The Procurement Services Department is responsible for acquisition of goods and services necessary to maintain Port Authority facilities and operations. As a political subdivision of the State of Texas, Port Houston must adhere to requirements specified in the Texas Water Code, Chapter 60, and other applicable codes and laws relating to procurement of goods and services.
The port utilizes informal and formal procurement methods to acquire goods and services. Procurements valued at up to $50,000 are informal procurements. Procurements valued at more than $50,000 are formal procurements that require approval from the Port Commission. Texas Water Code, Chapter 60, Subchapter N requires formal competitive bidding requirements be followed for formal procurements.
Formal procurement methods include: competitive sealed bids, competitive sealed proposals, requests for proposals and requests for qualifications. A list of all informal and formal requests can be found in Port Houston’s BuySpeed™ eProcurement System (BuySpeed).
Informal Procurement Method
BuySpeed is the most common method used at the port for informal procurements. Port staff use BuySpeed to generate a procurement request with detailed specifications. Registered vendors are able to enter prices and other relevant information online. Price alone does not determine which item is selected in port informal procurements.
Regardless of the informal method used, the responsible port staff member will select the item determined to provide the best value to the port and may consider the same selection criteria used in formal procurements (e.g., price, vendor reputation, safety, quality, benefit to Port Houston, small business participation, etc.). Items such as professional services are selected based on the qualifications of the service provider.
Formal Procurement Method
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 want to witness the bid opening. Competitive bidding aims at obtaining goods and services at the lowest prices by stimulating competition and by 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, as well as general goods and services.
Request for Proposals (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 Request for Proposals process (except in the two-step process of a design-build or construction manager-at-risk).
Request 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 submittal 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 will address 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. In any event, 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 (costing greater than $50,000). The port notices appear once a week for two consecutive weeks in the Houston Chronicle classified section under “Bids and Proposals.”
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 some instances where safety considerations compel the port to reject equivalent products. However, the port generally encourages proposals that contain pre-approved lower cost equivalent alternatives.
Small Business Opportunities
The port’s Small Business Development Program is designed to stimulate the growth of certified small businesses by encouraging a competitive and diverse business environment in all phases of its procurement activities and ensuring a full and fair opportunity to compete for all port contracts.
For assistance with Small Business Program administrative functions, including small business enrollment and contract compliance, please contact the port’s small business department at 713-670-2597.
Local Business Preference Program
The Local Business Preference Program applies to all procurements, except for sole-source contracts, federally funded contracts, contracts with other governmental entities, and contracts for which participation in the program is otherwise prohibited by applicable law or exempted by Port Houston.
To be eligible for the Local Business Preference Program, a vendor or contractor must:
- Register in BuySpeed
- Be a certified local business or city business through the City of Houston’s Hire Houston First Program
For more information on these programs, please contact the Port Houston small business department at 713-670-2597.
- 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.
- The purchase order is the port’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.
- All prices quoted are to include prepaid delivery charges to the location of the department requesting the goods or services.
- All invoices should be directed to the Accounts Payable Department for processing, preferably via email at email@example.com.
- 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.