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Department of Administrative Services

Vendor Frequently Asked Questions

Business owners will find that the State of Iowa offers many opportunities to sell goods and services. We hope the information provided entices your company to join the many other businesses currently providing goods and services to the State of Iowa.

The State of Iowa cannot operate without the goods and services of private businesses. Through your participation in an open competitive procurement process, the government and the taxpayer benefit from improved quality at lower prices.

The Iowa procurement code is designed to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all persons who deal with the procurement process. We look forward to your continued interest and participation in the procurement process within the State of Iowa.

The State of Iowa does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the admission or access to, or treatment of employment in, its programs or activities pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) 42 USC 12101.

This guide is provided for general information purposes only. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to amend, modify, override, or nullify any state statute, county ordinance, rule, policy, procedure or document used in the procurement process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I register to do business with the State of Iowa?
  2. How are procurements under $5,000 handled?
  3. Who is responsible for purchasing in Iowa state government?
  4. What is a general contract or individual contract and is it a good idea for me to bid on one?
  5. I see that you have some commodities on contract, but you don't have what I sell. How do I get the state to put my commodities on a general or individual contract?
  6. If my company is submitting a formal sealed bid, when is it due and can I be present at the opening of the bids?
  7. Am I allowed to visit end users to show my product or market my service?
  8. After being placed on the Iowa Department of Administrative Services automated bidder's list will I receive an invitation to bid for every purchase?
  9. How do I submit a bid for consideration?
  10. What are the Bid/Proposal Processes?
Q1: How do I register to do business with the State of Iowa?
A1:

All companies shall complete and submit to General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services, a Vendor Application Form that asks for important address information of a company and identification of the commodities or services the company provides. In addition, the company must complete and submit a Federal Identification W-9 form to General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services. There is no charge to get on the state bidders list. Vendor Application Forms are accessible on the State of Iowa Home Page - found at: Vendor Registration Process and Forms

Companies that work in the construction field shall have a "contractor registration number" from the Workforce Center Administration Bureau before entering into a contract. Information can be obtained directly from the, Iowa Workforce Development Department, Labor Services Division, (515) 242-5871.


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Q2: How are procurements under $5,000 handled?
A2:

An agency may procure non-master agreement goods up to $5,000 per transaction in a competitive manner. Three or more informal quotes shall be obtained, unless quotes are not reasonably available or unless the item is purchased from a targeted small business. The agency shall document the quotes, or circumstances resulting in fewer than three quotes, in an electronic file attached to the order or in another format.


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Q3: Who is responsible for purchasing in Iowa state government?
A3:

General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services establishes statewide general and individual contracts for commodities or services which are used in high volume by state agencies. Generally, all other formal bidding for the purchase of commodities or services needed by agencies that are not otherwise exempt is done through the General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services. The agencies and regent institutions which may by law purchase commodities and services independent of General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services include: the Terrace Hill Commission, the Department of Transportation, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, Iowa School for the Deaf, Department for the Blind, Iowa Prison Industries, Iowa Lottery and Iowa Communications Network.


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Q4: What is a general contract or individual contract and is it a good idea for me to bid on one?
A4:

A general contract is a group of commonly used items or services which are competitively bid to set prices for a specified period of time. General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services, as a part of their service, cooperatively bids commonly used commodities or services based on estimated consumption in a specified period of time. A company awarded a general contract is obligated to offer those commodities or services to all participating state agencies and/or other governmental entities, regardless of their location within the State of Iowa. For additional information on this area of procurement, see the section entitled GENERAL OR INDIVIDUAL CONTRACT. Individual contracts are written exclusively for a particular agency or agencies and have the same conditions as described above.


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Q5: I see that you have some commodities on contract, but you don't have what I sell. How do I get the state to put my commodities on a general or individual contract?
A5:

The state attempts to determine the common-use items and the items that can most efficiently and economically be purchased using the competitive bid process. For a new commodity to be put on contract, an agency must notify General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services of a need. If agencies identify a specific need for a commodity, General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services may then begin the process of developing specifications and soliciting bids.


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Q6: If my company is submitting a formal sealed bid, when is it due and can I be present at the opening of the bids?
A6:

The Lead Agency will open Bid Proposals after the deadline for submission of Bid Proposals has passed. The Bid Proposals will remain confidential until the Evaluation Committee has reviewed all of the Bid Proposals submitted in response to this RFP and the Lead Agency has announced a notice of intent to award a contract. See Iowa Code Section 72.3. However, the names of Contractors who submitted timely Bid Proposals will be publicly available after the Bid Proposal opening. The announcement of Contractors who timely submitted Bid Proposals does not mean that an individual Bid Proposal has been deemed technically compliant or accepted for evaluation.


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Q7: Am I allowed to visit agency staff to show my product or market my service?
A7:

Vendors are requested to make appointments in advance and to limit the meeting to current information about the product or service. Visits to agencies are encouraged. Remember that informing an agency of your product or service does not result in a contract. A competitive process must be conducted.


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Q8: After being placed on the General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services bidders list will I receive an invitation to bid for every purchase?
A8:

No, it is often not practical to send bids to every vendor on the General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services bidders list. Copies of all current bids are accessible at http://bidopportunities.iowa.gov.


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Q9: How do I submit a bid for consideration?
A9:

Bids must be manually signed in ink in the space provided on the solicitation; original signature must be submitted with the bid. In the case of errors in the extension price, the unit price will govern. Each error and/or correction must be initialed by the bidder.

  1. Bids must meet the minimum specifications, including the unit of measurement, (i.e., case, package, each).
  2. Submit your bid in a sealed envelope or the envelope furnished, one bid per envelope.
  3. Apply correct postage, "Postage Due" will be returned unopened to the bidder.
  4. The envelope should be clearly marked and labeled on the outside with bidder's name and address and referencing the applicable solicitation number and the bid opening date.
  5. Bids must be received at the designated location on or before the date and hour designated for the bid opening. Note: Iowa is in the Central Time Zone.
  6. Bid bonds, when required, must be included with the bid.
  7. Check the bid document for other mandated requirements carefully.
  8. Do not include any unauthorized additions, deletions or conditions.

Source: Iowa Department of Administrative Services, General Services Enterprise - Procurement Services, October, 2004


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Q10: What are the Bid/Proposal Processes?
A10:

Please view the following link for a detailed description of the Bid/Proposal Processes.


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updated 12/2/08