Overview of the Procurement Process

Our procurement function is governed by common law, uniform codes, federal and state statutes, policies established by the Commissioners, and
customs and usages of the trade.

We do not come under the State Consolidated Procurement Code according to Section 11-35-310(18); however, we, being a political subdivision of the State, are required to adopt ordinances or procedures embodying sound principles of appropriate competitive procurement as defined in Section 11-35-50.

The principal policies governing our purchasing process are described briefly below. For a complete look at our procurement requirements, please refer to our Procurement Rules and Requirements Manual.

Invitation to Bid

Invitations to Bid are mailed to the prospective vendors or may be obtained by a prospective vendor at our Purchasing department's office. Only one copy of a bid is required to be returned; the vendor should retain a copy of the submitted bid. When a sealed bid is opened, examined and recorded, the original copy is placed in a working file for evaluation by the buyer.

Vendor Address

Any purchase order issued as a result of a vendor bid will be sent to the firm name appearing on the bid form. If orders or payments are to be mailed to an address other than that shown on the face of the bid form, the vendor must so indicate and list the post office box or street number, city, state, and zip code for the address(es) in writing.

Signature of Bid

The person signing the bid must be a person authorized to bind the vendor to contract. A bid not signed by such a person will be considered non-responsive and will be rejected. Unsigned bids cannot be signed after the bid has been opened, even if the vendor or his representative is present at the bid opening.

Terms & Conditions

The terms and conditions for all Invitations to Bid shall include these rules by reference unless otherwise specified. Vendor is charged with notice and understanding of the terms and conditions for the invitations of bids, and by submitting a bid, he agrees to abide and be bound by the policies and procedures of the Commission.

Any special terms and conditions proposed by the bidder that vary from the terms and conditions of the Invitation to Bid must be noted conspicuously on the face of the Invitation to Bid and must receive an affirmative and explicit indication of acceptance from the Director of Operations Support or his agent.

Any special terms and conditions which vary from the terms and conditions of the Invitation to Bid may render the bid unresponsive and subject the bid to rejection.


Invitations to Bid shall request a net price for the unit specified for each item FOB destination. The net price is list price less all trade or other discounts offered, not including cash discount for prompt payment. Unit price, extensions and gross total must be shown on the bid or quotation forms. Cost-plus or discount from list quotations may be requested for the supply of certain types of commodities. Instructions concerning this method of pricing will be included in the Invitation to Bid.


Erasures or use of correction fluid on bid forms are not acceptable. Prior to submission, errors may be corrected by lining out and entering the substituted words or figures with the change initialed by the person signing the bid. No bid shall be altered or amended after the bid opening. In the case of errors in the extension prices, the unit price will govern.


Invitations to Bid normally request net prices. If case discount is offered, it must be shown in the space provided. Discount for prompt payment periods of less than thirty (30) days will not be considered in the award process. All discounts offered for prompt payment will be taken if earned. Time will be computed either from the date of delivery at destination or from the date a correct invoice is received, whichever is later.


Prices quoted shall contain provisions for Federal Excise Taxes or State Sales Tax. We are not exempt from such taxes. Contractors are not exempt from sales tax on supplies and materials used in the production of an item or used in the performance of a repair or construction contract.

Time of Performance

The number of calendar days required for delivery after receipt of order must be shown by the vendor unless already specified by us in the space provided on the Invitation to Bid.


Reference, in the Invitation to Bid, to available specifications shall be sufficient to make the specifications binding on the contractor. Unless a vendor specifies otherwise in his bid, it is assumed that the vendor is bidding in accordance with the specifications in the Invitation to Bid. When merchandise is received that does not meet specifications, it will be returned to the vendor, shipping charges collect.

Preference to U.S. Made or Manufactured End-Products

It is the policy of the Commissioners of Public Works of the City of Charleston as a market participant and not a regulator to procure necessary end-products which are made or manufactured in the United States, if available, before the same or substantially similar foreign-made or manufactured end products may be procured. This policy serves the public interest by promoting American Goods. The cost of an end-product made or manufactured in the United States is unreasonable if the bid or offer exceeds the lowest qualified bid or proposal on the same end-product, which is made or manufactured in a foreign country or territory by 5%.

See section 7 of the Procurement Rules and Requirements Manual | Download Affidavit form

Alternate Bids & Specifications

Alternate bids are encouraged. When alternate bids reveal more economical services, supplies, or materials than those specified, the Purchasing Department reserves the right to award to the "alternate" or "re-advertise" with modified specifications. Alternate bids cannot be considered; however, unless detailed specifications accompany the bid. If the vendor cannot include alternate or supplemental bids in the bid package supplied with the Invitation to Bid, the vendor may submit them on a separate page, using the same format as the original. Also, each separate page must be cross-referenced to the Invitation number and applicable item, and must be identified by vendor's signature.

Amendment or Withdrawal of Bids

  • Amending or withdrawal of bids may be permitted under the following circumstances
  • Prior to bid opening, vendors unable to appear in person who wish to withdraw or amend a bid must do so in writing to the Purchasing Department. Should a request for withdrawal occur, the Director of Operations Support, or his designated representative, will attach the dated and time stamped request to the bid, which will remain unopened as a part of the permanent file.
  • After the bid opening, a vendor will be permitted to withdraw his bid if there is an obvious error in the bid supported by cost data or where enforcement of the bid would impose an unconscionable hardship due to an error in the bid resulting in a quotation substantially below the other bids received. The request for withdrawal shall be made in writing to the Director of Operations Support. No charge in bid prices or other provision of bids shall be made.

Correspondence Concerning Bid Invitations

Any questions concerning the Invitation to Bid should be directed to the Purchasing Manager. The person corresponding should specify the bid number, and bid opening date that appear in the bid invitation.  
For example:
Bid No. - 180
Opening Date - 2:00 PM, July 5, 2013

After awarded, bid files may be examined during normal working hours.


Samples of items, when called for in the Invitation to Bid, must be furnished free of expense, and if not destroyed or used in testing will, upon request, be returned at the vendor's expense. Requests for the return of samples must be made, in writing, within ten (10) days following opening of bids. After ten days, We assume no liability for samples and will dispose of or utilize said samples at our discretion.

Each individual sample must be labeled with the vendor's name, manufacturer's brand name and number, requisition number and item reference. Samples submitted by the successful vendor will be held for comparison with merchandise furnished, and will not be returned.

Product Testing and Demonstration

Manufacturers often offer use demonstrations of their products at the department level. We recognize the value of such tests; however, in order to insure proper testing and valid evaluation of test results, vendors are required to obtain prior approval for such tests/demonstrations from the Purchasing Department.


The Commission may request bids for new equipment employing trade-in of used equipment. In such cases a trade-in price quotation will be requested for trade-in purchases and a separate price quotation without trade-in for the requested equipment. The Commission reserves the right to purchase equipment either with or without the trade-in.