supplies or energy. When these costs can be easily ascertained or projected they are stated in the bid document and considered in the evaluation of the bids. The item with the lowest Life Cycle Cost shall be given the award, all other factors being equal.

How can I find what happened on a particular bid?

If you desire to review copies of bids before an award is made or before the issuance of a purchase order, you may do so by visiting the Purchasing Division website at www.state.wv.us/admin/purchase/bids where copies of the bids received are posted. After awards are made, all documentation of the official contract file is maintained at the Purchasing Division. Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests may be made to the Purchasing Division and submitted to the attention of:

FOIA Request
2019 Washington Street, East
P.O. Box 50130
Charleston, WV 25305

What can I do if I think my bid is evaluated unfairly?

The first step that vendors should take if they think their bid was evaluated unfairly is to review the official contract file. The official file contains all documentation and correspondence in the possession of the Purchasing Division as it relates to that specific contract.

All records of the Purchasing Division are available to be reviewed at no charge and/or copied during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., holidays and weekends excluded. Our normal copy fee of 50 cents per page is applicable, with a $10 minimum charge.

Vendors wishing to protest an award may do so by writing a letter of complaint to the Purchasing Director. Your letter must be submitted no later than 5 working days after the award and your complaint will be investigated. The vendor will then be informed of the results of the investigation.

What happens if the receiving agency will not accept my commodity after I have received a purchase order?

The purchase order authorizes the vendor to deliver the item described therein, including compliance with all specifications. State agencies are authorized to make a preliminary inspection upon delivery and reject all items that do not comply with the terms and conditions of the purchase order.  When a vendor delivers an item in compliance with the purchase order and the state agency refuses to accept delivery, the buyer who approved the purchase should be contacted immediately. The buyer will investigate the matter and will give appropriate direction.

May I change a brand or model after I receive the purchase order?

Due to problems in receiving items from their manufacturer, vendors are occasionally unable to deliver the items specified on the purchase order. When the need to make a substitution arises, the vendor must contact the Purchasing Division buyer and explain the reason for the change.

A change order to the purchase order may be issued provided the item substituted is of equal or higher quality than the original item bid. Vendors must deliver such alternates at the same or lower price than the original brand and model bid.

How are orders invoiced and processed for payment?

Questions about invoicing and payments should be addressed to the State Auditor’s Office for the appropriate procedures to be followed and timelines to payment. The State Auditor’s Office can be reached by calling (304) 558-2261.

What is the Purchasing Affidavit that is attached to the bid specifications?

West Virginia Code §5A-3-10a requires that all vendors certify under the penalty of false swearing that the vendor and all related parties do not owe any debts exceeding $1,000 in aggregate to the State of West Virginia. It is required by law that this form is to be notarized.

Is it true that my firm could be disqualified if I am in arrears with my Workers Compensation and/or Unemployment Compensation payments?

Yes. West Virginia Code §21A-2-6(17) prohibits any state agency from awarding a contract, purchase order, permit, license, franchise or grant until the vendor is found not to be in default with the Bureau of Employment Programs which includes both Workers Compensation and Unemployment Compensation.

The vendor will be given written notice of the default status report and will be offered reasonable time, upon the discretion of the Purchasing Director, to remedy the deficiency depending upon the urgency of the agency’s need.

I keep seeing a Vendor Preference Certificate attached to all the bid packages. What does that mean to me? Does it decrease or increase my price?

West Virginia Code §5A-3-37A provides an opportunity for qualifying vendors to request (at the time of bid) preference for their residency status. Such preference is an evaluation method only and will be applied only to the cost bid in accordance with the West Virginia Code. A certificate of application is used to request this preference. Generally, a West Virginia vendor may be eligible for two 2.5% preferences in the evaluation process. The Purchasing Division will make the determination of the Resident Vendor Preference, if applicable.

This Code citation provides an opportunity for all vendors who meet the residency criteria to request that their bid be given preference over a lower bid received from an out-of-state (non-resident) vendor. The request must be made in writing at the time of bid and will not be applied in or among other West Virginia bidders.

The percentage preference is an evaluation tool only and does not actually increase or decrease any vendor’s bid.

Are there any other Vendor Preference opportunities?

West Virginia Code §5A-3-37(5) and (6) provides an opportunity for qualifying resident vendors who are veterans of the United States armed forces, the reserves or the National Guard to request, at the time of bid, preference for their residency status. Resident veterans who qualify may receive a preference of 3.5%.

Additionally, application may be made for preference as a non-resident small, women- and minority-owned business, in accordance with West Virginia Code §5A-3-59 and West Virginia Code of State Rules.

 

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