Procurement Frequently Asked Questions

What is procurement?
Procurement refers to the overall process of buying goods and services. This term often refers to government purchases and contracts but the processes involved in procurement are performed by all business entities interested in fulfilling their business operations. The procurement process refers to businesses and agencies identifying their needs, identifying potential suppliers, soliciting bids and proposals, evaluating bids and proposals, awarding contracts or purchase orders, tracking progress and ensuring compliance, taking delivery, inspecting and inventorying deliverables, and paying the supplier.

How does a buyer identify potential vendors?
Both private and public agencies ask potential vendors to enroll in their vendor or bidder's list programs.  Many of these registrations can be done online, through a phone call or a letter. Some businesses and agencies, especially for construction related projects, will ask the potential vendor to be pre-qualified.

To be a registered vendor, New York City requires prospective vendors to register as a vendor by completing a NYC Vendor Application form.  This will place the business in the list of vendors or potential bidders' list that the agency or business will use to notify of procurement opportunities. New York State also has similar registration processes through the NYS Office of General Services

How does a vendor find procurement opportunities?
One of the easiest ways is to be a registered vendor as many buyers will notify and contact vendors on their registered vendors list.

For New York City opportunities, City Record is a good place to start as all city opportunities are advertised on City Record. For New York State, the Office of General Services will advertise state opportunities.

In addition, for state opportunities a subscription to New York State Contract Reporter can be a good resource.

What types of contracting methods do buyers use?
The following methods mostly refer to public agency opportunities.  Private corporations have their own set of contracting methods but most use some form of the methods outlined below.

  • Competitive Sealed Bidding (CSB) – For CSB, a vendor is asked to provide a quote for a very specific item or service and the contract is awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.
  • Competitive Sealed Proposals or Request for Proposals (RFP) – A vendor is requested to submit ideas or proposals on how they would accomplish a project. An award is made on the basis of perceived value of the project and the merits of the proposal determined by an evaluation committee.
  • Negotiated Acquisitions – This is used when a buyer requires preliminary discussions with suppliers to determine the feasibility of the procurement. This is used when there may be a limited number of available suppliers or if it is a time sensitive situation.
  • Sole Source Procurement – Sole source procurements are when only one responsible vendor is available for the contract. The vendor must notify the public when sole source is being considered.
  • Emergency Procurements – Emergency procurements are awarded when there is unforeseen danger to life, safety, or property but competition is still encouraged.

How can a vendor receive more information about a contract opportunity?
Most solicitations will provide information about receiving bid documents in the announcement. Depending on the bid, bid documents such as blue prints and construction drawings can be mailed to potential bidders or are available for examination at the bid room.

What is a Pre-Bid Conference?
A pre-bid conference is an opportunity for potential bidders to ask specific questions about the work or the bid process to the contracting officer. In addition, it is also an opportunity to meet the competition and potential prime contractors if a vendor plans to be a subcontractor on a project.  Some pre-bid conferences are mandatory, meaning that only those who attend the pre-bid conference will be allowed to bid on the project.

How are bidder/vendors selected for a contract?
Most public agencies look for vendors who are responsive and responsible in submiitting bids.

  • Responsive means that a proposal or bid was submitted meeting all requirements detailed in the bid announcement such as on time submission and following the instructions of the solicitation.
  • Responsible looks at two factors regarding the bid. First, the capability of a vendor is looked at to determine if a vendor is capable of doing the work or delivering the goods. Second, the buyer looks at the vendor’s integrity to determine the vendor's business ethics.