Little Rock is both the capital of Arkansas and the state’s biggest city, home to a population of nearly 200,000. Little Rock is known as a cultural, economic, governmental and transportation hub for Arkansas and the southern states in general. Recognized by Forbes as a great place to do business, Little Rock is a welcoming market for vendors to begin bidding on local government contracts.
Doing Business with the City of Little Rock
The city of Little Rock Purchasing Division is in charge of securing all materials, supplies, equipment and related services required by the city’s various departments. Vendors who are interested in bidding on city contracts must first register with the Little Rock Supplier Registration portal.
How Little Rock Purchases Goods and Services
Purchases valued between $2,500 and $25,000 must be awarded via a competitive solicitation process, where a minimum of three informal written quotations must be received either electronically, by fax or by mail. Purchases valued at more than $25,000 (or $20,000 for construction) require a formal bidding process through Invitations for Bids or Requests for Proposals. Bid notices are published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; the Daily Record; the city of Little Rock website; City Access Channel 11 and the Purchasing Division Office. Any bid awards valued at $50,000 or more must be approved by Little Rock’s Board of Directors.[i]
City of Little Rock: Bid Limits
- Purchases of $100 or less: Will be purchased at the best available price on the open market with petty cash.
- Purchases between $100.01 and $1000: Will be purchased at the best available price on the open market with a petty charge. Purchases may not be split to avoid competitive bidding, and the goods or services must be reviewed before buying to see if a contract vendor can provide it instead. If so, the goods must be purchased from the contract vendor.
- Purchases of $1000 or more: Must be issued through a Purchase Order.
- Purchases up to $42,499.99: Must be purchased through buyer discretion, meaning the buying department can decide if it’s in the city’s best interest to accept a quote or not.
- Purchases between $2,500 and $19,999 (for construction): Require a minimum of three quotes.
- Purchases between $2,500 and $24,999.99 (for goods and services): Require a minimum of three written quotes.
- Purchases of $25,000 or more: Must be formally advertised at least once and require a sealed bid to be submitted. Bids will be opened between seven and thirty days after the advertisement of the opportunity was published. Construction bids worth more than $20,000 require two advertisements to be published one week apart, and will be opened not less than seven days after the second advertisement runs. Purchases of goods or services valued at $50,000 or more require approval from the City Board.
(Source: City of Little Rock. Purchasing Division. Bid Limits. n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017)
Construction contracts worth between $2,500 and $19,999.99 and goods and services contracts worth between $2,500 and $24,999.99 require quote bids to come from at least one African-American owned business and one Woman owned business, in addition to other quotes received.[ii]
Bonding and Insurance Requirements
Construction projects valued at more than $20,000 require a bid security, performance bond and proof of liability insurance before work can begin. City departments also have the right to impose bonding requirements for any project, regardless of the project’s value.ii
Bid Process Exceptions
The following exceptions to the bid process are permitted:
- Emergency Procurement: Purchases can be made without a competitive bid process when property, life, health or public safety is in jeopardy. In these cases, a letter stating the nature of the emergency must be submitted with the bid request.
- Sole Source Procurement: This exception can be invoked when only one vendor is able to provide the goods or services needed. Sole source purchases must be justified and approved by the purchasing agent, city manager and Board of Directors.
- Performance Capability (Sole Source): A sole source may be used if the purchase needs to meet performance requirements of existing goods or services.
- Participation in State Contracts: Little Rock is authorized to participate in all state contracts and if the city requires goods or services that can be found on a state contract, then no bidding process is required at the city level.
- Board Exception: In exceptional situations, the Little Rock Board of Directors can waive a formal bid process if they feel it’s not feasible.
(Source: City of Little Rock. Purchasing Division. City of Little Rock Bid Process Exceptions. n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017)
Bidding on city contracts is a great way for vendors to enter the world of government contracting. For many vendors, the transition from private sector to public sector contracting is fairly easy. Most agencies actively look for local vendors to procure goods and services from, so after working with one agency, vendors often find themselves receiving notifications about upcoming contracts in their area of expertise.
Bidding services such as BidNet allow vendors to receive targeted bid notifications every day, and to benefit from having more opportunities to choose from than just by being listed on a bidders list.
When you’re ready to get started with government bidding, make sure you know what is required in order to bid on the government contract you’re interested in. The more information you have, the more prepared you’ll be to succeed in your endeavors.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com
[i] n.p. City of Little Rock. Purchasing Division. How the City of Little Rock Buys. n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017
[ii] n.p. City of Little Rock. Purchasing Division. Bid Limits. n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2017