Overview of Executive Order
On January 20, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed Executive Order 2015-2, instituting a competitive process for the procurement of commonwealth legal services.
The executive order set forth that all contracts awarded for legal services by the Office of General Counsel or any Department are to be procured through competitive bids and that the results are to be made available online.
Competitive procurement of legal services reforms what was an obscure process into a process that is efficient, ethical, and transparent in securing legal counsel.
This new system of procurement delivers high quality and cost-effective legal counsel by establishing qualified pools of attorneys and firms through a transparent process.
Competitive procurement of legal services is done through one of the following two methods.
Method One: Pre-Qualification
Step 1: Request for Qualifications (RFQ)
When it is determined that the Office of General Counsel requires new specialized legal services (e.g. bond counsel services work), the office issues a RFQ for interested firms to submit a Statement of Qualifications. All firms wishing to participate in any capacity for the specified category of legal services for the commonwealth must submit their qualifications pursuant to the RFQ, which outlines the minimum qualifications attorneys and firms must meet. The goal of the RFQ is to prequalify a general pool of firms to perform the specified type of legal service.
RFQs are posted for the legal public on the Department of General Services’ eMarketplace, www.emarketplace.state.pa.us.
Step 2: Establishing a General Pool
After the solicitation window has closed for a RFQ, the commonwealth reviews the Statement of Qualifications submitted by interested firms and those meeting the minimum qualifications contained in the RFQ become the general pool of firms. Firms in the general pool are then granted a standard contract with costs to be negotiated for any work to be done at a later date. Only firms in the general pool can perform stated specialized legal services for the commonwealth.
This prequalification process has already created a pool of several firms qualified to perform bond counsel services work. An updated list of these firms can be found on the Office of General Counsel website, www.ogc.state.pa.us.
Step 3: Request for Proposal (RFP)
When a department or Office of General Counsel demonstrates need for legal services for which their exists a general pool of firms, a Request for Proposal (RFP) that sets forth the Statement of Work and any additional qualifications is issued on the Department of General Services’ eMarketplace. Only the prequalified pool of firms for the specified legal category is able to bid on the RFP.
Attorneys and firms from the pre-qualified pool will be advised to submit proposals outlining their staffing needs, work costs, and qualifications. Proposals will be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively among a committee comprised of Office of General Counsel, the respective Department(s), and selected representation from the Administration.
Upon selection, the procurement process and winning firm will be submitted for the General Counsel’s approval, as required under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. Once approved, costs may be further negotiated with the selected firm and an engagement letter will be issued by Office of General Counsel.
Method Two: Open Bidding
Sometimes there is a need for legal services that fall outside of a specialized pre-qualified pools. In these cases, an RFP is issued to the legal public for anyone to apply. The RFP sets forth the Statement of Work and any additional qualifications needed to perform that legal service.
The RFP process in this method mirrors that of the process outlined in method one:
- The RFP is issued and attorneys and firms from the legal public are invited to submit proposals for that legal service, outlining their staffing needs, work costs, and qualifications.
- Proposals will be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively among a committee comprised of OGC, the respective Department(s), and selected representation from the Administration.
- Upon selection, the procurement process and winning firm will be submitted for the General Counsel’s approval, as required under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.
- Once approved, costs may be further negotiated with the selected firm and an engagement letter will be issued by OGC.
Outside Counsel Opportunities
You can find current outside counsel opportunities on the Office of General Counsel website.