Vendor Communications and Relations

Round Rock ISD’s relationship with vendors is based on current and future partnerships. The District cannot do what we do without the vendor community. All vendors should be treated equally, fairly, and afforded all possible opportunities to do business within the District’s established guidelines and procedures.

Below are specific areas that are addressed concerning the District’s relationship with the vendor community. Please note that the list is not all inclusive of the different types of interactions you may have with vendors:

  • Conflict of Interest
  • District Employees
  • Vendors
  • Conflict of Interest for Vendors with Future Business Interests
  • Access to Staff
  • Prior to Bid
  • Research and Discovery by the Department or Campus
  • Demonstrations
  • Pilot Programs
  • Current Bid Opportunity (“On the Street”)
  • Bid Evaluations
  • Existing Contracts
  • After a Bid Award
  • Awarded Vendors
  • Vendors that did not receive an Award
  • Vendor References for Other Entities
  • District Awarded Vendors
  • Cooperative Contracted Vendors
  • No Potential Bid in the Future
  • Unsolicited Offers or Communications

Conflict of Interest

Two District policies, CH (Local) and DBD (Local), address conflict of interest issues for employees of the District that have direct relationships with vendors, and vendors looking for opportunities to do business with the District.

District Employees

DBD (LOCAL) requires that a District employee is to disclose to their immediate supervisor any personal financial or business interest, or any other obligation or relationship that in any way creates a potential conflict of interest with the employee’s duties and responsibilities. The employee has an obligation to the District to be transparent in such situations and disclose relationships with vendors for any procurement and always have the District’s best interest in the forefront. Failure to do so will be considered a breach of District policy.

If the employee will be assisting the Purchasing Office in the evaluation of a solicitation, the employee will be required to complete and sign a Non‐disclosure Statement for Round Rock ISD Employee Form (attached as an exhibit). By signature, the employee affirms that they, their spouse or dependent(s), are not receiving any compensation from, nor have been the recipient of any present or future economic opportunity, employment, gift, loan, gratuity,special discount, trip, favor, or service in connection with any proposal or involved proposers in return for favorable consideration.

Vendors

For vendors, CHE(LEGAL) requires that names of any Round Rock ISD employee who owns, directly or indirectly, an interest in their firm or any of its subsidiaries must be disclosed before the vendor does business with the District. If the vendor fails to do so may be grounds for disqualification of the bid or cancellation of a contract resulting from the Solicitation.

Conflict of Interest for Vendors with Future Business Interests

If the department chooses to hire or retain a vendor, even at no cost, to assist in any part of the procurement process (e.g. developing specifications or scope of work, helping evaluate responses to a solicitation, etc.), the vendor cannot have any personal or business interest in the outcome of the process.

The contractor should disclose at the beginning of their contact with the District they may have interest in any potential solicitors related to their project. If one does exist, they will have to withdrawn from assisting in the solicitation development. If they do not, all of the vendor’s employees assisting will be required to complete a Vendor’s Non‐disclosure Statement for Contracted Consultants Form (attached as an exhibit). Any companies with this level of relationship will not be eligible for any business opportunities related to this engagement.

Access to Staff

Vendors will ask for access to District staff since they are paid to cultivate business. If the end user agrees to meet, District office visits are acceptable and is the suggested location. District personnel are not obligated to talk to vendors. Responses and communications should be professional and respectful. Offsite meetings, meals, gatherings at coffee shops, bars, golf outings, etc., should be completely avoided and without consideration. This can be conceived and is perceived as providing an advantage during the bid process. Again, allow all interested vendors the same access to you as all other vendors.

Prior to a Bid

Below are general scenarios and the suggested actions necessary to insure fair access.

Research and Discovery by the Department or Campus

Research and discovery is expected since the end user will need to know how to put into writing (e.g. specifications) what they want and/or need. The concern is the sharing of access with all potential vendors, and insuring that the resulting research has provided a specification that is competitive. It is suggested and highly encouraged that the end user contact 3 or more vendors that have competing products or services, and compare the responses using the provided information to develop competitive requirements. If the end user is not certain the cost of the purchase to establish a budget, it is acceptable to ask for a non‐obligated quote (ask for a rounded number).

Vendor Bid Notification Registration

When end users are approached by a vendor, they should always encourage the vendor to register within the District’s electronic procurement system known as “eROC.”

The vendor is to click on the “Supplier Registration” to start the process. The vendor will receive bid notifications based on the commodities chosen. Please note that by registering and being accepted on the bidder’s list the vendor doesn’t have a contract with the District.

