Revised August, 2019
Purchasing is a term used to describe the activities of obtaining materials, supplies, equipment and services that are required for the operation of county business.
The purchasing system is governed by General Municipal Law Sections 103 and 104, the goal of which is the protection of the public’s tax dollar from elements of favoritism, improvidence, extravagance, corruption and fraud.
In general, the objectives of purchasing are to buy materials, supplies, equipment and services of the right quality, in the right quantity, from the right source and at the right price.
The Board of Legislators has delegated the responsibility and authority for purchasing and all of the accompanying functions to the Purchasing Office and the County Administrator.
The keynote of any successful purchasing system is cooperation; cooperation between department heads and the Purchasing Office, cooperation between the Purchasing Office and the fiscal officer, cooperation between the governing board and all officers and employees of the county.
As used in this handbook:
1. “Blanket Purchase Order” shall mean a purchase order which is issued to one vendor for a specific period of time for items frequently purchased.
2. "Board" shall mean the Board of Legislators
3. "Claim" shall mean a vendor's request for payment for materials furnished or for services rendered.
4. “Commodities” shall mean standard articles of commerce in the form of material goods, supplies, products or similar items
5. “Invitation for Sealed Bids” shall mean the solicitation process used for competitive, sealed bidding. The response to a sealed bid is an offering which must be accepted or rejected without change
6. "Invoice" shall mean a formal statement or billing submitted by a vendor, showing the amount due and terms of payment for supplies delivered or for services rendered
7. “Piggybacking” shall mean the purchasing of commodities and/or services by utilizing a contract let by another public entity. (Can only be done when certain criteria are met.
Contact Purchasing Office for more information).
8. “Professional Services” are unique, technical functions performed by independent
contractors whose occupation is the rendering of such services and whose services
often require a license to operate. Examples include but are not limited to the following: medical services, management consultation services, architects and/or engineering services, accounting, appraisal and legal services
9. "Public Emergency" shall mean the need for the procurement of goods or services arising out of an accident or other unforeseen occurrences or conditions whereby circumstances may affect public buildings, public property or the life, health, safety or property of the inhabitants of St. Lawrence County
10. “Public Work” shall mean construction, including major repairs or alterations, general maintenance and/or repairs to County buildings, building services contracts or other labor-intensive projects
11. "Purchase Order" shall mean a formal, detailed notice to a vendor to furnish supplies or equipment
12. "Purchasing" shall mean the act of obtaining supplies, equipment or services necessary to carry out a particular function of the county
13. "Purchasing Agent" shall mean the person designated to contract for necessary supplies, equipment and services. The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators has delegated these responsibilities to the County Administrator.
14. “Request for Proposals” (RFP) shall mean a more complicated and detailed form of a quote, usually used when acquiring a professional service such as architect or consultant. A RFP should include a work statement or performance specification detailing what is required, the time frames within which the work is to be completed and evaluation criteria by which a proposer will be judged. The firm’s experience and ability to perform the specified work, the firm’s personnel and past performance may be evaluated. Price is not the sole factor in determining the award of the proposal
15. “Request for Qualifications” (RFQ) shall mean a qualifications-based selection process.
Firms are asked to submit their qualifications for a project, allowing the County to select the firm who is most qualified for the project. It is allowable for fee negotiations to begin after the firm has been identified.
16. “Request for Quotation” shall mean the process used for seeking competition on
small purchases which do not require competitive sealed bidding. The quotation
response shall be accepted as-is, without change or negotiation
17. "Requisition" shall mean a written request to the Purchasing Office for one or more items or services necessary to carry on or improve a particular function of the county
18. "Requisitioner" shall mean the official or department head, or their authorized subordinate, initiating a request for goods or services
19. “Services” shall mean the furnishing of labor, time or effort by a contractor, not involving the delivery of a specific end product
20. "Specifications" shall mean a written description of needed supplies, equipment or services setting forth in a clear and concise manner the characteristics of the items and/or services to be purchased and the circumstances under which the purchase will be made
21. "Vendor" shall mean a supplier of goods or services to the County
1. The Purchasing Office shall be responsible for developing and administering the purchasing program of St. Lawrence County in conjunction with the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators.
