Basics of Procurement at BHA
- The supplies, services or construction is no longer required.
- The funds are no longer available.
- Proposed amendments to the solicitation are of such magnitude that a new solicitation is deemed to be appropriate and in the best interest of BHA.
- Other similar reasons
- The supplies or services (including construction) are no longer required.
- Ambiguous or otherwise inadequate specifications were part of the solicitation.
- All factors of significance to BHA were not considered.
- Prices exceed available funds, and it would not be appropriate to adjust quantities to come within available funds.
- There is reason to believe that bids or proposals may not have been independently determined in open competition, may have been collusive, or may have been submitted in bad faith.
- For good cause of a similar nature when it is in the best interest of BHA
The top two tips BHA can provide about submitting a successful bid or proposal are to:
READ THE SOLICITATION FROM START TO FINISH!!!!!!!
FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS PROVIDED IN THE SOLICITATION!!!!!!!
The solicitation is a wealth of information. Depending on the type of solicitation it is, it will include deadlines, delivery requirements, the scope of work, applicable wage rates, and other information that bidders will need. Highlighted below are a few items that can be confusing or problematic for bidders:
- Communication regarding the solicitation – Each solicitation will provide contact information for those staff members at BHA that can be contacted about the solicitation. No other staff or board member may be contacted. BHA staff are instructed that any communication about a solicitation needs to be redirected to the contacts provided in the solicitation. If a proposer does not comply with the communication parameters established in the solicitation, the proposer’s submittal may be deemed unresponsive.
- Phone Calls and In-Person Contact – Part of maintaining the objectivity of the procurement process is to ensure that all bidders or proposers have the same access to information. For this reason, all contact must take place in writing. BHA will not take phone calls or meet with vendors during a solicitation period if the phone calls or meeting are related to the solicitation. The Contracts and Procurement Administrator is not available by phone or in person during a solicitation period. All contact must be in writing.
- Questions and Comments about the solicitation – Each solicitation will have instructions about how to ask questions or make comments. Questions must be in writing and directed to the contacts provided in the solicitation. Answers will be provided in an addendum to the solicitation and will be sent out to all potential proposers. Questions will not be answered on an individual basis if the question is in any way pertinent to other bidders. Examples of questions that may be answered individually would be related to how a form is completed by a specific company, how to demonstrate that a City of Bremerton license has been applied for, or other specific questions that are related to the proposer but are unrelated to the content and substance of the solicitation.
- Deadlines for questions and submittals – The solicitation provides deadlines for questions and submittal of proposals as well as information about where to send the proposals, how many copies are needed, and what documents need to be included with the proposal. Questions and submittals must be received by the deadlines indicated in the solicitation. BHA has the discretion to review questions and submittals received after the deadlines, but this is rarely done. If a deadline is provided, ensure that questions and submittals are received by BHA in full and as requested by the date and time stated in the solicitation.
- Licensing and Debarment checks – BHA is required to conduct state and federal checks on any proposer who submits a proposal or bid. These checks include verification that the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured as required by the solicitation, that the contractor has not been debarred from working with HUD or on Washington state public works projects, that the contractor has no open violations or claims against its bond, and that the contractor has appropriate and current accounts with state agencies including the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor & Industries. If there is an issue found during the course of verification, BHA will notify the contractor of the issue and, if possible, give the contractor the opportunity to cure. Certain issues, if unresolved, will make the proposal submitted unresponsive.
- Section 3 Certification – BHA offers preference to those firms that are certified as Section 3 businesses. Depending on which level of Section 3 business a company is, that company may earn up to an additional 15 points in an RFP evaluation. If the Section 3 business is within 10% of the lowest bidder, BHA can award the work to the Section 3 business. Please click here for further information on Section 3. Please click here for the BHA Section 3 application.
- Required Wage Rates – The solicitation will specify which wage rates apply for the project. The solicitation will also include either an explanation of how to determine the wages to be paid or a link to a website that can provide guidance. If, after reviewing that material, you do not understand what needs to be done, please submit the question in writing using the Question and Comment process outlined in the solicitation. It is critical that the correct wage rates are used. If BHA believes that a proposal may not account for the correct wage rates, the contractor will receive an email asking for clarification.
