Articles

Qualification and Responsibility

Government contracts are awarded to the “lowest, responsive, responsible bidder, where . . . responsible is determined by whether the bidder possess the financial, technical and human resources to perform the proposed contract.[1] Contracts are awarded to the firm that is qualified and most likely capable of performing in the best interest of the Government.[2] 

 

Common Qualification Factors

The government may submit Requests for Qualifications when looking for qualified respondents to participate in solicitations, and “where the Government needs to pre-screen proposers to determine qualifications before requesting [the open market purchases] or when the Government is seeking to make multiple awards at a pre-determined price.”[3]

 

Requests for Proposals may identify the sought after qualification factors, in addition to responsiveness, experience, past performance, and responsibility as firm evaluation factors.[4] When considering a contractor, the Commissioner may look to the contractor’s service reputation. To determine service reputation, the Commissioner may conduct an analysis of credit worthiness of business and principals of business.[5] The Commissioner may also look to debarment status.[6] Further qualification factors include:[7]

(i) Professional qualification, registration, and general reputation of the principals of the firm;

(ii) The extent to which the firm specializes in or has designed projects of a type and scope similar to the one at hand;

(iii) Familiarity with the area in which the project is located;

(iv) Capability of meeting design schedules; and

(v) Quality of performance on other projects.

 

The Commissioner may also consider whether the contractor employs residents and is a preferred bidder. According to 31 V.I.C. § 236a,

(b) The Commissioner of Property and Procurement and procurement officer of all Virgin Islands government entities, including but not limited to, authorities, agencies or semi-autonomous instrumentalities shall purchase or contract for construction services, supplies, materials, equipment, and contractual or consulting services from suppliers in the United States Virgin Islands who are preferred bidders where—

(1) the total cost thereof to the Government does not exceed by more than fifteen (15%) percent the cost of such construction services, supplies, materials, equipment, or contractual or consulting services if obtained from other than a preferred bidder; and

(2) the quality and availability of the construction services, supplies, materials, equipment, or contractual or consulting services are substantially equivalent.

 

When procuring contracts for the Department of Public Works, arguably, employment of residents is an after-competition qualification factor. Bidders do not need to certify their preferred bidder status prior to submitting bids.[8] However, contracts are required to have clauses stating that only Virgin Islands residents will be hired.[9] When employing a nonresident of the Virgin Islands, any contractor or subcontractor shall notify the government of employment.[10]

 

Who Determines Qualification

The Commissioner of Property and Procurement appoints a selection committee to assist them in reviewing qualifications and proposals.[11] After reviewing the qualifications and proposals, this committee selects the most highly qualified to provide the requested services.[12] “The Committee shall conduct discussions severally with the firms selected regarding anticipated concepts and the relative utility of alternative methods of approach for furnishing the required services.”[13]

 

Conclusion

Qualification and responsibility are important factors in the Commissioner’s decision to award a contract. These factors are required by statute, regulation, and contract. Make sure to clearly exhibit one’s responsible bidder status. And, take care in listing qualifications when submitting a proposal or Request for Qualifications in order to remain competitive for government contracts.

 


[1]   31 V.I.C. § 236 (emphasis added).

[2]  CVIR 31-023-000, Sec. 239-8.

[3]  31 V.I.C. § 236(L).

[4]  31 V.I.C. § 236.

[5]  31 V.I.C. § 236(c).

[6] “Bids received from any person or concern debarred or ineligible shall be rejected if the period of debarment or ineligibility has not expired.” CVIR 31-023-000, Sec. 235-62. 

[7]  CVIR 31-023-000, Sec. 239-8.

[8]  31 V.I.C. § 236a; Caribbean Material Supply Co. v. Holder, 11 V.I. 119 (D.V.1. 1974).

[9]  31 V.I.C. § 271(a). 

[10] 31 V.I.C. § 272.

[11]  CVIR 31-023-000, Sec. 239-8.

[12]  Id.

[13]  Id.

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