Federal, state and local governments are large consumers of goods and services sold in Kentucky. If your business is looking to expand into government procurement, there are a number of resources and programs that are ready to assist you.
Kentucky Procurement Assistance Program
If you are a Kentucky business interested in federal, state, or local government contracting opportunities, the Kentucky Procurement Assistance Program (KPAP) provides one-to-one counseling and group training. Assistance is provided in areas such as vendor registration and certification, market research, understanding government contracting rules and regulations, and responding to bids and proposals. In addition, the Kentucky Procurement Assistance Program offers automated bid match emails that provide targeted information about government procurement opportunities. Assistance with identifying potential subcontractors and teaming partners is also available.
Buyers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
A key concept in government contracting involves understanding who has purchasing authority. In Kentucky, the Finance and Administration Cabinet and the Transportation Cabinet house centralized contracting offices that are responsible for the larger, more complex contracts.
The Finance and Administration Cabinet makes many of the purchases for goods and services used throughout much of state government. The Office of Procurement Services buys general non-construction goods and services, and also maintains Kentucky's eProcurement Website, which is Kentucky's portal for state business opportunities. Also within the Cabinet, the Division of Engineering and Contract Administration purchases goods and services for non-highway capital construction, used in state facilities throughout the Commonwealth.
The Transportation Cabinet purchases commodities relating to highway maintenance, traffic management, highway construction, and road-related professional services. The Department of Highways procures Professional Services relating to professional engineering and engineering related services, and also administers Construction Procurement which relates to highway construction, improvement and maintenance projects.
In other cases, agencies have limited contracting authority for products or services which are made under certain value thresholds.
Kentucky Model Procurement Code
The Commonwealth of Kentucky was the first state to adopt Model Procurement Code legislation (KRS 45A), which sets out the methods by which Kentucky state government must bid, negotiate and award contracts. The preferred and most commonly used method for purchasing is by competitive sealed bidding. Procurements involving technical or complex requirements may be bid as competitive negotiations by formal Request for Proposal (RFP). In either situation, a formal bid request will be issued by an open, competitive solicitation or a RFP and awarded in accordance with the Kentucky Model Procurement Code.
Basics of State Government Procurement
The standard process for state agencies involves: requisitioning; public solicitation; receipt of responses; evaluation; and contract award.
The state agency requisition is the initial document in which the specific purchase requirement(s) and award criteria are identified. An agency's purchasing officer is assigned the request and reviews it for accuracy and competitiveness. If within the agency's authority, the agency purchasing officer prepares the appropriate solicitation for release. The agency may post the solicitation on the Commonwealth's eProcurement website.
Responses to solicitations may be returned as a hard copy via mail or delivery, or sent securely online through the Vendor Self Service (VSS) portion of the eProcurement Website, when allowable.
The primary method of contracting is by sealed bid. Bids received are publicly opened at the time and place stated in the solicitation. At the request of any interested party, bids are read publicly. The bids are tabulated; checked for responsiveness to the stated terms, conditions and specifications; evaluated; and awarded to the bidder who offers the Best Value to the Commonwealth. The evaluation criteria will be stated in every solicitation.
When it is determined that the use of competitive sealed bidding is not practical, requirements may be solicited by the competitive negotiation method. For this method, the Commonwealth uses a Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP includes comprehensive performance requirements, technical provisions, and specific evaluation criteria for scoring offers. Contract awards are based upon these criteria. Responses to RFPs are not publicly read.
Vendors wishing to do business with the Commonwealth must be registered before being awarded a Contract. Registration allows vendors the opportunity to identify those products and services they wish to offer to the Commonwealth, and registration makes it possible for state agencies to find your company. Previously registered vendors may update their vendor information by logging in on the Vendor Self Service (VSS) application. It is very important to keep your information current. Ensure that your email address hasn't changed so that your company will continue to receive email notifications of solicitation opportunities.
Once your business is registered, you can use the VSS application to view active opportunities. Active state contracts also can be found by using the search functions on the Commonwealth's public transparency website OpenDoor.ky.gov.