County may alter purchasing procedures

November 7, 2008
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Companies that do business, or want to do business, with Kent County should note that the county’s purchasing policy is likely to change soon.

The county is leaning toward making two changes it feels will encourage vendors to use its electronic submission process, which reduces costs on both ends. The county feels the changes will cut the document preparation, copying and shipping costs for vendors who file bids electronically with the county, and will also lower the staff time needed to process the bids.

One change would raise the current bond requirement from $40,000 to $250,000. But a security bond may still be required for projects expected to cost less than $250,000.

The other change adds a penalty clause to the policy. It would remove a bidder from the vendor list for a year if a firm didn’t fulfill its obligation for sealed bids and proposals under $250,000. One example would be if a company withdrew its proposal after placing a bid.

County Commissioner Harold Voorhees felt the first change raises a concern of who gets bonded and who doesn’t. Picking and choosing, he said, results in the county not treating every bidders or every projects equally.

But County Purchasing Manager Jon Denhof said sometimes when a bid call goes out, there isn’t enough time for a company to secure a bond and be able to respond before a bid deadline. “There are very few instances where that has occurred,” he said.

“The primary purpose is to encourage them to use our electronic process,” he added.

Denhof tried to assure Voorhees and others on the county Finance Committee that all bidders will have to follow the same rules, including the ruling on the bonding contract. Whether a bond is necessary for a bid, he said, is determined by the purchase the county expects to make and not by who is making the bid.

“When someone submits a bid to the county, we expect them to stand behind their bid,” Denhof said.

The Finance Committee recently approved the changes to the purchasing policy and the County Commission is expected to do the same Nov. 20.

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