Chapter 1: Basic Standards

1.1 Purpose

The procurement standards established by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Division for Blind Services (DBS) serve four separate but interrelated purposes.

First, procurement standards ensure that DBS maintains full compliance with applicable federal, state, and departmental purchasing requirements throughout the procurement process.

Second, procurement standards ensure that each contract service provider ("provider") receives accurate information about their obligation to meet

Third, procurement standards ensure that DBS consumers receive quality services to assist them in achieving their vocational rehabilitation or independent living goals.

Fourth, procurement standards ensure that taxpayer monies are spent wisely and that each purchase paid for with public funds represents full value to the taxpayer.

1.2 Division for Blind Services Standards

  1. DBS does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or veteran's status in the procurement of products or services.
  2. DBS shall maintain a written code of standards governing the performance of DBS employees engaged in the procurement of products or services.
  3. DBS shall develop and maintain written policies covering the nature and scope of each of the products and services it purchases and the criteria under which each purchase shall be performed.
  4. DBS shall use appropriate procurement methods in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations.
  5. DBS shall develop and maintain written policies to ensure best value purchasing practices based on a balance of quality, timeliness, cost, and service after the sale.
  6. DBS shall maintain procurement procedures designed to ensure that provider performance meets the terms, conditions, and specifications of each purchase.
  7. DBS policies shall ensure that consumer products and services are provided in accordance with individual plans jointly developed with each consumer.
  8. DBS shall provide each consumer the opportunity to make informed choices regarding the product or service being purchased and the provider who will supply the product or service.
  9. Full consideration of comparable services and benefits available to consumers must be considered by DBS staff and used before DBS funds can be expended to purchase consumer products and services.

1.3 Nondiscrimination

(Revised 04/09)

Federal laws and regulations protect the interests of certain groups. Cited below are brief summaries of the principal laws and regulations that place responsibilities on contract service providers. Each provider is expected to have current policies and be in full compliance with these laws and regulations.

1.3.1 Rehabilitation Act of 1973, As Amended

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of disability, be excluded from participation, be denied benefits, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

The goal of Section 504 is to eliminate discrimination based on disabling conditions. This law and its implementing regulations (34 CFR 104) apply to all organizations that receive federal funds. These regulations:

Section 101(A)(6) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that any state agency or contract service provider who receives federal funds must take affirmative action to employ, and advance in employment, qualified individuals with disabilities.

1.3.2 Title 8, Texas Human Resources Code

Title 8 of the Texas Human Resources Code states that the policy of the State of Texas is to encourage and enable persons with disabilities to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state, to achieve maximum personal independence, to become gainfully employed, and to otherwise fully enjoy and use all public accommodations available within the state. This law applies to all organizations that receive public funds in the state.

1.3.3 Article 5221K, Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (1983)

The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHR) addresses employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age.

TCHR functions as an investigative agency under contract with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC empowers TCHR to investigate and conciliate complaints of employment discrimination. In the event that conciliatory efforts fail, TCHR has the authority to file civil actions against both public and private employers.

1.3.4 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, Public Law 101-336, requires that all government agencies purchase products and services only from providers who comply with the intent and language of the ADA.

1.3.5 HIV and AIDS Workplace Guidelines

Each approved provider that employs staff must develop HIV/AIDS workplace guidelines. At a minimum, these guidelines must incorporate the model HIV/AIDS Workplace Guidelines developed by the Texas Department of Health as required by the Texas Health and Safety Code, Sec. 85.001 et seq.

1.3.6 Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964

(Added 11/10)

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L. 88.352) provides that no person in the United States will, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation, be denied benefits, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

1.4 Approval of Services

DBS does not license or certify providers. DBS does register providers to provide services to DBS consumers.

DBS contracts for the services described in this manual only from providers who are in full compliance with the appropriate standards in this manual. Each provider is required to undergo an approval process and to comply with periodic monitoring procedures to ensure compliance with these standards.

These standards apply only to services purchased by DBS.

1.5 Contract Service Providers

1.5.1 Applicable Standards

Contract service providers must be in full compliance with the standards in this chapter and with all contractual clauses in each contract.

