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Keep up to date with the evolving world of government bidding with tips, best practices, trends, research and observations. Let BidNet's knowledge and experience work for you.

IT Office Equipment: How Vendors Can Use Contract Award Information to Win Government Bids


IT Office Equipment: How Vendors Can Use Contract Award Information to Win Government Bids

There are a lot of different factors that go into preparing a bid proposal – labor costs, travel, materials, parts and maintenance all must be calculated and presented in the final proposal. Most agencies, when they post a bid, will break down the required aspects of a proposal so that vendors can factor in these elements to their cost projections for a project. For vendors that are new to bidding, writing a bid proposal can be confusing and time consuming, but having examples to go by it can help to make the process a bit easier. One recommended way to find relevant contract examples is to look at past bid documents and awards. By doing this, vendors can clarify exactly what an agency is looking for in a bid proposal while also determining what a fair price for their services might be.

In this article, we will focus on the IT office equipment sector and provide tips and examples of bid documents that can help vendors write winning proposals.

1. Finding Closed Bids

There are two ways to search for contract award information on bidnet.com. The first is by searching government contracts for closed bids, a method that allows you to filter by state, industry and subsector. This method will provide you with recently closed bids, related bid documents and any amendments that may be attached, but you will not find bid tabulations or notices of awards. The second way to search for details about awarded contracts is by logging into your BidNet member account and going to the Bid Library, where you can search closed contracts by state, local or federal jurisdiction. Here, you can filter your search results by typing in keywords or searching by individual state. Make sure to indicate that you want to include awards and tabulations in the bids and awards dropdown menu; this way you’ll be able to view bid documents as well as the bid tabulations and award notices that have been submitted for an awarded contract.

2. Examining Closed Contract Documents

When it comes to working with the public sector, Information Technology (IT) is a top industry in terms of number of contracts issued and amount of work required by public agencies. All government agencies increasingly rely on IT to manage their information and facilitate daily operation.  As a result, agencies regularly require new IT office equipment including computers, monitors, projectors, accessories and components – just to name a few - to fulfill their IT infrastructure needs.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at Request for Quote (RFQ) documents for the purchase of SMART boards and accessories. We found this bid by restricting our search to state and local bids; used “SMART boards” as our search query in the keyword field; and chose to include awards and tabulations in our search filter.

The contract opportunity below was posted by the New York City Transit Authority (MTA Headquarters) in August of 2015. For this bid, a brief summary of specifications was provided to give the vendor a description of what the agency requires for the solicitation. This particular bid also has multiple amendments; this usually means that there have been changes to the original bid document. In this case, the amendments are just some additional bid documents that were not provided with the original RFQ.

Looking at the bid document, you can see how the agency listed each individual item they are looking to acquire, along with the desired quantity for each item. This RFQ also states that the contract will be awarded on a class basis and that all items must be manufactured by SMART Technologies within the last 18 months and be verifiable by serial number. Vendors must also be authorized SMART Technologies resellers, and delivery of all items must be made within 30 days of receipt of the order.

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The bid notes that proposals submitted by vendors must be broken down by line item; vendors are also required to write down their unit price per item and multiply it by the requested quantity to arrive at a total cost. Keep in mind that, unless stated otherwise, a vendor may not have to provide all of the items sought by an agency. As a vendor, a good rule to follow is to only submit prices on items that you have in stock and can sell.  Agencies can award multiple contracts to fulfill a contract, but being able to provide all of the requested items can certainly help a vendor win an entire contract.

In our example bid, the agency states that:

  • All prices must be a fixed price;
  • Bidders must quote a price on every item according to the units of measure in which it proposes to furnish the items. The unit price can’t extend past four decimal places (if it does go beyond four decimals the figure will be dropped);
  • Pricing must include delivery charges, demurrage, insurance, packing, boxing, container charges or any other expenses incidental to the work;
  • Pricing must also include the cost of all work, labor and materials as required by the contract documents.

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For this particular bid, as mentioned above, there are several amendments attached. These amendments include the bid, contract terms and conditions, bidder’s information, insurance requirements and important information including delivery requirements, the applicable code of ethics, and other forms that need to be completed and submitted along with the bid proposal. Changes made to the original bid documents have also been included in the addenda. In this sense, this RFQ is slightly different from typical bids, since most bids contain all of these documents in a single package; however, this agency chose to provide each document separately in this case.

This bid package is a perfect example of why it is important to download and read all amendments that are posted with the bid. Amendments to a bid often contain extra forms that need to be filled out and submitted with your proposal.

The Bid Tabulation

For this bid, the agency had stated it will be awarded on a class basis, meaning the award will go to the lowest bidder for the total price. As we can see in the bid tabulation below, the lowest bidder in this case would be Adwar Video. If the agency had decided to award the contract based on an Items award, the lowest bidder for each individual item would win an award for that item, meaning that there would be multiple contracts and multiple winning vendors. If that were the case for this bid, vendors probably would not receive a contract, but rather a Purchase Order (PO) since the purchase is for a small quantity of goods and will not be renewed on an ongoing basis.

