Public purchasing differs distinctively from private sector purchasing. Private businesses can purchase from only one vendor and their choice may be made on the basis of price, convenience, or on personal considerations. In sharp contrast, Public entities must conduct all of their dealings in the public eye and must adhere to strict legal guidelines.
The Purchasing office is the District’s centralized purchasing function that is responsible for issuing all formal bid requests, facilitating selection of vendors, and negotiating and establishing bids and other contract terms and conditions, delivery, and adjustments within the guidelines governing our District.
Having a centralized purchasing function can result in lower purchasing costs.
The Purchasing office facilitates the adherence to applicable statute and policy requirements and application of efficient and effective procurement processes by:
- Monitoring purchases from a district-wide perspective to ensure adherence to Statute and District Policy requirements.
- Buying certain items in bulk and maintaining an inventory of materials and supplies necessary for daily operations of the District.
- Establishing bids and contracts to cover repetitive procurements of goods and services.
- Processing purchase requests in a timely manner.
How to Make a District Purchase
The following guidelines are established based on State of Texas statutes, and District policies CH (Legal) and CH (Local), and these requirements are to assist District personnel in making a purchase using District managed funds. Please note, if federal funds are to be utilized, the end user must follow the State and Federal Grants Manual guidelines.
Legal Points to Remember
It is important to remember that individual schools and departments are not separate legal entities. When determining what sort of competitive process will be required for the purchase of quantities of an item or a category of similar items the entire district’s purchases are considered.
Generally speaking the aggregate purchases of a particular category of related items such as office supplies, athletic supplies or instructional supplies must be submitted to competitive bidding when the aggregate purchase will total $50,000 or more over a twelve-month period, except contracts for the purchase of produce or vehicle fuel. For example, if the total purchases of office supplies made by all departments and campuses in the district over a twelve-month period will amount to $50,000 or more, those office supplies must be submitted to competition as required by the Texas Education Code.
The District prohibits commitment of purchases prior to the approval of a fully executed purchase order. The Texas Education Code provides for criminal penalties for persons who intentionally circumvent the purchasing contracts law by making split, separate, sequential, or component purchases. Approval of purchases must be made prior to a purchase on a properly drawn and issued purchase order.
The District uses requisitions and purchase orders to obtain products, goods, and services. The requisition and purchase order process can be viewed as having four distinct steps:
- The requisition process
- The purchase order process
- Delivery and receipt of goods or services
- Invoice and Payment (this portion of the requisition/purchase order is covered in the Accounts Payable portion of the Business Office Procedures Manual)
Purchases should be made from “awarded vendors”. An “awarded vendor” is a vendor that has received an award for a Bid/Proposal through the District’s competitive procurement process or through an Inter-local Agreement. The District prohibits the use of non-awarded vendors when a valid contract/agreement exists. The fact that a Vendor is listed in the District’s electronic bidding system, or has a vendor number, is NOT validation of an award of a contract. The finance system lists all vendors to whom the District has issued a check—it does not reflect that a contract exists with a particular Vendor.
Purchases made using Federal / State funds fall under EDGAR Law and guidelines. The District uses the most restrictive purchasing laws to ensure we remain in compliance.
To make a purchase, the end user should follow the steps below until the item or service can be procured.
Step 1: Is the item available through the District’s Distribution Warehouse?
This is the first consideration for securing the item. If the District has already purchased the item and it is stocked in the warehouse, the item should be ordered through a warehouse requisition. Currently the items stocked in the Warehouse are: Paper, Bottled Water, Gloves and Sharp’s Containers.
Step 2: Is the item or service available through a District contract?
The Purchasing office may establish annual bids covering a variety of products and services required by campuses and departments (Lake Travis ISD Awarded Contracts). All relevant statute and policy requirements have been met by Purchasing in establishing these bids/contracts. Purchases can be made utilizing a purchase requisition.
Step 3: Is the item or service available through an inter-local contract?
The District has established a number of inter-local agreements with entities that, as allowed by law, can provide items and services for school districts. If the inter-local entity has competitively bid the item or service following the same requirements the District must follow, the item or service may be available through this method.
NOTE: The end user must receive approval from the District’s Purchasing office prior to any purchases being made via this method regardless of the purchase amount. Please see the Procedures for Co-operative Contracts section for more information regarding the requirements for these types of purchases.
Step 4: Is the item only available through a sole source provider?
