State law (CGS § 4a 2 and 4a-51) gives the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, hereinafter referred to as DAS, the duty and responsibility for the purchase and provision of supplies, materials, equipment, and contractual services for Executive Branch state agencies. The constituent units of the state higher education system are exempt from this authority, however. The DAS commissioner may delegate his purchasing authority to a state agency in certain circumstances. Other branches of state government, towns and municipalities, and some nonprofits are also able to purchase from many DAS contracts.
Supplies, commodities, materials, equipment and basic contractual services are procured primarily under CGS § 4a 50 and related laws. Contractual services are defined as any laundry and cleaning, pest control, janitorial, or security service; the rental and repair, or maintenance, of equipment, machinery, and other state owned personal property; advertising and photostating; mimeographing; and data entry, data processing, and other service arrangements where the services are provided by persons other than state employees. Separate statutory procedures (CGS § 4a 205 et seq., as amended by Public Act 93 336) govern the selection of professional consultants.
State law requires purchases of, and contracts for, supplies, materials, equipment, and contractual services to be based "when possible" on competitive bids. This does not apply to gas, water, and electric utility services. Competitive bids must, by law, be awarded to the lowest responsible qualified bidder, who does not necessarily have to be the lowest priced bidder. A bidder's skill, ability, and integrity in performing the work that will be required is evaluated in terms of past performance on contracts and experience (or lack thereof) in delivering goods or services of the size for which the bid is invited. A bidder's financial responsibility must also be considered, however no specific criteria are provided in law or regulation. The law also requires that, “all other factors being equal,” preference must be given to Connecticut companies that manufacture or assemble the required commodities or equipment or originate and provide the required services (CGS § 4a-59).
The competitive bidding process as outlined in statute, DAS regulations, and agency policy contained in the DAS purchasing manual establishes a process of several steps which begins with a state agency submitting a purchase requisition to DAS. The procurement division reviews the requisition, drafts any specifications required, prepares the bid, receives sealed bids from vendors, holds a public bid opening, and awards the contract. In addition to the traditional procurement process, the state is continually modernizing its practices in order to achieve greater efficiencies and savings. Such procurement practices include on-line submission of bids, reverse auctions, purchasing cooperatives, performance-based contracting and contingency contracting.