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Procurement Management FAQs
General Questions

Q. What are the Procurement bidding levels?
A. Procurement has the following bidding levels:
  • Goods costing less than $10,000 may be handled by requesting agencies by any reasonable means.
  • Goods with a total cost greater than $10,000 and less than a total cost of $50,000 require informal solicitations with multiple quotes.
  • Goods costing $50,000 to $100,000 require written quotations from a minimum of three sources. 
  • Goods costing more than $100,000 require a formal sealed bid process. Technology goods costing more than $100,000 require a formal sealed bid or proposal process.
  • Professional services and technology costing more than $100,000 require a formal sealed proposal process.
Q. Does the City allow telephone quotes?
A. Telephone quotes are allowed for items costing up to $10,000. Telephone quotes are sometimes requested by departments, who have been delegated this authority by the Citywide Procurement Policy.

Q. Does Procurement Management buy for all City/County offices?
A. Procurement Management handles procurement for all offices with the following exceptions:

  • Engineering and Property Management (EPM) handles requests for bids and proposals in regards to professional architectural or engineering services and construction of capital projects included in the annually adopted Utility Capital Improvements Budget. EPM can be contacted by emailing Susana Vang.
  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities (CMU) handles utilities related construction contracting and utilities related services and technology contracting.  CMU can be contacted by emailing Donnell Wilson or Francesca Martin. 
  • Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) handles construction related transit contracting.  CATS can be contacted by emailing Tom Livingston. 
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (Airport) handles construction, services and technology related aviation contracting needs.  The Airport can be contacted by emailing Tashiek Lescott. 
  • Procurement Management does not handle procurement for Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System or The Housing Authority.
Q. How do I contact the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System?
A. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools Purchasing office may be reached by calling 704.343.6251.

Q. What are your office hours?
A. Procurement Management's standard office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Staff is generally available for your assistance from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily.

Q. What are the bonding requirements?
A. There are several types of bonds that may be required - Bid Bonds, Performance Bonds and Payment Bonds. See information in the "City of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County Procurement Manual Policies and Procedures". Bonds are normally not required for projects.  However, Procurement may require a bond if it is believed to be in the City's best interest. Bonds may be issued by an approved surety firm, or be in the form of a cashier's check.

Q. How are informal purchases handled?
A. Departments have been delegated authority for informal purchases for total single orders costing up to $10,000. For purchases greater than $10,000, appropriate Procurement Procedures must be followed.  Departments also have the ability to make purchases on their Procurement Cards up to an assigned single purchase spending authority. 

Q. How do I get information regarding previous contracts?
A. You may request information about previous contracts by calling the City Clerks Office at 704.336.2248 or faxing your request to 704-336-7588.  You may also contact Procurement Management at 704.336.2256 or by faxing your request to 704.336.2258. The City Clerk's Office is the main repository for all City Contracts; therefore Procurement Management may not have the Contract you are searching for.

Q.  How does a vendor get information related to current contracting opportunities?
A.  Current information may be obtained on the North Carolina Interactive Purchasing System website (www.ips.state.nc.us).  Additional contracting opportunities may be sought with the Small Business Organization Office, Charlotte Area Transit Procurement, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, Engineering and Property Management, and Charlotte Douglas Airport.

Questions about Getting or Responding to a Bid

Q. What do Vendors need to do to register as a vendor with the City?
A. The most convenient means by which a vendor can register is by filling out the Online Vendor Registration Form.  Vendors may also request and complete a Vendor Registration Form from the Department(s) they are interested in doing business with.  They may also request the Vendor Registration Form from Procurement Management  by calling 704.336.2256 or faxing 704.336.2258.

Q. Does the City/County offer preferences for small and/or minority businesses?
A. In accordance with the North Carolina Procurement Statutes, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are unable to grant preferences.  We must award bids to the lowest, responsible, responsive vendor or to those vendors providing the best value solution to the City or County.

Q. How does the City advertise for goods or services?
A. Advertisements for goods and services are solicited by Invitations to Bid and Requests for Proposals and are posted for viewing on the North Carolina Interactive Purchasing Site (www.ips.state.nc.us), which is maintained by the State of North Carolina Purchasing and Contracts Division.

Q. Does the City give solicitation results over the telephone?
A. Solicitation results for Invitations to Bid may be given over the phone.  You may call 704.336.2256 after the bid opening, and Procurement staff will provide you a bid tabulation where applicable.  However, a bid tabulation will be supplied only after a final decision has been made to award the bid.  A Request for Proposal does not result in a bid tabulation as the process of evaluation is generally longer than that of an Invitation to Bid and is not based on price.  Solicitation results for Request for Proposals may be available after final evaluations are complete.

