The purpose of this policy is to maintain strong business practices, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and promote the best possible value in the sourcing of products and services at the University. This policy promotes access for suppliers to competitive opportunities by requiring that either bids be obtained for goods and services or that appropriate justification is provided when a competitive process is not followed.
All products and services purchased by RIT require solicitation and/or analysis of competitive proposals, bids or price quotations whenever possible. Additional requirements for competitive sourcing may apply for purchases made in association with a sponsored award or grant. Sponsors may impose additional requirements and recipients must ensure compliance. Specific guidance for purchases made in association with a Federal award or grant is detailed in the Federal Funds Procedures.
Competitive Bid Requirements
Purchases up to $9,999 require only one quote/proposal. Competitive bids are not required.
Purchases $10,000 - $249,999 require multiple (three or more) written quotes or proposals from qualified sources.
Purchases above $250,000 require multiple (three or more) written formalized bids from qualified sources obtained through either a Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) process depending on the goods or services being procured (further described below).
*Note: For all transactions that require Formalized Bids, the department is encouraged to consult with Procurement Services once a RFQ/RFP has been drafted. PSO will work with the department to ensure the process is completed in accordance with University policy and applicable Federal guidance and regulations.
Small Dollar Purchases (<$10,000)
For the purchase of goods and/or services whose aggregate dollar threshold does not exceed the $10,000 competitive sourcing threshold, multiple quotes are not required but the requester should seek to ensure that the price is considered to be fair and reasonable. Fair and reasonable pricing is based on supply and demand, market indices and general market conditions. Therefore, departments should utilize their own knowledge of the industry, sector and its pricing, as well as all available resources such as:
previously proposed prices
pricings found in published journals, advertisements, internet sites and auctions
Informal Quotes/Proposals (<$250,000)
The identification and selection of appropriate suppliers from which competitive bids/quotes/proposals can be obtained can be accomplished through a variety of acceptable methods. Ultimately, the goal is to enlist those suppliers that have the products, capabilities, deliverability, service levels, expertise, resources and knowledge of the University environment that will afford a successful outcome for the University stakeholder(s). Procurement Services maintains a listing of recommended and approved suppliers in the Commodity Categories and Suppliers section on its web page. A pricing analysis should be completed using the Price Summary Form. Supplier quotes/proposals should be reviewed to determine if the most competitive pricing has been offered. If a supplier other than the lowest price is selected, a justification is required to indicate the specific rationale. This form provides a record of the selection process and should be attached to the requisition as supporting documentation.
University-Wide Purchase Agreements
Procurement Services has competitively bid and negotiated contracts on behalf of the University that provide the best overall value for many commonly used supplies and services. The requestor should consult the Commodity Categories and Suppliers on the PSO web page to determine if the product and/or service can be obtained through one of these contracts prior to soliciting competitive bids. Note: Contact the sourcing specialist if using federal funds to verify compliance with Uniform Guidelines.
Request for Quotation (RFQ) (>$250,000)
When goods or services have standard or easily compared specifications and pricing is the main component, the competitive sourcing process best employed is a Request for Quote (RFQ) process. The RFQ process entails requesting and obtaining written quotes from potential suppliers that include a full description of the goods and/or services and any other specifications/requirements provided by the requester. Specifications must be clear and describe the technical requirements for the material, product or service. The description should include the range of acceptable characteristics or minimum acceptable standards and not contain features which unduly restrict competition. As a last resort, “brand name or equivalent” may be used provided that the required performance and other functional requirements are identified clearly. Potential suppliers should not participate in the development of specifications or they will be disqualified from participation in the process. Quotes should include the unit cost, extended cost, and other associated costs such as delivery costs. It is important to note that when requesting quotes from potential suppliers, they must be presented in writing on the company’s letterhead. Verbal bids are not accepted under any circumstances.
All price quotations received are to be evaluated on the basis of compliance to provided specifications/requirements, other communicated factors such as quality of goods/services and customer service support, and, ultimately, cost. It is important that when comparing prices to determine fair and reasonable pricing that the evaluation of the goods and services must be evaluated using the same criteria for each bidder. Bids or price quotations that are deemed unresponsive (e.g. missing key requested information, submitted after requested deadline) must be rejected and not considered by the requester.
