How To Buy Goods
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- Receipt of Goods
- Purchasing Goods Through a Request for Standing Offer (RSO) or Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement (RCSA)
These pages are designed to help government staff who are buying goods that are not otherwise available through an existing arrangement.
As per section 6.3.2.b.1 of the Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM), ministries must buy through a corporate supply arrangement (CSA) if one is available that meets their needs (see the Goods and Services Catalogue for a listing of CSAs). In addition, section 6.3.2.a.1 of the CPPM lists those goods and services that must be purchased through the government entity identified. Otherwise, ministries can buy goods to meet their requirements.
Some ministries have their own specific processes for purchasing goods; refer to the ministry links to the right.
Ministries can purchase goods valued at under $5000 directly. However, ministries should ask vendors for bids (could be done informally, via phone or email), and should purchase the goods from the bidder with the lowest price. The contract file should include written documentation of the process used to select the contractor. If considering emailed bids, refer to Accepting Emailed Submissions. Payment can be made with the ministry's purchase card (more information can be found in the Goods and Services Catalogue, under Commercial Card Services.
For goods valued at over $5000, ministries are required to submit a requisition to Procurement Services as follows:
- Ministry of Transportation should complete this eForm requisition - click on Assets/Purchasing and then on Purchasing Requisition.
- All other ministries should complete a non-catalog request in iProcurement (CAS), following the instructions found in the iProcurement Sourcing via BC Bid Quick Guide. Procurement Services will manage the solicitation process (usually through an Invitation to Quote (ITQ), unless a reason for direct award exists), and once approved by the purchasing ministry, will issue a purchase order to the lowest-priced compliant bidder.
Often, goods can be clearly described through detailed specifications, and price will be the only variable. In these cases, an ITQ is usually used as the solicitation process. However, sometimes it may be more appropriate to base the award decision on more than just price. For example, sometimes a ministry may determine that it requires ancillary services, such as a better warranty or faster installation, or a higher quality standard, etc., in which case the solicitation may include evaluation criteria. Refer to Award to the Highest Score for more information on the options available if price isn’t the only deciding factor.
Refer to the Sufficient Time Posting Guidelines to assist in planning for the time that a solicitation process may take.
Refer to Mandatory and Weighted Criteria to learn how mandatory requirements in solicitations are crucial for both the government and for vendors.
Please contact the Ministry CAS contact for help with requisitions.
When purchasing goods, ministry buyers should develop clear specifications on what is needed. Specifications should focus on the functional requirements needed. Avoid using the specifications of a particular make and model as this may create unfairness in the solicitation process; other vendors may have very similar products that meet all of the functional needs but may not meet the specifications if they have been drafted based on a specific product. Occasionally, ministries may name a make and model that suits their ministry's need if there is no other sufficiently precise way to describe the procurement requirements, and provided that the solicitation allows equivalent products. However, where this approach is adopted, the specifications should then include a description of what would be considered an equivalent based on performance and/or functional requirements.
Brand-specific purchasing is only acceptable in very limited circumstances. If a particular make and model is required and equivalent products are not suitable, the specifications should clearly state this and the procurement file should explain why no other brand or model could be considered.
If specific and appropriate quality standards exist for the goods being purchased that are easily accessible to vendors (e.g. Energy Star, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certifications, etc.), the specifications in the solicitation should include these standards. International standards should be included where applicable. This will help to ensure that an inferior product is not the lowest compliant bid for a price-based solicitation. If no clear standards exist and the quality of the goods being purchased is difficult to describe, ministries may decide to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) first. The RFQ would result in a pre-qualification list of vendors who clearly meet the ministry’s needs, and the subsequent solicitation would then be limited to only to those qualified suppliers.
If uncertain as to what to include in the specifications and quality standards, or what may be available in the marketplace, avoid directly contacting one vendor to discuss what might be available. This could cause a conflict later if a competitive solicitation is later released. Instead, consider the market research tools available (i.e. the Request for Information) that can assist in discovering the best product to meet the ministry’s needs without causing any conflicts.
Contact Procurement Services with any questions about how to build specifications for goods. Strategies to Receive Quality Submissions can also assist when planning a competitive solicitation to buy goods.
Note that any solicitation posted on BC Bid requires an award announcement to be posted as well once the purchase order is generated. Procurement Services will make these postings for the solicitations that they manage. Refer to Post a Contract Award Summary for more information.
If the procurement involves receiving any goods, the shipment must be inspected for damage and/or missing or incorrect items. Match the goods received to the shipment’s documentation. This inspection should be done as soon after delivery as possible, to ensure that any deficiencies can be managed quickly. Do not accept product substitutions by suppliers without prior Procurement Services Branch approval. Maintain adequate receipt records or other documentation to support account verification and payment.
Purchasing Goods Through a Request for Standing Offer (RSO) or Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement (RCSA)
If a ministry has a requirement to purchase goods on a frequent basis but exact quantities are not known, a standing offer may be an appropriate approach. Standing offers are offers from one or more vendors to sell goods or services as, if and when requested for an established price; the purchase order or contract is not formed until an order is placed. A standing offer is established through the use of a solicitation process referred to as a Request for Standing Offer or RSO.
If a need for the frequent purchase of goods applies to more than one ministry, a corporate supply arrangement may be appropriate. Corporate supply arrangements for goods are also standing offers, where a purchase order is not formed until an order is placed. However, corporate supply arrangements are available to all ministries and often to the broader public sector as well. Corporate supply arrangements are usually established by a corporate government body (e.g. Procurement Services Branch) using a solicitation process called a Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement or RCSA.
For information about the RSO or RCSA processes for purchasing goods, please refer to the information on the Award to Lowest Price.