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Prequalify Suppliers

Prequalification is the process of up-front identification of top-quality suppliers able to compete for specific types of contract opportunities. Prequalified suppliers are those whose record of performance in the marketplace, whether commercial or governmental, demonstrates their ability to perform to consistently high standards of quality and reliability.

Selection of the right suppliers is critical to the Postal Service's success. Having the right suppliers augments the Postal Service's ability to deliver high-quality and innovative services to its customers and reduces operational risks. Prequalifying suppliers enhances competition, ensures quality performance, and can also shorten cycle time and strengthen relationships between the Postal Service and its suppliers.

Suppliers benefit from having a more comprehensive opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Postal Service's requirements before a request for proposals (RFP) is issued, which in turns yields lower proposal preparation costs.

Prequalification may be used:

On an ongoing basis for commercially available goods or services purchased routinely

For an individual purchase or for a series of purchases

Evaluation Factors

The supplier evaluation process is a key means of achieving competitive advantage and maximum value for money. Supplier-specific performance evaluation factors such as past performance and supplier capability are carefully evaluated to determine which suppliers to include on the prequalified list.

Past Performance

A company or individual that has performed well on previous contracts and has shown proven results in using supply chain management (SCM) business practices is likely to do the same on similar contracts in the future. Including past performance as an evaluation factor helps ensure quality suppliers. Past performance evaluations should include the following factors:

Quality - a record of conformance to contract requirements and standards of good workmanship

Timeliness of performance - adherence to contract schedules, including the administrative aspects of performance

Business relations - a history of being reasonable and cooperative with customers, a commitment to customer satisfaction, and of integrity and ethics

Cost control - a record of forecasting and containing costs on changes and cost-reimbursement contracts

Emphasis should be placed on comparison with similar contracts held by the Postal Service when evaluating past performance. If a newly established supplier cannot provide past performance information, past performance of the supplier's key personnel on similar projects may be evaluated.

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Supplier Capability

Supplier capability is evaluated to determine a supplier's ability to perform upon award of a contract. It should be used as a snapshot of the quality and reliability of that performance. Certain key areas must be considered when determining a supplier's capability. To be deemed capable, the supplier must:

Have, or have the ability to obtain, adequate resources to perform the work (e.g., financial, technical)

Be able to meet the required or proposed delivery schedule, considering all existing commitments, including awards pending

Have a good record of integrity and business ethics

Have a good quality control program that complies with RFP requirements

Have the necessary organization, experience, accounting and operational controls, technical skills, and production and property controls

Have, or have the ability to obtain, the necessary production, construction, and technical equipment and facilities

Be otherwise qualified and eligible to receive an award under applicable laws and regulations

Certain business information must be obtained to determine that a supplier is capable. Sources of such information include:

The Postal Service list of debarred and suspended suppliers and the General Services Administration (GSA) consolidated list of suppliers debarred, suspended, or declared ineligible

Whether the Postal Service has decided to decline to accept or consider proposals from the supplier (see CFR 601.108)

Records and experience data, including the knowledge of other Contracting Officers, purchasing specialists, and audit personnel

The supplier's proposal information, business profile, financial data, information on production equipment, production data, questionnaire replies, and personnel information

Subcontractors, customers, financial institutions, and government agencies that have done business with the supplier

Business and trade associations

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Preliminary Prequalification Survey

If the required information and discussions do not provide an adequate basis for determining capability, the Purchase/SCM Team may conduct a preliminary prequalification survey. The extent of the survey must be consistent with the dollar value, complexity, or sensitivity of the purchase and may include any of the following:

Data on hand or from other government or commercial sources

Examination of financial statements and records

On-site assessment of plant, facilities, workforce, subcontractors, and other resources to be used in contract performance

Results of the preliminary prequalification survey must be in writing and included with the capability determination and attached to the contract file.

Selecting Suppliers

After the evaluation team has reviewed and analyzed the supplier-specific information, the best qualified suppliers are placed on the prequalified list. Some suppliers are considerably more qualified than others, so the Purchase/SCM Team should prequalify the best suppliers available.

During this phase of the prequalification process, the Contracting Officer must ensure that:

The inclusion or exclusion of a particular supplier is based strictly on business reasons

Enough suppliers are placed on the list to ensure adequate competition for subsequent purchases

Any sensitive business information provided by a supplier is sufficiently protected from disclosure

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All suppliers who responded to the prequalification announcement must be notified of whether they were included or excluded from the prequalification list. Debriefings will be available upon request to suppliers who have not been selected for the list, so they may better prepare for future prequalification opportunities.


The Purchase/SCM Team should reassess the suppliers included on the prequalified list periodically to ensure that they remain qualified and reliable. The Purchase/SCM Team may remove a supplier from the prequalified list only if the decision is based on good business reasons. The supplier must be informed of the removal and provided an explanation for the decision.

The Purchase/SCM Team should also consider whether new suppliers should be included on the list.

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