2. The St. Lawrence County Purchasing Office is hereby authorized to make all purchases of necessary goods and services by any means legally available within the State of New York and within all applicable rules and regulations, in the best interest of the taxpayers of St. Lawrence County.
As authorized by New York General Municipal Law 103 and St. Lawrence County Local Law No. 1 for the year 2014, purchase contracts (including contracts for service work, but excluding any purchase contracts necessary for the completion of a public works contract pursuant to article eight of the Labor Law) may be awarded on the basis of best value, as defined in section 163 of the State Finance Law and as authorized in section 103 of the General Municipal Law, to a responsive and responsible offeror. When the bid specifications state that the bid will be awarded on the basis of “best value”, the specifications will also include the criteria that will be used to award the bid. In assessing best value when awarding the purchase contract, non-price factors can be considered. Non-price factors can include, but are not limited to, environmental benefits, energy efficiency, reliability of a product, efficiency of operation, difficulty/ease of maintenance, useful lifespan, ability to meet needs regarding timeliness of performance, and experience of a service provider with similar contracts. The basis for a best value award, however, must reflect, whenever possible, objective and quantifiable analysis. Bids awarded by best value must be scored and the scoring must be documented. The manner in which the evaluation and award of offers will be conducted and, as appropriate, the relative importance of weighting of price and non –price factors should be included in the bid specifications. Such basis may also identify a quantitative factor for offerors that are small business or certified minority or women-owned business enterprises as defined in subdivisions one, seven, fifteen and twenty of section 310 of the Executive Law.
Not all bids will benefit nor are eligible for the best value award method. Prior approval from the Purchasing Office is required to proceed with a bid to be awarded by best value. Bids solicited in this manner will be titled a Request for Competitive Offers. Bids to be awarded in this manner must still be awarded to a responsive and responsible bidder or offeror.
PROCEDURES FOR THE PURCHASE OF
COMMODITIES, EQUIPMENT OR GOODS
Dollar Limit PROCEDURE
$1 - $2,000 At the discretion of the Purchasing Office
$2,001 - $8,000 Documented telephone quotes from at least 3
separate vendors (if available). Confirming fax/email quotes from at least 3 separate vendors (if available)
$8,001-20,000 Formal written quotes from at least 3 separate
vendors (if available)
Proper documentation, acceptable to the Purchasing Office, must be given if the required number of quotes cannot be accommodated.
$20,001 and up Sealed bids in conformance with Municipal Law,
The following language should be added to applicable bids (those for goods and services which do NOT require prevailing wages):
“The contract, if awarded, will be to the lowest responsive/responsible bidder (s) in part or in whole who meet (s) all the terms of the specifications. St. Lawrence County guarantees no minimum or maximum purchases or contracts as a result of award of this bid. St. Lawrence County reserves the right to allow all municipal and not for profit organizations authorized under the General Municipal Laws of the State of New York to purchase any goods and/or services awarded as a result of this bid in accordance with the latest amendments to NYS GML 100 through 104. However, it is understood that the extension of such contracts are at the sole discretion of the vendor and the vendor is only bound to any contract between St. Lawrence County and the vendor. Vendor may not look to St. Lawrence County for payment in the event another municipality or authorized entity piggybacks on a St. Lawrence County awarded bid and orders equipment, materials or supplies, but fails to pay for them. Additionally, St. Lawrence County reserves the right to purchase any goods or services included as a part of this bid from any means legally available to it at any time.”
Proper documentation is required when the quote or bid is not awarded to the vendor
giving the lowest price. Quotes and/or bids will be awarded to the lowest responsible and
PROCEDURES FOR PUBLIC WORK
Section 220 of the Labor Law requires public work contractors and subcontractors to pay laborers, workers, etc., employed in the performance of a public work contract not less than the prevailing rate of wage and to provide supplements (fringe benefits) in accordance with the prevailing practices in the locality where the work is performed.
Whenever a project is contemplated where labor is involved, the issue of prevailing wages should be considered. The prevailing rate schedule must be included in the specifications for the contract to be awarded and is deemed part of the public work contract.
