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  • How to Do Business with the City

    Welcome vendors! The City of Syracuse is constantly seeking new sources of supply as well as expansion of business into new areas with our current vendors.  On behalf of all City departments, including the City of Syracuse School District, all purchases are made through the Department of Purchase, 221 City Hall, Syracuse, New York 13202.


    The principal objective of the Department of Purchase is to buy the right quality, in the right quantity, at the right time, in the right place and for the right price.  All purchases are made through a competitive system of formal and informal bidding which directs purchases to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder who meets the specifications, terms and conditions.

    The City's computerized purchase system encumbers funds simultaneously as the order is input.  The purchase order is mailed or faxed the same day and is ready to process for payment immediately upon receipt and acceptance of goods and services.  The City processes most invoices for payment within (30) days, and expedites payments where additional discounts for prompt payment are offered.

    This guide is not intended, and should not be relied upon, to be a complete statement of all legal requirements applicable to City contracts. Both the City and the bidders must at all times be guided by the applicable requirements of law not withstanding anything contained in this guide.


    How Can I Receive Notice of Bid Openings?

    Bidders List: If you wish to receive notice of bid openings in your product or service area, simply send a letter listing the commodity(s) you provide to:

    Department of Purchase
    Bidders List Request 
    221 City Hall
    Syracuse, New York 13202
    (315) 448-8453

    You will automatically be placed on the Bidders List and will be forwarded formal bid solicitations for the commodity area(s) you have indicated. However, this is not a guarantee. There are times when it may be unclear whether you can provide the specific goods or services required and times when you may not receive the specifications.  Therefore vendors are encouraged to regularly check the means described below to ensure that your are aware of all solicitations in which you may be interested.

    If you are interested in obtaining a bid solicitation, please call or come in to the Department of Purchase or email

    The Post-Standard: As the official daily publication of the City of Syracuse, the Post-Standard publishes a daily listing of all bid solicitations in the public notices section. The Department of Purchase advertises all formal bids for five (5) consecutive days in the Post-Standard.

    Vendors Board: Notices of all formal bid proposals are posted on the board in the reception area of the Department of Purchase, 221 City Hall Syracuse.

    All proposals are available upon request by visiting, calling or writing the department. 

    Some plans and specifications require a deposit in the form of a check or money order.

    Pre-Bid Conferences: The City conducts pre-bid conferences on many construction projects and some other bids. These meetings offer contractors and vendors the opportunity to meet City personnel for firsthand presentation of the project. You are encouraged to review the project manual and drawings prior to the conference in order to discuss, question and comment on bid conditions, specifications and the project schedule. Questions or comments which necessitate and interpretation or modification of plans, specifications or contract documents will be made in writing in the form of an addendum circulated to all potential bidders.

    What are the Purchasing Procedures?

    The City of Syracuse makes purchases under two (2) general guidelines: Formal Contracts, for purchases of supplies in excess of $7,500 and services in excess of $10,000 and Informal Quotations, for purchases of amounts less than these formal bid limits.

    Informal Quotations are divided into two (2) categories.

     – Purchase Orders, for a specified quantity of goods or services.
     – Annual Orders, (APO's) for an approximated amount that will be needed during a certain time period.

    Note:  In the special cases of automotive, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, repairs and some other specified purchases, the Common Council may authorize the Department of Purchase to use to use Informal Quotations to make purchases even though the purchase exceeds the formal bid limit.

    Formal Contracts also are divided into two (2) categories:

    1. Specified Purchase Contracts for a specified quantity of goods or services. According to the terms of the contract, delivery may be in one or several shipments.
    2. Term or Requirement Contracts for anticipated amounts during a certain time period, usually one year.  These contracts are binding for the full period.

    How Do I Bid on City Contracts?

    Bid Forms: After you learn of an upcoming contract, you may obtain a bid form by writing, visiting, or calling the Department of Purchase. When you request your bid form, ask for it by Bid Reference Number, Title and Opening Date – this information appears in all advertisements, solicitations and notices.

