City of Houston Strategic Procurement Division
Guide to Doing Business with the City
In this section you will find a complete outline of the steps required to create an online account and register as a City Vendor. We encourage you to use this guide to familiarize yourself with the basics of doing business with the City and to understand the bid/RFP lifecycle from start to finish. Knowing what to expect will help in preparing for important milestones throughout the process.
We are open for business from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Our offices are located at City Hall Building, 901 Bagby Street Concourse Level. We are available by phone at 832.393.8800.
Thank you for your interest in doing business with the City of Houston. We encourage and seek the partnership of qualified vendors who can provide quality goods and services at reasonable prices to the City.
To get started, browse the sections below – you can scroll through all of the pages or click on one of the linked topics to go directly to that subsection.
- Public-Private Partnership (P3)
- Vendor Registration
- About NIGP Commodity Codes
- Bid Advertisement
- Bids & RFPs
- Types of Solicitations
- Bid Opening
- Tabulations & Awards
- Insurance & Indemnification
- Mayor's Drug Policy for Contractors
- Fair Campaign Ordinance
- Payments & Invoicing
Public-Private Partnerships or “P3s” refer generally to agreements between public entities and the private sector by which the private sector makes physical assets or services available to a public entity in exchange for payments over a term of twenty years or more. As authorized by Chapter 2267, Texas Government Code, the City of Houston has adopted P3 Guidelines through passage of City Council Resolution No. 2014-0027. Following these Guidelines, vendors may submit unsolicited proposals for P3 Projects. The City will review such proposals and decide whether to pursue the idea/opportunity presented. If the City elects to move forward with a P3 Proposal, the City will conduct a competitive process for the selection of a vendor and negotiation of a contract. Please refer to the Guidelines for more details. [link to the document here]
Any persons or business entities wishing to do business with The City of Houston must use this website to create an online web account. Once your online account has been established, you will then need to register as a City Vendor by filling out the online registration form. To login, please remember to use the same email address and password you have created for your online web account.
Once you have completed and submitted your registration information, you will also need to submit a valid W9 form. You will not be accepted in the system until we receive this form signed and completed in our office.
Fill out an IRS W-9 Form online, print it and sign (the W9 will not be valid unless it has your signature). You can upload and email the signed form or submit by mail. Companies outside the United States need to fill out an IRS W-8 Form.
Registering as a City Vendor will grant you the following access:
- Supplier/Vendor number (this number is required – it will be emailed to you and can take up to 5 business days to be issued. This number must accompany any purchase orders, bid submissions and/or invoices)
- Identifies you as a potential bidder
- Captures contact information about your business
- Identifies your company with required products and/or services
About your web account with the City of Houston:
You will use this web account to access all bid materials, submit bids, check the status of your bid proposals and to maintain your business and contact information.
When filling out your Vendor Registration form you see an area that asks for NIGP Commodity Codes.
Commodity Codes were developed by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) to bring efficiency to automated purchasing. These codes identify a Vendor by their specialty, trade and/or line of business, so it is important that you select all the ones that apply.
For more about NIGP Commodity Codes click here to login to the NIGP Living Code website. (Requires a unique Username and Password), or search the City's Vendor/NIGP database. For additional questions or support, contact the Strategic Procurement Division Vendor Registration Office at 832.393.8800.
- Provide a single and accurate source of material master record and vendor master record for all City of Houston departments to access and use, reducing duplications and increase uniformity across the City.
- Provide users with tools to make informed decisions when processing purchases for the City.
- City of Houston benefits by having a nationally accepted and standardized commodity coding system (NIGP) associated with their materials and Vendors.
- Improve vendor management and reporting capabilities.
- Track vendor information including MWDBE status.
- Increasing contract buys utilizing existing city contracts.
- Identifying potential contract opportunities by utilizing a citywide material and vendor listing.
- Every Friday in the "Notice to Bidder" section of the Houston Business Journal. Some bid advertisements may be found in the Sunday edition of the Houston Chronicle.
- Weekly on the Municipal Access Channel (TCI and Time Warner Cable TV).
- Online at (link) – updated daily
Bids & RFPs:
The Strategic Procurement Division hosts a complete online resource library of all formal bid documents and proposals free of charge. We update the Online Bids & RFPs page daily. Here is a complete listing of our Glossary of Terms for your information.
