6000 - Support Services

6430 State Purchasing Requirements for Equipment, Materials and Supplies


All purchases of apparatus, supplies, materials and equipment will be made in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations, including Chapter 143 Article 8 of the North Carolina General Statutes, board policy and school system purchasing procedures. All employees involved in purchasing must be familiar with these requirements. The central purchasing authority shall prepare and make available written criteria and procedures governing the evaluation-award process.

The purchasing officer shall ensure that written specifications for desired products are descriptive and clear and incorporate the quality requirements and service needs of the school system. There is no minimum number of bids, proposals or quotes required for the purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials and equipment (whether formally or informally bid); however, the board encourages the purchasing officer to obtain at least two bids, proposals or quotes when feasible. Bids may be rejected if in the best interest of the school system and in accordance with written procedures and state law.

Except as otherwise required by law or specified by the board, the board delegates to the superintendent the authority to award contracts for the purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials and equipment, involving amounts up to $20,000. Any purchases or contracts involving expenditures greater than this amount must be approved by the board. The purchasing officer and any additional staff deemed appropriate by the superintendent shall review submissions of bids, proposals or quotes to determine if they are responsive to the system’s specifications and make recommendations to the superintendent. The superintendent may award the contract based upon such recommendations or make a recommendation to the board for award of the contract by the board.

Apparatus, supplies, materials and equipment must be purchased in accordance with the following requirements.

A. FORMAL BIDS (EQUAL TO OR MORE THAN $90,000)

The purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials or equipment for expenditures equal to or more than $90,000 must be secured through the competitive bid process governed by G.S. 143-129. The superintendent, in consultation with the purchasing officer, is authorized to determine the best method for formally bidding a product or, as appropriate, utilizing one of the exceptions to formal bidding as provided below in section E. The purchasing officer shall oversee the use of any purchasing method and ensure that all state requirements are met, including advertisement, sealed bids, maintaining records and public opening of bids. The board authorizes the use of newspaper advertisement, electronic advertisement or both for formal bids; however, the superintendent has the authority to determine which method will be used for a specific purchase or categories of purchases.

Awards will be made to the lowest responsible bidder(s) whose bid or proposal meets the requirements and criteria set forth by the school system, taking into consideration quality, performance and the time specified in the proposal for the performance of the contract. In the case of identical low bids among two or more bidders, the award shall be made in the best interest of the school system. All contracts awarded must be in writing.

The board permits the use of the following processes for contracts that require formal bidding.

1. Competitive Sealed Bids

A competitive sealed bid (or invitation to bid) may be used to request the cost of particular goods by providing detailed specifications in advance.

2. Reverse Auction

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129.9(a)(1), the school system may use reverse auctions as an alternative to sealed bid procedures. For purposes of this policy, “reverse auction” means a real-time purchasing process in which bidders compete to provide goods at the lowest selling price in an open and interactive environment. The superintendent, in consultation with the purchasing officer, shall determine whether reverse auctions are appropriate for a specific purchase or category of purchases. To conduct a reverse auction, the purchase officer may use a third party, may use the state’s electronic procurement system or, if appropriate equipment is available, may conduct the auction using school system equipment.

3. Exceptions to Formal Bids

Any of the processes outlined below in section E may be used in lieu of formal bidding, so long as all requirements of state law are met.

B. INFORMAL BIDS ($30,000 TO $90,000)

The purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials or equipment for expenditures of at least $30,000 but less than $90,000 must be secured through the informal bidding process governed by G.S. 143-131. The superintendent, in consultation with the purchasing officer, is authorized to determine the best method for securing informal bids on a product. The purchasing officer shall oversee the use of any purchasing method and ensure that all state requirements are met, including maintaining records of all bids submitted. Awards will be made to the lowest responsible, responsive bidder(s) whose bid or proposal meets the requirements and criteria set forth by the school system, taking into consideration quality, performance and the time specified in the proposal for the performance of the contract. In the case of identical low bids among two or more bidders, the award shall be made in the best interest of the school system.

