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How Boston's Bidding Process Works

Last updated: 6/12/17

How Boston's Bidding Process Works

Contractors can bid to work on projects for the City. Here's how the process works from start to finish.  

We follow a bidding process created through state and City law to hire people for projects with the City of Boston:

  • When a project costs from $10,000 to $50,000, we ask for written bids from three suppliers. We don't need a standard contract for these projects.
  • When a project costs more than $50,000, we have to advertise the job so any contractor can apply. We provide standard contracts for these types of projects.
HOW WE ASK FOR BIDS

We have a bidding process for all projects except specialized contracts that we don't advertise. There are four ways that we collect bids:

  1. An invitation for bids is open and public. We give the job to a responsible bidder who offers the lowest price. If we need more information, we may ask the chief procurement officer to get a request for proposal.
  2. Request for proposals help us if we're having trouble deciding who to choose for a project.  You need to give us a more technical outline of how you plan to do the job, separate from your pricing bid. If you use our online supplier portal, you can give us both your technical proposal and your pricing proposal in one bid response.
  3. A request for information allows us to learn more about companies to help us make business decision, or figure out what we should ask for in an upcoming bid. We don't award jobs based on requests for information.
  4. We use unadvertised bids in emergency situations. We’d use this type of bid if:

we risked losing a warranty for a vendor we’re working with, or
we needed to hire a vendor who is the only one who can provide certain services or goods.

THE BIDDING PROCESS

We keep all bids that we advertise in the City Record. We publish the Record every Monday with a list of upcoming opportunities for the next week. Go to the City record and search for bids.

Most contractors submit bids through our online supplier portal. It saves time and money, so we encourage everyone to use it. We still take bids through mail and in person if that's easier for you.

We send a purchase order or contract to the winning bidder. We'll also send emails to the non-winning bidders. The winning bidder can view and sign the contract online.  

Sometimes, we only collect bids through a paper process. These bids won't be available through the online portal. When this is the case, you can ask for a bid packet. You have to come by our office to pick them up or ask us to mail them to you. Remember to watch the City Record page to see which bids are paper only.

DISCLAIMERS

Both online and paper bids follow the same guidelines and deadlines. The way you submit your bid won't affect whether you're chosen. We award jobs to the most responsible bidder with the lowest price.

If we ask for a Request for Proposal, we award the job based on the proposal and the price you offer for the project.

Still have questions? Contact:
Procurement
1 City Hall Square
Room 808
Boston, MA 02201-2034
United States
More Resources

We created a guide to help you learn how to register and submit bids with our online system.

Having trouble using our online portal? Check out our help page.

Questions?

If you’re still having trouble, please give us a call or email Vendor.Questions@cityofboston.gov. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.