You must be a registered user in order to access and download any bid/RFP documents.
To register for a web account (create your own username and password) to access and download Bid/RFP documents, complete and submit the mandatory fields in Online Bid Registration Form here.
- Make sure the “cookies” setting in your Internet browser preferences are enabled.
- Set the privacy settings in your Internet browser to low to avoid a potential re-registration
process every time you download bids or RFPs.
- Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for specific instructions on how to register and
To find out more information about a specific bid document or RFP, you can attend the Pre-Bid or Pre-Proposal Conference. These conferences allow you the opportunity to ask questions about bid specifications and clarify general terms and conditions. Pre-bid conferences also give you the advantage to understand more about projects in general and find out who is interested in bidding or proposing on a particular contract.
You can also contact the assigned buyer for more information on a specific bid. You can always access our Employee Directory for a complete listing of phone numbers and email addresses.
Types of Solicitations:
There are six types of solicitations used for procuring goods and services for the City of Houston Municipal operations. Here is a complete listing of our Glossary of Terms for your information.
- Purchase Orders (POs)
- Emergency Purchase Orders (EPOs)
- Formal Bids
- Informal Bids
- Request for Proposals (RFPs)
- Construction Contracts under $500,000
- Purchasing Cards (PCards)
Purchase Orders (POs):
Bids are solicited by telephone, fax or in writing by department purchasing personnel within their specific level of business. When bids are received they are analyzed, evaluated and a PO is issued to the low bid meeting specifications. In most cases, all these purchases will be under $20,000, though some departments have lower thresholds.
Emergency Purchase Orders (EPOs):
Depending on the nature of the emergency, bids may be handled in the same manner as POs, or in the case of severe emergencies, may not be competitively bid. City Departments’ can issue emergency purchase orders when possible; in other cases, Strategic Procurement Division issues emergency purchase orders. You can view online a complete list of the Departmental Purchasing Units.
Formal bids are written solicitations exceeding $50,000 for goods and nonprofessional services and are taken in accordance with State law.
Bids are advertised for two consecutive weeks in the Houston Business Journal and minority papers, received by the City Secretary's Office on the advertised bid due date, opened and then publicly read in City Council Chambers (unless place of opening has been transferred in accordance with Section 15-3 B(5) of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances).
The Chief Procurement Officer recommends awards for formal bids to City Council.
Most formal bids are awarded on the basis of lowest responsible bid. Variations on formal bids include reverse auction and best value procurement. Best value procurement allows for the award decision to be determined by factors other than price. Both of these approaches follow the standard notifications process but vary in the way the award is decided.
Prior to issuing a public bid invitation estimated to be in excess of $100,000, Strategic Procurement Division reviews and researches each for the purpose of determining subcontracting possibilities. When it is evident there is Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) subcontracting potential, a goal is assigned to give certified MWDBE vendor additional opportunity to participate in City business.
Informal bids are solicitations valued at $50,000 or less for goods and non-professional services. Strategic Procurement Division makes informal solicitations for requirements exceeding department authority by mail, telephone, or fax. After bids are received, they are analyzed and evaluated by the Strategic Procurement Division who will then issue purchase orders. Informal Bids are classified as regulated contracts to attract MWDBE participation. When there is a capable MWDBE firm certified by the City's Office of Business Opportunity, the requesting department is required to solicit bids from that company. In addition, the requesting department is required to solicit participation from no less than three (3) certified MWDBE's if there are three or more capable firms.
Request for Proposals (RFPs):
Request for Proposals are used to solicit equipment, goods, and services of a highly technical nature. RFPs are taken in accordance with State law provision under Vernon's Annotated Civil Statutes (V.A.C.S. § 252), a unit of the Texas Legislative Council's statutory revision program authorized by the Texas Local Government Code. Under this law, the City solicits requests for proposals for information processing equipment, software and hardware used in conjunction with information processing equipment, telecommunications, radio systems, microwave systems, electronic distributed control systems and technical services related to this equipment. RFPs are also reviewed for MWBE opportunities.
Construction Projects involving improvement to City facilities amounting to $500,000 or less fall under this category. Sealed bids are taken in accordance with State law for various construction projects amounting to $500,000 or less. Bid Bonds are required on all construction projects. Projects exceeding $25,000 require bidders to submit a payment bond and those exceeding $100,000 require a payment and performance bond. The CPO recommends award of contracts to City Council. Certified MWBE's are encouraged to bid as prime contractors.
