Government Purchasing Process


Anyone selling products to the government -- federal, state, local -- has to follow the government rules.Size makes a difference: a $100 purchase is usually free of paperwork. A $10,000 contract may get by with nothing but a couple of quotes from vendors. A million-dollar purchase is tied around with procedures. With hundreds of different government bodies around the country, there's a lot of variation in government purchasing process..

Size Counts

  • Federal micro-purchases -- $2,000 or $3,000, say -- are simple. A staffer can use a government credit card -- no bidding, no contracts, just shopping for what's needed. The employee has to respect the limit -- cutting a $4,000 purchase into four $1,000 buys still wouldn't make it a micro-purchase. The exact cut-off point varies with types of purchases and between different agencies. State and local governments have their own credit cards and their own cut-off points. New York City, for example, treats purchases as large as $20,000 as "micro."

Simplified Acquisitions

  • The federal government defines simplified acquisitions as purchases above the micro level but under $150,000. Instead of asking for formal bids, an employee calls businesses, gets several quotes and goes with the best one. The employee can complete the purchase with a credit card, cash or a detailed purchase order. Another simple approach is to write up a blanket agreement with a vendor. This authorizes repeated purchases of the same item over a period of time, rather than tackling each purchase separately. Other government bodies follow different rules. In Georgia, for example, purchases have to be under $25,000 to avoid competitive bids.

Sealed Bids

  • All levels of government accept sealed bids for certain purchases. This usually happens when the government or agency has specific requirements the purchase has to meet and wants to get the best price. First, the government issues a request for bids stating the requirements and setting a deadline. The bids are sent in, then opened and compared. If the bids aren't responsive -- they don't fit the requirements -- the government may reject them and start over.

Request for Proposals

  • Governments use RFPs -- requests for proposals -- for really expensive or complex purchases. Rather than just ask for bids, the government advertises what it wants -- a better computer network, a new bridge -- and invites contractors to submit proposals on how they'd handle the project. If none of the proposals look satisfying, or affordable, the government can issue a new RFP or negotiate terms with the most promising vendor.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit CocoZhang/iStock/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • Importance of Decision Making in Management

    Business consultant and expert Henry Mintzberg described the importance of managerial decisions most concisely when he said, "Management is, above all, a...

  • What Is the Purchasing Process?

    Purchasing for a company can be very simple or very complex depending on the company and any regulations which may have to...

  • How to Map a Purchasing Process

    Mapping a purchasing process is simply a matter of deciding on a "best practice" or, better yet, a "best process" for making...

  • Procurement Processes & Procedures

    There are numerous procurement procedures and processes, but there are some procedures that should be common to all procurement departments. These include...

  • Steps in Order Processing

    Developing steps for processing orders is crucial for your business. Without the proper order-processing work flow, the order processing within your business...

Related Searches

Check It Out

Are You Really Getting A Deal From Discount Stores?

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!