Department of Buildings and General Services
BGS Financial Operations
Office of Purchasing & Contracting
109 State Street
Montpelier VT 05609-3001
Agency of Administration
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
REQUEST FOR COMMENT
Hearing Aids and Related Products
For Program of Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
January 10, 2020
QUESTIONS DUE BY:
January 17, 2020 @ 3:00 PM
RFI &/or RFC RESPONSE
January 24, 2020 @ 2:00 PM
RFI &/or RFC RESPONSE MUST BE RECEIVED AT: 109 State Street, Montpelier
SECURITY PROCEDURES: Please be advised extra time will be needed when visiting and/or delivery information
to 109 State Street. All individuals must present a valid government issued photo ID when entering the facility.
All bidders are hereby notified that sealed bids must be received and time stamped by the Office of Purchasing &
Contracting located at 109 State Street - Montpelier, VT 05609-3001 - by the time of the bid opening. Bids not in
possession of the Office of Purchasing & Contracting at the time of the bid opening will be returned to the vendor, and will
not be considered. Any delay deemed caused by Security Procedures will be at the bidder’s own risk.
RFI OPENING AND LOCATION: 1/24/2020 @2:00 PM, 109 State Street, Montpelier
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT ALL NOTIFICATIONS, RELEASES, AND AMENDMENTS ASSOCIATED
WITH THIS RFI WILL BE POSTED AT: http://bgs.vermont.gov/purchasing/bids
THE STATE WILL MAKE NO ATTEMPT TO CONTACT VENDORS WITH UPDATED INFORMATION. IT IS
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH VENDOR TO PERIODICALLY CHECK
http://bgs.vermont.gov/purchasing/bids FOR ANY AND ALL NOTIFICATIONS, RELEASES AND
AMENDMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RFI.
This Request for Information (RFI) is issued by the Office of Purchasing and Contracting (OPC), on behalf of the
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (“Voc Rehab”) within the Vermont Agency of Human Services’ Department of
Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, in order to gather input and obtain information and cost estimates to
potentially inform a subsequent, separate, future Request for Proposals (“RFP”), which (RFP) will be to provide hearing
aids, and, potentially, related assistive devices, to individuals who are eligible under programs administered by Voc
The OPC intends to evaluate the submissions by respondents to explore how they would meet their needs and understand
the cost associated with proposed solutions. The OPC shall not be held liable for any costs incurred by the vendors in the
preparation of their submission, or for any work performed prior to contract issuance.
THIS IS A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) ONLY. This RFI is issued solely for information and planning
purposes – it does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future. This request for
information does not commit the State to contract for any materials or service whatsoever. Further, the State is not at this
time seeking proposals and will not accept unsolicited proposals. Respondents are advised that the State will not pay for
any information or administrative costs incurred in response to this RFI; all costs associated with responding to this RFI
will be solely at the interested party’s expense. Not responding to this RFI does not preclude participation in any future
RFP, if any is issued. If an RFP is released, it will be posted on the BGS bid opportunities web site:
http://www.bgs.state.vt.us/pca/bids/bids.php. It is the responsibility of the potential offerors to monitor this site for
The OPC retains the right to promote transparency and to place this RFI into the public domain, and to make a copy of the
RFI available as a provision of the Vermont access to public records laws. Please do not include any information in your
RFI response that is confidential or proprietary, as the OPC assumes no responsibility for excluding information in
response to records requests. Any request for information made by a third party will be examined in light of the
exemptions provided in the Vermont access to public records laws.
The solicitation of this RFI does not commit the OPC or the State of Vermont to award a contract. This RFI is for
information gathering purposes only and no vendor will be selected, pre-qualified, or exempted based upon their
2 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (“Voc Rehab”) within the Vermont Agency of Human Services’
Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living has, for many years, had a program that will purchase
hearing aids, with certain cost and eligibility criteria and limits, for individuals, where the provision of the hearing
aid or aids to the individual will assist the individual’s potential vocational prospects.
For purposes of Voc Rehab’s program, Vermont currently has three contracts, which will expire in April, 2020, with
hearing professionals, to supply certain make/ model hearing aids at discounts that are defined within the
Voc Rehab expects to want to put new contracts in place, and, as part of preparation for that, Voc Rehab wants to
take a fresh examination of possible ways in which these, and related, products might be sourced.
3 RFI/RFC DESCRIPTION
The State is seeking information on the following subjects:
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION:
The State of Vermont has for a number of years had in place contracts for hearing aids sourced through local
providers, at discounts defined in the contract, for eligible individuals. These have been a valuable resource
for the State and served constituents, through these contracts held by the Division of Vocational
Rehabilitation within the Vermont Agency of Human Services.
At the same time, the State is also interested in investigating additional options that might achieve greater
savings, such as sourcing devices through manufacturers and wholesalers, while at the same time recognizing
that local resources have a likely continuing and important role in delivery and support.
The State is also interested in learning of other hearing-assistive products (other than/ in addition to hearing
aids) that may also be of benefit to intended users.
The State is interested in exploring what options may be possible in sourcing devices (hearing aids and
auxiliary devices that can work with hearing aids) from manufacturers and wholesalers.
The State is interested in input from local providers as to approaches through which a wider cross-section of
local providers could source hearing assistance devices through the State contracts, with the local providers
still providing services connected with selection, fitting, and delivery of related services.
The State is interested in learning of what additional auxiliary devices may be useful in conjunction with
hearing aids (examples might be “Roger” pen or streamer neck loop devices - these are offered as potential
illustrations and not as limiting considerations) including but not only options through streaming and/ or
The State would like to know whether “T coil” should still be required for connectivity with other devices, or
whether the function of the T coil has been or soon will be superseded by technologies such as Bluetooth?