Purchasing Card (PCard):
Some city employees carry a MasterCard for making immediate need and small dollar purchases for official city business. The PCard is used in lieu of petty cash or purchase orders.
It is of extreme importance to check the bid due date and time specified in each bid or proposal package. All formal Bids and Proposals must be submitted by the specified due date and time, in duplicate, to the City Secretary's Office, City Hall Annex, Public Level, (900 Bagby). Here is a complete listing of our Glossary of Terms for your information.
The City Secretary will not accept late bids. Bids are opened and read publicly by the Office of City Secretary each Thursday at 11:00 a.m., unless specified otherwise. This is a public meeting held at the above location and anyone may attend.
The Strategic Procurement Division makes bid tabulations available to the public after an award has been made by City Council. You can search for bid tabulations by bid name or bid number through our Search Engine. Copies of the tabulations will be provided to any Vendor upon request for a fee as defined by the Texas Open Records Act. Previously advertised Bids and Proposals are also available upon request for the same fee.
Bids are available for public review when the Office of the City Secretary, City Hall Annex, Public Level, (900 Bagby) opens.
For further information, please contact the City Secretary at 713.247.1840. Here is a complete listing of our Glossary of Terms for your information.
In any bid and/or proposal package, you will find specific Insurance & Indemnification project requirements. Specifications will include necessary types of coverage and respective limits of liability. Before you can begin performing any services or delivering any goods on city property, proof of insurance must be provided to the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer. We encourage you to view the Certificate of Insurance Form for Services Page 1-2 as required by the City of Houston. Note: Page 3 is optional
As a condition of the award of any contract or purchase order for labor or services, the successful bidder must comply with the Mayor's Drug Detection and Deterrence Procedures for Contractors as specified in the Bid or Request For Proposal package by completing, printing, signing and submitting the mandatory Drug Forms.
To provide procedures for implementation of the Mayor's Amended Drug Detection and Deterrence Policy as applicable to contractors who do business with the City of Houston. These procedures are based upon the City's commitment to maintain a safe, healthful and productive work environment for all employees and contractors, and to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of contracted services to citizens of the City of Houston.
- To establish a procedure to achieve a drug-free workforce and to provide a workplace that is free of illegal drugs and substance abuse.
- To establish a procedure for drug screening by contractors where there is reasonable suspicion that an employee has certain banned illegal or illicit substances in their system while on duty or in the performance of the scope of a contract with the City.
- To establish a procedure for random drug screening of contractor employees in positions that have a significant impact upon the safety of themselves or others.
- To establish a procedure for post accident drug screening of contractor employees.
It is the policy of the City of Houston that the manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, sale or use of illegal drugs or alcohol by contractors while on duty for or in behalf of the City is prohibited. The City's goal is to establish and maintain a work environment that is free from the effects of use of certain banned substances or alcohol. Consequently, contractors are prohibited from being at work or acting in the scope of their contract with the City while impaired by alcohol or with certain banned substances present in their systems, on their persons, or on City worksites and premises. This policy incorporates any off duty use or misuse of certain banned substances that result in a positive drug test pursuant to these procedures.
This procedure applies to all City of Houston contracts for labor and/or services except the following:
- Contracts authorized by Emergency Purchase Orders.
- Contracts in which imposition of the requirements of this Executive Order would exclude all potential bidders or proposers or would eliminate meaningful competition for the contract.
- Contracts with companies that have fewer than fifteen employees during any 20-week period during a calendar year and no safety impact positions.
- Contracts with non-profit organizations providing services at no cost or reduced cost to the public.
- Contracts with federal, state, or local governmental entities.
- ACCIDENT means an unexpected or unintended event resulting in a time loss personal injury or significant property damage.
- CONTRACT includes prime contracts and subcontracts.
- CONTRACTOR means an individual or company that has contracted with the City of Houston to provide labor and/or services to the City of Houston. This term includes employees of the contractor and subcontractors providing labor and/or services, but excludes vendors or suppliers of materials or other goods.
- CONTRACT COMPLIANCE OFFICER FOR DRUG TESTING (CCODT) means the individual in each City of Houston department designated to receive the required drug testing policies, agreements, certifications and reports from contractors.
