Competitive bidding is required whenever a planned purchase of goods or services will be $10,000 or greater. University policy FN 05 (formerly 05-02-16) outlines the competitive bidding requirements, thresholds for purchasing requirements, and exceptions. Competitive bids and price quotations can be obtained through a Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP). It is important to note that competitive bidding is not required when using University-wide Contracted Suppliers, unless the order is funded by a Federal Grant.
Competitive bidding ensures fairness to all bidders and that your pricing will be competitive within the marketplace. If a supplier is in a competitive situation, it is more likely to provide its most aggressive pricing and other terms. Bidding also ensures that you are complying with University policy and other applicable federal and state regulations for grants and contracts. While competitive bidding is not required for purchases under $10,000, it is required that purchasers compare and/or evaluate potential suppliers in order to obtain the lowest total cost.
Directed or Sole Source Justification Form
If you are not conducting Competitive Bidding, you will be required to attach a Directed or Sole Source Justification (DSSJ) form with your requisition through the PantherExpress System. The DSSJ form confirms the fact that the requester does not have any personal financial conflicts with the requested supplier. Only deans, department directors and department chairs (“3Ds”) may sign as the approver on the DSSJ.
Purchases Up to $50,000
For purchases between $10,000.01 and $50,000 where the purchase is not with a Contracted Supplier, purchasers may use the Request for Quotation template for the competitive bidding process and submit the documentation with your requisition through the PantherExpress System.
RFP Process Timeline
The Timeframe for completing an RFP process will vary depending on the level of complexity. To inform your planning, please refer to this outline of the RFP process including the approximate timeframe:
- Phase 1 - Weeks 1 and 2
- Purchasing Services works with department to develop and refine requirements/specifications
- Purchasing Services conducts evaluation of marketplace of commodity/category in order to understand more deeply and to develop a list of potential bidders
- Department and Purchasing Services complete writing RFP
- Department and Purchasing Services develop evaluation criteria and scoring grid/weighting
- Purchasing Services issues RFP (the document includes a Pitt template contract in order for companies to review and thus be prepared to sign if awarded the contract)
- Phase 2 - Weeks 3 through 6
- Companies develop proposals and submit to Purchasing Services
- Phase 3 - Weeks 7 through 9
- Department and Purchasing Services evaluate and score proposals
- Purchasing Services obtains proposal clarifications from top 1 - 3 bidders
- All bidders receive same clarifying questions
- Purchasing Services begins discussing bidders’ objections to contract terms
- Possible presentations from proposal finalists
- Allow time for possible bidder(s) travel to campus
- Phase 4 - Weeks 10 through 12
- Best and final offers requested and submitted to Purchasing Services
- Purchasing Services negotiates contract
- High risk exceptions to legal terms may require University Counsel assistance
- High risk business terms may require review or approval from other University offices and executives
Note: all phases can take much longer for large and complex requirements.