Questions and Answers
Questions and answers listed here have been submitted in response to the solicitation for the Nebraska Energy Office’s for Providers of Weatherization Assistance Services. Questions asked by phone, mail or in person cannot be answered unless submitted here to ensure fairness to all potential applicants.
December 8, 2017
Question: III. Contractor Duties. Pp. 25 para. 7. It says that the contractor must include subcontractors in the proposal and will not utilize any subcontractors that are specifically included in its proposal in the performance of the contract without the prior written authorization from the state. Does this include subcontractors for the performance of weatherization work? Ex. Must list any mechanical contractors being used to install furnaces. If there is a change of contractor in the course of work does contractor name need to be submitted before the contractor can be used?
Answer: The language states that “the Subcontractor’s level of effort, tasks, and time allocation should be clearly defined in the Contractor’s proposal”. The key word is “should”. The bidder should provide this information. It is not a “must”, it is not a requirement. As for the second part of this question, “The Contractor shall agree that it will not utilize any Subcontractors not specifically included in its proposal in the performance of the contract without the prior written authorization of the State.” This is a requirement, it is the contractor’s responsibility to notify the State in writing if they change subcontractor’s. This can be an e-mail.
Question: III. Contractor Duties. G. Insurance Requirements – it says that the sub must have the equivalent insurance. Is it the requirement that all weatherization subs carry the same insurance coverages and types as the subgrantee? What are the minimum coverages required for subcontractors performing weatherization work?
Answer: The insurance requirements section is regarding the Subgrantee (bidder) and not the sub-contractors that a Subgrantee would procure for weatherization work. The Subgrantee must have a procurement policy that sub-contractors need to carry liability insurance.
Question: Proposal Instructions. Pp. 41 Sec C. 10. –Does this include subcontractors to perform weatherization functions?
Answer: This is where the bidder would enter the subcontractor's information if the bidder is planning on utilizing subcontractors to perform any part(s) of the weatherization program. Ex. If you were to subcontract out the HVAC work for the Weatherization Assistance Program, the subcontractor business information should be entered under this section.
December 1, 2017
Question: V. Project Description and Scope of Work. Sec. E. Technical Requirements. pp. 37, If needed could we sub the QCI portion or is that position required to be a staff position?
Answer: As mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, the QCI must be working for or can be a "Subcontracted" QCI. So in answer to this question, no, the QCI is not required to be a staff position and can be contracted.
Question: V. Project Description and Scope of Work. Sec. E. Technical Requirements. Para. 2 pp. 37, Last sentence mentions that “All certifications must be provided and shall be in place on the date of submittal by bidder for this RFP”. The training funds for these certifications are included in the RFP. Could the certifications be in effect and documented at time of contract initiation?
Answer: Yes, the certifications could be in effect or proof of certification from a subcontracted QCI that has been identified currently certified can also be used to describe how the bidder will fulfill this requirement of the eventual contract to provide services in accordance with DOE regulations. If a bidder has identified a staff person that has the ability to secure certification in a timely manner (within the first 6 months) based on the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) prerequisites for QCI Certification, this would be acceptable as well. http://www.bpi.org/sites/default/files/QC_Inspector_Prerequisites.pdf
Question: V. Project Description and Scope of Work. Sec. D Scope of Work. pp. 37, The word “financed” is referenced related to project costs. Please confirm all Weatherization services are no cost options for qualified homeowners.
Answer: All weatherization work provided by the Weatherization Assistance Program are at no cost to qualified homeowners. There are exceptions for rental units where qualified tenants to the Weatherization Assistance Program will have to provide a signed agreement by the landlord to perform weatherization work on their unit and that the landlord may be required to contribute to costs such as a HVAC systems. More information on landlord contributions can be found in the Landlord-Tenant Agreement/Permission can be found at http://www.neo.ne.gov/wx/news/wxassist.htm, under "Weatherization Program Health and Safety Forms, WX 14: Landlord-Tenant Agreement/Permission Form, pg. 2.
Question: V. Proposal Instructions. Sec. C Corporate Overview. 10. Contractor or Second Tier Award Agreement. What process must be followed if contract/contractor changes happen after the RFP approval?
Answer: The bidder must follow Office of Management and Budget Federal Register, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards; 2 CFR 200.318 General procurement standards.
Question: V. I. Procurement Procedure. X Award pp. 15, What is the length of the contract period?
Answer: The contract period for a service provider is for one year for each funding source that is continued on a year to year basis dependent on the performance and ability of the service provider to manage and expend the allocated funds within the contract period. Each year (usually the middle of January) the service provider that has been awarded the service area, submits a letter of intent to continue providing service within their designated service area. The two funding sources are the Department of Energy, which the funding period for Nebraska is from July 1 to June 30th. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding period for service providers typically runs from the first week in January to December 31st of each year.
