What is the Oregon Forward Program?
The Oregon Forward Program is an Oregon state government procurement program managed by the Department of Administrative Services (DAS). The program is intended to encourage and assist individuals with disabilities achieve maximum personal independence through productive and gainful employment. The program assures an expanded and constant market for Oregon Forward products and services, thereby strengthening an
Oregon Forward employee’s vocational goals and capacity for self-support.
What is an Oregon Forward Contractor (OFC)?
An Oregon Forward Contractor (OFC) is a non-profit rehabilitation corporation that employs individuals with qualifying disabilities to provide products and services. The DAS Oregon Forward Program is responsible for qualifying a rehabilitation program as an OFC. OFCs must employ individuals with qualifying disabilities for at least 75% of the hours of direct labor across the entire company. An OFC's mission must include providing vocational services that enable employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Once qualified by DAS, and found suitable for providing products and services through the program, the OFC is placed on the Oregon Forward Program Procurement List. The list details the products and services offered by an OFC, which DAS has determined to be suitable for purchase by public agencies.
When to Use an OFC
ORS 279.850 mandates state agencies to procure products and services that are included on the Oregon Forward Program Procurement List available on the DAS website. Agencies that seek to procure products or services found on this list must procure through the Oregon Forward Program, provided the product or service meets the agency’s quantity, quality, and delivery specifications.
The Oregon Forward Program allows an agency to acquire directly from the OFC and does not require a competitive procurement. If more than one OFC provides the needed product or service, the agency may engage multiple OFCs, and may, based on preference, select the one that best demonstrates that it:
- Complies with applicable labor standards, ordinances and resolutions; and
- Provides wages, benefits, and services that exceed those provided by private employers to employees who perform similar job functions in the same industry or county.
How to Process Oregon Forward Procurements
Agencies must make their Buy Decision in the priority order specified in administrative rule (OAR 125-247-0200). The Oregon Forward Program is the second priority source and an agency may not elect to procure through a lower priority source, unless it is determined that the procurement need cannot be met due to factors such as inability to meet quantity, quality or delivery. Agencies may not develop overly restrictive specifications in an effort to avoid use of OFC products and services.
Procurement of Products
Procurement of Services
If an agency requires a product or service not
currently included on the OregonForward Program Procurement List, it may
conduct due diligence with the OFC to determine its ability to satisfy
this requirement. If so, the OregonForward Program must verify that the
OFC is qualified to provide the requested product or service and that it
is in good standing. Additionally, the OFC is required to file
information to demonstrate their suitability for providing a particular
product or service.
The Program will also review and
approve the cost workbook submitted. While this may add time to an
agency’s procurement, future procurements for this particular product or
service will be expedited as a result of the investment in expanding
the OFC products and services market. The legislature intends for close
cooperation between the OregonForward Program, agencies, OFCs, and
people with disabilities to efficiently realize the objectives of the
If the initial price of the OFC response exceeds
an agency’s budget estimate, it should make a good faith effort to give
the ofc a chance to negotiate on the price of the product or service.
The OFC could have a misunderstanding about an agency's requirements or
might have made a mistake somewhere in their price calculation. It could
also be that the agency specifications exceed the allotted procurement
project budget. When the agency and OFC have reached a negotiated
agreement on price, the OFC and the agency must submit that price to DAS
on an approved form for final determination.
Note: DAS may be invited by either the agency or the OFC to facilitate any negotiations.
One of the biggest advantages of doing business
with a OFC is that it is a relationship, not just a one-time competitive
bidding arrangement. OFC businesses are established to provide stable,
ongoing employment for Oregonians with disabilities. Agencies should
expect the same quality products and services from a OFC as they expect
from any other contractor. Agency procurement professionals and contract
administrators serve in a unique position to advance the important
outcomes of the OregonForward Program.
When a contract is initiated in an agency, the contract
administrator should meet with the OFC to discuss the contract and
assure that both parties understand what is expected of them and to
clearly set performance expectations for the OFC. For example, if a OFC
is doing custodial services, it might benefit everyone involved to plan a
joint walk-through on a weekly basis at the beginning of the contract.
The contract with the OFC should be treated like any other state contract.
a change is required, both the agency contract administrator and the
OFC representative should work together to formally document an
- If an issue arises, the agency contract
administrator should communicate the issue to the OFC representative
immediately. If a problem cannot be resolved after properly escalating
the concerns to the OFC representative, the agency should involve
the OregonForward Program to help mediate the problem.
- If the
problem can still not be resolved, the agency has authority to terminate
the contract just as it would with any other state contract.