For a purchase to meet the requirements of sole source, it must meet the legal and policy requirements. See the Sole Source Procurements section for further details.
Step 5: The item or service is not available through any of the processes in Steps 1 through 4, what should be done to purchase the item?
The end user is to follow the steps below for making a purchase based on the final dollar amount of the purchase.
Dollar Value of Purchases
- There are three key, dollar thresholds that impact on purchasing and contracts--$10K, $50K, and $250K. These three thresholds require the application of various regulatory guidelines.
- If a current contract, inter-local agreement, or relationship with other purchasing agency/co-ops exists, the District’s campuses/departments can use these agreements with a degree of confidence that the agreement(s) comply with regulatory guidelines; however, all purchases must be made on a properly drawn and executed purchase order. The Purchasing office may request three quotes from three different sources at any time at their discretion.
- Campuses/departments can make budgeted purchases of products, goods, or services from awarded contracts, inter-local agreements, or co-ops; however any single purchase of $100K or more requires Board approval before a transaction can take place. There are some exceptions to the timing (prior to purchase versus after-the-fact) of Board approval, but these exceptions are rare, unique circumstances. If a campus/department thinks their circumstance is one of the rare, unique situations, call Purchasing for assistance.
- Persons making unauthorized purchases or violating regulatory guidelines (including, but not limited to, separate, sequential, or component purchases) shall assume full responsibility for debts incurred as a result of their action(s).
- Requisitions cannot be split to avoid obtaining quotes.
- EXCEPTION: Purchases made using State and Federal Funds for Food and Nutrition Programs. These purchases shall adhere to the Administrators Reference Manual (ARM), Section 17, which requires purchases between $3,500 and $50,000 to have a quotes.
- The following guidelines apply to the TOTAL requisition amount, not just the cost of a particular item, and includes any shipping / freight costs.
- Purchases of less than $10,000:
- Quotes are not required, but encouraged, and should be made from approved Vendors and Contracts/Agreements.
- In obtaining quotes, each vendor must be provided with the same information, including product description and required delivery date. Quotes should be received on the vendor's letterhead, and should be signed by an authorized representative. Faxes may be used to issue and receive quotes.
- Purchases of between $10,00 and $49,999:
- A minimum of three (3) written “informal” quotes are required and shall be sent to Purchasing as supporting documentation for a requisition.
- No newspaper advertisement is required.
- The Purchasing office will assign a unique District quote number that shall be entered on the purchase requisition in the Bid No field.
- Purchases over $50,000:
- Requires competitive sealed process to be managed by the Purchasing Department, working directly with the campus or department, unless another acceptable purchasing method is approved by the Director of Purchasing.
- Newspaper advertisement is required.
- Award to be made by best value determination.
- Purchases over $250,000 – Applies to use of Federal / State funds
- The District must perform an independent estimate prior to release.
- Newspaper advertisement is required.
- The District must negotiate profit with vendor.
- Award to be made by best value determination.
Purchasing Procedures for Co-operative Contracts
These procedures only apply to procurements of products or services through a Co-operative (co-op) that the District has a current inter-local agreement with and is not available through an existing District contract.
NOTE: The following procedure and direction is at the discretion of the Purchasing office. The department may be required to follow other procedures that may require not using a co-operative. The aggregate purchase amount for the current fiscal year must be taken into consideration related to the Purchase Amount.
Less than $50,000
- Recommend at least three quotes to assure best price;
- Department is to enter a requisition with the Co-operative Name and / or Contract Number in the “Bid No” field (ie Buy Board, 18-02-25, etc.)
$50,000 but less than $250,000
- Contact Purchasing with information on what is being purchased, estimated dollar amount, anticipated vendors (if known) and suggested co-op(s) (if known).
- Receive approval from Purchasing to proceed with co-op purchase.
- If Purchasing determines a minimum of three quotes are required, Purchasing will assist with the quote process through the Co-operative(s).
- Purchasing will complete a quote summary and assign a unique District issued quote number. Purchasing will contact the requestor with the quote number.
- Department is to enter a requisition with the Co-operative Name and / or Quote Number in the “Bid No” field.
- Provide Purchasing a description of the product or service being purchased and the corresponding co-operative contract
- Purchasing will give direction on next steps based on the competitive process that meets the District’s best interest
How to search the eBidding supplier list
As required above for all purchases between $10,000 and $50,000, end users are to select three (3) suppliers.
