Vendors who would like to bid on city contracts for Grand Rapids, Michigan, must first register with the city’s Vendor Self Service portal. After registering, vendors will then begin to receive bid notifications for Invitations to Bid, Requests for Proposals and Request for Quotes. The portal also allows vendors to submit invoices and receive payment. Registering with the city is free and all a vendor needs to begin the registration process is either their tax identification number (TIN) or social security number. [i]
As part of the registration process, vendors are asked to select the NIGP commodity codes that match the business goods and/or services in their profile. The city’s purchasing department will then use these codes to send out invitation to bid notifications to the vendors. Those interested in submitting a proposal can then submit their responses electronically. [i]
The purchasing department’s goal is to find goods and services that are the best value to the city. As with all competitive bidding, cost is the most important factor the city will use to determine the winner of a bid. The purchasing department, however, will also consider quality, availability, service reliability and experience when deciding which vendor will be awarded a contract. [ii]
Purchases for all goods and services that exceed $10,000 require a competitive bidding process with sealed bids or proposals. However, purchases for goods that cost less than $2,500 may be purchased by selected city department personnel through price quotes. These quotes are solicited online, and a minimum of three informal quotes is required.[iii]
Types of Bids
Formal bids – Required for all goods and services that exceed $10,000. Bids will be posted on the Vendor Self Service (VSS) portal and responses should be submitted electronically. After the bid opening, all submissions will be evaluated and the agency will submit a purchase order to the winning bidder for the required goods and/or services.
Informal bids – Used for all goods and services valued at or below $10,000. Informal bids will also be posted to the VSS. As with Formal Bids, submissions are evaluated by the agency and purchase orders are issued to the winning bidder.
Emergency Purchase Orders – If an emergency situation arises, and with the consent of the Purchasing Director, city departments may solicit bids for supplies, materials and equipment without a formal bid process. Emergency purchases are made solely in order to protect the health, welfare or safety of Grand Rapid residents or to safeguard city property.
Department Purchase Orders – For small authorized purchases, the department’s personnel may post bids through WebProcure, or in writing. Responses must be submitted in the form of a quote with detailed and itemized listings of product or service, including description, quantity, unit price and extensions, as well as F.O.B. and freight terms. The department then evaluates all responses and issues a purchase order to the bidder meeting all specifications.
Master Agreements – Require a competitive bid process for goods and services a department would like to purchase at a fixed price for a certain time frame.
(City of Grand Rapids. Purchasing Department. Vendor Supplier Information. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2017)
Note that the city may require bid-security bonds and performance bonds to protect the city and make sure the work is fulfilled and in a timely manner.
Some bids may require the vendor to submit samples of products for department trials and use. It is imperative for vendors to fully read all bid documents to determine whether samples are required to be considered.
Micro-Local Business Enterprise
The City of Grand Rapids’ Micro-Local Business Enterprise (Micro-LBE) program was established to help local, small and emerging businesses compete for city contracts. To be certified as a Micro-LBE, vendors must fill out the Micro-LBE Certification Application. Micro-LBE status lasts for a period of nine years, and is subjected to annual review. To become certified, a business must meet the following criteria:
- Business must be operational for two full years prior to application.
- Business must be registered with the Federal Government’s Central Contractors Registry as a small business (SAM.gov).
- Business must be registered with the City of Grand Rapids.
- The principal place of business must be in operation for at least six months and located in Kent County.
- The business’s permanent number of employees or previous three year’s revenue must be less than 25% of the SBA’s NAICS industry small business standards.
- The controlling owner’s personal net worth must be equal to or less than $250,000, as determined for SBA (8a) status at the time of the application (note: for continued eligibility after admission, the net worth shall not exceed $750,000).
Along with the application, documentation of the above requirements must be submitted. Applications are typically processed within 45 days of the date received. Certified Micro-LBE vendors also have the added benefit of being eligible to participate in the city’s bid-discount program, established to help encourage businesses to engage in activities that match the city’s sustainability plan. Businesses that participate in the sustainability plan, promote a clean environment or employ city residents are rewarded with discounts.[iv]
As with most medium to large cities, Grand Rapids has a clearly defined and fairly complex bidding process. That being said, there are many benefits to becoming a vendor for the city. With the city’s Micro-Local Business Enterprise program and other programs designed to encourage certified and small, local businesses, there is more than enough reason to explore the bidding process in Michigan’s second-largest city.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com
[i] N.p. City of Grand Rapids. Purchasing Department. Vendor Supplier Information. Doing Business with the City of Grand Rapids. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2017
[ii] N.p. City of Grand Rapids. Purchasing Department. Vendor Supplier Information. Bid Evaluation and Award. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2017
[iii] N.p. City of Grand Rapids. Purchasing Department. Vendor Supplier Information. General Purchasing Policies. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2017
[iv] N.p. City of Grand Rapids. Equal Opportunity Department. Diversity and Inclusion. Supplier Diversity. Micro-LBEs. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2017