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Vendor FAQs

Updated November 4, 2021 | 3:10 p.m.


The Purchasing Division within the Finance Department is responsible for buying supplies, equipment, vehicles, information technology systems, and services for all City of Tulsa departments. It oversees all of the City’s purchasing outside of public construction and architectural/engineering services, which fall under Tulsa’s Engineering Services department.

Purchasing’s mission is to obtain the "Best Value" in procurement: buying equipment, supplies, and services at a fair price that meets the City’s needs. The Purchasing team oversees an open, ethical, and professional procurement process to assure responsible use of Tulsa taxpayer funds.

The Purchasing Director oversees a team of buyers, service coordinators, and administrative staff to realize this mission. You can find their contact information online.

The City buys all kinds of things! Purchasing has overseen contracts and small purchases of items ranging from trucks to piping to lawn maintenance to professional consulting services. You can visit our “Bid Opportunities” to see an updated list of contracts Purchasing manages. Contact Julie Miller at (918) 596-7564 or jamiller@cityoftulsa.org if you have any questions about these contracts.

Under $2,500 – P-Cards
City staff use a “p-card” (a City-administered credit card) to purchase low price, over-the-counter goods.

Between $2,500 and $24,999 – Informal Competitive Process
Buyers collect at least four price quotes over email for the given product or service using a request for quote (RFQ). Generally, whoever has the lowest quote wins the bid.

$25,000 or Above – Formal Competitive Process
Purchasing publishes a solicitation – either an Invitation for Bid (IFB), Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP), or Request for Proposal (RFP) – with specifications and scope of work detailing the project’s needs and who bids or proposals will be evaluated. Prospective vendors respond to these business opportunities by submitting hard-copy bids detailing how their product or services addresses the City’s needs. Typically, the bid award goes to the “lowest secure value”: the lowest cost that meets the department’s needs.

Each of these solicitation types is distinct:

  • Invitations for Bid (IFBs) are our most commonly used solicitation type. We use these when the City knows what specifications they need, and those specifications can be adequately met by multiple suppliers. IFBs are often used for products such as trucks, pumps, iron fittings, and occasionally services like janitorial and mowing. IFBs are in effect contracts, so there is no negotiation of material requirements or contract terms. The award typically goes to the lowest price – given the specifications are met.
  • Requests for Proposal (RFPs) and Certified Sealed Proposals (CSPs) are used for qualitative services, including financial audits, IT, and economic development consultancies, among others. For these services, considerations such as expertise, staff capacity and skill, creativity, and past performance are critical and factor heavily into bid evaluation in addition to price. RFPs and CSPs will match their specifications and scopes of work to evaluation criteria and performance metrics.

The only difference between a CSP and an RFP is contract negotiation. Due to the qualitative nature of such services, RFPs and CSPs are NOT set contracts like IFB and allow negotiation of final contract terms upon bid award. With CSPs, selected bidders cannot negotiate price. With RFPs, selected bidders can negotiate all contract terms, including price.

Note that ANY purchase equal or above $100,000 requires a contract signed by the Mayor.

TAC stands for Tulsa Annual Contract. We use this acronym for any bid opportunity with renewal options, as the City of Tulsa can only initially contract with a vendor for one year at a time. If renewals are not included, then we label the bid opportunity with the solicitation type and product number, e.g., IFB XX-XXXX or RFP XX-XXX.

The procurement process helps the City of Tulsa ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent fairly and for the betterment of the City as a whole. It prevents corruption and bias in government spending. In accordance with the City’s Purchasing Ordinance, the competitive process ensures that government purchases are transparent, accessible, and best meet the City’s needs.

You can find bid opportunities on the “Bid Opportunities” page on our website. It lists responses deadlines and allows you to download the solicitation documents.

The City will also notify registered vendors by email if they have selected an NIGP commodity code that matches with the purchase being requested.

You can register online: visit the vendor registration webpage to find links to our online vendor registration form and supplementary materials. Registration ensures that you will hear about future bid opportunities over email.

When you register, you will select a few NIGP commodity codes, which indicate what products or services you sell. You can review NIGP commodity codes here.

No – any firm, regardless of location, can pursue a business opportunity with the City! Just make sure to register as a vendor so you hear about future bid opportunities.

However, if you are a Tulsa-based small business, then you should consider joining Tulsa’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Program. Learn more online.

Yes! You can learn more about Tulsa’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program online.

Check your solicitation document (IFB, RFP, or CSP) to see whether the pre-bid meeting is mandatory. If it is not mandatory, we still encourage you to attend, as it is a great opportunity to ask the buyer and department project managers clarifying questions about the bid opportunity. The more you know about the product or service requested, the better you can customize your bid to the City’s needs.

For informal purchases ($2,500-$24,999 purchases) and Invitations for Bid (IFBs), the bid award typically goes to the “lowest secure bid”: the lowest price that meets the department’s needs. Bids are primarily evaluated on price.

For RFPs and CSPs, other qualitative factors are as crucial to bid evaluation as price: experience, staff capacity and experience, methodology, creativity, and training, among others. The solicitation document will detail how each of these factors are weighted in bid evaluation. The bid award will go to the bidder that scores best in the set evaluation criteria.

Upon confirming the bid recommended for selection, the assigned buyer will email all participating bidders a memo announcing the recommended bid. The email will also share the time, date, and virtual meeting link for the Standard, Specifications, and Award (SSA) committee meeting where the bid award recommendation will be reviewed.

If approved by SSA, the award recommendation is then sent to the Mayor for the Mayor’s final approval. SSA meetings are held Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. in the City of Tulsa Council Meeting Room, 175 East 2nd Street, 2nd Floor, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The meeting will be held on a given Thursday at 8:30 a.m., depending on when the Bid award has been determined.

You can appeal a bid award recommendation at the Standard, Specifications, and Award (SSA) committee meeting. SSA meetings are held Thursdays at 8:30am in the City of Tulsa Council Meeting Room, 175 East 2nd Street, 2nd Floor, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

During this meeting, bidders who are not recommended for award can issue an appeal and ask that the bid award be reconsidered. Bidders who are not recommended for award can also email the Assigned Buyer prior to the SSA meeting if they have any questions or concerns regarding the award recommendation.

No. You only have to attend if you would like to appeal the bid award recommendation. You should also attend the meeting if you have any questions or concerns regarding award recommendation.

It depends on the question you have:

  • A specific bid opportunity: ANY questions about a bid opportunity should only be directed to the assigned buyer indicated on the solicitation document (IFB, RFP, CSP, TAC). You can find all their contact information online.
  • Products or services the City buys: You can also visit our “Bid Opportunities” page to see an updated list of contracts the Purchasing team manages.
  • Finalizing a contract: Reach out to Julie Miller, Purchasing Contract Coordinator, at (918) 596-7564 or jamiller@cityoftulsa.org.
  • Invoices and payment: Reach out to Accounts Payable at apinvoices@cityoftulsa.org.
  • All other questions unrelated to bid opportunities and award: Email purchasing@cityoftulsa.org.