What is the purchasing process in Hennepin County?
If a formal bid is required according to Minnesota Statutes, the county prepares bidding documents and invites sealed bids in the following ways:
- Advertisement: Invitations for sealed bids for commodities, biddable services and construction work are advertised in Finance and Commerce. To subscribe to this newspaper, call 612-333-4244.
- Internet: Formal bid notices are posted online at www.hennepin.us/ContractOpportunities.
- Mailing to bidders: For commodities and biddable services, you may request that the county place your name on a bidders list for the category of products or services that you sell. The county will send an invitation notice to you by mail or e-mail. Certified Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) also will receive notice of the contract opportunity.
- Construction bids are advertised in Finance and Commerce and on the Hennepin County website as noted above. Other publications that may offer this information are Reed Construction Data, McGraw Hill Construction, Minneapolis/St. Paul Builders Exchanges, the National Association of Minority Contractors of Upper Midwest (NAMC-UM), and the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA).
After the county receives and opens the sealed bids at the designated time and place for the public bid opening, and evaluates the bids to determine the lowest responsive and responsible bidder meeting specifications, then a contract award is made.
If formal bids are not required, the county refers to the bidders and certified SBE lists and contacts several of the businesses listed to obtain price quotes – by phone, mail or e-mail. The county states the items and quantities needed, and the bidders are asked to quote a firm price. Although not required by statute, sealed informal bids may be requested in some cases. After the lowest responsive and responsible bidder is determined, a contract award is made.
How do you get your business on the bidders list?
To get your business on the bidders list for commodities and biddable services, submit the vendor application to Hennepin County Purchasing and Contract Services:
- Download the vendor application from the Contract Opportunities web page.
- Get an application in Room A-1730 on the 17th floor of the Administration Tower, in the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis, MN 55487-0175.
- Call Purchasing and Contract Services at 612-348-3181 to request that an application be mailed to you.
What happens after you submit a vendor application?
After submitting a vendor application, you will be placed on a bidders list for the type of service or products you provide. When a bid opportunity arises, the county will send an invitation for bids for that service or products.
What information do you need to submit a bid?
- Specifications and bidding instructions: If you wish to respond to a formal bid invitation, you must obtain a copy of the detailed specifications and bid form. The bid advertisement will state where specifications, plans and bid forms can be obtained. It also will state the location where bids must be received, the time by which bids must be submitted, and, in the case of construction work, whether a plan deposit is required.
To submit a formal sealed bid, review the specifications for the product or service requested. The specifications describe the physical, technical or functional characteristics of the product, service or construction work. Specifications for construction projects usually consist of a project manual and plans.
Review and understand the specifications. Read them carefully, then re-read them to avoid misunderstanding. Call the buyer listed on the cover of the invitation if you have any questions about the specifications.
- A bid deposit or bid bond may be required with a formal bid. Any such requirement will be stated in the specifications. Your bid cannot be considered without the required deposit or bond.
- Affirmative action requirements: If the total estimated contract amount is more than $100,000, the affirmative action requirements as described in the specifications must be met by the contractor. These requirements are administered by contract compliance staff in Purchasing and Contract Services.
- Access for Small Business Enterprises (SBEs): Hennepin County is committed to ensuring that SBEs are provided access to contracting and subcontracting opportunities in Hennepin County. The county conducts outreach efforts to ensure that certified SBEs receive information on contracting opportunities.
Based on the opportunity for subcontracting and the availability of SBEs, the county may set an SBE goal. When an SBE subcontracting goal has been set, the successful bidder must meet the SBE requirement or demonstrate, through written documentation, that it could not meet the requirement despite its good faith efforts. The county encourages eligible businesses to become certified. However, it is not necessary to be certified as an SBE to do business with the county.
The county will normally obtain informal bids by phone or by e-mailing or mailing a request for quotation. In such cases, the items and quantities needed and the date by which you must submit your bid will be stated. Occasionally you may need to obtain and review detailed specifications and submit bids by a specific time.
How can you get certified as a Small Business Enterprise?
Your eligibility to be certified as a Small Business Enterprise is based on three factors:
- Your industry
- Your gross revenue (it cannot be greater than the limit established for your industry)
- Your location (your business must be operated from within a defined 15-county metropolitan area)
The county participates in a certification program that is supported by four local government jurisdictions. A single application is all that is necessary to be certified in all four jurisdictions.
For application information, contact:
- CERT PROGRAM
- c/o Contract and Analysis Services
- Room 280 City Hall/Courthouse Building
- 15 W. Kellogg Blvd.
- St. Paul, MN 55102
- E-mail | Website
- Phone: 651-266-8900
Considerations in submitting a bid
Normally you should not bid if you cannot deliver the product or service required under the terms and conditions of the specifications. However:
- If your product or service presents an exception to the specifications and the specifications allow for exceptions, provide a detailed explanation and required documents stating how your product or service can do the intended job as well or better.
- If you cannot bid on all items, bid on those that you can supply – unless the specifications do not allow for such bidding.
- If your business receives an invitation for bids or request for quotation and decides not to bid, please notify Purchasing and Contract Services buyer of that decision by e-mail.
If you submit a bid in accordance with the specifications and your bid is accepted, you are obligated to fulfill the terms and conditions of the specifications.
How do you prepare and submit bids?
- For both formal sealed bids and informal bids, fill out the bid proposal form. Be sure your bid is accurate in terms of each product or service specified and price.
- For formal sealed bids, properly completed bid proposal forms, including other required documentation, must be received at the specified location by the time specified. Any bid received after the specified time cannot be considered.
What happens after you submit your bid?
You may attend the public opening of sealed bids. The time and place of the public bid opening is stated in the specifications.
After receiving and evaluating sealed bids or informal bids, a contract award is made to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder meeting the specifications. In addition to your price, other contract award considerations are:
- Your business’s reputation and experience
- Your ability to meet delivery stocking requirements and requirements of the contract
- Product quality
- Knowledge and experience with the bidder in terms of past performance
- Past good faith efforts to meet Hennepin County’s Affirmative Action and Small Business Enterprise requirements
Written notice of the contract award is sent to the successful bidder. Bid deposits (certified checks or money orders) are normally returned to the unsuccessful bidders shortly after the award is made.
What happens if you are awarded a contract?
If you are awarded a contract, you are responsible for delivering the product or service as required. No product or service should be delivered before the contract is signed or a purchase order is received from Hennepin County. Also, no work should be performed on county facilities or work sites before the contract has been signed, any required bonding has been obtained, and an acceptable certificate of insurance has been submitted to Purchasing and Contract Services.
When the awarded contract total (and, when applicable, the total of other contracts within the past 12 months) is more than $100,000, you must make a good faith effort to comply with applicable affirmative action and Small Business Enterprise requirements.
Who can you call for more information?
If you have questions about products or services purchased by the county or about its purchasing process, contact Purchasing and Contract Services at 612-348-3181.
If you have questions about the county’s affirmative action/contract compliance policies or the Small Business Enterprise Program, contact Purchasing and Contract Services at 612-348-2528.
Additional phone numbers and web links