Choosing a Vendor

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Competitive Bidding & Competitive Vendor Selection

Competitive bidding and competitive vendor selection is required for:

  • A planned purchase of goods or services over $10,000
  • When we seek vendors as potential partners for the provision on services to the campus community where there may not be a defined fee up front (for example, as approved trademarks and licensing vendors). 
  • Contract renewals, not just new vendor engagements

The Purchasing Manual outlines the competitive bidding requirements. Competitive bids and price quotations can be obtained through a Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP).

Competitive bidding and selection is advantageous for several reasons. It ensures fairness to all bidders while minimizing expenditures and maximizing quality of service for Lehigh. If a supplier is in a competitive situation, it is more likely to provide its most aggressive pricing and other terms. Bidding also ensures that you're complying with University policy and other applicable federal and state regulations for grants and contracts.

RFP Process

The timeframe for completing an RFP process will vary depending on the level of complexity. To inform your planning, please refer to this outline of the RFP process including the approximate timeframes below for an example of a complex RFP timeline:

Phase 1 - Weeks 1 and 2

  • Purchasing Services works with department to develop and refine requirements / specifications
  • Department and Purchasing Services complete writing RFP
  • Department and Purchasing Services develop evaluation criteria and scoring grid
  • Purchasing Services issues RFP (the document includes a Lehigh template contract in order for companies to review and thus be prepared to sign if awarded the contract)

Phase 2 - Weeks 3 through 6

  • Companies develop proposals and submit to Purchasing Services

Phase 3 - Weeks 7 through 9

  • Department and Purchasing Services evaluate and score proposals
  • Purchasing Services obtains proposal clarifications from top 1 - 3 bidders
  • All bidders receive same clarifying questions
  • Purchasing Services begins discussing bidders’ objections to contract terms (if applicable, often the case with software, service, and construction contracts)
  • Possible presentations from proposal finalists
  • Allow time for possible bidder(s) travel to campus

Phase 4 - Weeks 10 through 12

  • Best and final offers requested and submitted to Purchasing Services
  • Purchasing Services negotiates contracy
    • High risk exceptions to legal and business terms will require General Counsel, Risk Management, and LTS reviews as well