    The bid form contains the specifications for the commodity or service being purchased and the terms and conditions governing the bid. It will become the actual contract if you are awarded the bid.

    Once you have completed the bid form, check to make sure that all required signatures and attachments (e.g. bid deposit, product information, etc.) are included. Then seal the bid in the envelope provided and fill in your company's name. Check to see that the correct Title and Bid Opening Date are indicated on the outside of the envelope in the spaces provided.

    Be sure that your bid reaches the Department of Purchase, 221 City Hall, Syracuse, New York 13202, before the time and date specified on the form. Late bids will not be accepted.

    All bids are opened in public, read aloud in the Bid Room and are available for public inspection. Direct questions regarding the bid form to the Department of Purchase.

    Telephone and Facsimile Quotations: In Informal Quotation situations, the Department of Purchase may obtain quotes by telephone or facsimile. Such telephone and facsimile quotes have the same integrity as written bids, and the lowest responsible and responsive bidder will receive the award.

    Specifications: Specifications are detailed descriptions of the intended purchase, establishing the minimum acceptable standards. They are included in the bid documents. If you have any questions regarding specifications, contact the person indicated in the bid proposal or the appropriate buyer, or make inquiries during the Pre-Bid Conference.  The City reserves the right to request that questions concerning interpretation or modification to plans, specifications, or contract documents be submitted in writing to the Commissioner of Purchase.  Responses shall be made in writing in the form of an addendum circulated to all potential bidders.

    The specifications for some bid items will ask for a Brand Name or Equal.  If you cannot supply the indicated brand name, you may offer a product that is "equal to" or "better than" the brand name quality set forth in the bid proposal.  You will be assured of fair competition with other vendors.

    Bid Deposits and Bonds: It is the firm intention of the Department of Purchase to eliminate the requirement for deposits and bonds unless absolutely necessary.

    If a deposit/bond is required, it will be specifically stated in the Instructions to Bidders contained in the bid documents.

    Deposits for the three lowest bidders are held until the contract is awarded. At this time all deposits other than the awarded vendor's are released. The awarded vendor's deposit is released when the contract is executed by the City – unless the bid proposal stipulates that such deposit will be held throughout the term of the contract.

    Samples and Testing: Please note that the Department of Purchase may require samples and an inspection of plant facilities prior to or after, an award of contract.

    Errors in Bidding: Your bid is your firm offer to enter into contract with the City. However, if you discover that you have made an honest and financially significant mistake in your bid which you can substantiate with documentary evidence, you must notify the Commissioner of Purchase, in writing within (3) days of the bid opening and before an award is made.

    The Commissioner of Purchase then has the discretion to release you from your bid.

    Addenda and Changes in the Bid Proposal: During the course of a formal written bid procedure, changes may take place affecting the terms and conditions or the specifications of the bid. In these instances, a written addendum will be mailed to all vendors who have received bid documents. These changes become an integral part of the bid and must be signed and returned with the bid documents.

    Bid Withdrawal: All bids submitted must be firm for a minimum of forty-five (45) days from bid opening. No bidder may withdraw a bid within this time. The City may require the full forty-five (45) days for review and award of bids.

    Bid Results: Bid results are available by calling (315) 448-8453 after 3:30 p.m. on the date of opening. From a touch-tone telephone, vendors may access the results automatically. A canvass of bids will be faxed or emailed.

    How Are Awards Made?

    Lowest Responsible and Responsive Bidder: After bids are read and tabulated, they are analyzed by the department requesting the goods or services to recommend the lowest responsible and responsive bid. Although the time varies, analysis and award is generally completed within forty-five (45) days.

    The Commissioner of Purchase awards all Formal Contracts and Informal Quotations. The contract is formally awarded through an acceptance letter mailed to the vendor.

    Rejection of Bids: Whenever it is in the City's best interest, the Commissioner of Purchase reserves the right to reject any and all bids. This is not done frivolously but may be necessary. Some causes for rejection may be a change in the City's requirements or bid responses which exceed available funds.

