Contract Advisory Team FAQ

What is CAT?

CAT stands for Contract Advisory Team. The Contract Advisory Team (CAT) was created to assist state agencies in improving contract management practices by reviewing the solicitation of contracts with a monetary value of $5 million or more. Section §2262.102 of the Texas Government Code lists the following members for the CAT:

  • one member from the Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA);
  • one member from the Department of Information Resources (DIR);
  • one member from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC);
  • one member from the Office of the Governor (OOG);
  • one member from the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC);
When was the Contract Management Guide first published?

The Contracts Management Guide was first released on the web in October, 2004. TBPC posted it to its website and it then became the official guideline as intended under Chapter 2262, Tex Gov’t Code.

What is the difference between the Contract Advisory Team and the Statewide Procurement Advisory Council?

Under Chapter 2262, Tex Gov’t Code, the Contract Advisory Team (CAT) reviews agencies’ solicitations for contracts with a value of $5 million or greater, prepares recommendations to the CPA on revisions to the statewide Contract Management Guide and on CPA’s oversight of the training of the state’s contract managers. The solicitations reviewed by the CAT are submitted by virtually every state agency, with a few statutory exceptions. The CAT was created by the Legislature in 2001 and, pursuant to §2262.011, Tex Gov’t Code, the CPA is now lead member. The CAT does not attend any open meetings of any agencies or review or make any recommendations on any proposed contracts prior to award or signature. Members of the Team are the CPA, the DIR, the HHSC, the Governor’s Office, and the TFC. The Legislative Budget Board and the State Auditor’s Office provide technical assistance while the Office of Attorney General provides legal assistance to the CAT.

Pursuant to §§2155.086 & 2155.87, Tex Gov’t Code, a quorum of the Statewide Procurement Advisory Council must attend open meetings conducted by the chief clerk of the CPA in which he/she makes certain contract awards with a value of $100,000 or more over the life of the contract and are evaluated wholly or partially on best value factors other than cost on behalf of the Statewide Procurement Division (SPD) of the CPA. In the meetings, the Council may make recommendations on proposed procurements, recommendations designed to increase the cost savings, efficiency and other benefits to the state of consolidation of state procurement through SPD. Members of the Council are the DIR, the LBB, the TFC and the Governor’s Office.

What is the scope of a CAT review for a solicitation?

The CAT will review the solicitation document(s) from a contract management and best practices perspective. In the course of the review, the CAT provides recommendations, identifies risks and offers risk mitigations within thirty (30) days of receipt. If the agency does not receive a response from the CAT within thirty (30) calendar days of initial receipt of the solicitation document(s), the agency may not proceed with posting the solicitation. Publishing a solicitation without receiving a letter from CAT may result in an audit finding.

Does CAT review findings made by the State Auditor’s Office?

As required by TX Govt’ Code 2262.101 one of CAT’s responsibilities is to review any findings or recommendations made by the state auditor, including those made under Section 2262.052(b), regarding a state agency's compliance with the contract management guide.

In order to do so, the SAO CAT representative monitors findings in audit reports that deal with contract management issues and forwards the reports to Procurement Oversight & Delegation staff. Procurement Oversight & Delegation is then responsible for distributing the report among the other CAT members; and, if necessary, discuss the findings in the next CAT meeting.

Where or how does an agency submit a solicitation for a CAT review and how do you access the Procurement Oversight & Delegation application?

Solicitation documents should be sent to the CAT for review through the Procurement Oversight & Delegation application. In addition to sending the actual solicitation documents, agency personnel are required to fill out a brief submission form summarizing the solicitation. This form replaces the Major Contract Questionnaire that is no longer required for CAT reviews.

Prior to the first use of the Procurement Oversight & Delegation application, state agency personnel must ensure that they: 1) are registered users of the web application portal and 2) have been granted portal access to the Procurement Oversight & Delegation application. In order to accomplish this, agency personnel must request access from their “superuser” as identified by the agency and / or the web application portal. For assistance in utilizing the Procurement Oversight & Delegation application, send questions to: spd.oversight@cpa.texas.gov.

Upon receiving the contract solicitation documents, the Procurement Oversight & Delegation team will send the submitting agency an acknowledgement e-mail that confirms receipt of the solicitation and provides a web link to view the status of the review.

How much time should an agency allow for the CAT review process when selecting a posting date and what is the best approach for incorporating CAT review into the procurement process?

In order to avoid impeding the agency’s procurement process, state agencies should submit their contract solicitation documents(s) after final agency approval or for some state agencies, after final executive-level approval (final executive- level approval may be necessary for some contract solicitation documents, especially for IT-related solicitations) but before posting on the ESBD.

The CAT recommends Procurement, Contract Management, and Legal personnel incorporate the thirty (30) day CAT review period into their procurement schedule to avoid potential delays to the agency’s solicitation, evaluation, and award process.

What must state agencies submit to CAT?

To facilitate the process of contract solicitations for review by CAT, prior to posting anything on the ESBD, state agencies must submit their:

  • Solicitation document(s) - A solicitation document can be but is not limited to a Request for Proposal (RFP), Invitation for Bid (IFB), Request for Application (RFA), Request for Offer (RFO), or Request for Qualifications (RFQ); and
  • Any other documents as supplemented to the solicitation or incorporated by reference into or as part of the solicitation.
How does an agency determine contract value?

A contract, under TX Gov’t Code 2262.001, with a value of at least $5 million dollars, determined by the total value of the contract over a contract’s term as well as any modifications, renewals, or extensions of the contract must be submitted to CAT for review. An agency should base its determination of the proposed length of and compensation during the original term and the renewal periods of the contract on best business practices, state fiscal standards and applicable law, procedures and regulations. Agencies should not artificially split any of these factors to avoid the five million dollar threshold during the original term of the contract and therefore submission of the solicitation to CAT for review.

What is considered a reasonable contract term by the State?

A reasonable contract term compliant with all applicable law must be established prior to solicitation and must be included in the solicitation document. All contracts must have a specific ending date. Indefinite contracts are generally prohibited. As a general policy, it’s recommended that the maximum time for contracts without reissuing a competitive solicitation be four to five years. This includes any renewal or extension periods. Individual business needs may dictate a different period and agencies should consult their legal counsel for advice on this matter early in the planning process as a best practice.

Are there any exceptions to submitting solicitations for CAT review?

Per Texas Government Code §2262.002, institutions of higher education as defined by §61.003 of the Education Code are exempt, as are contracts of the Texas Department of transportation (TXDOT) that relate specifically to highway construction, highway engineering, or contracts subject to §201.112 of the Transportation Code.

What happens if CAT requests a more completed contract solicitation draft or requires clarification?

Should the CAT request the initiating agency to submit a more complete contract solicitation draft or require clarification, the 30-day turnaround timeframe restarts when the CAT receives all the information needed in order to conduct its review.

Are state agencies required to respond to the recommendations from the CAT review?

Yes. Agencies are required under TGC 2262.101(d) to respond to recommendations from a CAT review of contract solicitations with a monetary value of $5 million dollars or greater. Agencies are required to submit a written explanation to the CAT regarding why a specific CAT recommendation is not applicable to the contract under review. These justifications should be kept within the contract file, and may be used in future audit findings.

For comments or suggestions regarding the use of the Procurement Oversight & Delegation application, please contact: spd.oversight@cpa.texas.gov | 512-463-1138