GOODS & SERVICES BID PROCESS
The Purchasing staff is responsible for the purchasing process and that they are in accordance with District, State and Federal guidelines. The staff provides information, specifications, quotations, preparing formal and informal bid packages, preparing bid tabulations and awarding contracts as related to the purchasing process.
Funds that are considered to be subject to bid law are funds received from sources such as taxation, state or county appropriations, and some grants. With the exception of contracts for public works whose competitive bidding requirements are governed exclusively by, Title 39, Chapters 1-8, Code of Alabama (1975) all contracts of whatever nature for labor, services, work, or for the purchase or lease of materials, equipment, supplies, other personal property or other nonprofessional services, involving fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) or more, made by or on behalf of any state department, board, bureau, commission, committee, institution, corporation, authority, or office shall, be let by free and open competitive bidding, on sealed bids, to the lowest responsible bidder.
Written Specifications: It is important for the requesting department to write specifications that correctly fulfill their needs. Specifications are the basis by which vendors prepare their bids. Specifications should be functional describing performance and design. Care should be taken not to intentionally or needlessly specify features or functions that may mislead a vendor or limit the purchase to one vendor. Departments are urged to contact purchasing when in need of assistance.
RFP’S: If goods or services do not have standardized specifications or have complex requirements, use the Request for Proposal (RFP) competitive sourcing process. A Request for Proposal (RFP) is an invitation to vendors to submit a written offer to supply services. The RFP will require the vendor to define the specific financial and/or service commitments that comprise the offer. Purchasing makes the RFP available to multiple vendors to review and respond with a proposal. Evaluation of competing proposals is based on various criteria, heaviest weighted should be price.
Awards: The purpose of bidding is to purchase goods and services through fair competition. Awards are made to the bidder(s) whose bid complies with specifications, terms, conditions and any other requirements stipulated in the bid and are the best value to the District. These awards are limited to a contract period of 5 years.
Ethics: To foster fair, ethical and legal trade practices, the purchasing department adheres to the ethical standards of the Purchasing profession. These standards call for granting all suppliers equal consideration insofar as State, Federal, and District policies permit. No gratuities shall be accepted. These standards and civil statutes bind all district employees. It assures the purchasing of quality goods and services in a fair competitive environment.
For additional information on Ethics guidelines for officials and employees, please visit the website Guidelines Public Officials & Employees.
BID PROCESS ALTERNATIVES
Sole Source Procurement: Sole source procurement refers to those purchases where there's only one supplier that provides the product. Usually these are unique products that you cannot find anywhere but only thru one supplier/manufacturer. With proper documentation, sole source purchases are exempt from bid law requirements. A letter from the vendor stating that they are the only provider for the type of product is usually not enough.
Purchasing Cooperatives: Purchasing Cooperatives are a type of cooperative arrangement to agree to aggregate demand to get lower prices from selected suppliers. It is often used by government agencies to reduce costs of procurement. Purchasing Cooperatives are used most frequently by governmental entities, since they are required to follow laws requiring competitive bidding above certain thresholds. Counties, municipalities, schools, colleges and universities in the majority of states can sign an agreement or contract that allows them to legally use a contract that was procured by another governmental entity. This form of procurement is not currently allowed under public works law; this is only applicable to competitive bid law.