DPS Overview

Doing Business with the City of Chicago

As part of the functioning of our government, the City needs to buy a wide range of goods and services. Examples include engineering and construction services, office supplies, janitorial services, signs, legal services, and so much more, including.

  • Professional Services
  • Commodities
  • Work Services
  • Vehicles & Heavy Equipment
  • Architecture and Engineering

In order to ensure transparency and value for taxpayers, the majority of the City’s purchases are made through a competitive process such as publicly advertised competitive bids, requests for proposals, and requests for qualifications. The City encourages local businesses to bid on our contracts, as everyone can benefit when the dollars the City spends to run government are invested in the local economy.

While some procurements are identified as exclusive opportunities for small or mid-sized businesses or certified firms, there is no special group of businesses that gets City contracts - Bidding on contracts is open to all businesses.

What contracts can I currently bid on?

There are two ways to sell your products and services to the City of Chicago: directly (via bidding on a contract) or indirectly (via serving as a subcontractor).

Opportunities for bidding directly

Here is where you can find contracts that you can currently bid on: www.chicago.gov/bids 

Opportunities for subcontracting

For some types of projects — especially construction — it is common for prime contractors (who are the companies that have won the bids for the entire contract) to then use subcontractors to perform specific parts of the work. If you are a small business, this may be an opportunity for you to work on large projects that you would not be able to complete yourself.

Please note: The City of Chicago does not select subcontractors. Prime contractors are the ones who select subcontractors, based on their evaluation of subcontractors’ prices and quality. This happens while they are preparing their bids.

If you want to serve as a subcontractor, you need to make your business known to the prime contractors. You can do this in several ways:

  • Connect with relevant Assist Agencies. Assist Agencies are non-profits, chambers of commerce, and other agencies that represent the interests of small and local businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities. Prime contractors will often go to Assist Agencies to help them find subcontractors.  You can find the latest list of Assist Agencies on the Quick Links of the DPS homepage.
  • Network with prime contractors. You can learn about local outreach events by registering for our DPS Alerts emails newsletter. Every week, we publicize networking events that are being hosted by our partner organizations or government entities.  You can register for DPS Alerts at this link.

What contracts will I be able to bid on soon?

For your convenience, the City has a forecast for upcoming procurement needs. The City calls it the Buying Plan.

You are not able to bid on these contracts yet, but the City expects that they will open for bidding within the next six quarters. The City provides information in advance so that businesses can plan for the bidding process. The City encourages you to check out this list and think if your business may be interested in submitting a bid for one of these opportunities so that you will be prepared to do so when the time comes.

The Buying Plan is updated quarterly and the latest edition is available on the DPS homepage.

Note that the Buying Plan includes opportunities not only with the City but also with our “sister agencies” — such as the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Public Schools - separate entities that have their own purchasing authority as established by statute. For those opportunities, you will need to go through those agencies’ separate bidding processes, but the City hopes that having this information will be helpful as you think about projects you might want to bid on. 

Disclaimer: This is the City's best estimate of upcoming contracts. The City cannot guarantee that all of these contracts will end up coming up for bid, or that the dollar amount will be exactly the same. There may also end up being other contracts that are not listed here. This is just intended as helpful information on potential upcoming opportunities so that businesses know when to look out for future bids.

What have past bids and contracts looked like?

To get a sense of what bids and contracts look like, the City makes available past contracts for you to look at here

Past bids and contracts

The City’s Vendor Contract, Payment search page allows you to search past contracts by vendor name, User Department, or other useful criteria.

How does the overall process work?

The City’s User Departments, the subject matter experts in their fields, define what they need, and DPS runs the procurement process to source these goods and services.

When a contract is publicly advertised for responses, it is published on the DPS website.

Specification documents that detail project needs and requirements are available at this site. Details of the response requirements will be listed in the specification documents on the website. Most solicitations include a pre-bid conference, where additional details are addressed.

This process includes a question period, that allows interested vendors to seek clarification. Answers to questions will be formally issued in an addendum, which is also publicly available.

Details of the response requirements will be listed in the solicitation documents and on the website.

The bid opening will be broadcast live on the DPS Your Tube.

When the contract is awarded, the information and contract documents will be posted on the City’s Vendor Contract, Payment search page.

The User Department that requested the goods and services is responsible for the ongoing management of the contract.

Where can I get more help?

Workshops

DPS offers workshops on topics related to procurement and certification of local small businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities.  A full list of workshops, registration information, and content from past workshops is available at www.chicago.gov/dpsevents.

Communications

We encourage all interested vendors to sign up for DPS Alerts, our email Newsletter at www.chicago.gov/dpsalert for a weekly listing of currently advertised contracting opportunities, and upcoming workshops and events.  Also, follow us on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Assist Agencies

Assist Agencies are non-profits, chambers of commerce, and other agencies that represent the interests of small and local businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities. Assist Agencies fulfill several key primary functions:

  • Resources for prime contractors seeking certified subcontractors to include in their bids
  • Provide training and capacity-building resources for […]
  • Share news and information with the vendor community
  • Assist vendors seeking a qualified workforce

The most recent list of Assist Agencies is available on the Quick Links of the DPS homepage.

Questions?

The City hopes you will choose to bid on contracts for the City of Chicago, and the City welcomes any questions you may have!

Dps.feedback@cityofchicago.org