Section 1: Introduction

A. Purpose

The purpose of the Bexar County Purchasing Manual (“Manual”) is to provide County officials and employees with enough information to appropriately request the purchase of goods and services needed to effectively perform functions of their offices. It was developed to promote the use of good business practices in acquiring goods and services Bexar County needs.

This Manual identifies the procedures applicable to purchasing goods and services at Bexar County that are necessary to comply with Bexar County Administrative Policies 8.0 and 8.1, which define purchasing-related activities and functions.


B. Goals and Objectives of Public Purchasing

The Model Purchasing Manual of Texas Cities and Counties developed by the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts defines public purchasing as “the process of acquiring all the goods and services necessary for a government entity to provide the public with certain services.” The Model Purchasing Manual identifies a combination of private and public sector goals for public purchasing, which include:

  • Purchase the proper good or service to suit the business need;
  • Get the best possible price for the good or service;
  • Have the good or service available where and when it is needed;
  • Insure a continuing supply of needed goods and services;
  • Guard against any misappropriation of the business’ assets procured by purchasing;
  • Insure responsible bidders are given a fair opportunity to compete for the government’s business. This is done partially by the statutory requirements for competitive bids and proposals, and partially by the government’s own purchasing procedures;
  • Insure public funds are safeguarded. Although the Purchasing Department does not usually designate the types of purchases to be made, it should see that the best value is received for the public dollar;
  • Insure public spending is not used to enrich elected officials or government employees or to confer favors on favored constituents; and
  • Insure historically underutilized businesses (small, minority and women-owned) have an equal opportunity in the contract awards process.

C. Definitions


Many terms that are used throughout this Manual pertain to purchasing activities. Definitions of key terms are found Section 15(A).


D. Process

The general purchasing process as outlined in Exhibit 1 contains several stages with responsibilities that are often designated by statute. The process begins with the planning and identification of requirements and progresses to requisition, contract generation, receipt and payment for goods and services.

Exhibit 1: Purchasing Process

Step

Performed By

Identify requirements and obtain budget

User Department (“Department”) (may have assistance from Purchasing)

Define/finalize requirements

Department and Purchasing

Submit requisition outlining requirements to Purchasing / Verify Funding

Department / Auditor

Solicit, advertise and generate Purchase Orders and Contracts from requisition and send to vendor

Purchasing

Deliver good/service as outlined in contract and submit invoice

Vendor

Receive good/service and verify completeness against contract

Department (with coordination from Purchasing – especially for fixed assets)

Document receipt on receiver copy of order and submit to Auditor’s Office

Department

Match receiver copy with invoice and generate payment

Auditor*

Submit payment claim to Commissioners Court for approval

Auditor

Approve payment of claim

Commissioners Court

Disburse payment of claim

County Treasurer

   
For the process to work smoothly, coordination among many County departments and offices is necessary. To avoid delays in the process and comply with County policy and state law, user departments should remember the following:

  1. Do not use purchasing strategies to avoid competition. Strategies that are prohibited by law include: component purchases (purchasing components that would normally be purchased as a whole); separate purchases (purchasing items separately in a series of purchases that normally would be purchased as a single purchase); and sequential purchases (purchases made over a period of time, or from different funding sources that normally would be one purchase). According to Texas Local Government Code §262.034(a), a county officer or employee who intentionally or knowingly makes or authorizes separate, sequential, or component purchases to avoid the competitive bidding requirements of Section §262.023 is committing a Class B misdemeanor.

  2. Avoid activities and behaviors that are unethical and create a conflict of interest or the perception of a conflict of interest. Examples of activities that are inappropriate include: soliciting or accepting gratuities of any kind (e.g. money, loans, gifts, favors) that exceed $25 from present or potential contractors which might influence or appear to influence a purchasing decision; failing to disclose in writing to the Purchasing Agent a conflict of interest and not removing yourself from the procurement process when there is a conflict; and disclosing confidential proprietary information from solicitations to other vendors or using the information for personal gain.

  3. Ensure funding is available before submitting a requisition. The law does not allow expenditures that exceed budgets. Purchasing will not process requisitions for which there is not adequate funding.

  4. Plan purchases to minimize the use of emergency and expedited purchases. Rush purchases are generally more expensive and they delay other requisitions already in the system. Vendors may attempt to charge premium prices for goods and services when there is insufficient time allowed to explore alternatives.

  5. Ensure that purchasing policies and procedures are understood before ordering. Departments must assure that all employees responsible for making department purchase requests (“purchasing liaisons”) have read and understand the purchasing procedures in this Manual. Departments should also ensure that the liaisons attend training provided by the Purchasing Department.

  6. Coordinate with Purchasing on receipt of goods and services. Since the County does not have centralized receiving, each department is responsible for individually receiving goods and services. Departments should call or e-mail the buyer listed on the purchase order to make Purchasing aware of vendor performance issues such as shortages, late delivery or damaged merchandise. If the item received is a fixed asset that must be tracked and reported, departments should call the Fixed Asset Specialist in Purchasing to coordinate tagging.

*Vendor invoices shall be paid within thirty (30) days at time the invoice is received at the Bexar County Auditor’s Office.


E. Small, Minority, Women-Owned Business Enterprise (SMWBE) Program

Bexar County is committed to increasing the involvement of SMWBEs in the procurement process and to afford small, minority and women-owned businesses a fair opportunity to compete for all Bexar County contracts. Bexar County Commissioners Court has adopted Administrative Policy 8.0 specifying the County’s goals for SMWBE participation. County staff with buying duties is expected to comply with the requirements of Administrative Policy 8.0, which is located on the SMWBE Web Page at http://www.co.bexar.tx.us/smwbe/ or is available from the SMWBE Program Office.

Key elements of the policy include:

  • An established goal that a minimum of 20% of all procurement dollars in the areas of Commodities, Equipment, Services, Professional and Personal Services, Maintenance and Construction are spent with minority and women owned business enterprises and a minimum of 30% of those procurement dollars are spent with small business enterprises;
  • County departments and offices that purchase commodities and services on behalf of the County are required to make an effort to meet these goals.
  • In an effort to accomplish these goals, the County will document attempts to solicit bids or proposals from a minimum of 1/3 SMWBE for competitive purchases.
  • Departments will coordinate with the SMWBE Program Office and the Purchasing Department to document efforts made to identify and increase participation of SMWBEs in Bexar County procurements.
  • The County departments and offices will document attempts to obtain quotes from SMWBEs for competitive purchases that are estimated to cost less than $1,000 using vendor lists and/or price tabulations.
  • The Purchasing Department will document attempts to solicit bids or proposals from SMWBEs for competitive purchases that are estimated to cost between $1,000 and $50,000 using vendor lists and/or price tabulations.
  • The Purchasing Department will document attempts to solicit bids or proposals from a minimum of three SMWBEs for competitive purchases that are estimated to cost over $50,000 using vendor lists and/or price tabulations.
  • The County departments and offices will document attempts to solicit proposals utilizing SMWBEs for the purchase of professional and personal services using vendor lists and/or price tabulations.