Question: I. Procurement Procedure. X Award pp. 15, Will an RFP opened annually or will the award be perpetual assuming available funding and all program requirements are met?
Answer: The award will be perpetual up to 5 years, which under state policy the RFP must be put out for bid once again. NEO has been operating under the 2 CFR 200 regulations that if the service provider is operating in good performance, the letter of intent will be sufficient to continune providing service. If the service provider is not operating in good performance, an RFP will be issued again to open bids for interested bidders.
Question: V. Project Description and Scope of Work. Sec. E. Technical Requirements. Para. 2 pp. 37, Could we submit for training costs prior to beginning contract period?
Answer: NEO would not be able to provide training costs prior to the beginning of the contract. However, if the bidder has potential subcontractors that they will be utilizing for the program, NEO could pay for their training costs, but not for those workers travel or other expenses (meals, fuel for travel) to and from the training. Nebraska's Weatherization Assistance Program Training Center is located in Omaha. This would be by approval from the Nebraska Energy Office.
Question: Is it possible to use volunteer labor for any of the projects that do not require a licensed contractor?
Answer: According to 10 CFR §440.19 Labor, I would say yes as long as they are working under supervision of a qualified supervisor. (I have included the regulation from 10 CFR 440 below)
Payments for labor costs under §440.18(c)(2) must consist of:
- (a) Payments permitted by the Department of Labor to supplement wages paid to training participants, public service employment workers, or other Federal or State training programs; and
- (b) Payments to employ labor or to engage a contractor (particularly a nonprofit organization or a business owned by disadvantaged individuals which performs weatherization services), provided a grantee has determined an adequate number of volunteers, training participants, public service employment workers, or other Federal or State training programs are not available to weatherize dwelling units for a Subgrantee under the supervision of qualified supervisors.
Question: Please define specifically what the Health and Safety Audit includes.
Answer: These are dependent on the dwelling structure if they are a single family frame home or a manufactured (mobile) home. The specifics can be found in the Program Year 2015 Installation Standards/Single Family Field Guide; Rev. April 25, 2017 on the NEO website under the Weatherization Reference Manual section at http://www.neo.ne.gov/wx/news/wxassist.htm
Question: When will the training classes begin with the laborers?
Answer: Training classes are provided typically on a monthly basis depending on the need of a training for a specific job task. Depending on the type of training the bidder needs, for their staff or contractors, they will have to contact the Nebraska Energy Office as soon as possible if the award has been awarded to them. Quality Control Inspector and Energy Auditor training are outsourced to out of state training centers that are accredited for those two job tasks.
Question: II. Terms and Conditions pp. 17, Which section of the proposal do we include the Terms and Conditions in? The corporate overview or technical approach?
Answer: The Terms and Conditions (section II.) will be included with the proposal with each part of that section initialed as "Accepted" or "Rejected" along with any notes or comments. The Technical Proposal Submission in section VI has separate information from the Terms and Conditions section on what to submit.
Question: VII. Cost Proposal Requirements pp. 42, Where can we access the templates for the cost proposal?
Answer: The "Cost Proposal Template" will be posted on the RFP Q&A website.
Question: What is the penalty if 99 projects are not complete within the timeframe of the contract?
Answer: There is not a penalty if 99 projects are not completed within the timeframe of the contract. That is just a projection number based on an average cost per unit. If the awarded service provider for Douglas County falls short, or looks like they will be falling short, the first action that will be done is to hold a meeting between the service provider and the Nebraska Energy Office to discuss, either re-obligating funds to another provider that can utilize the funds and get them expended, or discuss methods of increasing production to meet the projected unit goals. If the service provider continues to not meet the projected goals and falling short of expending funds year after year, the provider could be placed on "High Risk" until the issue is resolved.
Question: Is the unit cost for each program a required minimum or maximum for each project?
Answer: The unit cost per dwelling is different between the DOE and LIHEAP programs. DOE average per unit cost is $7,212 per unit. LIHEAP does not have a maximum or minimum average per unit cost. The DOE average per unit cost is a baseline that the service provider should meet by the end of the award. There could be houses that it is necessary to expend for example $10,000 and another house that might cost $4,000. The $7,212 per unit average must be met by the closing of that award period. When NEO budgets for LIHEAP, the number of units projected is based on Program Support, Labor and Materials at $7,800 per unit. This is just a budget to provide the service provider an estimated amount that they should target to distribute those funds to clients equitably. It is not set in stone that they have to stay at $7,800 on the LIHEAP funds. DOE is the only "required" average per unit cost, which must be met by the end period of the contract.
Question: Is it possible to use homeowners who are eligible for a habitat program as well as meet the requirements for Weatherization?
Answer: Yes, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements in our annual Weatherization Assistance Program State Plan.