Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the dollar limit for purchases that do not need a quote or bid?
    Departments can purchase from a vendor up to $10,000 without needing additional competition.  This $10,000 per individual purchase includes blanket purchase amounts, unless otherwise specified.

  2. What do I do if I have an emergency?  How do I get what I need in a hurry?
    Emergencies in public procurement are defined as something that directly and imminently affects the health or safety of the public. Emergency purchases are authorized only for stop-gap measures until we can carry out a more appropriate procurement process. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, contact the Chief Procurement Officer at 571-377-6042 or via email at jmakely@mcpsva.org. 

  3. Do I have to buy from an MCPS or Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) contract if I find the items cheaper from another vendor?
    Saving money is a prime consideration when making a purchase. Procurement personnel are expected to secure maximum value for our dollars, whether from operating funds or federal/local grant sources. MCPS contracts are developed and competitively bid with those goals in mind and generally offer quality products and services at fair prices. It is important to remember that these contracts are developed with much more than just the lowest cost in mind.  They also include value-added services such as prompt delivery, extensive reports, ease of customer service and other services that benefit MCPS as a whole. The competitive bidding process affords all interested parties an opportunity to participate in our business and the contracts that result from such processes are legally binding documents that MCPS and the vendor must adhere to throughout the contract term. Purchasing an off-contract without a justifiable cause subverts the bidding process, and lessens the volume and its related benefits to MCPS as an institution. 

  4. What if the lowest bid/quote is not acceptable?
    A justification memo must be sent with your recommendation to award a bid or quote. This memo must state how and why the lowest bid/quote does not meet the specifications. This must be a measurable justification.

  5. What do "sole source" and "proprietary" mean?  How do I order these items?
    A "sole source" is defined as a product or service that is practicably available from only one source. "Proprietary" restricts the acceptable product or service to one manufacturer or vendor. A common example would be specifying a good by brand name that excludes consideration of approved "equals." Although all sole source specifications are proprietary, all proprietary items are not the sole source. Proprietary items may be available from several distributors.  A sole source is also described as an item with only one single source. Sole source items are exempt from competition. Departments often send requests for sole source purchases that describe an item made by one manufacturer, but the item is distributed and readily available from many different suppliers, so it does not qualify as a sole source. As long as there is more than one potential source for an item or service, there is no justification for a sole source determination. 

    It is the department's responsibility to prove that a product or service is the sole source. The department must show the research/investigation done to find any other manufacturer or supplier who can provide a "similar-like" product or service.  The department must obtain a sole source letter from the vendor or manufacturer and complete a Sole Source Request Form. In addition, it is the department's responsibility to prove to the Chief Procurement Officer that the cost provided by the vendor is deemed fair and reasonable.

  6. Why does the Procurement Office need to get so many bids/quotes?
    Competition is the central principle of public procurement. In its purest form, competition ensures a free, open and fair process that should result in a fair and reasonable price paid for goods and services as well as providing the best value to the district.  When competition is available, but artificially restricted, the principles of public procurement are defeated.