You must send in a request for a Prevailing Wage Schedule for the particular job in question. You will receive a package of current wage schedules, along with forms that must be filled out and returned to the Labor Department. Each job has its own assigned number and name. For example, you cannot just use a Prevailing Wage Schedule for carpenters for each carpenter job that comes along. You must request a Prevailing Wage Schedule for each particular job.
PUBLIC WORK PROJECTS/CONTRACTS
Dollar Limit Procedures
$1 - $5,000 At the discretion of the Purchasing
$5,000 - $15,000 Documented telephone quotes from at
least 3 separate vendors (if available).
Confirming fax/email quotes from at least 3
separate vendors (if available)
$15,000 - $35,000 Formal written quotes or Request for Proposals
from at least 3 separate vendors (if available) are
$35,001 and up Formal sealed bids in conformance with
General Municipal Law, Section 103.
In all circumstances, whenever the lowest quote is not awarded, there must be written documentation of the reason for the award. Under no circumstances can a quote that exceeds the bid limit be awarded.
PROCEDURES FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
The intent of General Municipal Law, Section 104-b, also includes the hiring of consultants and professionals for services. The following policy shall apply:
Dollar Limit Procedure
$1 - $5,000 Award will be upon the recommendation
of the department head, and with the approval of the Purchasing Office.
$5,001 - $20,000 Documented telephone quotes from at least
3 separate vendors (if available) with
confirming fax/email quotes. The award
will be made upon the recommendation of
the department head and the approval of the Purchasing Office.
$20,001-$50,000 Prices will be obtained by formal written
quotes from at least 3 separate vendors (if available). The award will be made upon the recommendation of the department head and the approval of the Purchasing Office.
$50,001 and up Prices will be obtained by either Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from at least 3 separate vendors (if available). The award will be made upon recommendation of the department head and the approval of the Purchasing Office.
ALL RFPS AND RFQS SHALL BE REVIEWED BY THE PURCHASING OFFICE PRIOR TO DISTRIBUTION TO PROSPECTIVE VENDORS
The County may vary from this professional services procurement policy, with County Administrator and/or Board of Legislators approval.
Please see RFP guidelines section on the next page for assistance in preparing RFPs.
Awards to someone other than the lowest proposer must be properly documented with the rationale/reason for rejection of the lowest price. Any and all procedures not specifically covered in this policy will be adhered to as covered in General Municipal Law, Section 104-b.
Exceptions to the Professional Services process are as follows. These procurements are subject to the approval of the Purchasing Office.
- Human Service contracts which provide Direct Professional Services to clients. These services shall include, but not be limited to the following:
- Agreements between the County Legislature and non-profit organizations, the federal government, or other state or local governments, including the transfer, sale or exchange of goods and/or services.
- Contracts in which the nature and scope requires contracting with multiple agencies or individuals to provide the same service, or which all vendors are needed to fulfill the demand.
- Set Rate Contracts - those contracts that the payment rate is set by local, state or federal agencies.
- Human service contracts in which client-choice is required by state or federal guidelines.
- Professional Service Agreements and Contracts between the County and the Following:
- United States Government.
- New York State Government, including, but not limited to, state agencies and units of the State University of New York.
- Other local governments, school districts, and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).
- Not-For-Profit Organizations.
- Public Benefit Corporations or Public Authorities.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension.
- Soil and Water Districts.
- Contracts for legal services and support services related to the provision of the legal services.
REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL GUIDELINES
A Request for Proposals (RFP) is a formal invitation to submit an offer. The offer is to provide a solution to a problem or a need that an organization has identified. The RFP is used when the County isn’t sure what solution would best suit our needs or when we are looking for different solutions. RFP should be used when procuring professional services which involve a specialized skill, training or expertise (i.e. architects, engineers, consultants, software specialists).
