The Purchasing Division of the San Antonio government is the point of contact for businesses looking for contract opportunities with the city. Responsible for the procurement of all goods and services for the various departments of city government, the Purchasing Division is the only government department in San Antonio that can issue contracts over $3,000. For government purchases valued at over $50,000, the Purchasing Division issues solicitations that require City Council approval before vendors can bid on them. [i]
Working with Vendors
An important goal of the San Antonio Purchasing Division has been to develop an inclusive procurement system for all interested vendors. By creating various guidelines and initiatives, San Antonio has created a system that is mutually beneficial for city departments and vendors.
- By implementing a strong outreach program that includes traditional and digital advertising, the Purchasing Division is focused on developing a procurement system that maximizes vendor participation.
- To maintain strong relationships with all vendors the Purchasing Division has simplified its procurement process by including clear specifications and all necessary information in each bid.
- The Purchasing Division takes all necessary steps to maintain a fair bidding process for all participants by providing open correspondence with vendors throughout the entire process.
Vendors who encounter any problems, including contract and payment issues, with the department they have contracted with can reach out to the Purchasing Division for their assistance in working out a resolution. [ii]
Six Types of Awards
There are six different award types that the San Antonio Purchasing Division uses when procuring goods. Each has its own set of rules that determine which award type is to be used and how it will be awarded:
- Request for Price Quote (RFPQ) – for one time purchases of goods and non-professional services that are valued at more than $3,000 but no more than $50,000.
- Invitation for Bids (IFB) Informal –for annual contracts for goods and non-professional services that are valued at more than $3,000 but no more than $50,000.
- Invitation for Bids (IFB) Formal –for annual contracts for goods and non-professional services with a value exceeding $50,000.
- Request for Competitive Sealed Proposal (RFCSP) – for solicitations issued involving technology, insurance and non-professional services that are valued above $50,000 and involve additional factors beyond price that are considered for the award.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) – for consulting services and revenue-generating contracts where price is not the only deciding factor for the award. When bidding on a RFP the vendor is expected to provide innovative ideas for the service requested.
- Request for Qualifications (RFQ) – primarily for architectural, landscape architectural, engineering, and land surveying service contracts, am RFQ can also be used for consulting service awards where price is not a primary concern.
The winning bid for three of these award types (RFPQ, IFB Informal and IFB Formal) is determined based on the lowest price. Both RFCSPs and RFPs are awarded based on multiple factors, including price, while RFQ winners are chosen based on skills and qualifications only, leaving price out of the decision. [iii]
The Bid Selection
Once all submissions have been made for a bid, the Purchasing Division evaluates each one to identify the best price offered, as well as which offer represents the best value for the city. When determining the value of a bid, multiple factors are taken into consideration: a vendor’s financial strength, management team, service capabilities, ethical standards and ability to provide materials and/or services are just a few of the factors considered. Of course, the vendor must also be legally eligible to receive the award under applicable laws and regulations.
In cases where an award is for goods and nonprofessional services that exceed $50,000, the award must also be approved by the City Council. To be considered by the City Council the winning bid must be both the lowest submitted price, and be determined to be a ‘best value’ purchase for the city.
For any award exceeding $3,000, once the Purchasing Division determines a winning vendor, that vendor will be contacted directly by letter from the Purchasing Division. Vendors should keep in mind that only the Purchasing Division can issue an official an award notification and that any other notification or communications regarding to the award may not be accurate. [iv]
Vendors who are looking for bid opportunities with the city of San Antonio should make sure to check for new opportunities on a regular basis. The Purchasing Division is constantly posting opportunities for over 40 government departments, including DHS, Fire, Housing services, solid waste management, Community Development and Downtown Operations. In the past 6 months bids have been posted for everything from landscaping to strategic planning for airport services, showing that there are opportunities for all businesses looking to work with the municipal government of San Antonio. [v]
Kevin McClintock | BidNet.com