- CONTRACTOR CONTACT PERSON means the designated individual for the City to call regarding suspicion of drug use of an employee of a contractor.
- CITY PREMISES means all City facilities, their surrounding grounds and parking lots, worksites and leased space.
- COLLECTION SITE means a site where urine samples are collected from a contractor employee in compliance with federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) collection guidelines.
- DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR means all City of Houston Department Directors, the Division Director and Chief (s) of Staff of the Mayor's office, and the City Controller. The Mayor Pro Tem is the Department Director for Council Members.
- DIRECTOR OF PERSONNEL means the Department Director of the City of Houston's Personnel Department.
- DRUG/BANNED SUBSTANCE means any chemical substance that is defined by any statute as a controlled substance or which may produce physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral change in the user. The specific substances which are banned for purposes of this policy are set forth in Section 8.0.
- DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE means every site for the performance of work for or on behalf of the City of Houston at which City employees and contractors are prohibited from engaging in the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, sale, or use of drugs/banned substances.
- DRUG SCREENING/DRUG TESTING means a procedure to, at a minimum, screen and/or test urine samples for the purpose of detecting the presence of amphetamines, cocaine metabolites, opiate metabolites, phencyclidine, and marijuana metabolites.
- LABORATORY means a federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) certified laboratory authorized by the contractor to perform drug screening/testing.
- MEDICAL REVIEW OFFICER (MRO) means a physician authorized by the contractor to review and interpret drug test results.
- ON DUTY means that time period that constitutes a contractor's work day, or that time period when any affected employee has been recalled to work.
- RANDOM means a selection process (for drug testing) based on a scientific, unbiased method, lacking a definite or predetermined pattern.
- REASONABLE SUSPICION means an articulable belief based on specific facts and reasonable inferences drawn from those facts.
- SAFETY IMPACT POSITION means a contractor's employment position involving job duties that if performed with inattentiveness, errors in judgment, or diminished coordination, dexterity, or composure may result in mistakes that could present a real and/or imminent threat to the personal health or safety of the employee, co-workers, and/or the public.
- All contractors are responsible for reviewing and complying with the Mayor's Amended Policy on Drug Detection and Deterrence (Mayor's Policy) and the Mayor's Drug Detection and Deterrence Procedures for Contractors (Executive Order) , developing and implementing a written drug-free workplace policy, and providing a copy of their drug-free workplace policy to the contracting department's Contract Compliance officer for Drug Testing (CCODT) as designated by the contracting department in the Request for Proposal.
- All contractors are required to complete and submit a Drug Policy Compliance Agreement and, if applicable, a Contractor's Certification of No Safety Impact Positions In Performance of a City Contract to the contracting department's CCODT before a City contract is awarded.
- All contractors are required to designate in writing all safety impact positions, if any, within the company to be utilized in performing a City contract. A contractor designating safety impact positions pursuant to this Executive Order shall:
- Obtain a facility to collect urine samples consistent with federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines,
- Obtain a DHHS certified laboratory to perform drug tests,
- Monitor and keep records of drug tests given and their results,
- Supply reports and documentation of drug tests given and/or results of such testing as requested by the City of Houston, and
- Submit semi-annual and final Drug Policy Compliance Declarations to the contracting department's CCODT.
- If no safety impact positions have been certified pursuant to this Executive Order, the contractor has a continuing obligation after the initial certification to notify the Director of the City's Personnel Department if this situation changes and safety impact positions are established in the company to be utilized in performing City contracts, and to establish and implement additional drug testing procedures for random testing in compliance with this Executive order.
- All contractor employees are responsible for reviewing and complying with this Executive Order and the contractor's own policies and procedures for drug testing.
- Each Department Director is responsible for appointing a CCODT and giving written notice to each contractor of the appointment. The CCODT may be someone other than the department's contract administrator. The CCODT shall receive the contractor's required Drug Policy Compliance Agreement, Drug Compliance Declaration and/or Contractor's Certification Of No Safety Impact Positions In Performance Of A City Contract (form). The CCODT shall forward these agreements, declarations and/or certifications to the Director of Personnel with a report of the contractor's drug testing activity.