The Purchasing Department uses an electronic purchasing system called eBidding. Users are encouraged to use eBidding to find vendors who are interested in working with LTISD.
All users searching the supplier list in eBidding will be using the same login and password. The password may change periodically for security purposes.
Contact Purchasing for the generic log in if you do not already have it. For questions or issues pertaining to use of the eBidding web site, please contact the Purchasing office at ext 5750.
Lake Travis ISD Quote Summary Form
To assist the campus or department with creating a quote summary that will be required by Purchasing, an Excel spreadsheet has been developed to be completed by the end user that will provide the needed information for the quote process.
NOTE: The form was developed with protected cells, and only the cells needed for providing the summary to Purchasing can be changed.
The Purchasing office will provide guidance on use of the above processes.
Any questions related to these procedures can be directed to the Purchasing office at ext. 5750.
By policy, all District staff are to follow the established purchase procedures for all purchases based on the dollar amount for an aggregate total per year. All purchases made by the District must follow CH (LEGAL) and CH (LOCAL) which provides guidance on the development of District administrative procedures.
When the District policy and procedures are circumvented, and an employee does not comply, the purchase will be considered non-compliant. This is also known as “maverick buying,” a term used when a department or campus purchases items or services independently and without concern of the District’s policies or procedures.
If at any point an end user or Administrator is uncertain if a purchase will be compliant, they must contact the Purchasing office at ext. 5750 first before the purchase is made.
Purchase of Items or Services prior to the issuance of a Purchase Order (“After the Fact”)
CH(LOCAL) states that “All purchase commitments shall be made by the Superintendent or designee in accordance with administrative procedures, including the District’s purchasing procedures.”
As stated in the policy quote above, an end user is to create a purchasing requisition and a purchase order issued before any purchase is made from a vendor. The end user should practice “Purchase Order First”. Note that the existence of a District contract award does not excuse an “after the fact” purchase order action.
An “After the fact” purchase order means that the Purchasing office receives a purchase requisition to pay an invoice for items or services that have already been received (items) or performed (services). An employee who orders any item or service in the name of LTISD without following the purchasing policies and procedures shall be considered non-compliant and the employee may personally be responsible for payment to the vendor or return of the item for full credit. The decision of payment by the District employee will be made by District Administration.
If the purchase requires that the District be invoiced prior to the issuance of a purchase order, the employee must first receive written permission from the Purchasing office before creating the obligation with the vendor. Failure to receive such permission will be grounds for the purchase being non-compliant.
Electronic copies of all supporting documentation, which may include consultation documents, justifications, email notifications, etc., are to be added as attachments to the purchase requisition within the District’s finance system.
The following information is to assist end users in handling follow-ups and expediting delivery of existing purchase orders with Vendors.
Contract Delivery Terms
In most District contracts, delivery requirements are established within the solicitation (e.g. Request for Quote, Bid or Proposal) and the subsequent contract award. There are specific procedures to follow that are identified in the contract should problems with delivery occur. If delivery time is a critical element in the purchase, it is imperative that any solicitation or contact with the Vendor identify the delivery requirements. This must be established and communicated by the end user to the Vendor and Purchasing prior to release of an order. Any special instructions related to delivery should be included on the requisition entered by the end user.
Order Processing Time
It is necessary to allow a Vendor sufficient time to process an order. As a general rule, it is within acceptable business practices to check on an order on a weekly basis and request an anticipated delivery date. In most instances, any contact done more frequently than once a week is counter-productive and will not foster a good business relationship with the Vendor. This contact can be made by the end user.
Order Follow-up – Non-delinquent
The end user is responsible for following up with the Vendor if there is a concern about the delivery being received on time and/or within the contract requirements. The end user may contact the Vendor to negotiate a more acceptable delivery. If an agreement cannot be reached, the end user should notify the Purchasing Office. Please note that if no agreement was reached before the release of the order, the delivery requirements cannot be added unless agreed upon by both the Vendor and the end user. If this is done, both the end user and the Vendor should agree to the delivery schedule in writing.
Late Deliveries – Delinquent
If a predetermined or agreed upon delivery has not been met or appears to be in jeopardy, the end user should contact the Purchasing office who will work with the Vendor to identify the problem and take corrective action. Written notice of a late delivery to Purchasing by the end user can be included in the Vendor’s performance file and can be used as a performance issue for future awards.
Any questions related to these procedures can be directed to the Lake Travis ISD Purchasing office at ext. 5750.
