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Chapter 8 - Describing the Need - Specifications and Requirements

8.7 Qualified products/suppliers specifications and lists

It is sometimes necessary to prequalify products or suppliers and only solicit those who have been prequalified. In such cases, a list is maintained of specific products ("Qualified Product List" or "QPL") or suppliers ("Qualified Supplier List" or "QSL") which have been evaluated and determined to be acceptable in meeting predetermined minimum acceptable levels of quality or performance (Code of Virginia, § 2.2-4317). This qualification is performed in advance of any particular IT procurement. By having a prequalification procedure, the time in the purchase cycle for specification development and testing can be reduced. The qualification requirements for supplier or product prequalification must be established and potential suppliers advised by letter and/or public posting sufficiently in advance of the anticipated procurement to allow for evaluation and qualification of potential suppliers and/or products. A supplier whose product or service has been determined not qualified will be advised in writing. Solicitations may be sent to only those suppliers determined to be qualified.

A QPL or QSL provides an advance determination as to which IT suppliers or products can meet the agency's requirements. A QPL identifies various brands that have met specific criteria. Bidding may be limited to those suppliers whose products are on the list. Awards then may be made to IT products on the QPL. A supplier who submits a bid/proposal for a non-QPL product when a QPL product is required is deemed nonresponsive.

There are many benefits in developing a QPL. Once a QPL is established, the solicitation may be used for submission of samples or products to be examined for initial inclusion on the list. Specifications should state the criteria that will be used to evaluate the IT products offered and should describe all requirements necessary for supplier's products to qualify for the list. A specifications draft may be circulated for review by suppliers and known interested bidders. Communication with interested suppliers when developing specifications and requirements may be very helpful. Potential suppliers may provide useful feedback on the feasibility of a particular requirement or specification, including performance requirements, statements of work and data requirements.

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