1. Competitive Sealed Bids

Informal bid requirements may be met by the use of sealed bids. The purchasing officer may utilize the methods for formal competitive bids provided in section A or may determine other appropriate methods for soliciting sealed bids. The bid specifications must include the time, date and place for opening bids. No advertisement for bids is necessary (unless the formal bid process is used); however, the purchasing officer may advertise for bids as he or she deems appropriate.

2. Quotations

Informal bid requirements may be met by the solicitation of quotes from prospective vendors. Quotations may be solicited and submitted via fax, e-mail or telephone. Telephone quotes must be placed in writing before a final contract will be awarded. Written quotations must be on the vendor’s letterhead or an official quotation form and must include an authorized signature.

3. Reverse Auction

A reverse auction may be used to solicit informal bids, consistent with the process provided in section A.2.

4. Exceptions to Informal Bids

Any of the processes outlined below in section E may be used in lieu of informal bidding, so long as all requirements of state law are met.

C. PURCHASES FOR LESS THAN $30,000

Purchases for apparatus, supplies, materials and equipment costing less than $30,000 will be awarded pursuant to the standards provided in policy 6440, Local Purchasing Requirements for Equipment, Materials and Supplies.

D. ELECTRONIC BIDDING

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129.9(a)(2), the school system may receive bids electronically in addition to or instead of paper bids. If electronic bids are used for purchases that must be formally bid, procedures for receipt of electronic bids must be designed to ensure the security, authenticity and confidentiality of the bids to at least the same extent as provided with paper bids. The superintendent, in consultation with the purchasing officer, shall determine whether electronic bidding is appropriate for a specific purchase or category of purchases.

E. EXCEPTIONS TO THE FORMAL AND INFORMAL BIDDING REQUIREMENTS

The school system may utilize the following purchasing options instead of pursuing competitive bidding. Formal or informal bidding is not required if any of these processes are used. The purchasing officer shall gather information to document the basis for the use of any exceptions to the competitive bidding requirements. The superintendent, in consultation with the purchasing officer, may determine that using one of the following exceptions is appropriate for a specific purchase or group of purchases.

1. Purchases from Other Governmental Agencies

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(1), the school system may contract for the purchase, lease or other acquisition of apparatus, supplies, materials, or equipment from any other federal, state or local governmental agency.

2. Special Emergencies

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(2), competitive bidding is not required in cases of special emergencies involving the health and safety of people or their property. For an emergency to exist under the statute, the following factors must exist: (1) the emergency is present, immediate and existing; (2) the harm cannot be averted through temporary measures; and (3) the emergency was not self-created by the school system.

3. Competitive Group Purchasing

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(3), the school system may make purchases through a competitive bidding group purchasing program, through which another entity uses a competitive process to establish contracts on behalf of multiple entities at discount prices.

4. State Term Contract

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(9), the school system may purchase products included in state term contracts with the state vendor for the price stipulated in the state contract, if the vendor is willing to extend to the school system the same or more favorable prices, terms and conditions as established in the state contract.

5. Sole Source Items

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(6), upon approval of the board of education, the school system may purchase an item through a single or sole source contract under the following circumstances: (1) when performance or price competition is not available; (2) when a needed product is available from only one source of supply; or (3) when standardization or compatibility is the overriding consideration. When requesting a purchase under the sole source exception, the purchasing officer shall provide the board with documentation that justifies the use of the exception.

6. “Piggybacking” or Previously Bid Contracts

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(g), upon approval of the board of education, the school system may purchase from any supplier that, within the previous 12 months, has contracted to furnish the needed item to the federal government, to any state government, or to any agency or political subdivision of the federal government or any state government. Before recommending a purchase using the piggybacking exception, the purchasing officer shall ensure that the following requirements are met: (1) the price and other terms and conditions of the contract are at least as favorable as the prior contract; (2) the contract was entered into following a public, formal bidding process substantially similar to that required by North Carolina General Statutes; (3) the same vendor is used; and (4) notice of intent to award the contract without bidding is publicly advertised at least 10 days prior to the regularly-scheduled board meeting at which the contract will be approved. Before approving the contract, the board must determine that using the contract is in the best interest of the school system.

