Proposal Process & Procedures

Setting Standards
& Providing
Opportunities For All

The Procurement Services Department is responsible for the acquisition of all goods and services necessary to maintain Port Houston’s facilities and operations. As a political subdivision of the State of Texas, the Port must adhere to requirements specified in the Texas Water Code, Chapter 60, and other applicable codes and laws relating to the procurement of goods and services.

Procurement Methods

Bids and proposals for Port Houston are solicited through formal and informal procurement procedures. Our BuySpeed™ eProcurement System (BuySpeed) is the platform used for both types. Formal methods are required when the value of the purchase is estimated to be $50,000 or greater. When the estimated value is up to $50,000, informal procedures are used. A comprehensive list of informal and formal solicitations can be found in our BuySpeed™ portal.

Informal Procurement Method

Informal procurements are conducted using methods not as rigorous as formal procedures, but still provide competition. Using the BuySpeed™ eProcurement System, Port Houston generates informal procurement requests with detailed specifications. Registered vendors may enter pricing and other relevant information online, though price alone does not determine which proposal is selected. Port Houston may consider the same selection criteria as used in formal procurements, which include price, vendor reputation, safety, quality, benefit to Port Houston, and small, minority- and woman-owned business participation.

Types of Formal Procurement Methods

Formal procurements—those above the $100,000 acquisition threshold—must utilize formal procedures. They require approval from the Port Commission, and all competitive bidding requirements must be followed.

Competitive Sealed Bid (CSB) is an advertised procurement method, as used by the Port, in which the award is made to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder. The use of competitive sealed bids is a method of contracting for goods and nonprofessional services. In open competitive bidding, the sealed bids are opened in full view of all who wish to witness the bid opening. Competitive bidding aims at obtaining goods and services at the lowest prices by stimulating competition and preventing favoritism. This method is appropriate to use when the requirements are clearly defined, negotiations are not necessary, and price is the major determining factor for selection.

Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) is an advertised procurement method, as used by the Port, in which a selection is made of the proposal that offers the best value based on the published selection criteria and ranking evaluation, followed by contract negotiation. The CSP method permits the consideration of non-price criteria, scope negotiation, and some correction of errors.

Competitive Sealed Proposals are commonly utilized in the procurement of construction, repair, rehabilitation or alteration of facilities, or general goods and services.

Request for Proposal (RFP) is an advertised procurement method, as used by the Port, in which the award is made to the lowest and best evaluated offer resulting from negotiation based on the published evaluation criteria. Construction projects may not be processed using the RFP process (except in the two-step process of a design-build or construction manager-at-risk).

Requests for Proposals are commonly utilized in the procurement of high-technology goods, professional services, personal services, and insurance services.

Request for Qualifications (RFQ) as used by the port, refers to the two-step advertised procurement method where price is negotiated following selection. The selection and award must be based on demonstrated competence and qualifications to perform the services for a fair and reasonable price. RFQ is used for certain professional services only.

Request for Qualifications for professional services will be solicited in a two-tier format, with a qualification process and then submission of cost/pricing information by the most highly qualified vendor.

Design Build (DB) is a project delivery method by which the Port may contract with a single entity to provide both design and construction services for the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of a facility. The Design Build method can also be used for civil engineering construction projects (e.g., roads, facilities, infrastructure, and drainage). This section addresses only the more common application for the construction, rehabilitation, alteration, or repair of a facility or an associated structure.

Job Order Contracting (JOC) is unique to construction services and is limited to contracts for the minor construction, repair, rehabilitation, or alteration of a facility if the work is of a recurring nature but the delivery times are indefinite, and indefinite quantities and orders are awarded substantially on the basis of pre-described and pre-priced tasks. Contracts may be awarded to one or more JOC contractors in connection with each solicitation. Further, contracts awarded must provide the best value to the Port and shall consider all of the factors listed in Texas Water Code, Section 60.464.

Cooperative Purchasing Program (Coop) is a method whereby Port Houston may make certain purchases for goods and services by utilizing cooperative purchasing programs with another local government entity or a local cooperative organization. Examples of cooperatives used by the Port include the U.S. General Services Administration, Houston-Galveston Area Council, and Texas Procurement and Support Services.


Section 60.404 of the Texas Water Code requires public notice of formal procurement packages (valued at more than $50,000). These public bid notices appear once a week for two consecutive weeks in the Houston Chronicle classified section under “Bids and Proposals.”

Equivalent Products

In order to reduce operating costs, the Procurement Services Department encourages all vendors to offer lower-cost equivalent products of any items solicited whenever possible. There are instances where safety considerations compel the Port to reject equivalent products. However, Port Houston encourages proposals that contain pre-approved lower-cost equivalent alternatives.

Small, Minority-, and Woman-Owned Business Opportunities

The Port’s Business Equity initiative is designed to stimulate the growth of certified small, minority-, and/or woman-owned businesses by encouraging a competitive and diverse business environment in all phases of its procurement activities, ensuring a full and fair opportunity to compete for all Port contracts.

For assistance with Business Equity Program administrative functions, including enrollment and contract compliance, please contact the Port’s Business Equity Department.

Additional Information

  • No Acceptance for Late Responses: Under no circumstances will late responses be accepted. Sealed responses received after the closing time on the date specified for receipt will be returned, unopened, to the vendor.
  • Purchase Orders: The purchase order is Port Houston’s official means of notifying the successful vendor of the purchase. Purchase orders awarded through BuySpeed are sent electronically to registered vendors. All other purchase orders are mailed. Vendors are not authorized to deviate from the instructions printed on the purchase order.
  • Final Pricing: All prices quoted are to include prepaid delivery charges to the location of the department requesting the goods or services.
  • Invoicing: All invoices should be directed to the Accounts Payable Department for processing, preferably via email at [email protected].
  • Tax Exemption: The port is exempt from all state and federal excise taxes, and state and local sales tax. Tax exemption certification is furnished by the port as part of all purchase orders.