- Required use of BHA contract – In most cases, contractors are required to sign BHA’s contract. Generally, BHA is unable to sign the contractor’s contract because HUD requires that certain provisions be included or addressed in contracts spending HUD funding. The contract to be used for a procurement is indicated in the solicitation and often provided for review as part of the solicitation. Any concerns or questions about the contract (including the required HUD provisions) must be asked as part of the question period defined in the solicitation. In some procurements, the service being provided is not appropriately addressed by BHA’s contract. Examples include appraisal and environmental review procurements and architectural services. In these situations, BHA will sign the contractor’s contract after review to ensure that there are no issues or concerns.
- Evaluation of bids – The solicitation will explain how the bid will be evaluated. Less formal solicitations are often evaluated based on price only or on price and schedule if completing the project quickly is of concern. These bids require no further evaluation. BHA will order the bids by price and, if applicable, by schedule. The lowest and most responsive bid will be awarded the contract. More formal solicitations outline the factors that are being evaluated and how they are weighted. These solicitations are evaluated by a committee of at least three members. Proposers should review the solicitation to determine what is being evaluated and ensure that those items are clearly addressed in the proposal or bid.
- Notification of need for clarification or award of contract – BHA notifies vendors of the need for clarification of a proposal or bid or the award of a contract by email. BHA will make reasonable efforts to reach a proposer. If the email provides a deadline for response and no response is received, the proposal may be deemed non-responsive or, if the email was to award the work, BHA may award the work to the next responsive and responsible bidder. It is the proposer’s responsibility to ensure that the email provided to BHA is being checked, that the response was submitted by the deadline, and that the email was received by BHA.
Petty Cash Purchases
A small purchase under $75.00 which can be satisfied by local sources may be processed through the use of Board of Commissioners approved petty cash account.
Small Purchases of up to $3,000 (or $2,000 if subject to Davis Bacon Wage Rates)
For small purchases of up to $3,000, BHA will require only one quote as long as the quote is considered reasonable. To the greatest extent feasible, and to promote competition, small purchases will be distributed among qualified sources. Quotes are obtained orally (either in person or by phone), by fax, in writing, or by email. Award is made to the qualified vendor that provides the best value to BHA.
Small Purchases of up to $150,000
2 CFR 200.88 specifies that procurements costing $150,000 or less (the Simplified Acquisition Threshold) qualify as “small purchases” that are not subject to formal advertising as part of the selection process. While these procurements may be conducted under less formal selection procedures, obtaining and comparing competitive prices from more than one vendor represents good public policy and is required for the purchase of all good, supplies, equipment and materials costing $3,000 or more ($2,000 if subject to Davis Bacon Wage Rates). The less formal selection procedure is known as the information solicitation and has the following guidelines:
- Price shall be used as the primary evaluation criterion.
- The geographic location of vendors submitting quotes may not be used as an evaluation criterion.
- A minimum of three quotes (preferable five) will be solicited.
- To the greatest extent possible, and to promote competition, small purchases will be distributed among qualified sources.
- Quotes must be received in writing and submitted via mail, fax, hand delivery or email.
- Award will be made to the qualified vendor that provides the best value to BHA based on evaluation criteria stated in the solicitation.
- BHA shall not break down requirements of the purchase to reduce the cost of the purchase in order to circumvent requirements that apply to small purchases between $3,000 and $150,000.
Small Works Roster
RCW 39.04.155 allows BHA to create and maintain a Small Works Roster to award contracts for construction, building, renovation, remodeling, alteration, repair or improvement of real property for public works projects up to $300,000 (or $150,000 if federal funds are used). BHA reserves the right to utilize Small Works Rosters maintained by other agencies in lieu of maintaining a BHA Small Works Roster through the use of cooperative intergovernmental agreements.
