Mayor's Office of Contract Services
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Vendor Responsibility

Pursuant to the Procurement Policy Board (PPB) Rules and the New York City Charter, the City may award contracts only to responsible vendors. A responsible vendor is defined as one that has the technical capability and financial capacity to fully perform the requirements of the contract, as well as the business integrity to justify the award of public tax dollars. For each solicitation, the City agency must make a determination of vendor responsibility prior to awarding a contract. The PPB Rules state certain factors that may affect a vendor's responsibility such as financial resources, technical qualifications and performance. For a list of factors that affect a vendor's responsibility, please consult PPB Rule 2-08(b). Under the PPB Rules, each Agency Chief Contracting Officer (ACCO) is directed to use several different sources of information to support determinations of responsibility or non-responsibility.

Responsibility Determination

Determinations of responsibility or non-responsibility are made by each ACCO on a contract–by-contract basis, pursuant to PPB Rule 2-08(g). If a vendor is found responsible, the contract award may proceed. If the vendor is found non-responsible, the contract will be awarded to the next lowest responsive, responsible bidder. Determinations of non-responsibility remain part of the VENDEX database for 10 years, however, non-responsibility on one contract does not prevent a vendor from bidding and/or proposing on future solicitations. When considering a vendor's responsibility, agencies are required to review and evaluate information from a variety of sources (including the VENDEX database), consider the context of the particular solicitation, and make a responsibility determination appropriate for that solicitation. If after analyzing all of the relevant information, an agency deems the prospective vendor to be non-responsible, a specific, written determination of non-responsibility shall be prepared by the ACCO.

In Fiscal Year 2011, agencies issued 18 non-responsibility determinations on vendors, primarily on business integrity grounds, and completed detailed performance evaluations for over 88% of their contracts, rating 97% of their vendors as satisfactory or better.

Appeal of Non-Responsibility Determination

A vendor may appeal an ACCO's determination of non-responsibility to the respective Agency Head within 10 days of receipt of the ACCO's decision. If an Agency Head upholds the ACCO's determination of non-responsibility, the vendor may appeal to the City Chief Procurement Officer (CCPO) within 10 days of the receipt of the Agency Head's decision (see PPB Rule 2-08(m)). The CCPO, who is the Director of MOCS, is the final administrative appeal available for a finding of non-responsibility. The CCPO's determination of a non-responsibility appeal is de novo, meaning it is not based on previous findings but is a fresh review of the facts. The CCPO may uphold a non-responsibility determination for any reason, including grounds that were not cited by the agency in its determination. The CCPO may also reverse a non-responsibility determination based on information that was not in the record during the agency review, and can reverse an agency's determination even if the agency did not err or act in an arbitrary or capricious manner, provided that the facts support the CCPO's conclusion..

Visit the New York Law School Web site to find out about determinations

Vendor Rehabilitation Program

Procurement Policy Board Rule 2-08(p) establishes the Vendor Rehabilitation Program, an initiative to assist vendors that have had prior integrity and/or performance problems which affect their ability to win City contracts. Vendors that have been found non-responsible by one or more City agencies or are subject to any unfavorable responsibility information in VENDEX may be eligible for this program. In order to pursue rehabilitation, a vendor must have exhausted or abandoned all legal and/or administrative proceedings and appeals against the City of New York. Vendors seeking rehabilitation must submit a written application for rehabilitation.

Through the Vendor Rehabilitation Program, MOCS and the New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) identify the vendor's prior integrity and/or performance issues, and document either that those problems have been addressed and corrected or develop an action plan by which the vendor will correct the problems. If the negative issues are corrected to the satisfaction of MOCS and DOI, the CCPO will issue a Declaration of Rehabilitation. The Declaration of Rehabilitation is recorded in the VENDEX database, and provides notice to City agencies that they may contract with the rehabilitated vendor despite the negative information in the database. The CCPO's decision, however, does not in any way preclude the ACCO's authority in determining a contractor's responsibility, i.e., the ACCO may still determine a contractor non-responsible notwithstanding a CCPO declaration of rehabilitation.

VENDEX Questionnaires

The New York City Administrative Code requires that the City maintain a computerized data system containing information for every city contract and very specific information about every prospective vendor for awards over $100,000, and for vendors (including subcontractors) doing more than $100,000 in cumulative annual business with the City. The majority of the vendor information placed on the VENDEX system comes from the VENDEX questionnaires. VENDEX questionnaires are also required for sole source contracts valued at $10,000 or more, for franchises (regardless of dollar amount) and for applicants for concessions which, singly or in combination with other contracts held by the vendor, are valued at $100,000 or more.

The purpose of VENDEX questionnaires is for vendors to provide a wide array of information regarding the vendor's ownership, financial capacity, business structure, affiliations and involvement in government investigations. The VENDEX questionnaire is the vendor's primary opportunity to provide accurate and complete information about its operations. VENDEX is the primary source used by agencies in making a responsibility determination.

VENDEX questionnaires, which consist of vendor and principal questionnaires, are valid for three years from the date of signature. Vendors are required to update their forms with each new award. If any of the information on either the vendor or principal questionnaire has changed since the prior filing, the vendor must submit "changed questionnaires." If no information has changed since the prior filing, the vendor must submit a "certificate of no change.

Learn more about VENDEX filings, or download the VENDEX Questionnaires and Guide

VENDEX Public Database

The VENDEX public database allows agencies to make informed responsibility determinations. VENDEX is the primary, but not the only, source of responsibility information on vendors. The database includes:

  • Information from the VENDEX questionnaires
  • Cautionary information reported on VENDEX questionnaires and information supplied by various sources including City agencies and law enforcement organizations
  • Contract performance evaluations
  • Liens and warrants compiled by the City's Department of Finance (DOF)
  • Tax filing status as indicated by DOF
  • Information on all City registered contracts and purchase orders

Members of the public may access this data by visiting or calling MOCS' Public Access Center