Q. Must a company hold residence in North Carolina to do business with the City?
A. No. Any vendor soliciting or providing business in Charlotte and/or Mecklenburg County must have a Charlotte/Mecklenburg Business License.  If you need additional information regarding doing business within Mecklenburg County, please contact the County Tax Office at 704-336-3322.

Q. May a vendor send a solicitation package by facsimile or e-mail?
A. Formal advertised sealed bids/proposals will NOT be accepted by Procurement Management via facsimile or e-mail; however, informal quotes may be faxed or e-mailed.

Q. May a vendor get information regarding solicitations after submission or if they did not bid?
A. A vendor may get information from Procurement Management by calling 704-336-2256. 

Q. Who originates the requirement for Invitations to Bid or Requests for Proposals?
A. Typically the using agency submits a requisition or a request for services to Procurement Management for a specific requirement.

Q. When is a contract officially awarded?
A. Formal contract (over $100,000), are officially awarded upon approval by the City Council or County Commissioners.  Written and signed contracts are provided for all contracts in the formal range. Purchase orders may also be issued in addition to the signed contracts. For informal contracts (less than $100,000), the official award may be given at the discretion of the Procurement Management staff or individuals with appropriate authority within each City and County department.  Informal commodities contracts are typically further evidenced by purchase order only. Service and technology contracts in any amount are always supported by a written signed contract.

B. Because the City/County relies heavily on competitive bidding, no department knows which bidder will receive an award until sealed bids are opened and evaluated or in the case of services and technology, proposals have gone through the evaluation process.  This means that no one can give assurance that a vendor will receive a particular contract. Do Not Start Work Without an Authorized Contract.  No service should be provided, and no goods should be delivered, before you receive a written contract from the City/County.  Until the City/County executes the contract, purchase order or blanket purchase order, the City/County has no legal obligation to pay for the order.

Q. What are some common mistakes made during bid submittals?
A. Because of the structural nature of government contracting, the City/County has little flexibility if the bid a vendor submits does not respond to all specifications and requirements outlined in the bid.  So it is critical that a vendor submit a bid that is right the first (and perhaps only) time, or else we may not be able to consider the bid.  Here are some things for a vendor to keep in mind:

  • Be Timely
  • Vendors must submit bids by the date and time specified.  Late bids cannot be considered.
  • Read the Bid Conditions
  • Each bid contains a number of bid conditions, some applicable to all bids, and some tailored to the particular bid.  Prices must be firm for the period specified, from as short as 90 days to as long as 5 years.  For a contract, which could extend over several years, prices may change yearly.
  • Be Responsive
  • Bid on items and in quantities the bid requests.  If a vendor adds any qualifications or reservations to their bid, the bid may be considered conditional or non-responsive and can be rejected.
Q. Can a vendor turn in a bid late?
A. It is the vendor's responsibility to ensure that a bid/proposal is physically delivered to the correct location, prior to the time and date specified in the solicitation document. Late bids will not be opened, however the City and County reserve the right to consider late bids or proposals if it feels it will serve their best interest.

Q. If a vendor has a question regarding the specifications or requirements, who can they ask for clarification?
A. Any question concerning the solicitation should be directed, in writing, to the person whose name and contact information is listed in the solicitation. Correspondence must include the solicitation number and reference the specific section in question. No verbal response or interpretation that constitutes a material change to the solicitation is binding, unless it is issued as a written addendum to the solicitation.

Q. If a vendor has more than one division of their company doing business with the City, do they need separate vendor applications on file?
A. If each division has a separate Accounts Receivable mailing address, and functions as though they are different companies, then separate vendor applications must be submitted.

Q. Does a vendor really need to attend pre-bid meetings and site visits?
A. Most pre-bid or pre-proposal conferences and site visits are not mandatory. However, in order to offer a responsive bid or proposal, a vendor should attend these meetings. Ignorance of existing conditions is not an acceptable excuse for non-performance at a later date. Bidders should take every opportunity to get to know the project and the requirements for that project.

Q. What does "taking exception" to a specification or solicitation mean?
A. Whenever a vendor modifies a clause, requirement, or specification in a solicitation, the vendor is "taking exception".  For the purchase of commodities, this will almost always disqualify the bid.  Such exceptions typically indicate the vendor cannot comply with the minimum requirements of the solicitation.  For services and technology, the exception is taken into consideration and if it is determined to be in the best interests of the City or County, the exception is addressed during the evaluation process and terms and conditions may be negotiated with the vendor during the contract negotiation phase.

