Procurement: Vendor FAQ .
- How do I find out about opportunities to do business with the Turnpike Authority?
In general, the Authority publicly advertises procurement opportunities for goods and services over $36,000, the public bid threshold. Solicitations are advertised in at least two New Jersey newspapers and placed on the websites of the Turnpike Authority and the State of New Jersey. Vendors must meet the requirements stated in the Request for Bids (RFB) or Request for Proposals (RFP) to be considered. In addition, all vendors can register for placement on the Authority’s bid list by completing the form on the Vendor Supplier Portal. By registering on the Vendor Supplier Portal, vendors will automatically receive e-mail alerts announcing Authority procurement opportunities.
For goods and services below the public bid threshold, the Authority solicits contracts by requesting written informal quotations from all vendors listed on the Bid List for that particular commodity or service.
The Authority awards contracts to vendors without competitive solicitation when there is only one vendor capable of providing an essential good or service (sole source procurement) or for emergencies or exigencies where suspending competitive solicitation is in the best interests of the Authority and motoring public.
- How do I become a preferred or authorized vendor?
- There is no such thing as a preferred or authorized vendor. Vendors who have participated in the competitive procurement process and are successful will be awarded contracts with the Authority.
- What are an RFB, RFP and an RFI?
An RFB is a Request for Bids. This type of competitive procurement is publicly advertised when the Authority is looking for specific goods and services where the estimate for such contract is over $36,000. There are specific requirements that must be met by responding bidders. The award is granted to the bidder who meets all the requirements and has the lowest pricing (i.e., the lowest responsible bidder). There are no negotiations in this type of procurement.
An RFP is a Request for Proposals. This type of procurement is issued when the Authority is seeking a consultant or advisor to perform professional services. There are specific criteria and requirements that must be met by the proposers. The proposals are reviewed and scored by a committee based on the weighted evaluation criteria in the RFP. Price is usually one of the criteria, and the Authority regularly negotiates the contract price. The firm with the highest score is recommended to the Authority’s Board of Commissioners for award of the contract.
An RFI is a Request for Information. This type of solicitation is issued when the Authority wants to learn about current products and services, primarily new technologies. The RFI is an information-gathering tool and no contract is awarded as a result. In the event that the Authority is interested in a particular product or service, the Authority will issue either an RFB or RFP based on generic specifications or scope of services.
- What do “SBE,” “MBE” and “WBE” stand for?
- SBE stands for Small Business Enterprise, MBE stands for Minority Business Enterprise and WBE stands for Woman Business Enterprise. Under New Jersey law, the Authority can set aside contracts for SBEs. The Authority does set-aside some contracts for SBEs and encourages its prime contractors and consultants to utilize SBE subcontractors and sub-consultants. The New Jersey Division of Minority and Women Business Development registers SBEs and certifies MBEs and WBEs.
- What are the differences between an Addendum, a Supplement and an Amendment?
An Addendum is added after the RFB or RFP has been advertised on the Authority website to reflect changes or clarifications in the requirements or to answer questions posed by bidders or proposers. Addenda are sent to bidders and should be signed and returned with the bid/proposal; however, in the event that they are not returned, the bidder/proposer will still be held to the obligation of whatever change/modification is set forth in the Addendum.
A Supplement is issued to reflect changes or updates to a term or condition of the contract award such as contact information, extension of the contract term or expiration date that does not require a signed Amendment by the parties.
An Amendment is issued and signed by the contractual parties to reflect mutually agreed upon changes or modifications in the contract. Amendments are rare.
- How important is attendance at a Pre-Bid/Proposal Meeting/Conference?
- When a RFB or RFP states that a pre-bid/proposal meeting or site inspection is “MANDATORY,” a bidder or proposer must attend. Bidders or proposers who do not attend a mandatory meeting will not have their bid or proposal considered. While it is highly recommended, bidders or proposers do not have to attend if the meeting is optional.
- Can you fax or e-mail the Bid documents to me?
- No, but you can access solicitation documents (RFBs and RFPs) at the Authority’s Supplier Portal or on the Procurement page of the Authority’s website.
- May I fax or e-mail my Bid response?
- Telephone, facsimile or e-mail bid responses will not be accepted under any circumstances in response to a sealed RFB or RFP. All bid responses must be submitted in sealed envelopes, clearly marked with the bid number and the opening time and date, or on-line via the Supplier Portal if such electronic option is available for the particular solicitation.
- Will the Authority accept Bid responses/proposals that do not have original signatures?
- In accordance with the Authority’s Instructions to Bidders (which outlines the Terms and Conditions), bids received via paper format must be signed manually in ink and returned in sealed envelopes. In specific cases where bids are permitted to be submitted online, the electronic submission constitutes an acceptable signature.
- What happens if my Bid response is only one minute late?
- Both RFBs and RFPs have strict due dates and times. Any bid response or proposal received after the specified due date and time cannot be accepted and will be returned unopened unless, under specific, rare circumstances, the Authority’s legal counsel determines that acceptance is legally permitted.
- After I have responded to a RFB or RFP, how do I know if I was the successful bidder or proposer?
The Authority’s Board of Commissioners must authorize all contracts above $35,000. When a RFB is issued, the Authority will award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder, i.e. the bidder that meets all the requirements and has the lowest pricing.
When a RFP is issued, the Authority will award the contract to the firm that received the highest scores based on weighted criteria (including price). The criteria are stated in the RFP. The proposals are reviewed and scored by an evaluation committee, and the Committee’s recommendation for award is presented to the Board for consideration.
All participants in the competitive procurement will be notified in writing following the Board meeting (via copy of the board’s agenda). In addition, the results are posted on the Authority’s website.
- May I attend a bid opening even if I am not submitting a response?
- Yes. Bid openings are open to the public. Bid openings are usually held at the Authority’s administrative offices at 1 Turnpike Plaza, Woodbridge, NJ. You must go to the Reception Desk first. You will be escorted to the Bid Room.
- May I send a gift or sample with a Bid response?
- In accordance with the State’s ethics rules, gifts may not be sent with a bid response under any circumstance. Gifts that are included in a bidder’s response will be returned at the bidder’s expense. Samples should only be included with a bid if specifically requested as a part of the RFB or RFP.
- What are the common bidder mistakes that most often lead to the rejection of Bid responses?
- Failing to submit bids by the deadline
- Failing to initial any corrections or changes made to the bid pricing
- Adding your own terms and conditions
- Neglecting to submit mandatory bid information or documents, such as the bid/proposal bond or the stockholders’ disclosure form
- Submitting an incomplete bid
- Submitting more than one bid
- How can my company get placed on an existing Authority contract?
- Once a competitive procurement has been issued, reviewed and awarded, there is no mechanism for bidders who did not compete in that process to be considered for an award and no mechanism for adding vendors to the award once it has been established. The majority of contracts are for a term of one year with the option to extend for two additional one-year terms. The option to extend is at the Authority’s discretion with vendor concurrence.
- Once my company is awarded an Authority contract, how do we increase or change the pricing?
- The terms and conditions that govern the bidding and award process state that contract pricing is fixed for the term of the contract (can never be higher than originally offered.) In a few instances, the contract includes an escalation clause which can be implemented if the contract term is extended, and the maximum escalation rate is included. A vendor has to justify the request to utilize the escalation provision. Such requests are reviewed by the Authority and permitted in its sole discretion. Vendors can always ask to lower pricing, and a Supplement to the contract would be issued to reflect the lower pricing.
- What should I do if I have questions that are not answered in this document?
- Feel free to contact the Procurement and Materials Management Department at 732-750-5300, extension 8640