For this bid, there was no award notice provided, but by checking out the bid tabulation you can see which vendors submitted bids and the dollar amount quoted for each item. This kind of information can be very useful for a vendor during future bids for these products or other, similar items.

Vendor

Item Description

Adwar Video

Calculator & Computer Center

Compulink Technologies, Inc

Diamond Power Consultant Group

Item 1:

Smart board display 65 in. - Qty 2

$6,750.00

$7,288.00

$7,893.00

$12,880.00

Item 2:

Flat Panel Mount -  Qty 2

$142.47

$270.00

$125.84

$249.00

Item 3:

Cabling Kit 16 ft or less (USB SVGA, HDMI, Wire Molding) - Qty 2

$159.59

$85.00

$89.44

$495.00

Item 4:

Smart Podium for Business 18" - Qty 2

$2,499.99

$2,821.00

$2,928.64

$3,499.00

Item 5:

Bridgit Data Conferencing Software for 25 Concurrent Users - Qty 1

$4,165.56

$3,832.00

$4,483.44

$6,295.00

Item 6:

Bridgit Data Conferencing Software Maintenance License- Qty 1

$1,020.00

$1,067.00

$1,036.88

$1,267.00

Item 7:

Smart Meeting Pro Software Maintenance License - Qty 4

$188.24

$177.00

$191.36

$495.00

Item 8:

Freight/Delivery for Two Locations - Qty 1

$353.85

$585.00

$405.60

$895.00

Item 9:

Installation of Flat Panel Mount & Smart Board - Qty 2

$1,350.00

$700.00

$1,185.60

$12,500.00

 

Total

$16,629.70

$16,825.00

$18,339.80

$38,575.00

 

3. Which Bids Are Right for You?

Vendors who sell various kinds of IT equipment, software and hardware can bid on multiple bids for these types of products and, as mentioned above, don’t necessarily have to submit a price for every item on the proposal. This is where researching past bids can be particularly helpful, as it allows you to see what an agency will ask for on just one bid and what they allow as far as submitting prices for some or all of the items. For contracts that ask for specific products to be shipped to the agency, you may also be able to submit bids on contracts in different regions or states, so take the time to check out other states’ posted bids in addition to opportunities in your own state.

4. Pay Attention to Submission Requirements

Most bid documents and submission guidelines are fairly similar to each other, but there are different laws and regulations in each state, as well as specific rules for each agency. Knowing this, it’s important to make sure that you know all the details about bidding on contracts with particular agencies or in specific states before beginning the process. Looking again at the example of the SMART boards contract, you can see that the agency has very specific instructions for how vendors must submit their proposals. From the bid document:

  • You must fully and properly complete forms entitled “Bid” and “Bid Quotation Sheet”
  • Return bid in its entirety including copies of each addendum issued or otherwise acknowledge receipt of each addendum as indicated in the bid
  • Bids must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the contract number, title of bid, bid opening date and company name and address of vendor clearly stated on the front
      • If bids are delivered in courier pouches or express mail envelopes, it must say bid on the front as well as the information stated above with the name and return address of the bidder
  • Bidder is responsible to submit bid to Authority bid reception desk prior to the bid opening
  • Delivery means include in person, by messenger, private express courier or USPS

Note: For this particular bid there are two different addresses for the bid to be delivered to depending on the means of delivery; if you come across a similar situation, make sure you note the correct address for any bids you want to submit a proposal to.

5. Scoping Out the Competition

Not all of your competitors are going to submit a bid proposal for every bid posted, so it is a good idea to check out multiple bids as well as the tabulations and awards of a contract to see who is bidding. This can also help you learn about new vendors in the industry and find out if businesses outside of the state or region are bidding on contracts in your area.

6. Build Relationships

All bids include the contact information of the soliciting agency, so if you are interested in doing business with an agency on an ongoing basis you can go the extra mile and call them or set up a meeting to explain what your business sells and why their agency should be purchasing from you. It’s also a good idea to consider getting your business added to any existing vendor lists that the agency has. Keep in mind that different departments or offices within an agency may have their own lists, so you may want to consider contacting all or several of the departments.

By following the above suggestions and requirements of the bid process, you will be one step closer to winning a government contract. Remember that not every bid is the same; there are different rules for each agency so make sure you read the bid documents thoroughly and follow the correct procedure to submit a bid outlined in the IFB, RFQ or RFP. If you ignore the agency guidelines on how to submit a bid proposal you could be automatically disqualified. If you’re prepared and have a plan of attack, you’ll be more successful at submitting a proposal and winning a government contract.

Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com

 

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Keep up to date with the evolving world of government bidding with tips, best practices, trends, research and observations. Let BidNet’s knowledge and experience work for you.

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