All RFP should contain the following:
- Background Information (provide a brief overview of your organization; provide a brief overview of the procurement subject matter; describe the background surrounding this procurement; list key dates/events, including the due date for the RFP and possibly the time frame for selection of proposal by the County; list definitions)
- Objectives and Technical Requirements (include specific objectives and desired outcomes – also include any specific technical requirements for the contract. List any criteria which are required to qualify vendors for this procurement. This may include past experience requirements, financial statements, staffing and personnel biographies and certification/license requirements)
- Cost Proposal Requirements (describe how you would like the cost proposals submitted (i.e. fixed price, lump sum, cost plus)
- Contractual Terms and Conditions (list the standard terms and conditions – include a sample contract if available)
- Administrative Section (describe how inquiries to the RFP can be handled, pre-proposal conference info, insurance requirements)
- Proposal Format & Content (describe in what format all proposals are to be submitted –proposals can be rejected if not submitted in the proper format)
- Proposal Evaluation Criteria (describe what criteria will be used to evaluate the RFP)
- Proposal Evaluation Team (List who will be evaluating the RFP)
- Attachments (list what attachments, i.e. non-collusion certificates, reference sheets, etc. that must be returned with the proposal)
The federal programs of the County are governed by the Uniform Guidance issued by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In accordance with the requirements set forth by 2 CFR sections 200.317 through 200.326 of the Uniform Guidance, the following guidelines must be followed.
- Article 3, Section B of the St. Lawrence County Ethics Law sets forth policy that County officers or employees must avoid conflicts or potential conflicts of interest. This would include conflicts of interest with regards to the selection, award, and administration of contracts.
- State or local geographical preferences in evaluation of bids do not apply to federally funded programs. No language can be included in procurement solicitations contrary to this section.
- Thresholds for small dollar purchases are outlined in the St. Lawrence County Purchasing Policy. These thresholds are applicable to federal programs.
- Procurement transactions must be conducted in a manner providing full and open competition. Specifications shall not include unreasonable requirements on firms in order for them to qualify to do business with the County.
- The County cannot enter into a contract funded by the Federal Government with a contractor that is debarred or suspended by an agency of the Federal or New York State Government.
- Construction contracts greater than $250,000 are required to have at a minimum the following bonding requirements.
- A bid guarantee from each bidder equivalent to five percent of the bid price.
- Performance and payment bonds on the part of the contractor for 100 percent of the contract price.
- Contracts subject to this section must contain the applicable provisions described in Appendix II to part 200 – Contract provisions for non-Federal Entity Contracts under Federal Award.
- The County will perform a cost or price analysis in connection with every procurement action in excess of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold of $250,000. At a minimum, the cost analysis will include an independent estimate prepared before receiving bids or proposals.
1. If an emergency exists where the delay caused by soliciting quotes would endanger the health, welfare, or property of the municipality, or more importantly the individual tax payer, then the procurement of goods or services will be at the discretion of the County Administrator, with documentation as to the nature of the emergency being sent to the Purchasing Office, within five (5) working days of such procurement.
2. The Purchasing Office. shall procure supplies and equipment, as needed, at the best possible price and maintain adequate records to show that this was done. Section 103 of the General Municipal Law allows for exceptions to competition (true leases, surplus equipment and sole source are examples). These purchases shall be made as outlined in General Municipal Law.
3. Purchase contracts for materials, equipment and supplies involving an estimated annual expenditure of over $20,000, and public works contracts involving over $35,000, shall be awarded only after public advertising and soliciting for formal bids (pursuant to Section 103 of the General Municipal Law).
4. All contracts, which require public advertising and competitive bidding, shall be awarded as provided by law and the rules and regulations of the board. Recommendations for awarding contracts shall be submitted by the appropriate department head and/or employee.
5. Purchases shall be made as required under Section 175 a and b of the State Finance Law and Section 162 of the Procurement Stewardship Act of 1995, through available state contracts of the Office of General Services, Division of Purchasing, the List of Preferred Source offerings from Correctional Industries (Corcraft), Industries for the Blind, and Industries for the Disabled (NYSID), or under County Contracts pursuant to Section 408-a of the County Law, whenever such purchases are in the best interest of the county.
The List of Preferred Source offerings also contain a requirement to notify preferred sources when certain SERVICES are needed. After you have determined a need for a service, you must check with the Purchasing Office to determine if the service being requested is available from one of the Preferred Sources. If the service is listed, you must contact the Preferred Source and provide them with your requirements. They have 10 days to let you know if they can fulfill your needs. Purchasers are not allowed under the law to solicit bids or award contracts for listed services until the above procedure has been completed.