- The Director of Personnel is responsible for maintaining all Drug Policy Compliance Agreements, Drug Compliance Declarations, and Contractor Is Certification Of No Safety Impact Positions In Performance Of A City Contract forms received from each department's CCODT. The Director of Personnel shall develop the reporting format to be used by the CCODT for the contractor drug testing activity. Additionally, the Director of Personnel shall periodically prepare a report reflecting citywide contractor drug testing activity.
7.0 Basis for Testing:
- Contractor drug procedures will stipulate the requirements for drug testing under the following circumstances:
Random - All contractor employees who perform job duties that are defined as safety impact positions shall be subject to random drug testing. All employees in positions defined as safety impact positions shall be eligible for each random selection. The contractor shall randomly drug test a number equal to at least 25% of the employees in safety impact positions annually. Drug testing shall be evenly distributed over the term of the contract or the year, whichever is shorter. Contractors may enter into multi-contractor or multi-contract pooling arrangements, subject to the approval of the director (or designee) of the department involved, as long as those arrangements comply with the requirements of these procedures.
Reasonable suspicion - Contractors shall drug test employees when reasonable suspicion to test exists. "Reasonable suspicion" means an articulable belief based on specific facts and reasonable inferences drawn from those facts that an employee is under the influence of illegal drugs/banned substances. Specific designated acts or conduct can create a reasonable suspicion or trigger a request for a drug screen. Circumstances which can constitute a basis for determining reasonable suspicion may include, but are not limited to:
- Abnormal or erratic behavior on the part of the employee.
- Information provided by a reliable and credible source.
- Direct observation of drug use.
- Presence of the physical symptoms of drug use (i.e., glassy or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, poor coordination or reflexes).
- Employees reasonably suspected to be under the influence of drugs shall be prevented from engaging in further work of any sort for the City and will give the contractor cause to subject them to immediate drug testing in accordance with the procedures set forth in this Executive Order.The City will cooperate in all aspects of supplying statements that might provide a basis for reasonable suspicion.
- Post accident - The contractor drug policy shall mandate drug testing if an employee has been involved in a work related accident on a City contract that involves an injury to himself or to another or causes property damage.
- A contractor's drug policy is not limited to the drug testing criteria in these procedures and may be more stringent.
- Contractors may be subject to other drug testing related requirements as specified in their contract with the City of Houston.
8.0 Drug Testing Procedures:
- Contractors shall develop and follow their own drug testing procedures, if required to do so.
- When drug screening of employees is required or authorized under the contractor policy or procedures, a urinalysis test shall be given to detect the presence of amphetamines, cocaine metabolites, opiate metabolites, phencyclidine, and for marijuana metabolites.
- Any drug screen under the provisions of this Executive order shall include a urinalysis test to detect the presence of the following drug groups:
** Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol - 9 - carboxylic acid
- An initial screening shall use the enzyme immunoassay techniques (EMIT) test and a confirmatory test shall use the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test. Both tests must be performed and confirmed positive by a Medical Review Officer before any notice of a positive test result will be provided to the employee.
- At a minimum, contractors shall test for the drugs/banned substances specified herein. The cutoff levels may be lower for the banned substances listed herein, but shall not be higher than the levels in this Executive Order.
- Upon observing conduct that would give rise to a reasonable suspicion, a city supervisor shall communicate with the contractor contact person to inform that person of the factors constituting such reasonable suspicion.
- As appropriate, if drug use is suspected by a contractor's employee, the City has the authority to temporarily remove a contractor's employee off a job or require the contractor's employee to leave a City worksite if it is in the best interest of the City to do so. In such an instance, the Department Director or designee of the department holding the contract shall authorize the removal.
- All contractors shall adhere to this Executive Order.
Contractors who have safety impact positions pursuant to this Executive Order shall file a completed Drug Policy Compliance Declaration on a semi-annual basis as stipulated in the Drug Policy Compliance Agreement with the contracting department's CCODT on or before 30 days following the expiration of 6 months of performance under the contract or the completion of the contract if less than 6 months.
Contractors may substitute Department of Transportation compliance that requires drug testing standards equal to or exceeding this Executive Order on a format approved by the Director of Personnel.
9.0 Possession of Drugs; Consequence of Possession:
- Contractor employees are prohibited from possessing, using, distributing, dispensing, manufacturing, selling or having in their possession or control any drug/banned substance while on duty on City premises, or while acting in the course and scope of their contract at any geographic location.
