3.1 Competitive Thresholds and Bid Limitations
$4,999 or less: Campus departments have been delegated low dollar purchasing authority, via p-card, when operating consistently with procurement card policies and adhering to the preferred use of Master Agreements and other applicable procurement contracts.
$5,000 to $25,000: Department must obtain a minimum of one phone, facsimile, or written bid for encumbrance purposes.
$25,001 - $50,000: Purchases of goods and services between twenty five thousand and one ($25,001) and fifty thousand ($50,000), per transaction, may be purchased through an informal bid with an adequate number of vendors (a minimum of three quotes is preferred). In relation to services, the $50,000 threshold is not based on a one-time cost, but rather on a cumulative cost for on-going services under the terms of the project engagement or extension of the project engagement. Procurement services should be contacted in advance and must review informal bids (quotes).
$50,000 and above: Purchases of goods and services shall be purchased through a formal competitive bid process. It is helpful to include procurement services at the start of the process if you are planning a large purchase with an expected cost close to $50,000 or above.
3.2 Not Currently in Use
3.3 Informal Bid Process
This is a request for prices or quotations that are mailed, faxed, emailed, or otherwise delivered electronically with due date and time noted. The quotes should contain:
- A complete description of the commodity or service needed, using generic, functional specifications.
- Indicate any special circumstances, e.g., critical delivery times, site preparation, special packing, etc.
- State the University requesters name and department information.
- Advertise the bid, if applicable, on the TSB 48-hour website.
3.4 Formal Competitive Bid Process
Formal competitive bids, as outlined herein, are required on items or services costing in aggregate more than $50,000. Procurement Services will prepare a written, "Request for Quotation” or “Request for Proposal", document that shall contain, at a minimum, the following information or require the steps stated below:
- Include a Form of Bid, Form of Proposal or similar form, which requests pricing and the items necessary to evaluate the bid responses.
- Provide Bid or Proposal Instructions with a stated time and due date.
- Include a complete description of goods/services needed, using functional specifications.
- List any special circumstances, i.e., critical delivery times, site preparation, special packing, etc.
- State the evaluation criteria upon which the bid solicitation will be evaluated.
- Provide the Purchasing Agent's name and contact information.
- Post the bid solicitation on the Procurement Services website.
- Advertise the bid on the TSB 48-hour website through the link from the 48-hour website.
The general expectation is sealed bids will be scored solely on price will be publicly opened and read aloud. If a Purchasing Agent believes there are valid reasons why bids should not be publicly opened and read aloud, a decision can be made to avoid the public opening. These types of bids generally involve subjective evaluations that will be scored by a committee.
Bids opened publicly and read aloud are to be tabulated and the tabulation made available to all interested parties upon their request. Other than the bid tabulation, the contents of the quotations or proposals are not to be viewed by bidders until an award is made. Bids not opened publicly and read aloud should not be publicly viewed, or shared with other bidders, until an award is made.
In addition to contacting potential vendors through electronic mail, all bids shall be posted on the UNI Procurement Services website for the period of time the bids are open. This site affords interested suppliers the opportunity to access and download bids electronically. In some cases, after consulting with the Director of Business Operations, the purchasing agent may determine, at their discretion, the need to utilize available print and internet media to advertise the bid. Advertisements should include:
- Solicitation Number.
- General description of commodity to be purchased.
- Phone number of purchasing agent responsible for bid.
- Procurement website where bids can be accessed and downloaded by suppliers.
- Date of bid acceptance.
- Time of formal bid opening (if applicable).
The TSB 48 hour website shall link to the UNI bid solicitation website for current and accurate information on all solicitations.
3.5 Request for Proposals
The purpose of a Request for Proposal (RFP) is to provide the supplier with sufficient information about a requirement for technical equipment or professional services so that the supplier may propose a solution to the requirement. Such proposals should include, at a minimum, the following:
- Instructions for attending a pre-proposal conference (at purchasing agents discretion).
- Purpose, intent and background of the requirement.
- Key dates in the proposal-award process.
- Administrative requirements for submitting a proposal and format for the proposal.
- Contractual terms and conditions.
- Scope of work, or description of desired outcome and performance requirements that the supplier must meet.
- Evaluation criteria and method(s) of evaluation.
Bids are tabulated in Procurement Services. A purchasing agent tabulates the scoring of price and either makes the award decision or consults with the requesting department(s) for assistance in the decisions.
3.6 Waiver of Bid Requirements
Any of the following conditions, when documented, may preclude bidding requirements:
Immediate Need: It can be demonstrated without question that the department could not have foreseen the required purchase in sufficient time for normal purchasing procedures to be used.
Emergency Need: Life will be endangered, property will be destroyed, or considerable cost will be incurred because of events beyond the control of the department if the procurement is not completed immediately.
Sole Source: The Board of Regents, State of Iowa has acknowledged occasions when products/services must be purchased from one specific source or manufacturer. Requests for a sole or single source must include a written explanation documented on the “sole source purchase justification” form, to support the request. The purchasing agent is required to verify information. Sole source procurements may be approved based upon compatibility with existing equipment, compatibility for instructional purposes, compatibility for research, or when only one supplier can be identified to supply a compliant product or service. All sole source procurements greater than $25,000 require approval by the Director of Business Operations and or designee. Sole source purchases may not be made from a Conflict of Interest Supplier.
Noncompetitive Justification: The following may be reasons for using noncompetitive procurement methods: Patent rights, copyrights, secret processes, the control of basic raw materials, or the need to match existing equipment, research, or processes may preclude competition, although they do not in and of themselves always justify using noncompetitive procurement. Specifying patented products or processes, when not necessary to meet functional requirements, is not acceptable as a sole source justification.
Negotiation: Competitive and non-competitive negotiation may replace competitive bidding when in the best interest of the university. Justification for such use must be documented and available upon request.
3.7 Purchases from Cooperatives, Consortia or Group Purchasing Organizations
Some contracts available through cooperatives, consortia or group purchasing organizations (GPO’s) were developed as a result of competitive negotiation. These contracts may be accessed and used if procurement services has determined that the contracts were produced using a competitive process. No further competition is required for these orders, but the Purchasing Agent will have discretion to seek competition.
3.8 Purchases from Department of Administrative Services and Other State Agencies
Competitive Bids are not required, for orders exceeding the bid threshold, when such items are included on State of Iowa contracts, provided such contracts were bid in a competitive process. When acquiring services from another state agency, a contractual agreement should still be completed.
3.9 Iowa State Industries (a.k.a. Iowa Prison Industries)
Items that can be supplied by Iowa Prison Industries should be considered, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as quality, price, or inability to supply the needed items in a timely manner. Please contact procurement services to determine the appropriate supplier when Regent Master Agreements exist or in extenuating circumstances.
3.10 Obtaining Equipment on a Trial Basis
Equipment requested by University departments from suppliers on a trial, loan, demonstration, or evaluation basis does not constitute a commitment to purchase said equipment. The requesting department must inform Procurement Services before any equipment with a fair market value exceeding $25,000 is to be tested or evaluated.
All moving, handling, transportation and applicable installation costs associated with equipment of this nature are the sole responsibility of the supplier. The University will not incur any costs associated with equipment on trial, loan, demonstration, test, or evaluation.
3.11 Vehicle Purchases
The University purchases cars, trucks, and vans cooperatively with the Iowa Department of Administrative Services and the Iowa Department of Transportation. Specifications and bids are prepared jointly each fall for new models. Departments planning to purchase a new vehicle must seek approval of the division head and contact either Procurement Services or the Transportation Manager no later than July 1 so the request can be included in the cooperative purchase specifications.