Purchases made by utilizing New York State contracts may be done without the requirement of obtaining quotes or bids as New York State has already gone to bid for these items. Purchases made through National Cooperative contracts or other piggybackable municipal contracts must be pre-approved by the Purchasing Office as these contracts need to be individually vetted prior to use.
The use of New York State contracts, national cooperative contracts or municipal contracts may alleviate the necessity for quotes or bids; however, obtaining price quotes is still advised as these contracts may not represent the best possible price for the County.
When utilizing any of the above contracts, the department is responsible for submitting proper supporting documentation to the Purchasing Office including but not limited to: proof that the vendor holds a current contract, proof that the item (s) being purchased are included in the contract, and contract price verification.
New York State, national cooperative or municipal contract pricing may be negotiated downward from the stated contract price.
6. The Purchasing Office shall issue purchase orders after first determining that unencumbered balances of budgetary appropriations are adequate to cover such obligations.
7. Supplies used by various offices and departments shall be uniform whenever consistent with operational goals and in the interest of efficiency or economy. These supplies may be available in the Central Stockroom.
8. When two or more responsible bidders who have met the specifications, and have furnished the required security, submit bids or quotations identical in price, preference in the award shall be given to a local St. Lawrence County vendor. If the tie involves multiple St. Lawrence County vendors, lots will be drawn among the local vendors to determine the award. For purposes of this section, a St. Lawrence County vendor is defined as a business in which the majority of the ownership of the business is by persons whose primary residence is in the County of St. Lawrence, State of New York. If the tie does not involve any St. Lawrence County vendors, lots will be drawn among the bidders who submitted the tie bids or quotations to determine the award.
9. All purchase orders and contracts entered into by St. Lawrence County are subject to compliance with the St. Lawrence County Ethics Law.
1. With the exception of purchases made under blanket purchase orders and/or confirming orders (those requiring immediate action), only the person designated as Purchasing Agent may commit the county for a purchase. The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators has delegated these responsibilities to the County Administrator.
The Auditing staff and the Purchasing Office will review these purchases and inform the County Administrator whenever items could have been purchased for a minimal amount, and were not, thereby wasting the taxpayers' dollars.
2. The material, equipment, supplies and/or services to be purchased shall be of the quality and quantity required to serve the function in a satisfactory manner, as determined by the requisitioner and the Purchasing Office.
3. It is the responsibility of the requisitioner to provide an adequate description of items needed and prepare the specifications to procure the desired commodity and/or service. The Purchasing Office will assist the requisitioner in the preparation of specifications. All requisitions are processed through the County’s MUNIS Financial System.
4. It is the responsibility of the Purchasing Office to make alternative suggestions to the requisitioner if, in the judgement of the Purchasing Office, the specifications would restrict competition or otherwise preclude the most economical purchase of the required items. In case of disagreement as to the content of the specifications, the County Administrator, after reviewing all available data, shall make the final determination.
5. When a low bidder proposes an alternative as “an equal” to what is specified, it is the responsibility of the Purchasing Office, department head, and/or the County Attorney, to determine whether the proposed substitution is, in fact, equal.
Blanket purchase orders are used for items which are frequently purchased from the same vendor on an “as needed" basis during a certain calendar period. A blanket purchase order eliminates the processing of many individual purchase orders and allows the departments flexibility in ordering and receiving commodities.
The requesting department initiates a purchase requisition for the calendar period needed. The dollar amount is estimated by the department head (or designee) and is reviewed by the Purchasing Office. The Purchasing Agent will issue an encumbered purchase order. The purchase order number must be given to the vendor when ordering commodities and must appear on all paperwork received from the vendor. After receiving the last invoice for the month, process the invoices for payment.
If the dollar amount on the blanket purchase order will be used up before the end of the purchase order period and additional purchases must be made, submit a request to the Purchasing Office to increase the purchase order. DO NO EXCEED THE ENCUMBERED BLANKET PURCHASE ORDER DOLLAR AMOUNT. Exceeding the dollar amount appropriated on a blanket purchase order is, in fact, placing an order without the approved appropriation of funds. The New York State Comptroller's office states that this practice does not conform to accepted accounting principles.