- Possession or control can include an employee's person or personal property if on City premises, a contractor's motor vehicle/equipment under the employee's control, or property provided by the contractor under an employee's control including, but not limited to tool boxes, lockers, desks, and files.
- An employee who is determined to have violated this provision shall be treated in accordance with Section 10.1.
10.0 Consequence of Positive Test Result:
- A contractor employee who has a confirmed positive test result pursuant to a drug test required by these procedures shall be permanently removed from any contract City worksite.
11.0 Consequence of Refusal to Consent to a Drug Test:
- Any contractor employee who refuses to consent to a drug test after notification of the consequences of refusal shall be permanently removed from any contract City worksite.
- Any contractor employee who consents to a drug test but fails to appear timely at the collection site or who fails to give their urine sample after reasonable opportunity to do so, will be considered as having refused to consent to a drug test and treated in accordance with this Section.
12.0 Consequence of Failure to Comply with this Executive Order:
- Any contractor who fails to comply with this Executive order, to complete, execute and submit the Drug Policy Compliance Agreement and, if applicable, the contractor's Certification of No Safety Impact Positions In Performance of a City contract, the semi-annual Drug Policy Compliance Declaration or any requested drug testing records timely if required to do so by this policy, shall be considered in breach of contract and may be subject to having the contract with the City of Houston terminated.
- Any contractor who falsifies any test records, reports or declarations required by this Executive Order shall be considered in breach of contract and the City of Houston contract will be terminated.
13.0 Compliance with Laws:
- Contractors shall comply with all applicable laws regarding drug testing of employees. In the event of a conflict between these procedures and an applicable drug testing law, the applicable law shall prevail.
Fair Campaign Ordinance:
The City of Houston Fair Campaign Ordinance makes it unlawful for a contractor to offer any contribution to a candidate for City elective office (including elective officers and officers-elect). All respondents to a Request For Proposals must comply with Houston Code of Ordinance Chapter 18-36 as amended relating to the contribution and solicitation of funds for election campaigns. Provisions of this ordinance are provided in part in the paragraphs that follow.
Complete copies may be obtained from the office of the City Secretary. Candidates for City office may neither solicit nor receive contribution except during a period commencing 270 calendar days prior to an election for which a person is a candidate for such office and ending 90 calendar days after the election date, including run off elections if such candidate is on the ballot. Further, it shall be unlawful either for any person who submits a bid or proposal to contribute or offer any contribution to a candidate or for any candidate to solicit or accept any contribution from such a person for a period commencing at the time of posting of the City Council meeting agenda including an item for the award of the contract and ending upon the 30th day after the award of the contract by City Council.
For the purpose of this ordinance, a CONTRACT is defined as each contract having a value in excess of $30,000.00 that is let by the City for professional services, personal services, or other goods or services of any other nature whether the contract is awarded on a negotiated basis, request for proposal basis, competitive proposal basis or formal sealed competitive bids. The term CONTRACT includes proprietors of proprietorship, all partners of partnership, all officers and directors of corporations, and all holders of 10% or more of the outstanding shares of corporations. A STATEMENT DISCLOSING THE NAMES AND BUSINESS ADDRESSES OF EACH OF THOSE PERSONS WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE SUBMITTED WITH EACH BID OR PROPOSAL FOR A CITY CONTRACT. Completion of the form entitled CONTRACTOR SUBMISSION LIST" will satisfy this requirement. Failure to provide this information may be cause for rejection of a bid or proposal.
To complete the process for doing business with the City, you must invoice the City of Houston for the goods and/or services rendered.
Terms of Payment:
The City of Houston’s standard payment term is to pay 30 days after receipt of invoice or receipt of goods or services, whichever is later, according to the requirements of the Texas Prompt Payment Act (Tx. Gov’t Code, Ch. 2251). However, the City will pay in less than 30 days in return for an early payment discount from vendor as follows:
- Payment Time - 10 Days: 2% Discount
- Payment Time - 20 Days: 1% Discount
A vendor may elect not to offer a discount for early payment and the City will make payment net 30 days. Discounts will not be considered in the award evaluation.
If the City fails to make a payment according to the early payment schedule above, but does make the payment within the time specified by the Prompt Payment Act, the City shall not receive the discount, but shall pay no other penalty. When the payment date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or official holiday when City offices are closed and City business is not expected to be conducted, payment may be made on the following business day.
