All levels of government purchase goods and services from small business. The range is impressively wide from equipment and construction services through professional consulting, training, catering, event planning, and much more. Many governments (and large businesses) have “supplier diversity” policies directing them to include more women-owned businesses. In addition, most local governments will give preference to a local business where other factors are equal.
Here on the Coast
All local governments use BC Bid, the provincial procurement website, for larger purchases. In April 2017 the government launched BC Bid Resources to help buyers and sellers to make better use of the service.
Sunshine Coast Regional District
The SCRD is the largest government on the Sunshine Coast and makes substantial purchases of goods and services annually. Their purchasing policies and their bid opportunities are available on their website.
The SCRD will buy directly for purchases under $5000. For $5000-$30,000 they generally request quotes, and for larger purchases they will ask for Bids. They post a list of successful bids for previous years. The SCRD gives preference to local companies when all other factors are equal.
The Purchasing Officer is Rob McKee. firstname.lastname@example.org
District Of Sechelt
The District of Sechelt, like the other governments, posts opportunities for large bids on BC Bid. Sechelt does not have a Purchasing Policy in place, but one has been drafted for Council’s consideration. Decisions about many purchases are made by department managers. The District does not have a list of preferred vendors at this time. It is their informal policy to give preference to suppliers located within the District of Sechelt where quality, service and price are equivalent.
Town Of Gibsons
The Town of Gibsons’ purchasing policy and bids are posted on their website. They do not keep a vendor’s list, but they do purchase locally as much as possible. Their purchases include janitorial supplies and services, hardware, printing, training, and web design/maintenance.
School District 46
SD46 takes advantage of regional and provincial bulk buying opportunities, but also purchases goods and services locally. The vast majority of office, school and custodial supplies are purchased via provincial contracts, but some maintenance materials are purchased locally on an as-needed basis. Employee wellness is another area of local spending.
The decision-makers for purchasing are the Principals and Department Managers, supported by administrative assistants. Purchases under $5000 require three verbal quotes, those from $5000 to $50,000 require three written quotes, and those over $50,000 are always posted on BC Bid. The school district does not maintain a list of vendors. They do have a policy for local purchasing, stated in item 7 and 13 of their purchasing regulations.
Vancouver Coastal Health – information to come
Province of BC
The BC government and over 600 public sector organizations post bid opportunities on BC Bid. This is a fairly complex process. One interesting aspect of BC Bid is that if you bid and fail, you may request a debriefing to find out how your bid stacked up against the competition. More about BC Bid.
The BC Government also has an online guide for suppliers.
The Women’s Enterprise Centre has resources on Supplier Diversity that covers both large corporations and government, and includes a Major Events Supplier database. For a general introduction to federal purchasing you can read the government’s website or sign up for a webinar from Small Business BC. They hold a one hour introduction, and a three day series (3 x 2 hours) to guide business owners through the process.