Depending on the type(s) of services offered, contract service providers must also be in full compliance with the applicable standards included in other relevant chapters of this manual.

Revisions to these standards will be posted at least 30 days prior to the effective date. Contract service providers are expected to keep up with any changes that affect the services they are providing.

1.5.2 Professionalism

Contract service providers are expected to perform contractual services in a professional manner at all times.

Contract service providers are expected to:

Contract service providers are specifically prohibited from any activity involving or resulting in:

1.5.3 Conflict of Interest

Contract service providers and/or potential contract service providers may not offer, give, or agree to give DBS staff anything of value.

If a violation occurs, a service provider's current contract may be cancelled and/or a potential service provider may be disqualified from receiving a contract.

1.5.4 Service Provider's Standards of Conduct

Service providers must maintain and implement written standards of conduct for their own employees on terms at least as restrictive as the standards of conduct that apply to DBS staff.

DBS will examine a service provider's written standards of conduct during the evaluation of any procurement related action.

1.5.5 Enrollment Process for All New Providers

(Revised 09/10, 02/11, 12/12)

The DBS enrollment process can be started by DBS (to request a potential provider), or by a provider (to seek a contract with DBS).

The DBS regional program support specialist (RPSS), field director (FD), field specialist, and other program-support staff members work together to assess the region’s need for service providers, but the FD makes the final recommendation. If the prospective provider requests consideration for statewide services, the RPSS communicates with the appropriate field specialist for a statewide perspective.

Gathering Preliminary Information

To determine if a potential provider can meet a need, the RPSS gathers preliminary information about the provider including

Procedure for O&M or Diabetes Education Services

The RPSS delivers the preliminary information for a prospective new O&M and Diabetes Education provider to the manager of field specialists and the diabetes education field specialist. The specialist then

  1. reviews information and contacts the potential provider to determine if the provider is qualified and philosophically compatible with DBS;
  2. discusses services, and may ask the potential provider to attend DBS training; and
  3. informs the RPSS, FD, and CPSC contract specialist of the evaluation outcome.

The FD makes a final recommendation.

If the services are not needed (or the provider does not meet the regional needs), the RPSS informs the potential provider. The RPSS also notifies the appropriate field specialist or program lead for planning purposes.

If the services are needed, the RPSS contacts the Consumer Procurement and Client Services Contracting (CPCSC) contract specialist. CPCSC publishes a Notice of Provider Enrollment (NPE) for consumer services in the designated region or throughout the state.

New Provider Enrollment

RPSS

  1. contacts the prospective provider to communicate the processes and start enrollment by providing the
    • link to the Electronic State Business Daily site, DARS procurement standards and provider requirements,
    • Notice of Provider Enrollment criteria,
    • Vendor Maintenance and Direct Deposit and Substitute W-9 Form, which is located on the Provider Services page,
    • DARS2871, Contract Service Provider Staff Information Sheet, and
    • DARS1305, Child Support Certification.

Prospective Provider

  1. completes the enrollment packet,
  2. attaches all required documentation, and
  3. returns it to the RPSS for review.

RPSS

  1. conducts the appropriate vendor check (If the provider is on the debarment list, notifies the provider that DARS cannot enter into a contract.);
  2. reviews the enrollment packet and documentation using the NPE checklist, and requests any missing information or documents;
  3. after determining that the enrollment packet is complete and the prospective provider meets DBS minimum qualifications, forwards a copy of the W-9 to DARS CPCSC Provider Services for vendor set-up; and
  4. forwards the enrollment packet to the CPCSC contract specialist.

CPCSC Contract Specialist

  1. based on the provider’s proposed services, sends the provider’s contact information to the appropriate program leads so they can schedule needed additional screening, testing, or training:
    • for Assistive Technology Training, sends information to the Assistive Technology Unit (ATU) to schedule required trainer testing.
    • for Assistive Technology Facility-Based Evaluation, sends information to the ATU to schedule required testing. DBS must also conduct an on-site visit to ensure compliance with equipment and facility requirements before a contract is awarded.
    • for Job Readiness and Job Placement, sends information to the VR field specialist.
    • for Supported Employment, sends information to the VR field specialist.
    • for Vocational and Work Adjustment, sends information to the VR field specialist.
    • for Vocational Evaluation, sends information to the Vocational Diagnostic Unit.
    • for Diabetes Self-Management Education, sends information to the manager of field specialists to schedule required training.
    • for Orientation and Mobility, sends information to the DBS O&M field specialist to schedule required training.
    • for Independent Living Skills, sends information to the independent living field specialist for required screening.
  2. notifies the RPSS that the screening, testing, and training have been completed. (Required screening, testing, and training must be completed and approved by the field specialist or program lead before a contract is written.)

Completion of Contract

  1. The RPSS prepares the contract and submits it to the CPCSC contract specialist for review. Contract templates are located in the DBS folder of the Contract Management Toolbox.
  2. The CPCSC contract specialist approves the contract and returns it to the RPSS.
  3. The RPSS has the regional field director sign the contract and then mails a copy to the provider.
  4. The RPSS contacts the provider to set up a pre-work conference.
  5. At the prework conference, the RPSS informs the provider of
  6. The RPSS emails the CPCSC contract specialist to confirm that the pre-work conference was conducted and includes the date of the conference. He or she then mails the original contract to CPCSC Procurement.

After the contract is signed by both parties, the provider is allowed to solicit DBS staff members.

Note: The RPSS must maintain relevant documentation as identified in the Contracting Processes and Procedures Manual, Chapter 6: Consumer Contract Execution, 6.27 Procurement Record.

1.6 Organization and Administration

1.6.1 Organizational Structure

The contract service provider's organizational and administrative structure must contribute effectively to the achievement of its goals.

A provider that is organized as a corporation must have a board of directors that establishes policy on property, funds management, and operations. The corporation must maintain articles of incorporation and a certificate of incorporation (a charter) and must provide copies of all relevant documentation to DBS upon request.

A provider that is organized as a not-for-profit entity must maintain documentation of non-profit status and must provide copies of all relevant documentation to DBS upon request.

A provider that is organized as a sole proprietorship or partnership must provide copies of all relevant documentation to DBS upon request.

1.6.2 Relationship with DBS

It is expressly understood that:

1.6.3 Requirements for All Providers

(Revised 04/09)

The following requirements apply to all contract service providers.

Liability for Taxes

Each provider is responsible for paying applicable state and federal taxes in a timely manner. The provider may also be liable for self-employment (Social Security) taxes.

Auditing Requirement and Receipt of Funds

By entering into a contract with the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Division for Blind Services, each provider agrees that acceptance of funds under the contract acts as acceptance of the authority of the State Auditor's Office, or any successor agency, to conduct an audit or investigation in connection with those funds. Each provider further agrees to cooperate fully with the State Auditor's Office or its successor in the conduct of the audit or investigation, including providing all records requested. Each provider further agrees to ensure that this clause concerning the authority to audit funds received indirectly by subcontractors through the provider and the requirement to cooperate is included in any subcontract it awards.

Financial Records and Related Documentation

The provider must make any documents, papers, and records that are directly pertinent to the services being provided available to the DBS monitoring team and/or other authorized representatives.

Complaints

Upon request from the consumer, the contractor must provide the consumer with the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) where the consumer can file a complaint.

Communication Needs

Each provider shall coordinate with the consumer's counselor or case manager to ensure that all verbal and written communications between the provider and the consumer are conducted in the consumer's native language.

If interpreter services are needed, the provider is responsible for scheduling the needed services in a timely manner through the consumer's local DBS office.

All training materials must be available in a media that is appropriate to meet the individual needs of each consumer including but not limited to: regular print, large print, Braille, cassette tape, and speech diskette.

Transporting DBS Consumers

In general, transporting of consumers is discouraged and is not required while performing any Standards Manual service.

Auto Liability Insurance

Each provider who transports DBS consumers in a motorized vehicle must show, upon request, evidence of adequate auto liability insurance coverage as required by Texas state law.

Allegations or Incidents of Abuse, Exploitation, or Neglect

(Revised 05/08)

Texas law requires that allegations or incidents of abuse, exploitation, or neglect of persons with disabilities must be immediately reported to the local law enforcement agency. If a licensed professional is involved, the report must also be made to the appropriate professional licensure agency.