7. Purchases of Information Technology Goods and Services

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(7), the school system may purchase or lease information technology through contracts established by the State Office of Information Technology Services. The purchasing officer shall work with the information technology department to ensure that any such purchases meet the needs of the school system.

In addition, the school system also may purchase information technology goods and services by using a request for proposal (RFP) pursuant to G.S. 143-129.8, provided that the following requirements are met: (1) notice of the request is provided consistent with the formal bidding notice requirements and (2) contracts are awarded to the person or entity that submits the best overall proposal as determined by the purchasing officer and superintendent. The RFP should describe the scope of work, general terms and conditions, specifications of the product needed by the school system, and the application process. The information technology supervisor shall assist the purchasing officer in reviewing the responsiveness of any RFP submitted pursuant to this subsection. RFPs will be evaluated using the “best value” method as defined in G.S. 143-135.9(a)(1) so that the system may select the most appropriate technological solution to meet the school system’s objectives. However, if the purchasing officer considers the purchase to be highly complex or is unable to clearly determine what the optimal solution for the school system is, the “solution-based solicitation” or “government-vendor partnership” method may be used. The purchasing officer may negotiate with the proposer to obtain a final contract that meets the best needs of the school system, so long as the alterations based on such negotiations do not deprive proposers or potential proposers of the opportunity to compete for the contract and do not result in the award of the contract to a different person or entity than would have received it if the alterations had been included in the RFP.

8. Gasoline, Fuel and Oil Purchases

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(5), the school system may purchase gasoline, fuel and oil products without using formal competitive bidding. However, such purchases are subject to the informal bidding requirements provided above.

9. Used Products

Pursuant to G.S. 143-129(e)(10), the school system may purchase previously used apparatus, supplies, materials or equipment without using formal competitive bidding. Before purchasing used products, the purchasing officer shall ensure that the products are in good, usable condition and will be sufficient to meet the school system’s needs for a reasonable period of time.

F. E-PROCUREMENT REQUIREMENTS

The school system will use the North Carolina Electronic Procurement (e-procurement) system to facilitate the electronic purchase of goods and services. School system personnel shall comply with standards established by the State Board of Education so that the school system can remain e-procurement compliant. As of the date that the school system is certified by the Department of Public Instruction to be e-procurement compliant, the purchasing officer shall ensure that the school system expends at least 30 percent of its remaining unencumbered funds for that fiscal year to purchase supplies, equipment, materials, computer software and other tangible personal property through the state’s e-procurement system. For the following two fiscal years, the school system must utilize 35 percent of funds in the first year and 40 percent of funds in the second year to purchase through the e-procurement system.

G. LEASE PURCHASE CONTRACTS AND OTHER CONTRACTS FINANCED OVER TIME

Lease purchase contracts, contracts that include options to purchase, and leases for the life of equipment all must be bid consistent with the requirements of G.S. 143-129 and 143-131. The purchasing officer shall ensure that such contracts meet the legal requirements and the provisions of policy 6420, Contracts with the Board.

H. USE OF SCHOOL SYSTEM TERM CONTRACTS

The school system may create and use term contracts for items that are routinely purchased by the school system. If the estimated expenditure for a routine item under the term contract is equal to or exceeds $90,000, the contract must be formally bid. If the estimated expenditure is at least $30,000 but less than $90,000, the contract must be informally bid. The purchasing officer may incorporate the use of a term contract in the bidding specifications. If term contracts are used, the board attorney, in consultation with the purchasing officer, shall review the contracts.

I. HISTORICALLY UNDERUTILIZED BUSINESSES

The board affirms the state’s commitment to encouraging the participation of historically underutilized businesses in purchasing functions. The board will comply with all legal requirements and the standards in policy 6402, Participation by Historically Underutilized Businesses.

Legal References:
G.S. 115C-522; 143, art. 8; 143-129, -129.9, -131, -135.9
Cross References:
Participation by Historically Underutilized Businesses (policy 6402), Organization of the Purchasing Function (policy 6410), Contracts with the Board (policy 6420), Local Purchasing Requirements for Equipment, Materials and Supplies (policy 6440)
Adopted:
Monday, 09 January 2012
Last Updated: