Section 6: Competitively Bid Purchases

A. Competitive Bidding General Requirements

In Bexar County, Purchasing staff solicits "sealed" bids using the Invitation for Bid (IFB) process for commodities and services exceeding $50,000. Local Government Code §262 outlines the requirements for formal sealed bids for purchases exceeding $50,000 and includes the following general requirements:

  • The bids are advertised based on the County’s specifications and conditions of purchase (outlined in the IFB) at least once a week in a newspaper of general circulation, with the first advertisement date occurring at least 14 days before the specified opening date.
  • The County’s specifications (IFB) stipulate the date and hour bids are received. After that date and time, no further bids are accepted.
  • The bids are opened and read aloud at the specified date and hour, evaluated for “best value” and submitted to the Commissioners Court for award. Generally, the bid that represents the best value is accepted, but only one bid may be accepted unless the IFB notes that multiple awards will be made.
  • If no bid is acceptable, the entire bidding process may be repeated or terminated.
This process provides all bidders the opportunity to bid on the same items on equal terms and have bids judged according to the same standards as set forth in the specifications as required by statute.

See for more information and requirements of specific parts of the process.

B. Competitive Proposals General Requirements

Competitive Proposals are similar to competitive bids, but are more restricted by statute. In accordance with Texas Local Government Code §262.030 requirements, competitive proposals are used to procure insurance, high technology items, landscape maintenance, travel management and recycling services. “High technology” goods or services means goods or services of a highly technical nature, including: data processing equipment and software and firmware used in conjunction with data processing equipment; telecommunications, radio and microwave systems; electronic distributed control systems, including building energy management systems; and technical services related to those goods and services. According to §262.030, quotations must be solicited through a Request For Proposal (RFP). RFPs must be advertised in the same manner proscribed for competitive bidding.

See for more information and requirements of specific parts of the process.
The major differences between bids and proposals are:

  • The RFP uses performance standards rather than the description of the good or service and specifies the relative importance of price and other factors used to evaluate the proposal;
  • Vendors submit unique proposals to meet the requirements outlined in the RFP. Proposals may incorporate entirely different approaches to accomplish the same performance;
  • After proposals are received, the County may negotiate with as many vendors that are deemed “responsive” to find the best possible proposal for each vendor and award to that vendor.
In addition to the items outlined in §262.030 above, proposals are often used to procure professional or personal services as defined by the Professional Services Procurement Act (Chapter 2254 of the Government Code). It is permissible to use a competitive proposal to obtain qualifications and rates charged for professional/personal services from interested professionals. However, the County must meet the requirement specified in Chapter 2254 that “a governmental entity may not select a provider of professional services or award a contract for the services on the basis of competitive bids . . .”

C. Invitation For Bid (IFB) / Request For Proposals (RFP) Process

This section of the Manual outlines the steps needed to process seal bids and proposals. Since many of the steps are similar, the description will be combined.

The IFB/RFP process consists of the following:

  • IFB/RFP Preparation
  • IFB/RFP Authority to Advertise and Solicitation
  • Bid (Proposal) Receipt and Opening
  • Bid (Proposal) Evaluation
  • Negotiation (RFP only)
  • Contract Award
Each stage has specific requirements, many of which are required by law and are discussed briefly in this section of the Manual.

1. IFB/RFP Preparation

The IFB/RFP preparation begins with the submission of a specification outlining the item(s) and/or services that a Department wishes to procure. The specification is developed and submitted to the Purchasing Department as outlined in Section III of this Manual. The Purchasing Department will work with the Department to ensure that it is as open and competitive as possible. When the specification is finalized, the Purchasing Department will assemble it into the IFB or RFP document.

The main difference between a specification for an IFB and an RFP is that the IFB specification will describe an item; whereas in an RFP, the specification will be in terms of performance and often include a statement of work to be performed. An IFB/RFP is actually a package of documents needed by the vendor to respond to the County’s requirements. Exhibit 13 identifies the general contents of Bexar County IFBs and RFPs.

Exhibit 13: IFB/RFP Contents

An example of the common elements found in a Bexar County IFB/RFP is located in Appendix C.



