How to Do Business with the City of Alexandria - A Guide for Vendors
Suite 301 - Bankers Square
100 North Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
A Guide for Vendors
Thank you for your interest in doing business with the City of Alexandria, Virginia. The provision of vital services to our citizens is ultimately the result of a partnership between the departments of City government and the vendor community which provides the goods and services needed to support City operations.
The mission of the Purchasing Division is to purchase goods, services, construction and insurance at the request and in support of departments of the City of Alexandria government in order that those departments may respond to the needs of the citizens of the City in an efficient and cost effective manner. Activities of the personnel of the Purchasing Division shall be performed in a manner that guarantees the integrity of the purchasing process, and that all vendors and City personnel are treated equitably and professionally.
We hope that this booklet will assist you in better understanding the process to be followed to do business with the City of Alexandria.
The government of the City of Alexandria consists of 28 departments with an annual budget of nearly $771 million. These departments purchase a variety of goods and services ranging from pencils to multi-million dollar construction projects.
In accordance with the City Charter and the City Code, the Purchasing Division is responsible for the procurement of all goods and services for City departments. Some City functions and legally independent authorities have been exempted from purchasing through the Purchasing Division. Some City departments also have received specific delegations of purchasing authority and responsibility. All expenditures of public funds must, though, be made under the authority and procedures of the Purchasing provisions of Virginia law or the City Code.
This pamphlet is designed to provide an introduction and an easy reference to vendors desiring to supply goods and services to the City of Alexandria.
Questions about City purchasing functions should be addressed to:
Suite 301 - Bankers Square
100 North Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
See Current Bidding Opportunities at the Vendor Self-Service portal!
Exceptions to Purchasing
The following City functions and legally independent authorities are exempt from the authority of the Purchasing Division.
- Alexandria City Public Schools;
- Alexandria Public Library;
- Alexandria Transit Company (DASH);
- Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA);
- AlexRenew (formerly the Alexandria Sanitation Authority);
- Any institution to which the City makes a lawful grant-in-aid and over which it retains no control;
- Purchases from the State Penitentiary or from the State Purchasing Department Warehouse;
- Legal services and services associated with actual or potential litigation or regulatory proceedings;
- Purchases of water, sewer, electric, telephone and other utility services and motor vehicle license plates;
- Purchases for undercover police work when the items are certified by the Police Chief to the Purchasing Agent of the Purchasing Division as necessary for that purpose.
- Purchases for direct use by recipients of public assistance programs.
Only the City Manager and the Purchasing Agent of the Purchasing Division have authority under the City Charter and the City Code for approving contracts for goods and services needed by City departments other than those listed in Section III.
In order to assure efficiency of operations, Department Directors of City government have been delegated authority to make certain purchase transactions without prior approval by the Purchasing Division.
These delegated authorities include:
- Small purchases within the approved dollar threshold amount of the Department. This includes items that are not on City contracts and excludes computers, vehicles, furniture and other capital asset items with a useful life of three years or more. Selected City personnel have been issued Purchase Cards to use on these small purchases.
- Travel advances and reimbursements.
- Dues, subscriptions and books.
- Payments for recreation performances.
- Insurance claims and payments.
- Utility and rent payments.
- Emergency purchases during off-duty hours when the safety, health and welfare of city employees or the public is threatened, or when vital equipment malfunctions and delays will affect the delivery of essential City services.
A. Formal Sealed Bids or Proposals
Whenever the City seeks to procure a good or service estimated to cost more than $100,000 (soon to be $200,000), a Formal Sealed Invitation to Bid or a Request for Proposals will be issued. All Formal Proposals are advertised once in a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Alexandria at least 10 days prior to the date bids or proposals are due. The Bid or Proposal document is also placed on the Vendor Self Service (VSS) link on the Purchasing Division Web Page.
Announcements of Formal Sealed Bids and Proposals are available for download on the VSS website free of charge.
Responses to Formal Sealed Bids and Proposals are secured unopened until the date and time specified in the advertisement. Sealed Bids are opened publicly and read aloud. The offerors of Sealed Proposals are recorded, but proposals and cost data are not revealed until after evaluation of the proposals and an award is made.
B. Informal Quotations and Solicitations of Proposals
For goods and services estimated to cost less than $100,000 (soon to be $200,000), the City seeks price quotations and proposals from at least three vendors using techniques that are less stringent than for Formal Invitations to Bid and Request for Proposals.
Informal Quotations and Proposals may be requested and received using email, facsimile or other unsealed methods of expediting the exchange of information between the vendor and the City’s Purchasing Division. City Departments use delegated authority to seek informal quotations for purchases up to their threshold limit.
Getting on the Vendors List
To be added to the City of Alexandria list of prospective bidders, please complete the Vendor Self-Service registration process and IRS Form W-9.