Demonstrations

Vendors will ask if they can do a demonstration of their product or service in an attempt to interest you or put their company above the competition. We highly discourage this practice outside the formal bid process. If the District does go to bid, the vendor, if chosen to do so, will have to do the same demonstration under controlled circumstances.

Such demonstrations are to be coordinated through the Purchasing Office. Please be aware that the Purchasing Office may not agree to the demonstration if it goes against District purchasing policy or procedures, or may be in conflict with good purchasing practices.

Pilot Programs

There are times when the end user is not certain if a particular project will provide the intended outcome or result, so some form of live testing needs to occur. During these situations, a pilot of a product or service may be a good route to go in testing out the process on a strictly limited and controlled basis. If this is the direction the end user desires to move, there will be certain limitations on how the pilot will be handled and what the requirements will be if the pilot is successful. Please note that a “pilot” has a defined beginning and end dates. Pilots cannot be considered perpetual and ongoing once the end date has past.

Before a pilot can be approved, the end user must identify all campuses/ departments that will provide resources, such as employee time, funds, etc., for the pilot. The end user must solicit and receive acceptance from all the stakeholders prior to moving forward with implementing the pilot.

NOTE: If the pilot will require involvement from Technology and Information Services (system support, access to or upgrading hardware, etc.), prior written consent must be received by the Executive Director of Technology and Information Services.

Many times the end user may have a specific vendor in mind to do a pilot with. Obviously, familiarity with one vendor allows for other areas of the project to be tested to achieve the intended results.

If the pilot will have a cost involved, a review must be done to see what level of purchasing requirements will need to be followed. How to Make a District Purchase instructions.

If a vendor is given this ability to be the “first in” to the District, this will not guarantee that the pilot vendor will be awarded a contract if the District was to decide to go from a pilot to full implementation. The end user must understand that if the pilot moves into a formal solicitation, they may be awarding the contract to another vendor. The pilot vendor is not given any consideration during the evaluation process.

A pilot must be pre‐approved by the District’s Purchasing Office (and the Executive Director of Technology if applicable) prior to any discussions with a vendor. The end user must submit a written request to the Purchasing Office providing justification to perform a pilot prior to a solicitation. The Purchasing Office will require the following information from the campus or the department:

  • The scope of the Pilot;
  • What is the intended outcome of the Pilot;
  • The contact person managing the Pilot;
  • The time period / duration of the Pilot;
  • The stakeholders that will be involved and/or effected by the pilot
  • Who is the targeted Pilot vendor or which vendor(s) has been communicated with;
  • Who the Pilot evaluators will be;
  • The Pilot costs to the District; and
  • Any anticipated costs to the District for full implementation after a successful pilot

To support the findings of an approved pilot, the end user must provide an update to the above points.

  • Was the original scope of the Pilot accurate;
  • Was the intended outcome of the Pilot realized or different;
  • Did the evaluation team determine there would be additional costs that were not originally anticipated; and
  • A recommendation to either move forward with a formal procurement or did the findings not warrant any further action.

Current Bid Opportunity (“On the Street”)

This is the most critical period to NOT have any discussions with any vendors that have interest in a bid award or outcome. These communications are only to be handled by the Purchasing Office. If you are contacted by a vendor asking questions about the bid, do not discuss the solicitation with them, and ask them to contact the assigned buyer or the Purchasing Office. Always thank them for their interest in our District. Do not provide any information, advice or opinions. Any comments or input provided are not binding and may create issues with the procurement process. Please note that if a vendor does have such communications, they run the risk that their bid response may be rejected for such actions. Advise them to contact the Purchasing Office directly and cease communications with other District staff.

Bid Evaluations

During this period, if any individual that has been assigned to an evaluation team has some form of conflict of interest, they should disclose this immediately to their supervisor and the Purchasing Office. Evaluators will be required to sign a non‐disclosure statement at the beginning of the process. Failure to indicate or bring attention to this issue could have serious consequences for both the District and the individual.

Existing Contracts

If a vendor has an active contract with the District but also has interest in a current bid opportunity, any discussion of the bid is to be completely avoided, with communications being directed only at the current contract. If the vendor does start to ask questions or ask for input, the District personnel is to direct them to the Purchasing Office.

After a Bid Award

Awarded Vendors

Once a vendor is awarded a contract with the District, they are in partnership with the District to accomplish the goals of both. The department / campus can have open communications with the vendor to insure that the vendor does meet all the obligations of the award and that the department / campus meets its obligations as well.