Facility-based providers must develop and maintain policies and procedures regarding the recognition and appropriate reporting of such allegations or incidents.

All contract service providers are required to

1.6.4 Additional Requirements

(Revised 07/09, 03/11, 01/12)

The following requirements apply to contract service providers who have staff and/or who operate a facility.

Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

Each provider must have adequate and appropriate written policies and procedures to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse.

Insurance Coverage

Each provider who operates from a permanent location (with the exception of state agencies which are self-insured) must have liability insurance coverage that protects DBS consumers, employees, and visitors.

Each provider who pays wages to a DBS consumer for work performed must be in compliance with current Workers' Compensation law.

Wage Exemption Certificate

When wages paid to a DBS consumer for work performed are less than the statutory minimum, the provider must have a Wage Exemption Certificate (WH-228) from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Documenting Staff Qualifications

Each provider must have appropriate documentation on file for all personnel (including the provider's director) who provide services directly to DBS consumers.

At a minimum, required documentation for each individual must include:

Documenting Staff Changes

Before providing services to DBS consumers, each provider must complete and submit a DARS2871, Contract Service Provider Staff Information Sheet to CPCSC when

If a provider's employee who provided contract services to DBS consumers terminates employment, the provider must

CPCSC forwards any staff change requests to the RPSS for approval. CPCSC retains copies of all requests in the DBS contract files. The RPSS informs CPCSC of provider staff changes as they occur.

Affirmative Action

Each provider must demonstrate affirmative action to employ, and advance in employment, qualified individuals with disabilities.

Posting the DBS Toll-Free Number

Facility-based providers must post the DBS toll-free number (800-628-5115) in an easily-accessible location within their facility.

The phone number must be posted in both large print and Braille. The posting must clearly indicate that the number may be used by consumers to reach DBS staff during normal operating hours (Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except holidays).

Suspension from Training

If a consumer is suspended from training, the provider must notify the consumer's counselor or case manager within 24 hours. The counselor or case manager will make the final decision about terminating the consumer's participation in training.

Valid reasons for suspending a consumer from training include:

1.7 Records

(Revised 04/09)

1.7.1 Consumer Case Records

Contract service providers must maintain a current case record for each consumer. The case record must detail the provision of purchased services and must adequately document the relationship between purchased service(s) and achievement of the consumer's goal(s).

1.7.2 Confidentiality of Consumer Records

Contract service providers must maintain

At all times, contract service providers must ensure that (a) consumer information is used only for fulfilling contractual responsibilities, and (b) consumer information is not released to any other person, agency, or organization.

Contract service providers must develop and maintain a confidentiality policy statement and must establish procedures that restrict access to confidential consumer-related records and information. This provision must not be construed to limit the right of DBS staff members or other authorized representatives to access consumer case records or other information relating to DBS consumers who receive products or services purchased under the contractual agreement.

Contract service providers must take appropriate action to provide physical safeguards for confidential records and ensure that confidential records are available only to authorized staff members. Consumer case records must be stamped or marked CONFIDENTIAL on the front and back and must be stored under lock and key in a location with maximum protection against fire, water damage, and other hazards.

Contract service providers must ensure that all consumer records are properly shredded at the end of the required retention period (see Records Retention below) and before disposal.

1.7.3 Records Maintenance

The contract service provider's programmatic, financial, and supporting records must be:

1.7.4 Records Retention

(Revised 10/09)

Contract service providers must retain all programmatic, financial, and supporting documents (including statistical records and other records or reports pertinent to the services provided to DBS consumers) for a minimum of three years or until

1.7.5 Production of Records

(Revised 10/09)

At DBS' discretion, contract service providers must bring requested materials and records to the DBS office for monitoring, review, and other related purposes.

Contract service providers must make available any contract-related books, documents, papers, records, or other information to certain agencies or entities that need them to

These agencies or individuals include

1.8 Environmental Standards for Facility-Based Providers

(Revised 04/09)

1.8.1 Accessibility Requirement

DBS purchases products and services only from providers who comply with the intent and language of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law requires that services must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Contract service providers, therefore, must provide services to DBS consumers in a location that meets ADA accessibility standards. The location may be owned, operated, or controlled by the provider or it may be some other public or private location that meets ADA accessibility standards.

