Nutrition and Wellness Programs
Bid Forms and Documents—Vended Meals Contracts
Federal regulations (7 CFR Part 3016.36(b)) prohibit the awarding of contracts to any person or entity that develops or drafts specifications, requirements, statements of work, invitations for bids, requests for proposals, contract terms and conditions or other procurement documents. In failing to fulfill its responsibilities to draft its own specifications and procurement documents, a school food authority (SFA) which copies a list of features or evaluation and ranking criteria drafted by a potential vendor and then permits that potential vendor to submit a bid has violated federal regulation 7 CFR Part 3016.60(b). This pertains to all child nutrition program procurements, including software acquisitions. While schools have broad discretion in gathering information for use in connection with procurements, information from potential bidders must be appropriately modified to develop tailored specifications; otherwise these bidders must be excluded from competing for such procurements. This is to ensure objective contractor performance and eliminate unfair competitive advantage.
Each SFA is required to have procurement procedures in place that reflect applicable state and local laws and regulations, provided that procurements made with nonprofit school food service account funds adhere to the standards set forth in the federal regulations. School food authority procedures must also include a written code of standards of conduct meeting the minimum standards of 7 CFR Part 3016.36(b)(3) or 7 CFR Part 3019.42, as applicable.
Any action which diminishes open and free competition seriously undermines the integrity of the procurement process and may subject an SFA to bid protests. SFAs are responsible for properly responding to protests and concerns raised by potential contractors. Pursuant to §3016.36(b) (12), SFAs must have protest procedures in place to handle and resolve disputes relating to their procurements and must in all instances disclose information regarding a protest to the Illinois State Board of Education Nutrition and Wellness Programs Division.
Bid Document Submission—Three-Step Review Process
School food authorities are required to adhere to a three-step submission and review process to ensure compliance with all federal and state regulations and statutes. All documents must be accompanied by the appropriate submission form and all required certification forms must be included as part of the Invitation for Bid and Contract, as applicable.