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Outsourcing of Passport Services - Answers to Questions raised by interested Firms

Questions:

1. As per the estimates provided in the RFP document the Embassy of India & its Consulates in the US receive approximately 100,000 applications for passports and 30,000 applications for miscellaneous services on passport. We request the Embassy of India to provide us with the breakup of these volumes for respectively the Embassy of India, Washington; Consulates General of India in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston. This will enable us to rationalize the size and scale of operations for each Passport Application Centre. Further please clarify if the Embassy and its Consulates strictly follow the jurisdiction criterion while accepting applications.

      Applications for Passports received at the Embassy and the Consulates General:

1. Washington -  10,200:  2. New York – 33,000: 3.San Francisco – 21,400:
4.  Chicago      – 13,000:              5. Houston  -  15,300:
 
2. The RFP document states that currently the Embassy of India and its Consulates receive applications in person as well as through postal/ courier. Can you provide us with a ball park percentage of applications received in person and through postal/ courier? This will have a substantial bearing on our back office operations.

 Exact figures are not available.  The ratio of applications received in person and by post is broadly in the ratio of 40% to 60%, although there may be variations from one Consulate to another.

3. As per the RFP document, the Embassy of India reserves the right to engage one or two service provider. In case the Embassy engages two service providers, how will the volumes be distributed?

 No distribution is envisaged between service providers, if two are decided upon.  The applicants will have a choice to go to either service provider.

4. The Embassy of India already has an incumbent service provider providing visa, PIO, OCI and Surrender/ Renunciation services. Will the Embassy consider the incumbent to provide Passport Services through its infrastructure of Visa Application Centres? As per our understanding the RFP intends to attract separate bids for stand alone Passport Application Centres providing passport and miscellaneous services on passports. Kindly clarify?

The bids will be for separate Passport Application Centres, with separate staff.

5. The RFP entails the successful bidder to set up partial operations within 3 months from the award of the contract and full scale operations within 120 days from the award of the contract. Kindly elaborate on what the partial operations will entail?

 Partial operations refer to some of the Centers being in operation, while the rest continuing to be handled by the concerned Embassy/Consulate, during the transition period.

6. As per the RFP document, the service provider is required to remit the passport and miscellaneous services fees to the Embassy and its Consulates on the day the application is received. Does this entail remittance to the Embassy and its Consulates on the day the applications are submitted to the Embassy and its Consulates?

 Yes.

7. The RFP document states that “Applicants may include pre-paid return envelope for receiving passport/document back by mail. In case the envelope is not enclosed along with the application for service, the Agency may levy return mailing charges from applicants for sending applications/documents by mail, on actual cost basis. Any deviation from this principle should be with the prior approval of the Embassy of India.” Does this mean that it is mandatory for all applicants to receive pass back of passport/ documents post processing by mail/ courier and all applicants will mandatorily need to provide a return envelope or pay for the same in case they are not providing a return envelope? Can the service provider propose multiple options for mail/ courier so that the applicant may choose the mode of return delivery?

 This can be discussed further. We are willing to consider this, in principle.

8. As per our understanding in the current process, all applicants are required to fill up an online form (as available on the Embassy and its Consulate website).

a. Please confirm if online forms are mandatory or the applicants are allowed to fill up a manual paper form as well.
b. Is the Embassy/ Consulate able to retrieve the data entered in the online forms?
c. Will the Embassy allow the service provider to provide their own online forms on the service provider’s website?
d. When the online form is filled and printed out, there is an auto generated file number on the form. Does the Embassy or its Consulates want the same file number for file reference of the data file to be provided by the service provider?
e. What data is contained in the bar code at the bottom of first page of the form?
a. Yes, they are mandatory.
b. Yes.
c. No.
d. Yes
e. Details being obtained.

9. Is it mandatory for the service provider to offer 2 deliveries and pick up each day or the Embassy and its Consulates are open to a consolidated delivery as per time most convenient to the Embassy and its Consulates?

 Yes.  We would like two deliveries per day.

10. Are the Embassy and its Consulates open to have a dedicated postal hub for passport and miscellaneous services applications from across the US?