Disposal of District Property
The following information is to assist end users in the disposal of District Property.
If an item is broken beyond repair, issue a work order to Maintenance to have the item(s) picked up. Maintenance will provide instructions on where to place the items (this may be in an area outside the building).
If the item is no longer needed in your campus / department, and it is still in good shape, issue a work order to Maintenance to have them pick the item(s) up and have them brought to the Distribution Center. Please contact the Distribution Center prior to having the items sent so they can prepare an area for the items.
Library Books / Magazines / Periodicals
If the item is torn, has pages missing, or any other damage which prevents a student from reading the material, the item can be placed in a wastebasket, preferably a recycle wastebasket. Any District markings or labels must be removed prior to disposal.
Musical Instruments (Band, Orchestra, etc)
Musical instruments that can no longer be played or are no longer used by the District shall be sent to the District’s Distribution Center for proper disposal. If necessary, a work order may be required to have the District’s Maintenance Department pick the instruments up and have them brought to the Distribution Center. Please contact the Distribution Center prior to having the items sent so they can prepare an area for the items.
Out of adoption textbooks should be returned to the District’s Curriculum and Instructional Department’s contact for proper disposal.
Uniforms that are worn and can no longer be repaired or are being replaced due to the District’s replacement schedule should be sent to the District’s Distribution Center. Please contact the Distribution Center to make arrangements to have the items picked up.
Any questions related to these procedures can be directed to the Lake Travis ISD Purchasing office at ext. 5750.
Purchase Order Receiving Procedures
Immediately upon delivery of the merchandise, verify the goods or services received against goods or services ordered on the purchase order. The boxes should be carefully inspected using the following guidelines for any damage.
Undamaged Freight (no visible damage to box or crate)
- Receiving individual should sign freight bill at time of delivery.
Visibly Damaged Freight (box or crate is visibly damaged)
- Freight company driver must note damage on the freight bill and sign it. Receiving individual should then sign freight bill and request inspection by the freight company if shipment is damaged.
Concealed Damaged Freight (Damage to merchandise is discovered after merchandise is removed from box and the box was not visibly damaged at the time of delivery)
- Call the Vendor you placed the order with. Keep all boxes and packing materials since the inspector will want to see the packaging. You should also have available a copy of the freight bill, packing slip and purchase order.
If delivery is complete, receive the order online. If delivery is not complete, it is the responsibility of the campus/department to follow up with inquiries.
Please remember, if late charges have to be paid, they will be charged against the budget of the campus or department which was responsible for placing the order.
- Cancellation of a purchase order is the responsibility of the campus/department. Notify the Accounts Payable department and the Purchasing office via email to cancel a purchase order.
- Returns should be made prior to approving the order for payment. The Accounts Payable department should be notified of all returns to ensure that the company issues the proper credits and/or refunds. Failure to notify Accounts Payable could result in a loss of credit.
Any questions related to these procedures can be directed to the Lake Travis ISD Purchasing office at ext. 5750.
The following code was derived from the Texas Education Agency Financial Accountability System Resource Guide.
General Ethical Standards
There are certain common standards of ethics that govern the conduct of employees involved in the purchasing function, as follows:
- It is a breach of ethics to attempt to realize personal gain through public employment with the school district by any conduct inconsistent with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties.
- It is a breach of ethics to attempt to influence any public employee of the school district to breach the standards of ethical conduct set forth in this code.
- It is a breach of ethics for any employee of a school district to participate directly or indirectly in procurement when the employee knows that:
- The employee or any member of the employee’s immediate family has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement;
- A business or organization in which the employee, or any member of the employee’s immediate family, has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement; or
- Any other person, business or organization with whom the employee or any member of the employee’s immediate family is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning prospective employment is involved in the procurement.
- If a school district board member or other official has a substantial interest in procurement, that person shall abstain from discussion and decisions regarding the award of the procurement contract.(Local Government Code, Chapter 171,) for definition of substantial interest.) In addition, the board member should disclose this substantial interest by filing an affidavit with the district.
It is a breach of ethics to offer, give or agree to give any employee or former employee of the school district, or for any employee or former employee of the school district to solicit, demand, accept or agree to accept from another person, a gratuity or an offer of employment in connection with any decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, preparation of any part of a program requirement or purchase request, influencing the content of any specification or procurement standard, rendering of advice, investigation, auditing, or in any other advisory capacity in any proceeding or application, request for ruling, determination, claim or controversy, or other particular matter pertaining to any program requirement or a contract or subcontract, or to any solicitation or proposal therefore pending before this government. Acceptance of gratuities may be construed as a criminal offense.
It is a breach of ethics for any payment, gratuity or offer of employment to be made by or on behalf of a subcontractor under a contract to the prime contractor or higher tier subcontractor for any contract of a school district, or any person associated therewith, as an inducement for the award of a subcontract or order.
- Contract Clause
The prohibition against gratuities and kickbacks prescribed above should be conspicuously set forth in every contract and solicitation therefore.
It is a breach of ethics for any employee or former employee of the school district to knowingly use confidential information for actual or anticipated personal gain, or for the actual or anticipated gain of any person.
For a definition of the penalties, go to Texas Education Code – Subchapter B. -Sec. 44.032 and Local Government Code 271.029.
Sole Source Procurements
The Lake Travis ISD Purchasing office maintains a sole source list.
For an item to be considered for purchase under a sole source justification, Purchasing office must first review the request based on the requirements set forth in Texas Education Code 44.031(j) and (k) and District policy CH(LEGAL). The vendor’s product claim must then be reviewed, researched and approved by the District’s Purchasing office to be added to the Sole Source Vendor List. The product must be on the list to be considered acceptable for purchase without a formal bid process.
The District’s Purchasing office shall be the sole determinate on the acceptability of an item for inclusion on the sole source list.
To be considered, the item must be available from only one source (not provided through distributors or dealers) and meet one of the following descriptions:
- an item for which competition is precluded due to the existence of a patent, copyright, secret process, or monopoly;
- a film, manuscript, or book;
- a utility service, including electricity, gas, or water; or
- a captive replacement part or component for equipment.
The following will not be considered acceptable for inclusion in the sole source list by the District:
- Services are not included in the statute and must be procured through other appropriate means
- A product with a patent that does not change the intent or output of an item, allowing for competition from another manufacturer’s product that meets the same intent or output
- A product that is marketed through two or more distributors or has two or more outlets for purchasing the product
- Regional contracts between a manufacturer and a vendor that limits other vendors from selling the same product to the District
Vendor Application Process
As stated above, all vendors must submit their sole source application. A potential sole source vendor must complete the vendor Sole Source Request Form application to be included on the Sole Source Vendor List. Upon receipt, the Purchasing office will perform a reasonable amount of research (e.g. internet searches, knowledge of potential competition through past solicitations, etc.) to validate such claims during the initial phase of approving a product for inclusion to the District’s sole source list.
District Internal Sole Source Procedure
The use of the sole source process is not to be used to avoid making purchases using District purchasing guidelines due to a preference for a particular brand or manufacturer. Any purchasing requisitions with a claim of sole source will not be approved by the Purchasing office until the vendor’s product is on the list. Unless directed otherwise by the purchase dollar amount, the purchase requisition shall include in the contract field the applicable District contract number (example: 19-001).
Justification Letter for Purchases over $50,000
If the purchase of a specific item through a sole source vendor will exceed $50,000 the campus or department lead administrator must provide written justification stating why the product is only available through one source, and why no other like products will meet the intended needs. This justification is to be forwarded by the requesting campus or department to the Director of Purchasing before a purchase requisition is entered. The exception to this procedure is if EDGAR funds are being used.
NOTE: Failure to provide the justification as described above will create a delay in processing the requisition approval.
Procedures for Processing a Requisition for a Sole Source Procurement
The campus / department is to check if the product and vendor is on the Lake Travis ISD Sole Source Vendor List. If the product is included on the list, the campus / department is to process a purchase requisition and include the contract number (example: 19-001) identified on the list.
If it is found that the vendor is not on the list, forward the Sole Source Request application to the vendor for information on how to be approved and added. The Purchasing office will not approve a sole source purchase unless the vendor and the requested product is on the list.
Vendor Relations & Communication
The District’s relationship with vendors is based on current and future partnerships. The District cannot do what we do without the vendor community. All vendors should be treated equally, fairly, and afforded all possible opportunities to do business within the District’s established guidelines and procedures.
Below are specific areas that are addressed concerning the District’s relationship with the vendor community. Please note that the list is not all inclusive of the different types of interactions you may have with vendors.
- Conflict of Interest
- District Employees
- Conflict of Interest for Vendors with Future Business Interests
- Access to Staff
- Prior to Bid
- Research and Discovery by the Department or Campus
- Pilot Programs
- Current Bid Opportunity (“On the Street”)
- Bid Evaluations
- Existing Contracts
- After a Bid Award
- Awarded Vendors
- Vendors that did not receive an Award
- Vendor References for Other Entities
- District Awarded Vendors
- Cooperative Contracted Vendors
- No Potential Bid in the Future
- Unsolicited Offers or Communications
Conflict of Interest
Two District policies, CH (Local) and DBD (Local), address conflict of interest issues for employees of the District that have direct relationships with vendors, and vendors looking for opportunities to do business with the District.
DBD (LOCAL) requires that a District employee is to disclose to their immediate supervisor any personal financial or business interest, or any other obligation or relationship that in any way creates a potential conflict of interest with the employee’s duties and responsibilities. The employee has an obligation to the District to be transparent in such situations and disclose relationships with vendors for any procurement and always have the District’s best interest in the forefront. Failure to do so will be considered a breach of District policy.
If the employee will be assisting the Purchasing office in the evaluation of a solicitation, the employee will be required to complete and sign a Non‐disclosure Statement for LTISD Employee Form. By signature, the employee affirms that they, their spouse or dependent(s), are not receiving any compensation from, nor have been the recipient of any present or future economic opportunity, employment, gift, loan, gratuity, special discount, trip, favor, or service in connection with any proposal or involved proposers in return for favorable consideration.
For vendors, CHE (LEGAL) requires that names of any Lake Travis ISD employee who owns, directly or indirectly, an interest in their firm or any of its subsidiaries must be disclosed before the vendor does business with the District. If the vendor fails to do so may be grounds for disqualification of the bid or cancellation of a contract resulting from the Solicitation.
Conflict of Interest for Vendors with Future Business Interests
If the department chooses to hire or retain a vendor, even at no cost, to assist in any part of the procurement process (e.g. developing specifications or scope of work, helping evaluate responses to a solicitation, etc.), the vendor cannot have any personal or business interest in the outcome of the process.
The contractor should disclose at the beginning of their contact with the District they may have interest in any potential solicitors related to their project. If one does exist, they will have to withdraw from assisting in the solicitation development. If they do not, all of the vendor’s employees assisting will be required to complete a Vendor’s Non‐disclosure Statement for Contracted Consultants Form. Any companies with this level of relationship will not be eligible for any business opportunities related to this engagement.
Access to Staff
Vendors will ask for access to District staff since they are paid to cultivate business. If the end user agrees to meet, District office visits are acceptable and is the suggested location. District personnel are not obligated to talk to vendors. Responses and communications should be professional and respectful. Offsite meetings, meals, gatherings at coffee shops, bars, golf outings, etc., should be completely avoided and without consideration. This can be conceived and is perceived as providing an advantage during the bid process. Again, allow all interested vendors the same access to you as all other vendors.
Prior to a Bid
Below are general scenarios and the suggested actions necessary to insure fair access.
Research and Discovery by the Department or Campus
Research and discovery is expected since the end user will need to know how to put into writing (e.g. specifications) what they want and/or need. The concern is the sharing of access with all potential vendors, and insuring that the resulting research has provided a specification that is competitive. It is suggested and highly encouraged that the end user contact 3 or more vendors that have competing products or services, and compare the responses using the provided information to develop competitive requirements. If the end user is not certain the cost of the purchase to establish a budget, it is acceptable to ask for a non‐obligated quote (ask for a rounded number).
Vendor Bid Notification Registration
When end users are approached by a vendor, they should always encourage the vendor to register within the District’s electronic procurement system known as “eBidding”.
The vendor is to click on the “Supplier Registration” to start the process. The vendor will receive bid notifications based on the commodities chosen. Please note that by registering and being accepted on the bidder’s list the vendor is not automatically awarded a contract with the District.
Vendors will ask if they can do a demonstration of their product or service in an attempt to interest you or put their company above the competition. We highly discourage this practice outside the formal bid process. If the District does go to bid, the vendor, if chosen to do so, will have to do the same demonstration under controlled circumstances.
Such demonstrations are to be coordinated through the Purchasing office. Please be aware that the Purchasing office may not agree to the demonstration if it goes against District purchasing policy or procedures, or may be in conflict with good purchasing practices.
