It’s crucial for HHS to understand how vendors can help carry out its mission and for vendors to understand the needs of the state.
When communicating with vendors, it’s equally important that HHS doesn’t give an unfair competitive advantage to a vendor or create the appearance of doing so.
The HHS Vendor Interaction Policy, which goes into effect Sept. 1, offers guidelines and spells out restrictions for meetings between system staff and vendors.
All employees must take procurement training through CAPPS every two years.
“The best rule to follow is we can tell them our needs and our problems and listen to them,” said Bart Broz, deputy executive commissioner for procurement and contracting services. “But we can’t talk about active procurements and we can’t talk about other vendors.”
Vendor meetings outside the procurement process are divided into two categories: those to discuss current contracts a vendor holds and those with a vendor without a contract.
Meetings with a vendor under contract are essential to managing and delivering on a contract, getting to know personnel and getting guidance on any contract adjustments. But HHS staff must avoid discussing future business requirements and system or internal processes or protocols outside the current contract.
Procurement and Contracting Services: Lisa Calem-Lindstrom, 512-406-2445 or Lisa.Calem-Lindstrom@hhsc.state.tx.us.
Meetings with potential vendors before a procurement is active can help HHS stay ahead of the market and get updates on technologies, trends and even new players in the field. Before setting up the meeting, HHS employees should check with their procurement representative to see if there is a planned or active solicitation. If there is, no meeting can happen.
“This policy is in place to protect both sides,” Broz said. “We want our staff and vendors to understand the rules and the reasoning behind them.”