By: Christian Contreras
Office of Councilwoman Digna Cabral
Rooted in transparency, the procurement and bidding process is a critical aspect of local governance. It is an exercise that embodies the most American economic principle of fair competition. It is a simple and pure type of competition where two, or more than two, companies compete on the basic parameters or pricing, quality, and servicing. At the City of Doral, the local government uses multiple platforms to invite and welcome all small businesses to offer its goods and services to fulfill the needs of our community. This allows for an efficient government and an informed public, where the details and expenditures of government operations are under constant revision and scrutiny, based on a well-defined scope of work.
The procurement and bidding process for goods and services whose price exceeds $15,000 USD is broken down into 23 consistent steps, which may be classified under three main phases for the sake of its review and understanding.
Under the first phase, the goal is to identify the need for a good or service by a City Department or User as it is labeled on the process. Here is where the User, in conjunction with Procurement, develops a Scope of Work (SOW) with the complete specifications and requirements for their desired goods or services. Then, Procurement uses the SOW and bid data sheet template to prepare an official bid solicitation package, which is then advertised on City of Doral’s Procurement website and Demand Star website.
Up to this point, elected officials are not informed of the goods or services to be solicited. Meaning they have no influence over the scope of work and, therefore, don’t have the possibility to influence or benefit a bidder. Moving forward, the Mayor, Vice Mayor, City Council, and Department Heads (Administration) are advised that the bid advertisements have been placed and that the Cone of Silence is in effect. The Cone of Silence prohibits any communication regarding a particular RFP, RFQ, or bid solicitation; it is designed to protect the professional integrity of the procurement process by shielding it from undue influences prior to the user recommendation of contract awards.
To wrap up the first phase, and if needed, bidders attend the pre-bid conference and/or submit questions during the designated questions and answers (Q&A) period, if applicable. Lastly, sealed bids are submitted by bidders, by the required date and time, to the City Clerk’s Office.
The second phase of the process is focused on informing stakeholders, and most importantly the community, of the bids received and for the department to make an assessment award recommendation. Here, sealed bids are publicly opened and read aloud at the pre-established date and time. This is without a doubt the best stage of the process for community members and residents to voice their opinions and preference. The City Clerk then creates a Bid Results List which contains the name of bidder(s) and date & time bid was received. Bid results list and electronic copies of bid package(s) are forwarded to Procurement and to User Department for review and assessment.
The assessment process varies depending on the type of package. If the procurement notice is defined as an Invitation to Bid: Bid Tabulation, Price Analysis Sheet, and Award Recommendation are developed by Procurement and sent to User for review. If the procurement notice is defined as a Request for Proposal or Request for Quotation: User chooses an evaluation committee that is approved by City Manager, which will review the received bids and score submittals during a public meeting. Based on evaluation and scores, the Award Recommendation is developed by User.
To finalize the second phase, User sends Award Recommendation memo to the City Manager, copying Procurement, justifying the award for the goods or services. Then the City Manager’s approval is sent to User and Procurement.
The third and last phase of the process is where elected officials award the bid and approve for the City Manager to enter negotiations with the awarded vendor. At this point, Administration is advised that the Cone of Silence has been lifted. User prepares approval legislation for submission to City Clerk, back-up material is provided to City Manager, and the item is placed on the upcoming City Council agenda. Here is where the resolution is developed and read aloud at City Council meeting, where public comments are still welcomed and publicly presented. The City Council votes to award bid and City Clerk certifies resolution.
Procurement, along with the User and City Attorney, work with awarded vendor to negotiate and finalize agreements. Procurement ensures that all agreements and documentation are signed and then provides the complete package to the City Clerk for proper record keeping. Every single one of these documents is public records and may be requested through a Public Record Request at the City Clerk office.
The City of Doral is consistent in its process, facilitating public involvement and assuring transparency every step of the way. The scope of work and requisites are clearly stated on every Bid Solicitation, making it a friendly process for small businesses, and guaranteeing a competitive price to make for an efficient government. It is up to us, community members, to become involved and keep Doral on track.
If you have any additional questions, please reach out to the Procurement Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.