 No, we would like Service Centres at cities where our Embassy and Consulates are located.

11. Will the Embassy or its Consulates allow service provider personnel to fill up application forms on behalf of the applicant in the future? If yes, will it be regarded as a value added service that can be offered as an option on a chargeable basis (The charge being mutually agreed upon with the Service Provider and the Embassy of India)?

 No, this is not under consideration.

12. We request the Embassy of India to kindly provide us the daily call and e-mail volume for passport and miscellaneous services related queries for the Embassy and its respective Consulates.

 Volumes not available. A clear status page (to be established) on the website is expected to reduce volumes of such calls and emails, which are essentially related to status enquiries.

13. As stated in the RFP document, the Embassy of India, Washington DC shall arrange a pre-bid conference for bidders about the project under consideration, on February 22, 2011 (which is 15 days before the last date of submission of bids). Please advice the time and venue. Would we be required to send an official request with the list of attendees from our side?

 3:30 pm; Conference Room, Chancery-I, 2107 Massachusetts Ave., Washington DC 20008. All potential bidders are welcome to attend.  An email in advance will help us estimate numbers better. Another Pre-Bid Conference is scheduled for March 01, 2011 at the same time and venue.

14. Can the service provider increase the service charges proportionately with approval of the Embassy if there is change in the rate of local taxes i.e. VAT etc. during the tenure of the agreement?

 If a convincing case is presented due to such cases, the Embassy will be happy to look into it.

15. As per para 2 of the RFP the bidder has to submit two sets of bids, both technical and financial for following two cases;

(i) When one service provider is chosen
(ii)  When two service provider is chosen

Please clarify whether service provider can forward the bids together and measure to be adopted for distinguishing the bids for each case?

 Two Bids are to be sent separately, to ensure greater clarity.

16. What will be the parameter for finalizing the company (service provider)?

 As explained in the RFP, the companies qualifying on the basis of their technical bids, meeting the requisite threshold, will be considered for the financial bids.
 The financial bids of only those bids will be opened.

 The lowest financial bidder will then be selected.

17. The RFP states that the Embassy will accept questions up until March 8, the same date that proposals are due.  Would the Embassy prefer to receive all questions by an earlier date (such as March 1) so that answers can be composed and disseminated in advance of the proposal’s submittal date?

 It is unlikely that most bidders will leave any of their questions unanswered till the last day.  Our idea was not to close the doors on any questions that bidders might have, up to the last day.

18. May CD copies of proposals be submitted in PDF format (rather than MS Word format)?

 We would be willing to accept proposals in PDF format also, in addition, of course to hard copies.

19. As stated in RFP Section 2, “Either party may terminate the contract by giving two months advance notice of being unable to carry on the services any longer.”

This statement raises a concern that the Embassy could, at an early date, Terminate for Convenience, and put a Service Provider’s contract investment at risk of loss.

If the Embassy Terminates for Convenience, will a Service Provider have recourse to recoup the investment costs it has incurred?

 The Embassy has a stake in ensuring services without disruption.  Our past record speaks for itself.  The Embassy will not terminate the contract on frivolous grounds.

20. Is the Embassy of India seeking a single one-price-fits-all PRICE or FEE for all applications, regardless of application type or geographic location of service center facility?

 Yes. Bidders are expected to bid a single price, taking into account an average of the various costs involved, at various centres.

21. When proposing services in the Two-Service-Provider scenario, what assumptions should the bidders make about volumes and locations i.e.

(i) Should bidders assume that each Service Provider will process 50% of the total estimated applications (e.g. 50,000 passport applications and 15,000 applications for miscellaneous services on passports per year)? Or…
(ii) Should bidders assume that they will compete for applicants with the other Service Provider on the open market, and assume they should market themselves directly to service applicants on the open market?  Or…
(iii) Should bidders assume that the Embassy will allocate Embassy and Consulate offices to one or the other Service Provider, separately, based on geographic location?

(i) No. The ratio will be set by market conditions, including quality of service.
(ii) Yes. They will have to compete.
(iii) No. There will not be any geographic allocation for the winners, in the event of a decision to have two Service Providers.