Current Bid Opportunity (“On the Street”)
This is the most critical period to NOT have any discussions with any vendors that have interest in a bid award or outcome. These communications are only to be handled by the Purchasing office. If you are contacted by a vendor asking questions about the bid, do not discuss the solicitation with them, and ask them to contact the assigned buyer or the Purchasing office. Always thank them for their interest in our District. Do not provide any information, advice or opinions. Any comments or input provided are not binding and may create issues with the procurement process.
Please note that if a vendor does have such communications, they run the risk that their bid response may be rejected for such actions. Advise them to contact the Purchasing office directly and cease communications with other District staff.
During this period, if any individual that has been assigned to an evaluation team has some form of conflict of interest, they should disclose this immediately to their supervisor and the Purchasing office. Evaluators will be required to sign a non‐disclosure statement at the beginning of the process. Failure to indicate or bring attention to this issue could have serious consequences for both the District and the individual.
If a vendor has an active contract with the District but also has interest in a current bid opportunity, any discussion of the bid is to be completely avoided, with communications being directed only at the current contract. If the vendor does start to ask questions or ask for input, the District personnel is to direct them to the Purchasing office.
After a Bid Award
Once a vendor is awarded a contract with the District, they are in partnership with the District to accomplish the goals of both. The department/campus can have open communications with the vendor to insure that the vendor does meet all the obligations of the award and that the department/campus meets its obligations as well.
The end user is responsible for knowing who the main vendor point‐of‐contact(s) will be for questions, concerns, or performance issue discussions. The end user should consider scheduling a meeting with the vendor prior to the start of the contract or shortly thereafter to discuss responsibilities and expectations. Purchasing staff will be available if requested to attend.
It is critical to the operations of the District that an awarded vendor fulfills their obligations under the contract. If they do, they should be commended for being a beneficial partner with the District. The end user should let the vendor know the expectations the District has for them at the beginning of the contract.
If at any point the vendor’s performance is not meeting the contractual requirements, the department / campus is to contact the vendor concerning the issue and copy the Purchasing office with any communications. Timely, written documentation of such events is critical in helping the vendor do what is required or to assist in insuring a badly performing vendor does not remain under contract with the District. It is unfair to the vendor and a bad business practice if the end user withholds performance issues from the vendor and does not convey the District’s concerns with performance.
Please note that the vendor cannot be held responsible to requirements that were not part of the solicitation, formal negotiations or final contract. If such situations arise, the end user should make note to add the deficiencies to the next solicitation.
If the vendor’s performance is still inadequate after the end user has provided written documentation of the issues, the end user is to contact the Purchasing office and provide the documentation given to the vendor. The Purchasing office will review the documentation, and if believed necessary, schedule a counseling meeting with the vendor to formalize a plan for the vendor to meet these expectations. This may be further formalized by setting a probationary period using the District’s Conditional Probation Agreement form (attached as an exhibit).
Vendors that did not receive an Award
The District’s eBidding website will provide award tabulations for all of the District’s solicitations.
The vendor is to click on the “Awarded Bids/Proposals” to find the complete list of tabulations. It is the vendor’s responsibility to review this information. Specific tabulations can be found by entering in the solicitation number into the “Bid Number” search.
Please note that the District does not contact vendors that did not receive an award.
Every vendor should do research on why they did not receive an award, which may include meeting with the District personnel to discuss their areas to be improved prior to the next solicitation response. We encourage this in what is called a “Debrief.” In such a meeting, the Purchasing office will request that the department / campus representative be present especially if a technically evaluation was performed. The Purchasing office is not the “subject matter experts” and may not be able to address specific areas of the evaluation. Please note that no comparisons are to be made between competing responses.
Vendor References for Other Entities
A key to awarding to reliable vendors is to provide feedback to other entities when requested. Our District relies on this type of information, so it is fair to provide feedback as requested. If a District employee does receive a request to provide a reference for a vendor that has performed under contract with the District, the employee can respond but must be honest with the response, providing only factual information. Opinions should be kept internally and not made public. If the employee does not feel comfortable with a direct response to the requesting entity, please contact the Purchasing office for assistance.
District Awarded Vendors
Vendors that have gone through a bid process (informal or formal) and have been awarded specific items or services are entitled to the District’s business for those items or services. A not all inclusive list of awarded vendors can be found on the Active Contracts Google Drive.
Note that vendors in the eBidding system or the District’s Accounts Payable’s system may not have an award. The District does not create or maintain an “Approved Vendor’s List”.