Solicitation, Offer and Award Document. This is the cover form. It contains the bid (proposal) submittal date and time, County contact information and whether or not a bond is required. It also contains a section that requires the vendor to complete vendor identification information and to sign the document certifying the vendor’s bid (proposal). This is also the form signed by the County if the bid (proposal) is awarded to the vendor.


Terms and Conditions. This section of the IFB/RFP lists all of the conditions of doing business with Bexar County. It includes the following sections: instructions to bidders; bidder’s certification/agreements; description of supplies; terms and conditions and award of contract.


Schedule of Items. This is the detailed specification. For the IFB it includes a detailed description of each item requested by the County, the quantity and unit of measure. The vendor is to complete the unit price and the total price for each item in their bid and the total cost of the entire bid.

For the RFP, the schedule of items also contains a listing of each item/service required by the county, asking the vendor to complete the cost portion. In addition, a performance specification is part of this section that outlines the basic requirements.


Enterprise Owner Information Form and Bexar County Statement of Vendor Responsibilities. These forms are required to assist the County in collecting information to determine and document its progress in meeting its SMWBE participation goals.


Statement of Work. This is the detailed specification for an RFP that outlines the work to be performed, proposal submission requirements and qualifications and experience of the vendor.


General Provisions. These are requirements related to the scope of the contract, delivery provisions, warranties and contract modifications. For RFPs, this section is more extensive and includes the evaluation criteria.


2. IFB/RFP Authority to Advertise and Solicitation

It is Bexar County practice to seek Commissioners Court approval before an item is advertised. To accomplish this, the Purchasing Agent prepares an agenda item seeking the “Authority to Advertise” (ATA) from the Court. The ATA is used to identify the funding proposed for the IFB/RFP and to let the Commissioners Court and the County office and departments know what is proposed for advertisement. Once the ATA is received, the IFB/RFP is advertised.

Commissioners Court ATA is not required for construction or flood control projects.

By law, the County must advertise the IFB/RFP for competitive purchases in a newspaper of general circulation in Bexar County. The first advertisement must occur a minimum of 14 days before the bid (proposal) opening date specified in the IFB/RFP. The Purchasing Department also “advertises” the IFB/RFP by posting it on the TEG located at

For Construction and Flood Control projects, advertising will be referenced through CivCast. The following link will direct interested parties to Bexar County Construction and Flood Control projects:

The newspaper advertisement must include:

  • The specifications describing the goods and services to be purchased, or a statement of where the specifications may be obtained;
  • The time and place for receiving and opening bids (proposals) and the name and position of the employee to whom the bids (proposals) are sent;
  • Whether the bidder should use lump-sum or unit pricing;
  • The type of bond required of the bidder; and
  • The method of payment by the County.
During the solicitation period, the County may hold a pre-bid (pre-proposal conference for RFPs) conference for the purpose of discussing contract requirements and answering questions of prospective bidders (offerors). The Purchasing Department supervises the pre-bid (pre-proposal) conference and the Department is asked to provide staff to attend the conference and answer technical questions. The IFB/RFP may be amended during the solicitation period based on clarifications to questions from the pre-bid (pre-proposal) conference. Amendments will be sent to bidders (offerors) and posted to TEG.

3. Bid (Proposal) Receipt and Opening

Bidders (offerors) submit sealed bids (proposals) as described in the IFB/RFP. All bids (proposals) are received by the Purchasing Department and are stamped with the date and time received. The "Date Stamp Clock" in the Purchasing Department serves as the official time clock for the purpose of identifying the date and time bids (proposals) were received in the Purchasing Department. The bidder (offeror) must submit the bid (proposal) by the date and time specified in the IFB/RFP to be accepted. All sealed bids (proposals) will be stamped with the time and date received. Late bids (proposals) are not accepted and are returned unopened to the bidder (offeror).

After bids (proposals) are received, they are logged in and the Purchasing Department stores them in a secure place until the bid (proposal) opening date. The bids (proposals) are to be received sealed and shall remain sealed until they are opened by the Purchasing Department on the advertised date.