Invoices must be mailed to the department shown on the purchase order to avoid delays in payment. If you have payment problems contact the department's payables contact shown on the purchase order. Goods and/or services must be itemized as to quantity, part number, description and applicable discount. Invoices must show the department, division or section to which the goods and/or services were rendered.
Do not forget to show the City of Houston Purchase Order Number on your invoice. (*Tip) To expedite payment, invoice exactly as shown on the purchase order. The City's automated purchasing and financial systems require a 3-way match of the purchase order, the receiver, and the invoice to complete a payment transaction. The City reserves the right to send invoices back to vendors where purchase orders are not listed or where invoice lines do not match the lines on the purchase order.
Site Usability FAQs
1. Can I be eligible to do business with the City of Houston without online registration?
No. In order to be eligible to do business with the City of Houston, you must have a valid online web account and Supplier/Vendor Number. That number can only be issued after you establish your online account, complete the vendor registration form and submit your signed W-9 form to our office.
If you are not able to access the Internet from your place of business or home, you can visit any Houston Public Library.
2. I've already registered with the City in the past but I can't log into the web site to view bids. What's going on?
If you registered before August 23rd, 2005, you have probably only registered for a Vendor Number with the City. In order to view bids online, you need to get a Web Site Account. Click here to go to the Web Site Registration Form.
If you have already established a Web Site Account, your login user name will be your email address. If you have forgotten your password, go to the Forgotten Password page to have it sent to you.
3. Is there any difference between a Supplier and a Vendor?
No. Supplier and Vendor are the same. You can refer to your Vendor Number as a “Supplier/Vendor” Number.
4. What's the difference between the Vendor Registration Form and the Web Site Registration form?
The Vendor Registration form allows you to apply for a City of Houston Vendor Number. This is required to do business with the City. A Vendor Number can take up five business days to be assigned.
The Web Site Registration form is a short form that allows you to get started viewing and downloading bid documents right away. You register using your email address as your login ID and a password of your choice. Approval is immediate.
5. Sometimes I get an error message after I log into the web site, when I'm trying to view a particular bid.
This can occur if "cookies" are being blocked. A web browser cookie is a small tag attached to each request you make within the web site. Cookies are used to validate that you are logged in to the site when requesting pages. It is safe to enable cookies on our web site.
Cookies can be blocked by a number of different things such as:
- Your web browser
- A software firewall running on your machine (ZoneAlarm, etc.)
- An antivirus or security suite software running on your machine (Norton Internet Security, McAffe Security Suite, etc)
- A hardware firewall running between your machine and our web server (possibly your company's firewall)
Please consult your software or hardware's documentation to find out how to disable Cookie-blocking or consult your company's IT staff.
6. How do I know the site is secure and other vendors can’t see my bid?
Your bids are protected by the security mechanisms we've implemented in the site. Your unique login and password allow only you to see your bids. Protect your password and do not share it with anyone.
As an additional security measure, multiple layers of network firewalls (devices that prevent unauthorized entry to our network) protect all bidding data. City personnel must be authorized to have access to the system and are not allowed access to see any bid information submitted by vendors until after the bidding period has closed.
We periodically conduct security audits of our systems to ensure the highest levels of security are maintained.
Bid & RFP FAQs
1. How do I find out about bids/proposals opportunities?
You can find out about bids and RFPs daily via the City of Houston Procurement website at http://purchasing.houstontx.gov/bid_download.aspx. You can search for Bids that interest you by using the Bids, RFPs & Tabulations Search Engine. Simply hover your mouse over the yellow Bids and RFPs area menu and select the Bids & Tabulations Search Engine item. In addition, you can make an appointment with the assigned buyer to talk about a specific opportunity and express your interest. The agent’s phone number is listed on the Notice to Bidder Section of the bid/proposal package. You may also refer to the online complete listing of our Employee Directory for phone numbers and email addresses.
2. Is there a fee for a bid package or proposal?
No, there is no fee to download and print copies of bid packages.
