DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Bureau of Women, Infants and Children Program; Request for Information
[49 Pa.B. 783]
[Saturday, February 16, 2019]
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, created by section 17 of the Federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C.A. § 1786) and implemented by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 7 CFR Part 246 (relating to Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), serves income eligible pregnant, breastfeeding or postpartum women, infants and children up to 5 years of age who are at nutritional risk because of medical problems or poor diets. The WIC Program provides eligible individuals with nutrition education and nutritious foods to supplement their diets during critical stages of growth and development. The USDA has delegated to the Department of Health (Department), the responsibility of effectively and efficiently administering the WIC Program in this Commonwealth. See 7 CFR 246.3 (relating to administration). Regulations governing the WIC Program in the Commonwealth are codified in 28 Pa. Code Chapter 1101 (relating to general provisions). The Department administer's the Commonwealth's WIC Program with the assistance of local agencies located throughout this Commonwealth. See 7 CFR 246.5 (relating to selection of local agencies); 28 Pa. Code § 1101.3 (relating to administration).
Local agencies are public or private nonprofit health or human service agencies that provide health services, either directly or through contract, in accordance with 7 CFR 246.5. Under 28 Pa. Code § 1101.3, local agencies determine whether participants meet eligibility criteria developed by the Department, develop food prescriptions for participants, provide nutrition education to participants, provide referral information regarding ongoing health services, issue WIC checks to participants to purchase allowable foods and ensure that all participants are served without discrimination.
Historically, the Department, under direction from the USDA, has selected local agency providers by means of a sole source procurement process resulting in a sole source contract. Sole source contracts are contracts that are entered into without a competitive bidding process and require a justification. The required justification for sole source contracts has rested largely on the extensive resources needed to assist and operate the local agency providers. However, technological advances over the last 10 years have brought costs in line with other services that have long been subject to the competitive bid process. Additionally, the USDA indicated during the last grant award cycle that it would no longer support the approval of sole source contracts.
In addition, a 2014 Management Evaluation conducted by the USDA to evaluate the WIC Program organization and management concluded that to be in compliance with procurement regulations WIC should ''consider using a competitive procurement process in its selection of local agencies moving forward in order to most effectively and efficiently operate the Program.''
Based upon the previously listed facts, along with the Commonwealth's commitment to providing fair business opportunities, illustrated by recent revisions to Grant Management Directive 305.20 and by the new Non-Solicitation Award process, the Department has decided that sole source contracts will no longer be a viable option for the Commonwealth's local agency contracts during the next grant cycle in 2020.
The competitive bid process begins with a Request for Information (RFI). RFI documents may be accessed at http://www.emarketplace.state.pa.us/Solicitations.aspx?SID=67-19-01.
The Commonwealth's WIC Program is funded by the USDA. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider.
Persons with a disability who require an alternative format of this notice (for example, large print, audiotape, Braille) should contact Jay Mast, Department of Health,Bureau of Women, Infants and Children (WIC), 625 Forster Street, Health and Welfare Building, 7th Floor West, Harrisburg, PA 17120, (717) 783-1289, or for speech and/or hearing-impaired persons, call the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD users) or (800) 654-5988 (voice users).
RACHEL L. LEVINE, MD,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 19-221. Filed for public inspection February 15, 2019, 9:00 a.m.]
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