Sealed Bidding/Invitation to Bid (ITB)
Sealed bidding is used for all contracts that exceed the small purchase threshold that meet the criteria listed below. BHA publicly solicits bids and awards a firm fixed-price contract to the responsible bidder whose bid, conforming with all of the material terms and conditions of the Invitation to Bid, is the lowest in price. Sealed bidding is the preferred method for procuring construction, supply, and non-complex service contracts that are expected to exceed $150,000 using federal funds or more than $300,000 for public works contracts using state or local funds.
Conditions for using Sealed Bidding:
- A complete, adequate and realistic statement of work, specification, or purchase description is available.
- Two ore more responsible bidders are willing and able to compete effectively for the work.
- The contract can be awarded based on a firm fixed price.
- The selection of the successful bidder can be made principally on the basis of price.
Competitive Proposals using Request for Proposals or Request for Qualifications
The competitive proposal method is preferred when procuring for professional services that exceed the small purchase threshold. The competitive proposal method permits:
- Consideration of technical factors other than price.
- Discussion with offerors concerning offers submitted.
- Negotiation of contract price or estimated cost and other contract terms and conditions.
- Revision of proposals before the final contractor selection.
- Withdrawal of any offer at any time up until the point of award.
Cooperative Purchasing and Intergovernmental Agreements
Consistent with the requirements of 2 CFR 200.318(e) and RCW 39.34.080, BHA may enter into agreements with other governmental agencies and regional or national intergovernmental purchasing networks or associations to purchase or use common supplies, equipment, or services. The decision to use an interagency agreement instead of conducting a direct procurement is based on economy and efficiency. BHA may use federal and state excess and surplus property instead of purchasing new equipment and property if feasible and if it will result in a reduction of project costs. The goods and services obtained under a cooperative purchasing agreement must have been procured in accordance with 2 CFR 200.318.
Procurement by non-competitive proposals (sole source) may be used only when the award of a contract is not feasible using the small purchase procedures, sealed bids, competitive proposals, or cooperative purchasing and if one of the following applies:
Situation #1 – Sole Source:
Occasions may arise when competition among potential vendors is not possible for a particular procurement. These situations may occur:
- When there is clearly and legitimately only one source capable of supplying the subject matter in a timely fashion.
- When there are special facilities or market conditions that result in only one source.
- In the event of emergencies.
- When there is only one source capable of supplying the subject matter in a timely fashion such that seeking competitive prices would be impractical.
Situation #2 – Emergency:
An emergency exists that seriously threatens the public health, welfare, or safety, or endangers property, or otherwise causes serious injury to BHA, as may arise by reason of a flood, earthquake, epidemic, fire, riot, equipment failure, or similar event, and the needs “will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation.” In such cases, there must be an immediate and serious need for supplies, services, or construction such that the need cannot be met through any of the other procurement methods, and the emergency procurement shall be limited to those supplies, services or construction necessary simply to meet the emergency.
Situation #3 – HUD authorizes use of non-competitive proposals.
Situation #4 – After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined to be inadequate.
As a government agency, the Bremerton Housing Authority is required to comply with federal and state regulations related to procurement and purchasing – primarily the requirements of HUD. If there are other federal or state requirements that apply that are more stringent than HUD’s, BHA is required to comply with the most stringent requirements. The Procurement Policy is a written document that complies with federal and state regulation and provides guidance for the procurement process at BHA. The specific purposes of the Procurement Policy include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fairness and Objectivity: Providing a fair, objective, and equitable selection and contracting environment for all individuals and firms seeking to do business or contracting with BHA.
- Ensuring Reasonable Costs: Promoting competition, and negotiation where applicable, to ensure that BHA receives the most favorable prices and terms in its contracts.
- Efficiency: Ensuring that supplies and services (consultant, construction, social services, etc.) are obtained efficiently and effectively.
- Accountability: Promoting accountability of contracting actions by BHA employees and encouraging employees to protect BHA’s financial and other interests.
- Value-Added Procurement: Facilitating a procurement process that provides service and value to BHA in obtaining goods and services.
- Ethical Standards: Ensuring that BHA’s procurement activities are implemented with the highest regard for integrity, avoid conflicts of interest, and are consistent with applicable ethical standards.
- Legal Considerations: Complying with all applicable federal, state and local statutes and regulations.