If the contract service provider's primary place of business does not meet accessibility standards, the provider must provide a written explanation of how services will be offered in an accessible manner to persons with disabilities.

1.8.2 Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board has issued ADA Accessibility Guidelines that have been adopted by the Justice Department as Appendix A to the Americans with Disabilities Act Title III rules.

1.8.3 ADA Accessibility Guidelines

All services purchased by DARS DBS for its consumers must be provided in an accessible manner.

Effective June 1, 2000, each provider subject to DARS DBS standards must provide the results of a self-evaluation along with a written explanation, if necessary, of how its services are provided in an accessible manner

For a sample of a self-evaluation instrument, see The U.S. Department of Justice, Checklist for Readily Available Barrier Removal.

If DARS DBS receives a complaint about the accessibility of the services of a particular provider, DARS DBS investigates to determine whether contract terms have been violated.

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board has issued ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities covered by ADA Titles II and III. These guidelines are adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice as Appendix A to its ADA Title III rules.

For more information, see ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

To obtain a copy of the ADAAG or other information from the U.S. Department of Justice, call 1-800-514-0301 Voice, (202) 514-0381 TTY, or 1-800-514-0383 TTY. For technical questions, contact the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board at 1-800-USA-ABLE.

In addition, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation administers the state Architectural Barriers Act, Article 9102, Texas Civil Statutes. The Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) are based on the ADAAG and apply to buildings and facilities constructed on or after April 1, 1994.

For more information, see the Texas Accessibility Standards.

To purchase copies of the TAS, contact

Office of the Secretary of State Texas Register Division
PO Box 13824
Austin, Texas 78711-3824
(512) 463-5561
(512) 463-5569 Fax
1-800-735-2989 (TDD)

1.8.4 Safety Program

Each provider with a facility must design and maintain a safety program that ensures continuing attention to the health and safety of DBS staff members, consumers, and the visiting public.

The plan must include

In addition, each provider must have an incident reporting system in place including a form for staff members to use to report incidents.

The incident report form must include at least the following information:

Upon request, copies of incident reports pertinent to DARS DBS consumers must be made available to DARS DBS staff members.

The following incidents must be reported to the referring DARS DBS counselor and liaison counselor by the close of business the next working day following an incident.

1.8.5 Building Occupancy Codes

Contract service providers must ensure the environmental safety of each location where they provide services. The service locations must comply with local building occupancy codes. Providers must give documentation of compliance to the DARS DBS staff members upon request at the time of the original approval and whenever the physical plant location changes. A provider who rents should contact his or her landlord for the documentation.

1.8.6 Local Fire Codes

Each facility-based provider must

A provider who rents must contact his or her landlord for the appropriate documentation.

In the absence of a local fire code, or at the discretion of the DBS liaison counselor, an inspection by the fire marshal with jurisdiction is required.

Most fire departments conduct inspections but need advance notice to schedule an appointment. If the local fire department does not conduct inspections, you may request an inspection from the

Texas Department of Insurance
State Fire Marshal's Inspection Services Division
333 Guadalupe Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 305-7900

1.8.7 Reporting Fires

Facility-based providers must have a written policy to report all fires at the facility to the DARS DBS liaison within one working day.

1.8.8 Fire Warning Signals

Visible and audible fire warning signals must be in all areas where services are provided. The signals must be interrelated so that when the audible signal sounds, the visible signal is initiated simultaneously. The signals may be activated by a manual switch or by an automatic control designated for this purpose. Smoke detectors are also required and may be integrated into the system.

1.8.9 Consumer Instructions

Providers must give all clients or DBS consumers instructions in safe work practices. The instructions must be documented in the client or consumer case file.

1.8.10 Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers must be properly serviced and maintained, inspected annually, and placed in an accessible location.

1.8.11 Fire Escapes

Fire escape routes must be free and clear of obstructions and properly identified. Rapid departure of persons with mobility impairments must be considered. Fire doors must be functional.

1.8.12 Designated Smoking Areas

Smoking areas must be designated.