The department(s) submitting blanket purchase requisitions for a particular commodity, (i.e. food), on existing awarded county bid contracts, will not be allowed to purchase any other items on that blanket PO (i.e., dishes, etc.) on the blanket purchase order issued. The requesting department will submit a separate purchase requisition.
A verbal order, subject to subsequent confirmation by a written purchase order, may be given in cases where immediate action is needed. Naturally, such a deviation from "normal" will have a very limited use, and prior permission is needed from the County Administrator or Purchasing Office.
The individual placing such an order shall justify the need for this action. Inadequate time given by the Department for processing will not be considered a valid reason for this process.
A confirming order shall be issued immediately after the availability of funds is determined and certified. This order shall follow the same procedures as other orders, but shall have priority so that the vendor will receive the order without delay. The order shall be marked "confirming".
The county will not be responsible for orders placed in this manner, unless a confirming order has been cleared through the purchasing office.
Thus far, we have discussed the procedures to be followed when a purchase order is needed. We reflect on the need for cooperation and control.
Control involves not only compliance with required purchasing procedures, but also affects paperwork. "Over-papering" can ruin the effectiveness of the system almost as quickly as noncompliance.
There are certain expenditures for which the processing of a purchase order/requisition is unnecessary. The following shall be made without purchase orders/requisitions:
1. Contracts for services - any encumbrance should be on the basis of contracts
2. Employee expenses such as travel and conference expenses, meals, mileage and other reimbursable expenses in performance of day-to-day duties
3. Reimbursement of petty cash funds
4. Utility bills
5. Service contracts for a fixed monthly or annual amount. (May be encumbered on the basis of contracts)
6. Interdepartmental charges. Medical examinations and veterinarian fees
8. Legal notices and classified advertisements
9. Postage Meter Costs
Section 103(3) of the General Municipal Law permits any municipality to purchase materials, equipment or supplies utilizing County Bid Awards. The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators has authorized the inclusion of a provision allowing municipalities, and/or subcontract agencies, located wholly or partly within the county, to participate in purchase contracts awarded by them (pursuant to County Law, 408-a).
All purchases shall be subject to audit and inspection by the municipality and the municipality shall be solely responsible for any payments due.
All printed material relating to the procurement of the item, and subsequent payment to the vendor, shall make reference to the county contract.
COUNTY-OWNED PERSONAL PROPERTY
The sale or disposition of personal property, which is no longer of use by St. Lawrence County, shall be in accordance with the following rules and regulations adopted by the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, except as otherwise provided by law:
To allow preference to municipalities in St. Lawrence County, surplus equipment and supplies will be offered to municipalities before being offered to the general public.
- Notices will be sent to all St. Lawrence County Towns, Villages, and the City of Ogdensburg listing the surplus equipment and supplies available, and times that they may inspected. Municipalities will be given a minimum of two weeks to inspect and bid on the surplus equipment and supplies.
- After the municipalities have their opportunity to bid on the surplus equipment and supplies, the remaining items will be offered to the general public through Auction or sealed bid.
The equipment or supplies offered will be awarded to the highest bidder. Tie bids will be determined by drawing lots. The County does reserve the right to reject any, and all bids. The County also reserves the right to sell to next highest bidder if the successful bidder fails to accept the award.
3. Transfer of surplus equipment to Political Subdivisions and School Districts in St. Lawrence County: The County Administrator may authorize the transfer of items valued at less than $250.00 to municipal governments and school districts in St. Lawrence County at no cost to the municipality.
This transfer may be accomplished in the following manners:
- By written request of a municipality or school district to the County Administrator.
(b) By a letter being sent by the Purchasing Office to all St. Lawrence County Towns, Villages, School Districts, and the City of Ogdensburg. This letter would indicate that surplus equipment valued at less than $250 is available at no cost to the municipalities or school districts. Instructions for viewing and picking up the surplus equipment will be provided by the Purchasing Office in the letter.