Completing Bids or Proposals
- Read the Invitation to Bid or the Request for Proposals in its entirety. Be certain you understand its requirements.
- Identify all requirements for signatures, certificates and enclosures. Verify any blanks that must be filled in. Failure to sign bids and certificates and to fill in required blanks may disqualify your bid or offer.
- Be certain you are aware of the time and date your response is due. Allow enough time to prepare your response and either upload it to the VSS website or deliver it to the Purchasing Office. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE CERTAIN THAT BIDS OR PROPOSALS ARE SUBMITTED PRIOR TO THE DATE AND TIME SPECIFIED.
- If there are any mandatory pre-bid or pre-proposal conferences or site visits, you must be present or your Bid/Proposal will not be considered for award.
- If samples are required, they must be submitted. The City does not return samples.
- Proposals must be submitted in Adobe PDF format.
- Keep a copy of your response when submitting it.
Before you submit your bid, double-check the following:
- Are all computations correct?
- Is the Bid/Proposal signed by a person authorized to bind the company in a contract?
- Are errors and modifications lined through, corrected in ink and initialed?
- Are all certificates and enclosures required by the Invitation/Request included?
Attendance at Bid Openings
- You are encouraged to attend bid openings.
- All bids will be opened and read aloud. You may inspect the bids briefly at bid openings.
- No information will be released following the bid opening until an award is made. The bids become public records and are open to detailed inspection after award. All bidders responding to the ITB receive a notice of award and tabulation of bids.
- If you wish to have copies of bid documents and contracts, you must file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of the City Attorney. There will be a charge for researching, extracting and copying files under the FOIA provisions.
Receipt of Formal Proposals
- The responses to Requests for Proposal are opened and recorded at the date and time for closing that is given in the RFP.
- No portions of RFP's are publicly read or open to public inspection until after an award has been made.
Withdrawal of Bids Due to Error
- Bids may be withdrawn only when the provisions of Section 3-3-42, City Code, are met. Requests to withdraw bids must be in writing and received by the Purchasing Agent of the Purchasing Division within two (2) business days after bid opening.
- Requests to withdraw bids must be accompanied by original work papers, documents and materials used to prepare the bid.
- A decision by the Purchasing Agent shall be provided in writing to the bidder requesting withdrawal.
- Appeal of a decision by the Purchasing Agent denying withdrawal of a bid must be received by the Purchasing Division within ten (10) days of receipt of the Purchasing Agent's decision. Procedures for such appeals are set forth in Section 3-3-102 and Section 3-3-108, City Code.
Protests of Awards
- Protests of awards or of decisions to award contracts must be received by the Purchasing Agent no later than 10 days after the award or the announcement of the decision to award, whichever occurs first. The written protest shall include the basis for the protest and the relief sought.
- Procedures for protests are set forth in Sections 3-3-104 and 3-3-108, the City Code.
Debarment or Suspension
- The Purchasing Agent may debar a person or company from consideration for awards or contracts for a period up to three (3) years upon a finding of cause that the vendor has engaged in the following activities.
- Conviction of a criminal offense relating to the acquisition or performance of a public or private contract or subcontract.
- Conviction under state or federal laws of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, receiving stolen property or offenses indicating a lack of business integrity or honesty.
- Conviction under state or federal anti-trust statutes arising from the submission of bids or proposals.
- Serious violation of contract provisions.
- The Purchasing Agent may suspend a person or company from consideration for award or contracts for a period up to three months upon a finding of probable cause that might lead to debarment.
- Decisions to debar or suspend shall be provided in writing. The vendor may appeal a decision to the City Manager within ten (10) days of receipt of the decision.
- Procedures for debarment and suspension are provided in Sections 3-3-1 through 3-3-94, City Code.
- In the case of tie bids, preference shall be given to goods, services and construction produced in Virginia or provided by Virginia vendors.
- Tie bids may be awarded by lot.
- A tie bid may be awarded to a local bidder over a foreign bidder.
- The Purchasing Agent may request the tied bidders to resubmit written bids.
- The Purchasing Agent may cancel the solicitation and rebid.
Assistance to Small, Women, and Minority Owned (SWaM) Businesses
- The City of Alexandria grants no preferences or set-asides to SWaM businesses.
- The Purchasing Division co-operates with state agencies to facilitate the participation of SWaM businesses in the procurement transactions of the City.
- Any SWaM business seeking assistance in understanding or completing any bids or proposals should seek the assistance of the Purchasing Division.
- Purchasing Division personnel attend conferences and trade shows supported by SWaM businesses and organizations in order to explain how to do business with the City.
- The Purchasing Division encourages vendors to contact the applicable City departments with information about new products and services. Please call for an appointment.
- Vendors should contact specifying departments for appointments to demonstrate equipment and supplies.