Q. How does the Bid Evaluation Process work?
A. Depending on the complexity of the solicitation, it can take from several days to several weeks to evaluate all the bids/proposals submitted.  For Commodities, Procurement Management makes certain that vendors are bidding on the same items and in the same units and quantities. Procurement Management sends a summary to the requesting department for review and recommendation. Procurement Management awards to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. For a bid with many items, Procurement Management in its discretion may award the entire contract to one bidder based on comparisons of the aggregate bids, or may make individual line-item awards to the lowest bidders.  This option will be stated in the bid package.  For services and technology, several criteria are taken into consideration including, but not limited to:  Qualifications; Experience; Approach; Financial Stability; Cost Efficiency; and Acceptance of the City's or County's Terms and Conditions.  Service and Technology contracts are not always awarded to the lowest bidder.  While cost is a consideration, it is not the overriding factor in a decision to award - quality of services takes precedence.  The City and County strive to find a balance between the level of service and the cost for the service.

Questions after Being Awarded a Bid

Q. Will a vendor get a signed contract from the City/County?
A. Written and signed contracts are provided for all contracts in the formal range. Purchase orders may also be issued in addition to the signed contracts. For informal contracts (less than $100,000), the official award may be given at the discretion of the Procurement Management staff or individuals with appropriate authority within each City and County department.  Informal commodities contracts are typically further evidenced by purchase order only. Service and technology contracts in any amount are always supported by a written signed contract. When responding to an RFP for services or technology, the selected vendor will receive a signed contract from the City/County.  After the contract is signed, the Vendor may start work.

Q. What does a vendor need to know about delivery?
A. For most orders, the delivery point is the location noted in the "ship to" where the item or service will be used.  A vendor should note carefully the delivery address in the bidding and order documents.  The vendor is responsible for delivering to the final destination specified in the order.  Deliveries to departments typically are made by common carrier, by the vendor's trucks, or through the U.S. Postal Service.  Vendors should not send the order to the Buyer in Procurement Management whose name may be on the transaction.

Q. When does a vendor need the PO Number?
A. The vendor must include the Purchase Order number on the outside of the package, packing slip and all invoices.  This will enable the City/County to identify the correct department or individual as the recipient and ensure prompt payment.

Q. Do Departments have a chance to inspect goods?
A. All goods are considered received by the City/County only after the requesting department inspects to be certain all items are received and in good condition.  After inspection and any necessary tests have been performed, the department will approve the invoice.  Services are considered delivered only after the City or County "accepts" the deliverables in accordance with specific Acceptance Criteria that are outlined in the contract - this typically includes a letter from the vendor stating that the deliverable has been met and the City or County signing the letter to indicate acceptance of the deliverable.  Technology deliverables typically involve a test phase and include Test Acceptance Criteria.  Invoices are not sent until acceptance is received and payment is not made until after acceptance.

Q. What are some factors that might delay payment?
A. The City/County has no formal Shipping and Receiving Department to sort and assess shipments that are received, thus delays may occur when:

  • Short Shipment/Backorders: The City/County pays for an order only after all items have been received.  Partial payments can be made but must be requested at the time the order is placed.  If a vendor has made several shipments to fill an order, and mailed the invoice for the entire order before all shipments were received, the vendor can expect payment only after the City/County receives the complete order.
  • Wrong Delivery Address: The shipment was sent to Procurement Management.  Occasionally, vendors send orders to Procurement Management  instead of the requesting department.  This causes delays as Procurement Management determines the ultimate recipient.  If no purchase order number appears on the outside of the container or packing slip, Procurement Management may be unable to identify the correct department and thus be forced to return the shipment.
  • Missing Order Number: Vendors may fail to show the order number on the package.  If there is a problem with the delivery address, knowing the order number can be a significant help to the City/County in identifying the ultimate recipient.
Q. What does the Requesting Agency have to do?
A. The requesting agency must verify that the order was received complete and in good condition. Invoices are sent directly to Accounts Payable.  A/P scans the invoices and sends them electronically to the department.  Once the invoice is approved by the requesting department and the invoice is routed back to A/P, payment will be initiated by A/P.

Q. What if a vendor has Questions about an invoice and payment?
A. If a vendor has a question about an invoice or payments, they should contact Linda Lewis in Accounts Payable at 704-336-5140.  It is important that the vendor have the Purchase Order number or other identifying transaction number handy, including a contract number.

Q. What can a vendor do to help the payment process proceed more quickly?
A. If the vendor observes the following tips, things should go smoothly: 

  • Make sure shipment was sent to the correct address.  They should note carefully the "Deliver To" address on the Purchase Order.   The order number should be included on the outside of the package. 
  • The Vendor should send an invoice for the complete order, not a partial one, and do this only after the full order has been received or the deliverables have been accepted.  In general, the City/County does not pay partial invoices without prior arrangements being made.  Invoices sent too early may become difficult to locate once the shipment arrives or the deliverables are met.  Send the invoice to the correct address and include a City/County contact person if specified on the PO or in the contract.  Include the correct Purchase Order number or Contract Number on the invoice.  The City/County needs that identifying number to match shipments or services with the procurement documents.