City Purchasing FAQs

City Purchasing and Contracting Services manages bids and contracts for all City products, supplies, equipment and services that have accumulated value above $50,000 a year.

Purchasing Frequently Asked Questions

Most purchases are made through long-term competitively bid contracts. City Purchasing has 1,100 long-term blanket contracts for items that departments repeatedly buy. We also conduct about 600 one-time bids each year. If there is no blanket contract and purchases are small (under $8,000 each and $50,000 a year), City departments buy directly from vendors of their choice.

The City conducts an ITB (Invitation to Bid) solicitation, which considers price, minimum qualifications, equal benefits compliance, technical compliance and other mandatory requirements. The City also may conduct an RFP (Request for Proposal), which evaluates multiple criteria to select the winner. The City scores such things as customer service, experience, specialties, solutions, references and more. An RFP is complex, but guarantees careful deliberation and a good understanding between the City and vendor.

Call City Purchasing at 206-684-0444 or use our online Blanket Contract Search tool.

For products and routine services, call 206-684-0444 and ask for the buyer who specializes in your product or service. The buyer can tell you about current contracts for your product and how much is spent. Be sure to ask for a copy of the current contract and when the City may resolicit for that product or service. The buyer can also refer you to other City department staff who might be interested in your product or service. You can also track City Purchasing's announcements and bid solicitations on The Buy Line.

Most contracts are for five years or less with an option to extend. Call 206-684-0444 to ask about contracts for your commodity. One of our buyers can tell you about any current contracts, when they expire, when we may bid again, and also can add your name to any future bid list.

No. You still need to market to City departments and maintain a positive service to the City. The City may select multiple companies to provide services, add or use other contracts while your contract is still in use, or terminate and rebid the contract.

Winning bidders with a physical nexus in Seattle city limits must obtain a Seattle business license and a Washington state business license (when applicable). For City licensing, visit Business Licensing. For state licensing, call 1-800-647-7706 or visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website.

The City is committed to socially responsible purchasing. All City departments work to ensure open, fair and equitable procurements; competitive and fair pricing; environmentally sustainable solutions; use of women and minority-owned businesses; best labor practices; and local business participation when applicable in City bid decisions.

The City is committed to promoting equity in contracting through its many social equity programs. The Equal Benefits Program was established to ensure that business contracting with the City provide benefits equally to the spouses and domestic partners of their employees. Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 20.45 applies to contracts for construction, consultant services and the purchase of goods and services worth $50,000 and above.

The City has a strong commitment to the environment and requires environmentally preferable products and services. The City will often seek, specify or favorably score products that are recycled, certified, remanufactured or provide innovative and environmentally preferable solutions. For more information see the Green Purchasing.

City employees are prohibited from accepting meals, tickets or gifts from vendors. The City also protects against conflicts of interest in bidding and contract work. Please see the City's Ethics and Elections Commission website for more information.