Guidelines for Suppliers

Objectives Of County Purchasing Department

Utilize to the fullest extent possible the centralized procurement of all necessary supplies, capital equipment and services for all departments and agencies of this county. The Purchasing Department is the central point for the county's purchases of materials, supplies, equipment and certain services. The department normally does not involve itself in construction contracts.

Promote good supplier relationships and an open door policy to all suppliers, current and potential, to enable suppliers to furnish information and assistance on new and improved supplies, materials, equipment, or services which may result in cost savings for the county.

Establish and maintain a good vendor relationship by treating all vendors fairly.

Performing purchasing activities as to create public goodwill for the county.

Insure that all purchases are in compliance with the rules, regulations, and purchasing guidelines set forth by the County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Federal Government.

Promote the utilization of American made products and materials.

Vendor Contracts

Any correspondence vendors initiate or any contacts which vendors desire to make with the various county agencies shall be made through the Purchasing Department. This does not restrict vendors from talking directly to those in various departments as this is often necessary for the exchange of information. The only limitation is that these contacts be made through the Purchasing department.

County Code

All contracts or purchases in excess of $18,500 shall be in the form of a formal bid request and shall be made with the lowest responsible bidder meeting the specifications. All bids must be advertised in at least one newspaper of general circulation, published or circulating in the county at least two (2) times at intervals of not less than three (3) days where daily newspapers of general circulation are employed. The first advertisement shall be published not less than ten (10) days prior to the date of the opening of bids.

Pursuant to Act 142, Senate Bill 1154, Effective February 20, 2001: The contract shall be awarded, or all bids shall be rejected, within thirty days of the opening of the bids, except for bids subject to 62 Pa.C.S. (relating to procurement). Thirty-day extensions of the date for the award may be made by mutual written consent of the commissioners and by any bidder who wishes to remain under consideration for award. The commissioners shall excuse from consideration any bidder not wishing to agree to a request for extension of the date for the award and shall release such bidder from any bid bond or similar bid security furnished under subsection (f).

Pursuant to Act 142, Senate Bill 1154, Effective February 20, 2001: The commissioners may require that any bids advertised be accompanied by cash, by a certified check, cashiers check, bank good faith check or other irrevocable letter of credit in a reasonable amount drawn upon a bank authorized to do business in this Commonwealth, or by a bond with corporate surety in a reasonable amount. Whenever it is required that a bid be accompanied by cash, certified check, cashiers check, bank good faith check or other irrevocable letter of credit or bond, no bid shall be considered unless so accompanied.

For purchases between $10,000 an $18,500, that do not have to be bid, that is, are not part of a larger purchase, the county must obtain "written or telephonic price quotations from at least three qualified and responsible contractors." For those items under $18,500, the Purchasing Department will consider the cost effectiveness of a bid likelihood of competitive price vs. negotiation and bid costs to determine the appropriate course of action.

Over And Under Shipments

For printed matters a 10% variance from the order quantity is permitted. For items measured individually, i.e., each, dozen, case, gross, a variance from the order quantity is not permitted. In any instance where the supplier shall ship quantities in excess of these guidelines, Washington County reserves the right to return, at the suppliers' expense, either the entire shipment or the excess over the order quantity.

Development Of Specifications & Authorization To Bid

Specifications are developed by the user department in conjunction with the purchasing department. Request for bid is then forwarded to the Board of County Commissioners for approval.

Evaluation of Bids

Bids are tabulated by the purchasing department and forwarded to the user department for review and evaluation. After reviewing the bids the user department sends their recommendation to the purchasing department along with justification if not recommending award to the low bidder. The purchasing department reviews the specifications with the department to determine if they concur with the departments recommendation.

Bids shall be evaluated taking into consideration the total cost of bid proposals to the county. Price alone may not be the sole determining factor of lowest cost. The objective is to determine the bid which shall result in the lowest total cost to the county which adheres to all of the requirements.

Awarding of Contracts

As stated above, the lowest bidder meeting specifications shall be awarded a contract. There are, however, situations in which the lowest bidder may not win an award. These are:
  1. The lowest bid does not meet the requirements of the specifications.
  2. When a bid error causes the bid to be withdrawn by the bidder.
  3. Past performance.
In cases where bids are awarded to other than the lowest bidder, justification shall be furnished to the Board of Commissioners when recommendations of award are submitted.

Equal Low Bids

When tie bids occur, awards may be made on the following basis.
  1. Past performance
  2. Local supplier (firm within Washington County)
  3. Splitting awards

Review Of Bids By Vendors

Bid results are available for review by all vendors. Appointments to review the bids are encouraged. Due to the time involved and the volume of bids processed bid tabulations are not mailed or read over the phone. Bid results will be available at this website for thirty days after bid award.

Purchasing Under State Contracts

Any items purchased under State Contracts need not be submitted for either the county's informal bidding process or the formal advertised bidding process. The purchasing department does not assume that the prices listed on the state contracts are the lowest which may be received from suppliers.

Vendors Relationship With The Purchasing Department

The purchasing department has the responsibility of communicating the county's needs for supplies, materials, equipment and services to the business community. All current and potential suppliers shall be treated fairly and with courtesy to promote goodwill.

All sales representatives are encouraged to make an appointment.

Employees of Washington County government shall not accept gratuities of any sort from suppliers. Not included are pens, pencils, calendars, and other incidental items which are mass distributed.

Copyright 1994 by the Purchasing Office. A paper copy of this guide can be obtained at the Purchasing Office.