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Office of the New York State Comptroller

Vendor Responsibility

Frequently Asked Questions - General Requirements

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Importance of vendor responsibility

Why is vendor responsibility important?

State Finance Law and sound procurement practice dictate that State contracting entities take reasonable steps to ensure that public contracts are awarded to vendors who are capable of fully performing their contractual obligations over the term of a contract and have the integrity to justify the award of public dollars. Responsibility reviews also help ensure that public dollars support honest vendors that compete on product and price, and protect the competitive contractor selection process from unfair competition. Full, fair and open competition produces better value for the State and its citizens.

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State's authority to require a responsibility determination

What is the State's authority to require a responsibility determination?

State Finance Law, Article XI, §163 requires award of contracts for commodities or services to a responsible vendor. Furthermore, the State Procurement Guidelines require State contracting entities to "administer a process in which offerers are required to provide assurances that they conform with responsibility requirements." Similar requirements apply for construction contracts (Public Buildings Law, §8, Highway Law, §38[3]). Additionally, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) must be satisfied that a proposed contractor is responsible before approving a contract award under Section 112 of the State Finance Law. (See Konski Engineers, P.C. v. Levitt, 49 N.Y.2d 850 [1980]).

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Vendor responsibility requirements for grants and legislative initiatives

Do vendor responsibility requirements apply to grants and legislative initiatives?

Yes. Vendor Responsibility documentation requirements defined by Bulletin G-221 apply to all contract transactions submitted to OSC for pre-approval.

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Entities exempt from vendor responsibility documentation requirements

OSC identifies contracts with municipalities as exempt from vendor responsibility documentation requirements. Are there any other entities or transactions exempt from these requirements?

Yes. OSC has identified certain cases where vendor responsibility documentation will be waived. These exemptions have been summarized in the Vendor Responsibility Documentation Requirements Chart. These exemptions from vendor responsibility documentation include:

  • Eminent domain property takings;
  • Real property sales which are required by law to be sold to the highest bidder;
  • The Department of Transportation and Thruway/Canal contracts for reimbursement to railroads under Section 91 of the Railroad Law, Section 10, subsection 24(c) of the Highway Law, and Section 222 of the Transportation Law;
  • Contracts with governmental and sovereign entities, including other states and federal government agencies;
  • Contracts with public colleges and universities;
  • Contracts with labor unions representing State employees carrying out the terms and conditions of State collective bargaining agreements;
  • Contracts with research foundations, including Aging Research Inc, Health Research Inc., Research Foundation, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Research Foundations of CUNY and SUNY, and Welfare Research Inc.;
  • Contracts with public corporations, including public authorities, public benefit corporations, district corporations and industrial development agencies.

An exemption eliminates the requirement for the inclusion of vendor responsibility documentation in the procurement record; it does not waive the requirement that a State contracting entity award a contract to a responsible vendor. Furthermore, OSC reserves the right, on a case-by-case basis, to request vendor responsibility documentation from entities normally considered exempt.

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Previous non-responsible findings

Is a State contracting entity barred from contracting with a vendor previously found non-responsible by a State contracting entity?

No. Each responsibility determination is made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors known at the time and the specifics of the procurement in question. However, in conducting a responsibility review, a State contracting entity should consider previous findings of non-responsibility and should notify vendors that a finding of non-responsibility may be a factor in future procurement decisions. There are limited, specific instances in New York State under which a vendor can be debarred. Under New York State Law, a vendor may be debarred for repeated prevailing wage violations and for certain violations or fines related to Workers' Compensation insurance. In addition, State Finance Law §139-j(10) obligates a State contracting entity to notify the Office of General Services when it makes a determination of non-responsibility due to a violation of State Finance Law §139-j (a knowing and willful violation of the permissible contacts requirements). Any subsequent determination of non-responsibility within a four year period shall result in a vendor being rendered ineligible to submit a proposal or be awarded any procurement contract for a period of four years from the date of the second final determination.

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More information on vendor responsibility

How can I obtain additional information about vendor responsibility?

Additional information about vendor responsibility, including the Comptroller's Bulletin, suggested forms, and links to useful resources, can be found on this OSC web site (http://www.osc.state.ny.us/vendrep/). You may also contact the OSC Help Desk via email at Contact Us.

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Use of questionnaire during assessment

How will the online Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire be used by State contracting entities to assess vendor responsibility?

The online Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire will be utilized by State contracting entities in the same manner as paper questionnaires. Information disclosed by the vendor on the questionnaire will be accessed by the State contracting entity, and reviewed and assessed along with other relevant information to make a responsibility determination. If more information or clarification is needed, the State contracting entity will contact the vendor. The vendor will be able to supply the additional information by updating their online questionnaire, if acceptable to the State contracting entity requesting the information.

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Adding information to the VendRep System

Can additional or more detailed information requested by a State contracting entity be provided via the VendRep System?

The State contracting entity has discretion in determining how additional information must be provided. If in accordance with the State contracting entity’s request, a vendor can supplement, modify and re-certify its online questionnaire at any time. In the VendRep System, the vendor creates a new questionnaire, modifies the appropriate responses (the vendor’s previous responses will automatically appear in the new questionnaire), then certifies the new questionnaire.

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Accuracy of questionnaire

Must a State contracting entity verify the accuracy of a Vendor Responsibility Questionnaire certified by the vendor?

It is up to the State contracting entities to determine the appropriate level of review for information disclosed by a proposed contractor. It is expected that the level of scrutiny will depend on the specific characteristics of the procurement and the totality of the information available to the State contracting entity.

OSC recommends that State contracting entities incorporate into their contracts language that requires the contractor formally to communicate to the State contracting entity any changes in their vendor responsibility disclosure, and that provides the State contracting entity with the right to terminate the contract for non-responsibility or failure to disclose accurately.