Cooperative Contracted Vendors
The decision to use a cooperative contract is to be made by the Purchasing office not the department or campus. It is the Purchasing office’s role to insure if the best interest of the District is being met by whichever process is available to secure such products or services. The department/ campus must always consider all procurements as competitive opportunities and no one vendor should be consider without such due process.
No Potential Bid in the Future
This area is not much different than the “Prior to Bid” section with the exception that the department/campus has no current plans to bid or will not be required to go through the bid process due to the annual purchase cost.
Again, access to the District personnel should be equal for all vendors, and it is highly suggested that the District personnel not accept any special treatments or privileges.
Unsolicited Offers or Communications
Vendors will contact District staff unsolicited, either by drop‐in sales calls, phone calls or emails, since they are paid to cultivate business. Again, District personnel are not obligated to talk to vendors. This decision to meet with these vendors is the decision of the department / campus. Vendors should always be encouraged to sign up on the District’s electronic purchasing website (eBidding).
The Purchasing office encourages an open and professional relationship with each vendor while maintaining total independence and objectivity.
Every effort must be made to use a bid vendor in compliance with applicable statutes and regulations. Bid vendors normally offer a discount off catalog prices and/or free shipping. Therefore, it is to the district’s advantage to consistently use bid vendors.
In some cases, however, a new vendor must be added because the item(s) needed is a:
- Sole source
- Consultant, staff development presenter or doctor, psychologist, etc.
- New workshop, membership or conference registration
Procedures for adding a new vendor to the District’s finance system
The requesting campus/department must make a request to the Purchasing office via email with a current W-9 taxpayer identification form and a LTISD Vendor Information form.
The Purchasing office will set up the new vendor in the finance system and notify the requesting campus/department of the vendor number.
- The Purchasing office will make every effort to expedite this process.
- If such documentation is not received from the vendor, the vendor will not be added.
Once the new vendor is added, the requesting campus or department can enter the requisition using the online finance system.
Awarded Contract Vendor Definition
A Vendor that has been awarded a contract for goods or services, through a district specified solicitation process, for either a one-time purchase or the purchase of certain goods and services for a specified contract period.
The Purchasing office maintains an Active Contracts list on a shared Google Drive that includes the awarded contracts, the names of the vendors, the contract number and any additional information if applicable. The Purchasing office updates the Active Contracts drive list monthly to provide a complete and functional list of contracted vendors with whom the District is to conduct its business.
Vendor Award Criteria
Texas Education Code 44.031 states that in determining contract awards to vendors, the district may consider:
- The purchase price
- The reputation of the vendor and of the vendor’s goods and services
- The quality of the vendor’s goods or services
- The extent to which the goods or services meet the district’s needs
- The vendor’s past relationship with the district
- The impact on the ability of the district to comply with laws and rules relating to historically underutilized businesses
- The total long-term cost to the district to acquire the vendor’s goods or services
- Any other relevant factor that a private business entity would consider in selecting a vendor. Factors that a school district may consider under this criteria would include:
- Vendor response time
- Compatibility of goods/products purchased with those already in use in the district
It is important to note that under Section 44.035, Texas Education Code, the district must publish in the request for bids, proposals, or qualifications for construction services the criteria that will be used to evaluate the offers and relative weights, if known at the time of the publication, given to the criteria.
Communications to vendors may be made directly to the vendor or through the Purchasing office.
- Placing an order
- Follow up of order already placed
Vendor Gifts and Relations
School district officials and employees cannot accept anything of value from a vendor, such as personal gifts or gratuities, which may be construed to have been given to influence the purchasing process. Although such practices may be legitimate and generally accepted in the private sector, giving and receiving gifts in the public sector may constitute a violation of law.
Vendor Performance Evaluation
Some of the factors to consider in the evaluation of vendor’s performance are:
- Timeliness of deliveries
- Service availability
- Completeness and accuracy of order
- Quality of products or services received
- Document the problem, noting the date and an accurate description of the problem and forward a copy of documentation to the Purchasing office.
- Contact the vendor immediately. Keep a record of all phone calls, including dates and what was discussed.
- If the problem is not resolved or continues to occur, written notification must be made to the vendor stating the problem, the corrective action required, and that failure by the vendor to correct the problem will be considered a breach of contract and could result in the cancellation of the contract.
- If significant problems are encountered, consult with the Purchasing office, who will involve Legal Services or other departments as required.