Purchasing is the act of procuring goods, services or works from an external source.
Public purchases should be:
• Of good quality
• Purchased at the best possible cost.
Public bodies often put out an “RFP” (Request for Purchase), or bid process in which companies must submit a proposed request, all using the same requirements, and generally unable to see what other vendors have in their bids. The purchase process should promote fair and open competition.
Sometimes the purchasing process exposes taxpayers to fraud and collusion, if favorable treatment is given to one company, or if the RFP is tailored in a way that gives a favored company an advantage.
Below are three examples of the purchasing process:
- An RFP issued by the state of Colorado for a Uniform Voting System (“UVS”), with the bid submission prepared by an elections company called Hart Intercivic.
- An example of a letter from the state of Louisiana Office of State Purchasing which lists the elections companies that participated in a meeting in regards to a state RFP for voting systems
- An example of the rules for purchasing in Riverside County, California
Colorado RFP response from Hart: HartColoradoUVSProposal
Louisiana letter listing RFP meeting participants: louisiana-rfp-participants
Riverside County, California purchasing ordinance: ca-riverside-purchasing-ordinance-459.4
(Excerpt: “Section 4. BIDDING PROCEDURES. …The Purchasing Agent shall notify the Board of Supervisors prior to the purchase or acquisition of any item or service costing more than $25,000 made without securing competitive bids. He or she shall also report to the Board within four weeks, with his or her reasons, the purchase of any item costing over $2,500 from other than the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. In the performance of his or her functions hereunder, the Purchasing Agent shall comply with all applicable statutes, ordinances, and regulations. In making purchases he or she shall use such methods and procedures as in his or her judgment will secure the lowest price consistent with the quality desirable for the use intended and the needs of the requisitioning officer.”)