State Procurement Office
The State Procurement Office provides comprehensive purchasing services based upon sound purchasing practices and principles, and has authority for the procurement of commodities, services, printing, and information technology.
- SPO Online – Bidding Opportunities Post solicitations online, find Bidder Lists and Commodity Codes, current solicitations, and search archived solicitations.
- SPO Work Request System Use this system to submit purchase requests to State Procurement, request assistance, have solicitations reviewed, submit forms, complaints, and give suggestions.
- State Contracts ND state government entities can use state contracts for goods, services, IT, and printing. Many contracts are available to public schools and political subdivisions.
- Agency Templates Customize procurement templates to create solicitations, contracts, amendments, notices, and letters to vendors.
- Training and Delegation State Procurement Officer training is required for state employees that have been delegated authority to purchase for the State.
- State Bidders List State Procurement maintains a list of vendors who are interested in receiving notice of state government bidding opportunities.
State Procurement Exemptions
The State Procurement Office does not purchase everything for the state. Some purchases are subject to other laws and are purchased directly by state agencies.
- Public Improvements are subject to NDCC § 48-01.2-01.
- Architect, Engineering and Land Surveying are subject to NDCC § 54-44.7.
- Concessions are subject to NDCC § 48-09.
- State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) has its own purchasing policies and procedures.
State Procurement Basics
Purchase directly from Government Supply Sources. State agencies can purchase from Government Supply Sources without obtaining competition.
Competition Requirements. If needed commodities or services cannot be obtained from a government supply source, procurement procedures must be used. The estimated purchase price determines the competition required:
- Level 1 – Small Purchase – Under $2,500. May purchase after soliciting only one informal bid or proposal (telephone, email, fax, letter, internet, etc.) provided the price is fair and reasonable. If multiple bids or proposals are obtained, informal competition procedures must be used. Rotate vendors solicited on an equitable basis. Use the State Purchasing Card whenever possible.
- Level 2 – Informal Purchase - $2,500.01 up to $25,000. Solicit informal bids or proposals (telephone, email, fax, letter, internet, etc.) from three or more vendors. A written justification is required if you do not receive three bids or proposals (e.g. “contacted three vendors, only two responded”).
- Level 3 – Formal Purchase - $25,000 and over. Solicit formal sealed bids or proposals with notice to vendor on the State Bidders List and post on the State Procurement Online website. The solicitation can be sent to other vendors not on the Bidders List.
Competition is required for Level 2 and Level 3 purchases. Occasionally, a fully competitive procurement process may be difficult or impossible. State agencies that seek to obtain less competition than required by estimated purchase price must obtain an approved Alternate Procurement.
Procurement Strategy: Bids vs. Request for Proposals (RFP)
Procurement officers need to customize the purchasing strategy for the needed commodity or service. Procurement training provides instructions on these methods. See Templates for informal and formal Bid and RFP templates.
- Competitive Bids Competitive bid solicitations include detailed specifications and contract terms and conditions. “Bidders” are asked to submit bids. Award is made to the responsible bidder whose bid meets specifications, is responsive to all solicitation requirements, and is the lowest price.
- Competitive Proposals Request for Proposals include a description of the needed commodity or service, contractual terms and conditions, and evaluation criteria (e.g. cost, quality of the proposal, experience & qualifications). “Offerors” are asked to submit proposals. Award is made to the responsible offeror whose proposal is responsive to all solicitation requirements and has been determined to be most advantageous, based upon the stated evaluation criteria. Discussions may be held. Best and Final Offers may be requested. Negotiation is permitted.
North Dakota has list of preference laws that must be applied when evaluating bids and proposals. “Preference” means an advantage in consideration for contract award. North Dakota has a “Reciprocal Preference” law (NDCC § 44-08-01) that requires the preference given to a resident North Dakota bidder be equal to the preference given or required by the state of the nonresident bidder. When a nonresident bidder responds to a solicitation, check if the bidder’s state has a preference law. North Dakota also has preference laws for specific goods and services. See OMB Guidelines to North Dakota Preference Laws.
Protests and Appeals
State law allows interested parties to protest solicitations, the notice of intent to award a contract, and the award of a contract (NDCC § 54-44.4-12). State procurement rules also address protests and appeals (NDAC § 4-12-14). See Templates. Contact your state agency’s lead procurement officer and legal counsel for assistance.
After a purchase decision is made, the state agency must award a contract using one of the following methods:
Contract administration is all the actions that take place after award to ensure the state receives the commodities and services we intended to obtain. Good contract administration includes monitoring contract performance, providing guidance to contractors, and taking corrective action when needed. Contract amendments are used to make changes to contracts.