The State would like input on whether certain product lines (of hearing aids and/or other hearing-assistive
devices) are especially popular, and/or offer a high value-to-expense ratio, that Vermont should specifically
consider placing under contract. Additionally, if Vermont focused its contract on a certain spectrum of such
makes, product types, or product models, would it open up opportunities to ask for and receive greater
volume discounts on those product lines?
The State is interested in suggestions on how additional outreach can be conducted (by the State and/or by
private professionals in the hearing-related professions, or through other organizations or avenues) to
potentially-served constituents who may be eligible for but who may not yet know about the program.
The State is interested in suggestions of ways in which it could potentially recruit and possibly contract with
a broader cross section of licensed professionals more broadly geographically distributed throughout the
State who could help served constituents source the products that are under State contract.
REQUEST FOR COMMENT (“RFC”): A prior RFP on similar subjects is attached as “Appendix A”, and Voc
Rehab and the State would welcome comments and suggestions on additional or different content or approaches that
might help solicit bids (at the RFP stage) that could potentially broaden the range of products, services, and/or
providers, and/ or increase the cost-effectiveness of procurements under a forthcoming contract for hearing-assistive
devices, including but not only the topics listed immediately above.
4 CURRENT STATE
The current state is that the State has three contracts in place with service providers in several regions of the State, to
provide particular hearing aid products at discounts defined by those contracts.
The existing contracts can be found at the website of the Office of Purchasing & Contracting, under Statewide contracts:
and, more specifically, at:
5 STATEMENT OF WORK
5.1 ANTICIPATED REQUIREMENTS
The purpose of this RFI is to determine if there are solutions capable of meeting the State’s anticipated
requirements and to determine alternatives for meeting those requirements that are consistent with the overall
vision for Voc Rehab and the State.
The State’s discovery efforts to date have resulted in a desire to obtain access to solutions with the following
Please see and respond to the subjects contained in #3, RFI/RFC Description
6 REQUESTED INFORMATION
Each submission prepared in response to this RFI must include the elements listed below, in the order indicated.
The vendor, when presenting the response, must use the following outline:
• Cover Page
• Vendor Information
• Cost Estimates
• Business and Technical Requirements
• Suggestions for the State/ Voc Rehab potential forthcoming bid process and next RFP, to maximize the
range of options, delivery of service, and cost effectiveness of products that may be contracted-for as a
result of the next RFP.
6.1 COVER PAGE
The first page of the vendor’s RFI Response must be a cover page displaying at least the following:
• Response of RFI Title
• Vendor’s Name
• Contact Person
• Telephone Number
• Fax Number
• Email Address
All subsequent pages of the RFI Response must be numbered.
6.2 VENDOR QUESTIONNAIRE
Please provide your answers to the stated questions related to the project. Additional information may supplement your
answers and must be attached to the RFI response.
6.3 CONTACT INFORMATION
All communications concerning this Request for Information (RFI) are to be addressed in writing to the attention of:
Deborah Larose, State of Vermont, Office of Purchasing & Contracting, 109 State Street - Montpelier, VT 05609-3001.
Deborah Larose is the sole contact for this RFI Response. Attempts by RFI Responders to contact any other party could
result in the rejection of their RFI Response.
6.4 RFI RESPONSE SUBMISSION
CLOSING DATE: The closing date for the receipt of RFI Responses is 2:00 PM Friday January 24, 2020. Responses
must be delivered to: State of Vermont, Office of Purchasing & Contracting, 109 State Street - Montpelier, VT 05609-
3001 prior to that time. RFI Responses or unsolicited amendments submitted after that time will not be accepted and will
be returned to the vendor.
The responses will be received by purchasing at 109 State Street - Montpelier, VT 05609-3001 and will be passed on to
Voc Rehab for review.
RFI responses must include one (1) electronic copy on USB thumbdrive, and Three (3) Paper (hard copy)
responses must also be submitted. Paper copies must be bound with a staple, binder or other appropriate means
such that pages are not submitted loosely.
The electronic response made to the narrative portion of this RFI must be in Microsoft Word version 2007
compatible format, or PDF format.
6.5 EXPLANATION OF EVENTS
1. Issuance of RFI
This RFI is being issued by the Office of Purchasing & Contracting, Department of Buildings and General Services
Department. Additional copies of the RFI can be obtained from the State Purchasing Division web site
http://bgs.vermont.gov/purchasing or directly from the State Purchasing Agent.
2. Deadline for Written Questions
Potential respondents may submit questions regarding this RFI. Questions must be submitted in writing, by e-mail, to the
Purchasing Agent Deborah Larose at Deborah.Larose@vermont.gov subject: Hearing Aids RFI/ RFC responses due and
must be received by 3:00 PM Eastern Time on Friday January 17, 2020.
At the close of the question period a copy of all questions or comments and the State's responses will be posted on the
State’s web site http://bgs.vermont.gov/purchasing/bids. Every effort will be made to have these available as soon as
practicable after the question period ends, contingent on the number and complexity of the questions.
5. Review and Evaluation of Responses
The review and evaluation of responses to the RFI will be performed by Voc Rehab and their designees. The evaluation
process will take place the week following the response due date. During this time, the RFI Manager or other Voc Rehab
representatives may, at their option, initiate discussion with respondents for the purpose of clarifying aspects of their
6. Vendor Demonstration of Their Product