For the RFQ process a contract award must be based on the provision by the suppliers of the specified products or services. There should not be any variability in the product or service offering from suppliers in an RFQ. If all factors are equal (i.e. delivery schedule, freight costs, return policies, warranty’s, etc.) then the lowest priced supplier must be awarded the contract. A Price Summary Form should be completed to provide a record of the selection process and be attached to the requisition as supporting documentation. If a supplier other than the lowest price is selected, a justification is required to indicate the specific rationale.
Request for Proposal (RFP) (>$250,000)
When goods, and particularly services are complex and do not have standardized specifications, the competitive sourcing process best employed is the Request for Proposal (RFP) process and the following conditions apply:
multiple solutions are available that will fit the need
multiple suppliers can provide the same solution
there is a requirement to determine the “best value” of the suppliers available solutions
products/services for the project cannot be clearly specified
different skills, expertise and technical capabilities are required from the suppliers
lowest price is not the only determining criterion for awarding the contract
The Request for Proposal (RFP) / Competitive Proposal Process brings structure to the procurement decision through establishment of a document outlining requirements, articulation of evaluation criteria including relative importance, and often formal communication activities such as a pre-bid meeting/conference to clarify requirements. An RFP should include both standard University requirements and requirements specific to the product/service being sought. Specifications must be clear and describe the technical requirements for the material, product or service. The description should include the range of acceptable characteristics or minimum acceptable standards and not contain parameters which unduly restrict competition. Potential suppliers should not participate in the development of requirements or they will be disqualified from participation in the process.
Procurement Services has established a standard RFP template for this type of request which is available on the PSO website under FORMS. The PSO is available to help develop the RFP and/or identify qualified suppliers when needed as well as assist in evaluation of proposals once received.
After proposals are received, evaluated and terms negotiated, the contract(s) can be awarded to the supplier(s) presenting the best combination of price, delivery, compliance to specifications, capacity to perform, and quality of service. A proposal evaluation matrix that assigns weighted values for each criterion identified for a particular RFP should be used for the selection process and provided with the purchase requisition.
Confidentiality of Bids/Quotations/Proposals
All information supplied by vendors in their bid, quotation or proposal must be held in strict confidence by the employee(s) evaluating, approving or discussing the bid, quotation or proposal and may not be revealed to any other vendor or persons that are directly or indirectly involved in the bid. This policy ensures that confidential information is safeguarded and prevents any potential conflict. In addition, upholding confidentiality of bids/quotations/proposals ensures that no vendor is given an unfair advantage in submitting bids; and no vendor is negatively impacted by disclosure of information.
While engaged in the bidding process it is imperative that all information given to those bidding, as well as the information received from those bidders is safeguarded so that it remains confidential. Safeguarding information includes that confidentiality is upheld during conversations between peers, colleagues, consultants, temporary associates and general conversations both in and out of the workplace.
Documents transmitted electronically through email, texts, fax and conventional mail including USPS or overnight mail services must be secured at the workplace so that information is not involuntarily or haphazardly obtained. Bid documents, proposals and all subsequent correspondence must be properly filed, maintained and secured so that is not inadvertently revealed. Diligence in retrieving files from fax and copier machines is optimum to maintain confidentiality and to limit access to that information.
Information relating to the project being bid and without limitation, includes technical, financial, operational, legal, commercial, proprietary and any and all other information or data disclosed to or by the bidder in the bidding documents and must not be disclosed and must be kept confidential. Also, confidentiality must be upheld regarding price, products, delivery and contractual terms and conditions. Additionally, all analysis, compilations, studies and other documents prepared by the bidder or its officers, employees, agents or advisers which are submitted by the bidder, must also be kept confidential.
Single & Sole Source Justification
As part of the requirement for maintaining a maximally practicable competitive sourcing requirement, departments must provide ample justification for exemption from the competitive sourcing process where that process is normally required. Requests for exemptions should only occur in select circumstances, such as:
Products or services that can be obtained from only one person or firm (Competition is precluded because of the existence of patents, copyrights, confidential processes, proprietary information or other such condition)
When competitive bids are solicited and no responsive bid is received (inadequate competition)
Emergency conditions that will not permit delay resulting from competitive bid process
In these circumstances, the department seeking to purchase the goods or services must provide justification for the Sole or Single Source procurement decision by completing the Sole Source Justification Form.
As competitive sourcing provides a basis for determining price reasonableness, when competitive sourcing does not occur, it is necessary for Procurement Services to also assess the quote/proposal for price reasonableness.