HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH WARREN COUNTY
Julie A. Butler
This is a brief introduction and overview on how to do business with Warren County. The Warren County Purchasing Department conducts a decentralized purchasing function and is continually looking for suppliers of the varied goods and services we purchase. With over 30 different departments providing specialized services for our taxpayers, we purchase thousands of different products and services. We seek to maximize competition by shopping, bidding or utilizing New York State or other government contracts. We seek the most cost effective manner to purchase the goods and services for our taxpayers.
When trying to decide how to best spend public money, Warren County may take into account a range of factors:
- Quality and performance
- Value for money
- Balance of affordability and accessibility
- Partnerships with other levels of government
METHODS OF PROCUREMENT
- Public Bids
- Requests for Proposals (RFP's)
- New York State Contracts
- Cooperative Bidding/Procurements -[National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA)]
- Piggybacking on other government contracts
Quotes do not need to be publicly advertised and Warren County's procurement policy dictates a minimum number of quotes to be obtained based on the dollar value of the purchase. Purchasing employees, Department Heads and/or their designees will contact suppliers directly to seek a quote when the need arises.
General Municipal Law 104-b requires that Warren County develop a procurement policy for obtaining goods and services under the bidding thresholds. This document contains other cost benchmarks set by County Officials. For example, Warren County requires a minimum of three separate quotes for commodity purchases between $1,001 and $19,999.99.
The purpose of this procurement policy is to procure goods and services in a manner so as to assure the prudent and economical use of public moneys in the best interests of the taxpayers, to facilitate the acquisition of goods and services of maximum quality at the lowest possible cost under the circumstances, and to guard against favoritism, improvidence, extravagance, fraud and corruption.
A public bid/RFP is a more formal quote process. There are more rules, and it needs to be publicly advertised in the official County newspapers, but essentially, Warren County invites all interested suppliers to put a bid/proposal in to supply the goods and services needed.
How to bid or propose is clearly stated within the specification documents prepared by the Purchasing Department in consultation with Department Heads. We make every effort to clearly define the County's needs in the scope of work. To be successful, you must carefully address each of the items or requests identified in said scope.
Warren County supplements their own bid/RFP distribution by utilizing the Empire State Purchasing Group (ESPG) website (http://empirestatebidsystem.com). Potential suppliers can register their businesses to receive automatic notifications when new bids/RFPs are released, by paying a small annual fee. Businesses must register with the site in order to download specifications. Please note that businesses may register for free but will not receive the automatic notification. It would then be the vendor's responsibility to check the website on a regular basis to view opportunities. Currently, there are 178 local governments participating on the site and registration gets you access to all 178 agencies.
NEW YORK STATE CONTRACTS
Warren County is a political subdivision of the State of New York and is allowed to make purchases using State Contracts as an exception to competitive bidding.
Local governments may choose to cooperatively bid together to drive quantity discounts using economies of scale. Cooperative procurements produce better prices by having one bid for a number of local governments, thereby reducing administrative costs, saving time and money for taxpayers.
PIGGYBACKING ON OTHER GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
New York State General Municipal Law 103 Section 16 authorizes piggybacking of certain contracts. This allows the use of contracts issued by all local governments within New York State and other governmental agencies outside of New York State (if piggybacking language is included in the original specifications).
Warren County residents expect the highest level of good governance and ethical standards. Warren County takes any suggestion of anti-competitive collusive, dishonest or corrupt behavior very seriously. All suppliers to Warren County are expected to maintain the highest standards of behavior and avoid all conduct that does not promote fair competition and dealings. Anything that may be construed as an attempt to gain preferential treatment is strictly prohibited.
Minority, disadvantaged, women-owned, veteran-owned and small businesses are encouraged to participate in the competitive process. Many County purchases/contracts are grant funded and subject to MWBE/DBE/Veteran-Owned goals.
TAX EXEMPT STATUS
Warren County is exempt from all State, Local and Federal Taxes. Suppliers will be provided with a letter from the NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance upon request.
If you'd like to be placed on vendor lists for products/services, send an e-mail to one of the Purchasing Department staff members listed on the bottom of the page and include company name, address, contact person, phone and fax numbers and key words you'd like us to use in our vendor search.
SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL VENDOR WITH WARREN COUNTY
The following instructions will help Vendors submit responsive bids/proposals by doing the following:
- Search the ESPG website where County bids and proposals are posted, (web address provided under "Public Bidding/RFP's" herein), or read the legal ads placed in The Post-Star and the News Enterprice (official newspapers of Warren County).
- Download a copy of bids/ RFPs directly from the ESPG website as soon as possible after learning of a Warren County request. This will give you ample time to work on the bid or proposal and to contact your suppliers if necessary.
Read the entire specification package.
- Follow all directions, terms and conditions.
- Meet or exceed the detailed minimum specifications of the item(s) or service(s) being requested.
- Furnish all additional information deemed necessary for evaluation of your response.
- Read all of the conditions. When you respond, be prepared to honor all conditions in a legal contract.
- The specifications will likely contain terms and conditions that are different or in addition to those listed herein.
- If the specifications include a pre-bid or pre-proposal conference, attending the conference is not mandatory but highly recommended.
- Use the forms furnished unless directed otherwise. The Purchasing Agent will reject illegible or vague bids/proposals.
- Double check all unit prices, price extensions and totals to ensure accuracy. The bid/proposal will be evaluated as written with no changes being allowed after the opening.
- Make sure all mandatory documentation is submitted with the bid/proposal, as stated in the specifications.
- If you have any questions concerning the specifications, scope of work, or any part of the document, you must submit your questions in writing to the Purchasing Agent. Questions will be answered in the form of a formal addendum which will become part of the original specification package.
- Keep a photocopy of the original bid/proposal for your records. The Purchasing Agent and/or Department Head evaluating responses may call with questions/clarifications.
- Submit your bid or proposal in a sealed envelope, clearly marked with your company name, the specification number and title, and the opening date.
- Make sure your bid/proposal will arrive before the opening deadline. All late bids/proposals will be returned unopened with the date and time clearly marked on the envelope.
- Remember that before responses are opened, you are allowed to submit questions in writing if you are unsure of the specifications or would like clarification. The deadline for questions with applicable contact information is always noted within the specification documents.
- A complete copy of Warren County's Purchasing Policy can be found at Warren County's website, www.warrencountyny.gov by following the link to the Purchasing Department.
Monday through Friday (except holidays)
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Julie Butler, Purchasing Agent
Jason Shpur, Deputy Purchasing Agent
Amber Brownell, Purchasing Assistant