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Competitive Bidding

The City's charter and municipal code set forth the Competitive bidding procedures:

  • Informal Bidding Procedures: used for purchases between $5,000 and $75,000
  • Formal Bidding Procedures: used for purchases above $75,000

Purchases below $5,000 do not require the use of the Informal Bidding Procedures or Formal Bidding Procedures. However, all purchases--including purchases under $5,000--should be based on competitive bids (i.e., solicit offers from potential vendors; buy smart).

Informal Bidding Procedures

Informal bids require a minimum of three competitive quotes unless solicitation of bids proves to be an idle act or the Purchasing Agent deems less than three quotes will suffice. Quotes must be solicited by your department . Suppliers will be selected based upon their ability to provide maximum quality goods and services at a minimum cost.

Formal Bidding Procedures

Formal bids valued above $75,000 require competitive, sealed bidding and will be administered as follows:

  • You and your department will develop an Invitation for Bid (IFB), which includes a complete product or service specification. Your department should review and approve the specifications, along with a suggested list of qualified bidders, before distribution.
  • Work with your supervisor to establish an issue date, a bid due date, an estimated City Council award date, and public notice information. Public notices may include publication in newspapers of general circulation, electronic or paper mailing lists, and the City’s website.
  • A pre-bid conference or job walk may be scheduled to further explain product or service requirements if the specification is of a complicated nature, or if site conditions could impact price or performance.  To ensure that all interested vendors are given consistent and uniform information regarding the product or job, attendance may be required.
  • Addendums, when required, shall be composed and distributed by your department.
  • Bids must be opened in public at the time and place stated in the public notice. Any bid received after the time specified in the notice shall either be returned unopened or received, time stamped, and filed as unopened.
  • After opening, bid responses become public record and, within 10 days of a request, should be made available for inspection by any interested party. Vendors may designate certain portions of their proposal as “trade secrets” as defined by California Government Code Sec. 6250, exempting them from public release. After the bid opening, a tabulation of all bids received must be open for public inspection in the City Clerk's Office during regular business hours for at least thirty (30) calendar days.
  • The lowest responsive and responsible bid, as determined by the Purchasing Division and your department, will be recommended for award by the City Council.
  • Your department will prepare a staff report outlining the recommended award. If three or more bids are received, your department must prepare an abstract of bids to accompany the staff report. Once your staff report is reviewed and approved, it will be placed on the next available City Council Meeting Agenda. Plan ahead and anticipate your deadlines.
  • After award, you must submit a purchase order.

Exceptions to Competitive Bidding Procedures

Competitive bidding procedures do not apply to purchases of supplies, materials, equipment, and services in the following circumstances:

  • Purchases that do not exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000.00).
  • Emergency purchases. Emergency purchases and contracts for supplies, materials,
    equipment and services may be made free of the competitive bidding requirements.
    when determined and declared by the city manager that an emergency exists.
  • Sole source. If limitations on the source of supply, necessary restrictions in specifications, necessary standardization, quality considerations, or other
    valid reasons for waiving competition appears, then purchases may be made without
    recourse to the competitive bidding requirements. Approval of waiver of
    competitive bidding shall be given by the same level of authority as set forth in the
    section for award authority.
  • Professional services. Competitive bidding is not required prior to the City entering into a professional services agreement. However, prior to the City entering into a professional services agreement, the City must select a vendor on the basis of demonstrated competence and on the professional qualifications necessary for
    the satisfactory performance of the services required.
  • Cooperative purchasing programs. Purchases of supplies, material, equipment or
    services and sales of surplus property made under a cooperative purchasing program,
    such as by utilizing purchasing agreements maintained by the United States
    government or any agency or division thereof, the State of California, County of Marin,
    or other public agencies, are exempt from the competitive bidding requirements of this
    chapter. To the extent possible, cooperative purchases joined will be competitively
    awarded, and documentation as to the advantage of the cooperative purchase will be
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