Bids: According to Texas Local Government Code §262.026, the county official who makes purchases for the county shall open the bids on the date specified in the notice. Sealed bids will be opened publicly by the Purchasing Department and will be documented. The date specified in the notice may be extended by the Purchasing Agent. A bid that has been opened may not be changed for the purpose of correcting an error in the bid price.

Preliminary bid price tabulations will be provided to the public upon request. The Purchasing Department will be responsible for creating the price tabulation. After the bid has been opened, the Purchasing Department will determine bidder responsiveness and will create a bid referral form. The bids and bid referral form are sent to the user Department to assist in evaluating the bid.

In accordance with Texas Local Government Code §262.0225, (a) A County may receive bids or proposals under this subchapter in hard-copy format or through electronic transmissions. A County shall accept any bids or proposals submitted in hard-copy format.

Proposals: In accordance with Texas Local Government Code §262.030, proposals shall be opened so as to avoid disclosure of contents to competing offerors and be kept secret during the process of negotiation. All proposals that have been submitted shall be available and open for public inspection after the contract is awarded, except for trade secrets and confidential information contained in the proposals and identified as such.

Once the proposal is opened, the Purchasing Department will determine responsiveness and will distribute copies of the proposal to the evaluation committee formed for the particular RFP.

4. Bid / Proposal Evaluation

Bids: The Purchasing Department will evaluate all bids with assistance from the user department and a joint recommendation will be made to Commissioners Court. Purchasing will forward a Bid Referral form to the Official or Department Head for signature. The form and any other documentation from the Department will be submitted with the agenda request. Purchasing will be responsible for placing the item on the Commissioners Court agenda.

Bids will be evaluated based on the following factors: (1) the relative prices of the bids, including the cost of items such as repair and maintenance (heavy equipment) or delivery and hauling (road construction materials); (2) compliance of goods and services offered with specifications; and (3) the responsibility of the vendor, including the vendor's safety record if Commissioners Court has adopted a definition of safety that is included in the bid, and the past performance of the vendor.

When the lowest priced bid is not the best bid, the requesting Department works with the Purchasing Department to develop and document clear justification for not selecting the lowest bidder. This documentation must be presented to the Commissioners Court for their approval.

If the Department and Purchasing cannot agree on the recommended award, the Purchasing Department will submit an agenda item to the Commissioners Court asking for the “Authorization to Award”. The Court will make the final determination for award after hearing both recommendations. Once the Court has approved the “Authorization to Award”, the Purchasing Department will prepare award documents to present to the Commissioners Court in a subsequent Court meeting.

Proposals: The Purchasing Department facilitates/supervises the evaluation process performed by the user department and/or committee. Evaluators shall use only the evaluation factors and the points and/or weights specified in the RFP in evaluating the proposals. Typical evaluation factors include:

  • Technical Approach
  • Management Plan (including work plan and schedule)
  • Personnel Qualifications
  • Demonstrated Corporate Experience and Qualifications in performing work outlined in RFP
  • Cost
Important: It should be noted that while the County encourages the participation of SMWBEs, status as a SMWBE cannot be included as an evaluation factor. Based on the scoring, the Purchasing Department staff will coordinate with the evaluation committee to: recommend an award, coordinate follow-up meetings for negotiations or discontinue the process. If the evaluation recommends award without further negotiation, the Purchasing Department will forward an evaluation summary to the Department Head for concurrence with the selection. Purchasing will make the recommendation to Commissioners Court.

5. Negotiations / Best and Final Offer (BAFO)

The Purchasing Agent will supervise all negotiations. Any negotiations with offerors should be coordinated with the Purchasing Agent. Departments negotiating directly may jeopardize the progress of the County evaluation committee.

All offerors must be accorded fair and equitable treatment with respect to any opportunity for discussion and revision of proposals and submittal of a “Best and Final Offer” (BAFO).

After the negotiations are complete, the assigned Purchasing Department staff shall request qualified offerors to submit a BAFO by a specified date and to a specified location. Based on the negotiations, the BAFO must allow the offeror to:

  • modify the initial offer;
  • update pricing based on any changes the user department/county has made; and;
  • include any added inducements that will improve the overall score in accordance with the evaluation plan of the RFP.
The BAFO may be the basis of a recommendation of contract award.

