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Selecting Suppliers Through the Competitive Bid Process

man and machine

Learn about the competitive bid process and when it is required.

The competitive bid process lets UCSD secure the best quality products and services at the best possible price. To accomplish this, Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions posts public announcements of goods and services needed by the university. Suppliers respond to these announcements by submitting bids to the Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions Department.

The following table provides dollar thresholds for when an informal or formal solicitation may be required:

Funding Source  $0 - $50,000.00  $50,000.00 - $99,999.99   $100,000.00 or more $100,000.00 - $250,000.00

  No competition required if
  the price is reasonable
  (informal competition

  Informal competitive
  proposals required from
  three or more sources*

  Formal RFx solicitation conducted
  by IPPS Strategic Procurement
  Certified Diverse Business informal
  competitive proposals required from
  2 or more like diverse
  classifications.  FAR (15 U.S.C. 631)
  Non-Federal   No competition required if
  the price is
  reasonable (informal
  competition encouraged)
  Informal competitive
encouraged from
  three or more sources
  Formal RFx solicitation conducted
  by IPPS Strategic
  Certified Small Business (Diverse)
  informal competitive proposals
  required from 2 or more like diverse
  classifications. PCC (10508.5)

*As required by 2 CFR § 200.320, departments must obtain three (3) competitive quotes, bids or proposals for a purchase transaction more than $50,000.00.  

**California Public Contract Code (PCC), sections 10507.7 et seq., requires the University of California to formally competitively bid the purchase of goods and/or services that exceed ≥$100,000 per annual year unless an exception applies and the basis for the award is documented in writing. Requirements for goods and services should be publicly advertised. 

Types of competitive bid requests

  • Request for Information (RFI)
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ)
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)

During the competitive bid process

  1. The university publicly posts its requirements and needs on the Web, in trade and industry journals, and in newspapers in the form of a competitive bid request.
  2. Suppliers' responses address the requirements for service, quality, capability, and price. To be considered, suppliers' offers must fulfill all of the specifications in the posting and be deemed responsive and responsible.
  3. Procurement & Contracts verifies the supplier's ability to fulfill the terms of the contract successfully.
  4. Before making the final selection of the supplier, Procurement & Contracts evaluates the quality of the offered merchandise or services and the total cost of ownership (PPT).

University policy Business and Finance Bulletin (BUS) 43 Part 3 (PDF) and the Public Contract Code require that competitive bids be obtained for purchases above $100,000.

Exceptions to the competitive bid requirement

  • Sole source: If Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions determines that goods or services are only available from a sole source, a competitive bid may not be required. A sole source might include:
    • Patented software products
    • Drugs
    • Manufactured items only available from 1 supplier or manufacturer
    • The need to match existing furniture
    • Part replacement on a custom piece of equipment
  • Strategically sourced contracts: Competitive bids are not needed for contracts previously established through the strategic sourcing process, since the competitive bid requirement has already been satisfied. UCSD encourages its community to take advantage of strategic sourcing contracts. Departments may make purchases under these contracts even if the value of the purchase exceeds $100,000.
  • Professional or personal services: Certain exemptions apply to contracts for these types of services. Please contact Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions for information specific to your situation.
  • Agreement suppliers: Most of the products and services available are sourced from a formal competitive bid process, thereby satisfying the university's policy.
  • Emergency or public safety: Under some emergency situations where loss of life or major loss of property may occur, university policy permits Procurement & Contracts to forgo competitive bids.

Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions is solely responsible for managing all competitive bid solicitations in accordance with university policy (PDF).

Find answers, request services, or get help from our team at the UC San Diego Services & Support portal or call us at (858) 534-9494.