|(a) The purpose of this section is to provide a procedure for vendors to protest purchases made by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Protests of purchases made by the Texas Facilities Commission (facilities commission) on behalf of TRS are addressed in 1 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 111, Subchapter C (relating to Complaints and Dispute Resolution). Protests of purchases made by the Department of Information Resources (DIR) on behalf of TRS are addressed in 1 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 201, §201.2 (relating to Procedures for Complaints, Vendor Protests and the Negotiation and Mediation of Certain Contract Disputes and Bid Submission, Opening and Tabulation Procedures). Protests of purchases made by Texas Procurement and Support Services of the Comptroller of Public Accounts (comptroller's office) on behalf of TRS are addressed in 34 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 20, §20.384 (relating to Protests). The rules of the facilities commission, DIR, and the comptroller's office are in the Texas Administrative Code, which is on the Internet website of the Office of the Secretary of State, Texas Register Division at: www.sos.state.tx.us/tac/index.shtml. (b) Any actual or prospective bidder, offeror, or contractor who is aggrieved in connection with the solicitation, evaluation, or award of a contract may formally protest to TRS. Such protests must be in writing and received in the office of the chief officer in whose area the action is (was) being processed within ten working days after such aggrieved person knows, or should have known, of the occurrence of the action which is protested. Formal protests must conform to the requirements set forth in subsection (c) of this section. Copies of the protest must be mailed or delivered by the protesting party to all vendors who have submitted bids or proposals for the contract involved. (c) A formal protest must be sworn and contain: (1) a specific identification of the statutory provision(s) that the action complained of is alleged to have violated; (2) a specific description of each act alleged to have violated the statutory provision(s) identified in paragraph (1) of this subsection; (3) a precise statement of the relevant facts; (4) an identification of the issue or issues to be resolved; (5) argument and authorities in support of the protest; and (6) a statement that copies of the protest have been mailed or delivered to other identifiable interested parties. (d) The chief officer shall have the authority, prior to appeal to the executive director or his designee, to settle and resolve the dispute concerning the solicitation or award of a contract. The chief officer may solicit written responses to the protest from other interested parties. (e) If the protest is not resolved by mutual agreement, the chief officer will issue a written determination on the protest. (1) If the chief officer determines that no violation of rules or statutes has occurred, he or she shall so inform the protesting party and interested parties by letter which sets forth the reasons for the determination. (2) If the chief officer determines that a violation of the rules or statutes has occurred in a case where a contract has not been awarded, he or she shall so inform the protesting party and other interested parties by letter which sets forth the reasons for the determination and any appropriate remedial action. (3) If the chief officer determines that a violation of the rules or statutes has occurred in a case where a contract has been awarded, he or she shall so inform the protesting party and other interested parties by letter which sets forth the reasons for the determination and any appropriate remedial action. Such remedial action may include, but is not limited to, declaring the purchase void; reversing the award; and re-advertising the purchase using revised specifications. (f) The chief officer's determination on a protest may be appealed by an interested party to the executive director or his designee. An appeal of the chief officer's determination must be in writing and must be received in the office of the executive director or his designee no later than ten working days after the date of the chief officer's determination. The appeal shall be limited to review of the chief officer's determination. Copies of the appeal must be mailed or delivered by the appealing party to other interested parties and must contain an affidavit that such copies have been provided. (g) The general counsel shall review the protest, chief officer's determination, and the appeal and prepare a written opinion with recommendation to the executive director or his designee. The executive director or his designee may, in his or her discretion, refer the matter to the Board of Trustees at a regularly scheduled open meeting or issue a final written determination. (h) When a protest has been appealed to the executive director or his designee under subsection (f) of this section and has been referred to the Board of Trustees by the executive director or his designee under subsection (g) of this section, the following requirements shall apply: (1) Copies of the appeal, responses of interested parties, if any, and general counsel recommendation shall be mailed to the Board members and interested parties. Copies of the general counsel's recommendation and responses of interested parties shall be mailed to the appealing party. (2) All interested parties who wish to make an oral presentation at the open meeting are requested to notify the office of the executive director or his designee at least 48 hours in advance of the open meeting. (3) The Board of Trustees may consider oral presentations and written documents presented by staff, the appealing party, and interested parties. The chairman shall set the order and amount of time allowed for presentations. (4) The Board of Trustees' determination of the appeal shall be by duly adopted resolution reflected in the minutes of the open meeting and shall be final. (i) Unless good cause for delay is shown or the executive director or his designee determines that a protest or appeal raises issues significant to procurement practices or procedures, a protest or appeal that is not filed timely will not be considered. (j) In the event of a timely protest or appeal under this section, a protestor or appellant may request in writing that TRS not proceed further with the solicitation or with the award of the contract. In support of the request, the protestor or appellant is required to show why a stay is necessary and that harm to TRS will not result from the stay. If the executive director determines that it is in the interests of TRS not to proceed with the contract, the executive director may make such a determination in writing and partially or fully suspend contract activity. (k) A decision issued either by the Board of Trustees in open meeting, or in writing by the executive director or his designee, shall be the final administrative action of TRS.
|Source Note: The provisions of this §51.2 adopted to be effective January 17, 1999, 24 TexReg 257; amended to be effective March 12, 2003, 28 TexReg 2120; amended to be effective April 1, 2011, 36 TexReg 2005