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Updated: June 6, 2022 @ 9:36 am
NORTH SMITHFIELD – North Smithfield municipal procurement is entering the digital age.
At Monday’s Town Council meeting, Finance Director Cynthia DeJesus brought a new avenue of bidding before the councilors. Whereas posting requests for proposals and requests for quotes for municipal projects used to be limited to newspaper advertisements and the town’s website, they’ll now be added to a digital hub for bidding.
Municipalities are bound by a procurement process any time they wish to contract with a private entity. Towns will put out an RFP or an RFQ, and companies may submit their proposal with prices and stipulations. In a procurement process, the lowest price bid does not always win if there are other circumstances that may make another bidder more attractive to the town, and sometimes bids are disqualified for not properly following municipal guidelines. Examples of situations where the town may put out an RFP or RFQ include demolition companies or architectural firms to build new facilities.
DeJesus told the council that when she recently called Providence to consult on a procurement question, a woman asked her why they weren’t using BidNet Direct, a free service for municipalities that connected bids and bidders from all over the country.
DeJesus said that she hasn’t had much luck with only running print ads in the newspaper, and has not been getting the responses she’s wanted from the RFQs and RFPs she puts out.
Councilor Paul Vadenais agreed that newspaper advertisements may not be the most efficient way to solicit RFPs and RFQs anymore.
“This is like a clearinghouse for all the documents,” Councilor Vadenais said. “The more people that use it, the more people will see it.”
DeJesus checked the site and went through their training, and reported to the council that it automatically notifies companies and contractors of relevant RFPs and RFQs, and also lets the town know who downloads their documents. She also reported that the North Smithfield School Department already uses the site, as do other municipalities in Rhode Island.
The council agreed that it was a good idea to move forward with this change in procurement.
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