The California Court of Appels offered a good explanation
Today’s post is our archives at SafeSourcing.
The California Court of Appeals offered a good explanation of the difference between responsive and responsible. “A bid is ‘responsive’ if it promises to do what the bidding instructions demand; a bidder is ‘responsible’ if it can perform the contract as promised.” 
Non-responsibility is determined based on whether the bidder can actually fulfill the Invitation to Bid (ITB). Does the company have the necessary facilities and delivery capabilities to fulfill the required products? Determining if a vendor is responsible would have you assessing if the bidder is capable of fulfilling the products as specified, not if the bid itself meets the specifications.
Every ITB has product specifications, terms, and deliverables that each bidder must abide by. For a bidder to be considered non-responsive, they will not conform or meet one or any of these requirements. When determining if a bid is responsive, you would assess if the bid offered meets the product specifications, terms, and deliverables; not at how well the bidder will actually perform.
When a bidder is categorized as non-responsive there are normally three steps. First, you will notify the bidder with indications of their non-responsibility. Second, the bidder will be given the opportunity to contest those indications. Finally the bidder should be permitted to present evidence that they are qualified to fulfill the products.
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