If the Purchasing Department determines that best value for College purchases will be acheived on the open market, the Purchasing Department will process requests under competitive procurement procedures. An Invitation for Bid (IFB) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued. Each method is described in the following sections. The compettive procurement process requires advertisement with open and competitive specifications and equal opporutnity to all interested bidders.
2. Types of Competitive Procurements
a. Invitation for Bid (IFB)
Competitive bidding is a standard method for acquisition of goods and services by public agencies and institutions for purchases over a dollar amount specified either by statute, rule, or policy. Depending on the dollar amount, technical specifications, delivery requirements, etc. of the request, the Purchasing Department will either solicit bids formally (written) or informally (telephone). Refer to Section 2 – Best Value Procurement Procedures of this manual for limits. In either case, a minimum of three (3) bids must be solicited*.
If formal bids are requested (also known as competitive sealed bidding), an Invitation for Bid (IFB) form will be prepared by the Purchasing Department. It will contain a description or specifications of the item(s) needed, the terms and conditions of the proposed purchase, the manner in which bids are to be submitted, the criteria for evaluating the bids and awarding of a purchase order or contract, the place and time for opening of bids, and any other information to assist the bidder in understanding the request. A reasonable period of time will be allowed for bid responses. No bidder may revise his/her bid after the bid opening date and time. Late or unsigned bids will not be accepted.
The Purchasing Department is responsible for the receipt and control of bid responses. All bids received will be time-stamped and secured appropriately. Opening of bids shall not be permitted until the specified time for bid opening. If a bid is inadvertently opened due to failure of the bidder to properly identify the bid response envelope, it will be opened, resealed, and marked accordingly. No buyer will be allowed to examine the contents of the bid. Normally, all bid openings are public and bid information such as prices may be announced at the opening. No recommendations for award, however, will be announced in a public bid opening.
After the opening and tabulating of all bids received, each bid will be evaluated for compliance with terms, conditions, and all requirements of the IFB. The Purchasing Department will determine which compliant bid provides the best value to TSTC West Texas and make an award. The requisitioning department may be asked to review bid responses and to make a written award recommendation to the Purchasing Department. If the apparent best value bid is not recommended, the requisitioning department must submit a written justification explaining the reasons for their recommendation for consideration.
If informal bids are requested, the Purchasing Department will prepare an informal bid request form and solicit bids from at least three bidders*. Responses will be recorded. Although informal bids are being requested, all applicable requirements of formal bids will be adhered to as appropriate.
*At least two of the bidders must be Historically Underutilized Businesses (one woman-owned and one minority-owned).
b. Request for Proposal (RFP)
When competitive sealed bidding cannot adequately address acquisitions where specific or generic specifications are difficult or impossible to draft and evaluation for award cannot be made on absolute criteria incorporated in the IFB, the Purchasing Department may determine that the competitive sealed proposals method is more practical or advantageous given the nature of the goods or services requested. Examples of acquisitions that would best be handled through competitive sealed proposals are highly technical items, specialized and/or complex services.
The Purchasing Department will work with the requesting department in development and review of the Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP document, when finalized, will be sent to potential proposers. A reasonable period of time for acceptance of proposals will be allowed. This process is very similar to the competitive sealed bidding process. An RFP is opened publicly; however, only the names of the proposers are revealed. Proposal prices and other information in proposals submitted are not made public until after an award is made. Typically, an RFP allows for evaluation of factors other than price such as experience and approach to a project. The RFP will include a statement or scope of work, intent of proposal, technical requirements, key events schedule, criteria for selection, and other relevant information.
Depending on the scope and technical requirements of an RFP, a pre-proposal conference for potential proposers may be scheduled. A pre-proposal conference provides an opportunity to review proposal requirements, facilitate a clear understanding, and promote competition. If the Purchasing Department determines that certain elements of the RFP require modification as a result of issues raised during the pre-proposal conference, an addendum will be issued and mailed to all proposers on the RFP mailing list.
The RFP process also differs in that this method permits discussions after proposals have been opened to allow for clarification to assure full understanding of and responsiveness to the requirements. All proposers whose submittals are found to be acceptable or reasonably susceptible to being made acceptable are given an opportunity to negotiate and revise their proposals. If necessary, the Purchasing Department may issue amendments to proposal requirements. Modifications and negotiations may continue until the Purchasing Department calls for Best and Final Offers (BAFOs). No changes are allowed after BAFOs are received unless the Director of Materials Management makes a determination that resubmission is in TSTC West Texas’s best interest.
In the evaluation phase of RFPs, an evaluation committee may be assigned the task of evaluating all proposals received. Typically, evaluation committees are comprised of a minimum of three to a maximum of seven members. The number will be limited to the minimum number required to properly evaluate proposals and approved by the Purchasing Department. Under the guidance of the Purchasing Department, the evaluation committee will be briefed on their responsibilities before the RFP is issued. Normally, the committee is comprised of representative(s) from the Purchasing Department, requesting department, and other departments with the technical knowledge of the acquisition. Each member will be required to sign a Non-disclosure Statement prepared by the Purchasing Department.
Contact with potential proposers will be made only by the designated Purchasing Department employee. Requesting departments and evaluation committee members should not contact proposers directly and should refer all inquiries to the above designated official.
After BAFOs have been evaluated, the evaluation committee will prepare a recommendation for award and submit it to the Director of Materials Management or designee for review and approval. The recommendation will identify the successful proposer and the basis for the award. Once approved, the Purchasing Department will prepare a purchase order or contract.