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Soliciting Competitive Bids

The practice of soliciting competitive bids/proposals serves to stimulate competition among prospective suppliers. For the process to be successful, an adequate number of suppliers must exist, and those suppliers must want additional business. When this business environment exists, competitive solicitations (for precisely specified requirements of significant dollar value) will usually yield a positive result.

It is important to note that the "playing field" must be level for all competitors for this process to work successfully (see vendor relations page).

Recognizing the importance of the process as a sound business practice, the Federal Government requires the solicitation of bids/proposals for grant/contract funded projects.


  • A minimum of three (3) competitive bids/proposals shall be solicited from qualified suppliers for all anticipated expenditures of $25,000 and over. For purposes of this policy, qualified suppliers are those companies judged to possess the capacity/capability to meet specifications (design and performance), and assure quality and service standards at the highest level.
  • In cases that preclude the solicitation of three (3) bids/proposals, a single bid/proposal should be obtained and submitted to the Purchasing Department along with a "sole/single source" memorandum explaining and documenting the absence of competition (See page covering "sole/single source" justification).
  • Solicitation of quotes, bids, or proposals for supplies, equipment, or services in excess of $25,000 must address the University's standard terms/conditions of purchase. Departments may initiate these solicitations directly for requirements up to $49,999 utilizing the formatted templates located on the Purchasing Department Web Pge under "Forms" : INVITATION TO BID FOR EQUIPMENT ---- INVITATION TO BID FOR SERVICES ---- INVITATION TO BID FOR CONSUMABLE SUPPLIES ---- Note: Contract awards may not be made prior to submitting a purchase requisition along with copies of bid responses to the Purchasing Department. See following procedures (#5)
  • For solicitations over $50,000, departments should obtain advice and consultation from the Purchasing Department. The Purchasing Department shall serve as a resource for recommending qualified sources, terms and conditions to reduce liability and business risks, customized RFQ's, and general market information.
  • The Purchasing Department will administer all formal bid solicitations/requests for proposals for University wide "preferred provider contracts"


  1. Department personnel will develop comprehensive specifications or statement of work to include design characteristics and performance standards.
  2. Department personnel will identify qualified suppliers with input from Purchasing when necessary.
  3. Department personnel or Purchasing Agents will initiate the solicitation process utilizing the referenced "terms/conditions" formats, and allowing an appropriate period for response (deadline).
  4. Routine bids/proposals solicited by departments will be received directly by the requesting department. Formal bids (University wide contracts, preferred provider contracts, renovation/construction contracts) will be received directly by the Purchasing Department.
  5. Department personnel will review bid/proposals received, select a participant for recommended award and generate a purchase requisition (bids must be forwarded to Purchasing to match up with purchase requisition).
  6. Purchasing Agents will review all bids/proposals for compliance with specifications (quality and service), and terms and conditions of purchase. An analysis of competitive price offerings will be conducted and documented as part of the review process. Issues or questions will be referred to the requesting department.
  7. After completion of the review process and award determination, a purchase order will be generated to execute the procurement contract. The purchase order will be forwarded to the successful supplier by the Purchasing Department. Performance by a supplier (fabrication, delivery, commencement of work, etc.) must not take place prior to issuance of the purchase order!
  8. After issuing a purchase order, the Purchasing Department will forward a letter to all unsuccessful participants thanking them for their participation and interest in Brown University.
  9. The Purchasing Department will retain all bid/proposal documents on file.