6. Contract Award

Bids: In accordance with Local Government Code, §262.027, the Purchasing Agent shall recommend contract award to Commissioners Court. Commissioners Court will either approve the recommendation or reject all bids and authorize the Purchasing Agent to re-bid the goods and/or services.

Chapter 262.027 further specifies that If two responsible bidders submit the lowest and best bid, the Commissioners Court shall decide between the two by drawing lots in a manner prescribed by the County Judge.

In addition, a contract may not be awarded to a bidder who is not the lowest priced bidder meeting specifications unless, before the award, each lower bidder is given notice of the proposed award and is given an opportunity to appear before the Commissioners Court and present evidence concerning the lower bidder's responsibility.

Proposals: There is a two-step process associated with awarding the contract for the RFP. The first stage is to request the Authority to Negotiate/Award the RFP from the Commissioners Court. This step identifies the recommended vendor to the Court with negotiations continuing until contract award. The Purchasing Agent will draft contract terms and conditions and negotiate the terms and conditions with the vendor. Once the negotiations are complete, the terms and conditions and contract document is finalized for award.

The second stage is to request the Authority to Award from the Commissioners Court. The Purchasing Agent will present the contract for award to the Commissioners Court for approval.

Exhibit 14 outlines the steps to be followed in processing an IFB and an RFP.

Exhibit 14: Procedures for Processing an IFB and RFP




Enter requisition into AFS system to reserve the funds for the procurement. Note: in absence of funded requisition, the user department must justify to Purchasing Agent why purchase should proceed.


See Section IV

Prepare and submit specification to Purchasing Department


Specification (See Section III)

Work with user department and assigned district attorney (if applicable) to develop IFB/RFP based on submitted specifications.

Purchasing Department


Distribute draft IFB/RFP to applicable parties for review (user department, auditor, attorney, etc.)

Purchasing Department


Compile and negotiate draft changes into final document.

Purchasing Department


Submit Authority to Advertise agenda item for Commissioners Court approval.

Purchasing Department


Approve Authority to Advertise

Commissioners Court


Advertise IFB/RFP in accordance with statutory requirements.

Purchasing Department


Conduct pre-bid (pre-proposal) conference (optional)

Purchasing and Department

Conference attendee sheet and questions

Amend IFB/RFP (if applicable).

Purchasing Department


Receive bids (proposals) and conduct bid (proposal) opening.

Purchasing Department

Bid Tabulation

Evaluate bids (proposals) based on IFB/RFP requirements and recommend one award or multiple awards as applicable (IFB) or identify vendors for further negotiation.

Purchasing and Department

IFB: Bid Referral Form; RRP: Evaluation Documents


IFB Award Process


Prepare and submit “Authorization to Award” agenda item for Commissioners Court approval

Purchasing Department

Authorization to Award agenda request

Approve “Authorization to Award”

Commissioners Court


Prepare and submit “Authority to Award” agenda item for Commissioners Court approval

Purchasing Department

Authority to Award agenda request

Approve Authority to Award

Commissioners Court


Receive approved contract, prepare originals and copies for distribution with appropriate award documents.

Purchasing Department


RFP Award Process


Negotiate with vendors and request Best and Final Offers (as applicable) and select recommended vendor to finalize negotiations with.

Purchasing Department and Evaluation Committee


Prepare and submit “Authority to Begin Negotiations/Award the RFP” agenda item for Commissioners Court approval

Purchasing Department

Agenda request

Approve “Authority to Begin Negotiations”

Commissioners Court


Negotiate contract terms with recommended vendor and develop contract documents reflecting negotiated terms.

Purchasing, District Attorney and Department


Prepare and submit “Authority to Award” agenda item for Commissioners Court approval

Purchasing Department

Agenda Request

Approve Authority to Award

Commissioners Court


Receive approved contract, prepare originals and copies for distribution with appropriate award documents.

Purchasing Department