3. Can I download bid/RFP documents without going through the bid registration process?
No. You will not be able to download any documents from our website without properly registering and submitting the mandatory online registration form. Make sure your cookies on your system are enabled and the privacy settings on your browser is set to low to avoid the re-registration process every time you need to download bid documents. The Web Site Registration Form allows you to create an account used to get access to online bids and bid documents. It is also the account used to place online bids. We do not mail out or email copies of any bid documents or bid tabulations. All documents are available online for download and a hard copy can be obtained from 901 Bagby.
Instructions on how to register for Bids & RFP downloads:
- Our website is compatible to any PC with Microsoft Windows Operating System. You must use Internet Explorer IE 8.0 or higher. Apple Macintosh users may encounter problems with our online transactions
- Use Internet Explorer to logon to the Strategic Purchasing website at http://purchasing.houstontx.gov
- Click on the Bids & RFPs tab
- Click on Online Bids and RFPs
- Scroll down and find the bid you are interested in downloading
- Click on the Bid Description
- Fill out the Bid Registration Form that appears on the screen
- If you have an issued City vendor number then enter it otherwise leave it blank until you obtain a vendor/supplier number
- Click inside the square box located before the bid description you are intending to download. You can select and print multiple bids if you like
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit Submit
- The selected bids will now appear in a table and at this time you need to click on each Bid Description to move on to the next screen that lists the original bid document and any additional clarification letters that the bid may have
- Click on the bid document listed under the field Document to open it
- Print it and bring it with you to the Pre-Bid Conference Schedule
- Click on the Back button shown at the top left corner of the screen to return to the previous screen to select and print any additional clarification letters that the bid may have and attach them to the original bid document
- If you are downloading and printing more than one bid, hit the Back button twice to return to the screen labeled Confirmation Form to print the additional bids you have selected for download; otherwise, you are practically done at this point and are registered for the bid you selected.
4. How do I find out about bids for construction projects?
Construction projects under $500,000 are found at http://purchasing.houstontx.gov/bids.html.
The Houston Airport System and the Departments of Public Works & Engineering /Capital Projects are responsible for construction, architectural and engineering contracts over $500,000 in value for the City of Houston.
If you are interested in bidding on these types of projects, you will need to login to the Public Works & Engineering Department Website: http://bidsets.publicworks.houstontx.gov/, or to the Houston Airport website: http://www.fly2houston.com/bidRFPAdvertisement.
Again, we highly encouraged interested bidders to attend the pre-bid or pre-proposal conferences. They will provide you with the opportunity to ask specific questions and find out who is interested in bidding or proposing on a particular contract. You can also contact the assigned buyer for questions and further information about a specific bid or RFP.
5. Where do I turn in a bid or proposal?
All formal bids must be submitted by the specified due date and time in duplicate to the City Secretary’s Office, City Hall Annex, Public Level, (900 Bagby). The bid due date and time is specified in each bid/proposal package.
6. How do I find information about a bid or RFP?
Attending the Pre-Bid or Pre-Proposal Conference will give you the opportunity to ask questions about the specifications and general terms and conditions. This conference also allows for your guidance to find out who is interested in bidding or proposing on a particular contract, or you can contact the assigned buyer.
7. When and where do I locate your bid documents bid tabulations?
Bid tabulations are placed in the bid folder after an award has been made by City Council. You can search for the bid folder by bid name or bid number through our Search Engine.
8. How do I get paid for services or goods I provide to the City?
Submit your invoice to the billing department as specified on your purchase order. If you do not submit your invoice to the proper billing address, payment will be delayed.
To ensure timely payment, your invoice must adhere to these characteristics and include the following:
- The City of Houston Purchase Order Number
- Invoice exactly as shown on your City issued purchase order
- Goods and/or services must be itemized as to quantity, part number, description and applicable
- Invoices must show the department, division or section to which the goods and/or services
- All invoices must be submitted in triplicate (The City’s automated purchasing and financial
systems require a three-way match of the purchase order, the receiver and the invoice to
complete a payment transaction in a timely manner).
Strategic Procurement Links
SPD Quick Links
- Guide to Doing Business with the City
- New Users - Create and Account
- Register to Become a City Vendor
- About Formal Bids and RFPs
- Search for Bids, RFPs, and Tabulations
- Purchasing Terms and Conditions
- Vendor Resources and Procurement Links
- S/MWDBE Certification Requirements
- Hire Houston First Program
- Office of Business Opportunity
- OBO Solutions Center
- SPD Buyer Groups
- State of Texas Bid Law