What We Do

Professional purchasers, particularly certified public purchasers, receive specific training in the area of RFP and BID development and evaluation, for the express purpose of ensuring best value in addition to fairness and accountability. The Purchasing Division is the guardian of the County's Procurement Policy.

The Procurement Process:

The Purchasing Division ensures that the procurement process is "fair and open". There are many phases to the public procurement process. Outlined below are the tasks routinely performed by staff members of the Purchasing Division in satisfying the needs of County agencies during the different phases of the procurement process.

Procurement Process Phases:

1. Needs Definition

The Needs Definition Phase assists in defining the requirements of a purchase and is intended to provide the following benefits to the purchasing process:

  • Provide advice on alternative products/services.
  • Recommend different procurement approaches (e.g., obtaining the equipment and related maintenance services in the same BID or RFP).
  • Advise on quality assurance alternatives.
  • Provide information on county standards, priorities, policies and in-house resources.
2. Planning

The Planning Phase builds in process steps to ensure fairness and acceptability as well as providing advice on the time and nature of work required to:

  • Conduct market research
  • Search existing contracts
  • Co-ordinate procurement with other users
  • Source potential vendors
  • Investigate solutions at other public sector organizations
  • Prepare and issue the BID or RFP
  • Evaluate proposals
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Secure all internal approvals
3. Research

The Research Phase assesses multiple factors to determine their impact on the planned procurement. These factors and processes include:

  • The economic and political environment. For example, are laws or regulations changing? Is the value of the dollar rising? What are the transportation logistics?
  • Review internal information to determine if there have been vendor performance problems experienced by others.
  • Review external information in the industry to determine what opportunities exist, and degree of competitiveness in the marketplace.
  • Determine the organization's relative position of strength and the factors that will maintain this, and considers the potential risks in the procurement.
  • Devise alternative acquisition methods when a creative solution is required and recommends a method consistent with policies, laws, best practices, etc.
  • Recommend changes to the plan to reflect market and internal conditions, which may affect the results.
4. Sourcing

The Sourcing Phase assembles or creates suitable terms, conditions, instructions and special provisions which reflect the best approach after considering the research information.

The sourcing phase:

  • Considers life-cycle and cost/benefit in determining price schedules.
  • Secures acceptance of all participants (other departments or cooperative partners) of the solicitation package and process.
  • Develops a list of potential bidders and issues and receives all public documents.
  • Receives and documents inquiries during the BID or RFP or negotiations process, arranges vendor briefings as required and coordinates technical inquiries through the client.
  • Plans and conducts negotiations in accordance with standards for professional procurement.
  • Assesses critical information items for documenting in the procurement record in the event of a dispute or litigation.
5. Analysis

The purpose of the analysis phase is to:

  • conducts independent public openings and documents all official bid results.
  • Review all bids or proposals received for irregularities and develops spreadsheets of bid amounts, irregularities, and pertinent information for consideration by using agency. Also monitors results for compliance with internal and external policies, laws and regulations.
  • Conduct evaluation or provides assistance, determines treatment of irregularities and requests for additional information.
  • Coordinate all the parties involved in the procurement process and seeks consensus on the recommended vendor(s).
6. Awards

The Awards Phase...

  • Regularly updates a standard award report and prepares resolution requests when applicable.
  • Notifies unsuccessful bidders, conducts debriefings, and handles bid protests in accordance with standard policy and procedures.
  • Creates and communicates county standards for contracting; and utilizes the solicitation terms and conditions, as amended during contract negotiations.
  • Develops implementation and performance monitoring strategies and ensures expectations of both parties (client and vendor) are clear and that vendor delivery and billings are acceptable.
  • Implements automatic payments and payment discount procedures.
7. Contract Management
The Contract Management phase...(brief definition of phase)
  • Handle performance disputes between client and vendor and takes appropriate action including holdbacks and other remedies to discharge the contract.
  • Maintain database to begin new acquisition cycle upon expiration of established contracts.