The end user is responsible for knowing who the main vendor point‐of‐contact(s) will be for questions, concerns, or performance issue discussions. The end user should consider scheduling a meeting with the vendor prior to the start of the contract or shortly thereafter to discuss responsibilities and expectations. Purchasing staff will be available if requested to attend.

It is critical to the operations of the District that an awarded vendor fulfills their obligations under the contract. If they do, they should be commended for being a beneficial partner with the District. The end user should let the vendor know the expectations the District has for them at the beginning of the contract.

If at any point the vendor’s performance is not meeting the contractual requirements, the department / campus is to contact the vendor concerning the issue and copy the Purchasing Office with any communications. Timely, written documentation of such events is critical in helping the vendor do what is required or to assist in insuring a badly performing vendor does not remain under contract with the District. It is unfair to the vendor and a bad business practice if the end user withholds performance issues from the vendor and does not convey the District’s concerns with performance.

Please note that the vendor cannot be held responsible to requirements that were not part of the solicitation, formal negotiations or final contract. If such situations arise, the end user should make note to add the deficiencies to the next solicitation.

If the vendor’s performance is still inadequate after the end user has provided written documentation of the issues, the end user is to contact the Purchasing Office and provide the documentation given to the vendor. The Purchasing Office will review the documentation, and if believed necessary, schedule a counseling meeting with the vendor to formalize a plan for the vendor to meet these expectations. This may be further formalized by setting a probationary period using the District’s Conditional Probation Agreement form (attached as an exhibit).

Vendors that did not receive an Award

District’s eROC website will provide award tabulations for most of the District’s solicitations.

The vendor is to click on the “Awarded Bids/Proposals” to find the complete list of tabulations. It is the vendor’s responsibility to review this information. Specific tabulations can be found by entering in the solicitation number into the “Bid Number” search.

Please note that the District does not contact vendors that did not receive an award.

Every vendor should do research on why they did not receive an award, which may include meeting with the District personnel to discuss their areas to be improved prior to the next solicitation response. We encourage this in what is called a “Debrief”. In such a meeting, the Purchasing Office will request that the department / campus representative be present especially if a technically evaluation was performed. The Purchasing Office is not the “subject matter experts” and may not be able to address specific areas of the evaluation. Please note that no comparisons are to be made between competing responses.

Vendor References for Other Entities

A key to awarding to reliable vendors is to provide feedback to other entities when requested. Our District relies on this type of information, so it is fair to provide feedback as requested. If a District employee does receive a request to provide a reference for a vendor that has performed under contract with the District, the employee can respond but must be honest with the response, providing only factual information. Opinions should be kept internally and not made public. If the employee does not feel comfortable with a direct response to the requesting entity, please contact the Purchasing Office for assistance.

District Awarded Vendors

Vendors that have gone through a bid process (informal or formal) and have been awarded specific items or services are entitled to the District’s business for those items or services. A not all inclusive list of awarded vendors can be found on the on the Round Rock ISD Active Contracts page.

Note that vendors in the eROC system or the District’s Accounts Payable system may not have an award. The District does not create an “Approved Vendor’s List.”

District Awarded Vendors

Vendors that have gone through a bid process (informal or formal) and have been awarded specific items or services are entitled to the District’s business for those items or services. A not all inclusive list of awarded vendors can be found on the on the Round Rock ISD Active Contracts page.

Note that vendors in the eROC system or the District’s Accounts Payable system may not have an award. The District does not create an “Approved Vendor’s List.”

Cooperative Contracted Vendors

The decision to use a cooperative contract is to be made by the Purchasing Office not the department or campus. It is the Purchasing Office’s role to insure if the best interest of the District is being met by whichever process is available to secure such products or services. The department/campus must always consider all procurements as competitive opportunities and no one vendor should be consider without such due process.

No Potential Bid in the Future

This area is not much different than the “Prior to Bid” section with the exception that the department/campus has no current plans to bid or will not be required to go through the bid process due to the annual purchase cost.

Again, access to the District personnel should be equal for all vendors, and it is highly suggested that the District personnel not accept any special treatments or privileges.

Unsolicited Offers or Communications

Vendors will contact District staff unsolicited, either by drop‐in sales calls, phone calls or emails, since they are paid to cultivate business. Again, District personnel are not obligated to talk to vendors. This decision to meet with these vendors is the decision of the department / campus. Vendors should always be encouraged to sign up for the District’s suppliers list managed by the Purchasing Office.