Named an ‘All American City’ four times by the National Civic League, the city of Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and home to more than 40 percent of the state’s population. Anchorage enjoys a relatively stable economic climate and has not experienced the marked economic downturns that other U.S. states and cities have experienced during the most recent economic crisis. Transportation services, military, tourism and government are the largest economic sectors of economic activity in Anchorage making it an excellent place for businesses both big and small to do business with the public sector.
Doing Business with the City of Anchorage
Anchorage’s purchasing department is responsible for acquiring goods and services as well as soliciting for construction projects through Invitations to Bid (ITB) and Request for Proposals (RFP). Through a competitive bidding process, the city encourages all qualified vendors to participate in the bidding process, especially small companies, disadvantaged businesses and MWBEs. The city can also award contracts based on local preference.
Vendors interested in working with the city of Anchorage must first complete and submit the Bidder's Mailing List Application. Anchorage requires vendors to include the commodity and service or professional service codes that are applicable to their business, as well as an Employer Tax ID or Social Security number, in all applications. Without this information applications will not be considered for approval.[i]
Anchorage’s Competitive Bidding Process
For any contracts valued over $50,000, a formal bid process is required in the form of an Invitation to Bid (ITB) or Request for Proposal (RFP). Solicitations are advertised on the Municipal Public Notices website for at least five days and on the current bidding opportunities page for a minimum of fourteen days. For ITBs, public bid openings are conducted; typically the vendor with the lowest bid will be awarded the contract (there may be preference to local businesses). In the case of RFPs, proposals will be evaluated and ranked and the submitter of the highest-ranked proposal will enter into negotiations with the issuing agency. This negotiation process will remain confidential until a contract is awarded.
For any bids valued at or less than $50,000, agencies are allowed to award a winner through an informal bid process. A Request for Quotation (RFQ) will be issued for small purchases of services and supplies or small construction projects, and the vendor with the lowest quote will win the award. At least three quotes will be sought and, again, preference to local businesses may be considered.i
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
Alaskan agencies who receive support from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Transit Administration have been given a mandate by the United States Department of Transportation to create a centralized process for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) that allows businesses to be certified under the program. As a result of this mandate, the Alaska Unified Certification Program (AUCP) was created by the Municipality of Anchorage in partnership with the Alaska DOT, the Public Facilities Civil Rights Office and a number of other agencies. [ii]
Eligibility Requirements for AUCP Certification Applicants
- Must be an existing For-profit business;
- Must meet federal requirements of being a small business based on primary NAICS codes;
- Annual gross receipts must not exceed $23.98 million over a three-year period;
- Must meet federal definition of socially and economically disadvantaged;
- Disadvantaged owner must be a U.S. citizen;
- Disadvantaged owner must hold 51% of ownership;
- Owner must control day-to-day operations and management of business;
- If work requires a professional license, the owner must be the holder of said license;
- Disadvantaged owner’s personal net worth cannot exceed $1.32 million;
- The disadvantaged business enterprise cannot rely on other businesses or individuals for its employees, equipment or other resources;
- Owners cannot engage in outside employment or business interests that may conflict with their management and control of the business they wish to submit a DBE application for.
(Source: Alaska Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities. Civil rights office. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. Eligibility Requirements. 2011.web. 12 Jan. 2017)
The Certification Process
Applications and supporting documents that prove eligibility must be sent to the Civil Rights Office. Applications usually take no more than 90 days after receipt to be reviewed and are reviewed in the order which they were received. After this process is completed, owners will be interviewed in person and an on-site inspection will be conducted; the Civil Rights Office representative will then draw up a summary that will be used to determine whether or not the business meets AUCP eligibility requirements.
If the business is awarded certification it will be allowed to participate in transportation-related contracts as a DBE and will be placed in the DBE directory. If a business is denied, they will receive notice with reason and will be given information on how to appeal the decision. If denied, the business’ appeal must be submitted directly to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Every year on the certification anniversary, DBE’s must submit an affidavit affirming that there are no changes to the business regarding size, disadvantaged status, ownership, control requirements, or material changes to the information provided in the application, as well as affirming the business still meets SBA business size criteria and overall gross receipts cap with supporting documents. If the affidavit is not received in a timely manner, the business will be deemed to have failed to cooperate. [iii]
Businesses looking to receive DBE certification in Alaska must be certified in their home state in order for the AUCP to consider them.
To be considered, businesses must:
- Provide the current valid certification from the home state;
- Provide a complete copy of the application form, supporting documents and any other information submitted in the home state, as well as any other states it is certified in;
- Provide affidavit of no change, any notices of changes that have been submitted in the home state and any correspondence between the business and the home state UCP, as well as correspondences and notices from other state’s UCP relating to application and certification in those states;
- Provide any documents relevant to denied certification or decertified status;
- If the business has filed an appeal, it must provide to Alaska UCP with the letter of appeal and DOT’s response.
- All DBE firms must have a State of Alaska professional license and/or certification before they are granted DBE certification in Alaska. Below is a list of examples for regulated professions:
- Construction Contractor – Alaska General or Specialty Contractor License
- Architectural and Related Services – Alaska Architecture License
- Engineering and Related Services – Alaska Civil Engineer License
- Electrical – Alaska Electrical Administrator
- Landscape Architect – Alaska Landscape Architect License
- Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) – Alaska Certified Erosion & Sediment Control Lead (AK-CESCL) Certificate
- Traffic Maintenance - ATSSA (Traffic Control Supervisor, American Traffic Safety Services Association) or IMSA (Work zone Safety Specialist, International Municipal signal Association)
- Mechanical HVAC – Alaska Mechanical Administrator License
(Source: Alaska Dept of transportation & public facilities. Civil rights office. AUCP Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Application. Interstate Certification. 8 Sep. 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2017)
Getting started in public sector contracting by bidding on city contracts has great benefits for businesses of all sizes, in particular for small businesses, MWBEs and DBEs. With Anchorage’s stable economic climate and a very active government purchasing community, the city is a perfect starting ground for businesses interested in working with the public sector.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com
[i] n.p. Municipality of Anchorage. Purchasing Department. n.d. web. 1 Dec. 2016)
[ii] N.p. Alaska Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities. Office of Equal Opportunity. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. 2011 web. 12 jan. 2017
[iii] N.p. Alaska Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities. Civil rights office. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. Certification Process. 2011.web. 12 Jan. 2017