    Local Preference: The City of Syracuse prefers to do business with City vendors and will give preference in the event that tie bids are equal. A City vendor is defined as a firm located within the City of Syracuse.

    Affirmative Action Requirements: The City of Syracuse is committed to achieving Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Equal Employment Opportunity goals. For certain types of contracts, the City has requirements regarding Equal Employment Opportunity and /or Minority Business Enterprises. Whenever these requirements are included in the contract, they will be clearly indicated in the contract specifications.

    Disclosure Requirement: Some contractors transacting business with the City must submit, on a pre-award basis, the names and addresses of persons and partnerships doing business under an assumed name, present officers and directors of corporations, identity of persons or interests comprising trusts or associations and the identity and extent of interests of stockholders in corporations.

    Copies of Ordinance Number 514-1973, which established this requirement, are available from the City Clerk's Office; copies of the Disclosure Statement are available from the Department of Purchase.

    After Award – What Then?

    Notice and Advice of Award: If the City has determined that you are the lowest responsible and responsive bidder, you will be sent a letter notifying you of the City's intent to award you a contract. This award letter will also advise you if there are any other requirements necessary for you to complete in order to execute the contract.

    Delivery: An official City purchase order is your authorization to commence delivery. Acceptance of delivery is conditioned upon inspection and approval by the receiving department to verify that you have fully complied with the terms of the contract.

    Vendor Default: Vendors who fail to provide goods and/or services in accordance with the terms and conditions of their contract will be held in default. The City will hold such vendors liable for all extra costs incurred in the procurement of the goods and/or services from another vendor.

    Protests: If a vendor wishes to protest a bid or a potential bid award, the vendor may submit the protest in writing, detailing the nature of the protest to the Commissioner of Purchase.

    Change Orders and Modifications: Occasionally, after a contract has been awarded, changes occur in either price or performance. If the contract provides for modifications, it is done by a written change order which is sent to the vendor.

    Please note that the contract will specifically state the circumstances under which changes are allowed.  Vendors must follow the guidelines in the contract to submit or respond to change requests.

    Vendor Payment: Payments are processed by each department ordering the goods and services. Invoices should be sent directly to the ordering department or other address specified on the purchase order. Questions regarding payments can be best answered by the ordering department.

    If there is a problem regarding payment, the Department of Purchase is available to assist vendors as follows:

    • General information on vendor payment process
    • Expediting overdue invoices (30 or more days)
    • Resolving operational problems between the City departments and vendors

    Related Services

    Various other City departments provide services which may be of benefit to anyone interested in doing business with the City of Syracuse. Some related services are listed below.

    Procurement of Architectural, Engineering and Other Professional Services: The City relies on negotiated procurement for these services. In most cases, proposals will be solicited from a short list of qualified firms or individuals. When proposals are received, a screening committee will review them, and a recommendation is forwarded to the Mayor and the Common Council for approval.

    Firms or individuals interested in providing Architectural or Engineering Services may submit a letter of interest, a summary of qualifications and experience (GSA Form254) and a brochure to the City Engineer, 401 City Hall, Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.

    Many other professional services required by the City are solicited by an RFP process. This may include auditors, insurers, doctors, appraisers, and other service providers. Letters of interest and qualifications should be submitted to the appropriate department head or to the Department of Purchase.

    How do I Contact You?

    All City of Syracuse purchases are made by the Department of Purchase, 221 City Hall, Syracuse, New York 13202, (315) 448-8453.

    Travel Instructions:

    Route 690 East to West Genesee Street Exit, East to Montgomery Street, South three (3) blocks.
    Route 690 West to Townsend Street Exit, South to Washington Street, West three (3) blocks.
    Route 81 South to South Salina Street Exit, straight to East Washington Street, east three (3) blocks.
    Route 81 North to East Adams Street Exit, straight to East Washington Street, West five (5) blocks.
    Click here for a map of our location.

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City Hall: 233 East Washington Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 448-8005