Frequently Asked Questions - Purchasing Process

  • What is a bid specification?

A specification is a formal statement of the City's needs. It will describe in great detail what goods and/or services are required, and will explain the procedures that must be followed to respond to a specification or RFP/RFQ (Request for Proposal/Request for Qualifications).


  •  How can I find out about upcoming projects? Which ones should I bid on?

Look in the Chicago Sun-Times every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; check the bid opening list on-line and/or pick up the bid opening list at City Hall, Bid & Bond Room, 1st Floor, Room 103. If you see a project that corresponds with the commodities or services you can provide, come to the Bid & Bond Room and pick up the specifications.


  •  How do I bid on a City contract?

After you've identified the specification you'd like to bid on and picked it up from Bid & Bond, the next step is to complete your price quotation and provide all information requested in the bid/proposal documents. All information provided must be typed or written in ink.

Be sure that your bid/proposal is correct and that it is signed and notarized in the appropriate places (e.g. corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship). You must also be sure that all other signatures have been sworn to where required. Note: you must submit ORIGINAL SIGNATURE documents; photocopied signatures will result in disqualification of the entire bid package.


  • What if I have a question while I am filling out my specification documents?

The name and telephone number of the contact administrator/negotiator is indicated on the cover sheet of each specification. They may be contacted for assistance.

  • When are bids opened?

Bids are opened and read publicly at 11 a.m. on the date indicated on the specification. Bids and proposals received after the hour and date indicated for the opening will not be considered. The public is invited to attend all bid/proposal openings held in the Bid & Bond Room, City Hall, Room 103.

Submitters of RFPs/RFQs are announced publicly at 4 p.m.

Please note that late bids and/or RFPs/RFQs may not be accepted.

  •  What disqualifies a bid?

You should read the specification document very carefully and follow all instructions. This is the best way to keep from having your bid disqualified. Late bids are automatically disqualified. In general, bids and RFPs/RFQs can also be disqualified for the following reasons:

Lateness submitting photocopies instead of originals Missing information and/or signatures

Please note that this list is provided as a guide and should not be considered all-inclusive.


  •  Can I have bid opening schedules and specifications faxed to me?

Sorry; due to the volume of requests we cannot fax bid opening lists or specifications. However, you can download the bid opening list from our site. Specifications must be picked up at the Bid & Bond Room, City Hall, Room 103, to pick up bid specifications.


  • Can I still bid on City contracts if I live out of state? Yes
  • Do I have to pay for bid specifications?

There may be a plan deposit (typically $50 to $100) required for some documents. In that case, you must provide us with a cashier's check, certified check, or money order. Cash and company checks are unacceptable. If you repeatedly bid on projects that require a plan deposit, you may leave a check on file. Please see Bid & Bond Room for more information.

For certain contracts, you may be required to leave a bid deposit. This is typically 5 percent to 10 percent of the estimated value of the contract.


  •  Do I need to be certified/pre-qualified/pre-registered before I bid?

Not usually. If you can provide the goods and/or services requested in the invitation to bid, you may bid on the specification.

However, specifications that are identified as Target Market Program are restricted to businesses that are certified with the City of Chicago as Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or Women Business Enterprise (WBE).


  •  How does the City process payments to vendors?

Each using department will process payment of approved invoices. The invoicing procedure is included in each specification document.


  • What if I don't live in Cook County?

If you don't live or work in Cook County, you may call or write, and we will send you the bid specification you want. We will mail the documents to you or, if you prefer, you may arrange at your expense to have your documents picked up by a courier service of your choice. If you provide us with your Federal Express or UPS account number, we will send your documents that way as well.


  •   What if you change the specification after I've already picked it up?

When you pick up a specification, you will be asked to leave a business card. The reason for this is so we can get in touch with you if there is a change. The addendum will be mailed to you at the address on your business card.


  •   What records are available for public inspection, and at what point in the contract award process may they be inspected? Is there a fee?

A City contract is available for inspection by any member of the general public ONLY after it has been awarded. The City cannot release any contract information (except for informal bid tabulations) before a contract has been awarded. The only exception is bid tabulation sheets, which are compiled at the daily bid openings. You may get a copy of the bid tabulation you are interested in by requesting it from Bid & Bond or the contract administrator/negotiator. Due to the volume of requests, we cannot fax bid tabulations. Please note that these documents are non-binding, pending the outcome of inspection of bids received.

If you would like to inspect a City contract, search online or submit a request to the Freedom of Information Officer, for the Department of Procurement Services. If you are a member of the news media and would like a copy of a City contract, please send a Freedom of Information request to Public Information Officer. Please provide a specification number if you have it. You may fax the letter to 312/744-0010 or mail it to the appropriate party at:


City Hall
121 North Lasalle Street, Room 806
Chicago, IL 60602-1284
312.744.4900 (General Information)
312.744.4929 (TTY)

Supporting Information Facts