Table of Contents

Tips on Doing Business with the State of Wisconsin

Who's Buying What?

General Procedural Questions

Other Procurement Methods

The Bid Process

Delivery and Payment

Affirmative Action

Minority Business Enterprise Program

Vendor's Guide Homepage
The Bid Process

Why does the state use the bid process?

State laws require the use of the bid process whenever possible because it promotes free and open competition while allowing the state to pay the best price for an appropriate product. This is accomplished by awarding the bid to the lowest responsible bidder.

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What causes removal or suspension from the bidder list?

The State Bureau of Procurement or the procuring agency may remove a bidder from a bidder list or suspend a bidder from bidding, provided evidence is available for such action. Following are guidelines for vendor discipline and business ethics. Deviating from these guidelines can cause removal or suspension from the bidder list.

  • Delivery of commodities, equipment or services which do not comply with the specifications.

  • Failure to make delivery or complete a project in the time specified on the contract or purchase order.

  • Failure to keep an offer firm for the length of time specified.

  • Failure to provide a surety when required by the request for bid following award of contract or issuance of purchase order.

  • Collusion with other bidders or prospective bidders to restrain competitive bidding.

  • Failure to accept orders based upon firm bids.

  • Failure to make applicable adjustments or replacement of damaged goods.

  • Failure to make good on warranties and guarantees on products delivered.

  • Failure to meet contract terms and conditions including, but not limited to, insurance and affirmative action requirements.

  • Giving information on the bidder list that is false or misleading.

  • Violation of the laws of the State of Wisconsin or the federal government pertaining to public purchasing.

  • Other violations of responsible business practices or unsatisfactory performance.

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Is the bid process complicated?

The State of Wisconsin recently adjusted its bid levels to streamline the purchasing process for state agencies and vendors.

Purchases of $1500 or less ($5000 or less for an agency that has implemented the purchasing card)
Purchases may be made from vendors who, according to the best judgment of the purchasing agent, can supply the item of appropriate quality at a reasonable price. Special efforts are made to place these purchases with small and minority businesses.

Purchases over $1500 through $25,000 ($5000 through $25,000 for an agency that has implemented the purchasing card)
Bids may consist of telephone, fax or verbal quotes, current catalogues/price lists on file at the agency office or written quotes. ** The low bid price should be confirmed in writing by the vendor.

Over $25,000
At this level, a formal bid process is used. These bids are advertised twice, at least seven days apart, in the official state newspaper: the Wisconsin State Journal. In addition, the bids will be posted on the Internet. Bids are due at a specified time and place.

* Note: For printing procurements, agencies must compare at least three or more valid price lists from potential vendors or solicit, in person or by telephone, quotations from at least three or more potential vendors. Preference programs are not applied to printing procurements.

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May I attend a bid opening?

Bidders and the public are invited, but not required, to attend the formal opening of bids. No activity on the part of bidders at an opening, other than attendance and note taking, is permitted. Any attempt to qualify or change any bid by any bidder in attendance may result in the rejection of the bid. Prices will be read aloud to the public when practical. No decisions related to an award of a contract or purchase order will be made at the opening.

Bids and tabulation sheets are kept by the State Bureau of Procurement or the procuring agency for a period of time established by regulation or statute after the award is made. These documents are available for inspection at any time during regular working hours.

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How are vendors notified of large procurements?

Through VendorNet, the State of Wisconsin's Internet system which enables vendors and municipalities to access electronically a variety of purchasing related services. This purchasing information and vendor notification system is available to all businesses and organizations that want to do business with the state. Anyone may access VendorNet at to obtain information on Wisconsin purchasing policies and practices, commodities and services that the state buys, and tips on selling to the state.

Vendors may use the same Web site address for inclusion on the state bidders list for commodities and services that they want to sell. A subscription with notification guarantees you will receive an e-mail message each time a state agency, including any campus of the University of Wisconsin System, posts a request for bid or a request for proposal in your designated commodity/service area(s) with an estimated value over $25,000. Organizations without Internet access receive paper copies in the mail of the requests for bid/proposal. Increasingly, state agencies also are using VendorNet to post simplified bids valued at $25,000 or less. You may receive e-mail notices of these simplified bid opportunities. The annual fee for this service is $125 ($65 for Wisconsin certified minority businesses and certified work centers).

The subscription to VendorNet is not a fee to do business with the State of Wisconsin. Alternatively, you may read the legal notices of the official state newspaper, currently the Wisconsin State Journal, to learn about request for bid and request for proposal opportunities over $25,000 and request a copy from the contracting agency. If you don't subscribe, you'll need to pick up the Wisconsin State Journal every day and review the advertisements. However, the cost of an annual subscription to the newspaper is greater than the annual VendorNet fee. So why not let VendorNet save you valuable time and money and do the work for you?

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Who do I contact if I have a question about a bid?

Questions concerning bids should be directed to the purchasing agent whose name and telephone number appear on the bid document. Please specify the bid number and bid opening date when contacting this person.

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What can I do if I discover an error in my bid?

Prior to submission of bids, errors may be corrected by lining out and entering the appropriate information. Changes should be initialed by the person signing the bid.

Once a bid has been submitted, it is still possible to submit a correction. Corrections must reach the State Bureau of Procurement before the due date of the bid. After the bid is closed, the only option left is not to accept the award if offered.

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How do I submit a bid?

Bidders must ensure that submitted bids are sealed prior to delivery to the State Bureau of Procurement or the procuring agency. An envelope or a box may be used. Containers must be labeled with the following information: bid number, date and time of opening and a description of what the bid is for. The bid should be sent or hand-delivered to the location specified in the bid.

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What if my bid is late?

Late bids will not be accepted. It is the bidder's responsibility to ensure that a bid is deposited with the State Bureau of Procurement or the procuring agency prior to the time and date specified. Late bids will be rejected unopened, regardless of the degree of lateness or the reasons for lateness, including reasons beyond the control of the bidder.

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How are bids awarded?

Criteria for award:
Provided the bid meets all specifications and requirements, awards will be made to the lowest responsible bidder considering price, responsibility, qualification and capability of the bidder, availability of funds and all other relevant factors.

  • Minority businesses may be given a 5% preference (excludes printing).

  • When life cycle costs are considered, the bid selected may not be the lowest initial cost bidder.

  • Printing bids are awarded based on the lowest costs.

Non-criteria for award:
The following are not considered in evaluating quotations for an award:

  • Assistance in the development of specifications or other advisory services provided by the vendors. Although such assistance is valuable and appreciated by the state, no preferential recognition can be given in return for these services.

  • Female, handicapped and small business status. This information is requested for statistical purposes only.

  • Cash discounts offered for early payment, except in the case of tied bids.

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What is a responsible bidder?

The state ensures its needs are met by awarding bids to a responsible bidder who makes the lowest bid. The concept of the lowest responsible bidder includes the understanding of two terms: responsible and responsive.

The state uses the term "responsible" in reference to the bidder's integrity and reliability.

Bidders who have the structure and ability to perform as promised and to stand behind what they deliver to the state are responsible bidders.

The state uses the term "responsive" to refer to the bidder's ability to meet the specifications of the contract.

The following outlines five criteria for determining the lowest responsible and responsive bidder.

  • Financial ability to provide the service or complete the contract.

  • Skill, judgment, experience and resources to capably provide the service or complete the contract.

  • Necessary facilities, staff, personnel and equipment to provide the service or complete the contract.

  • Demonstrated ability to satisfactorily perform the work in a prompt and conscientious manner.

  • Demonstrated ability to comply in situations where the award is contingent on special considerations subject to the nature of the service or contract.

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Is there an appeal process?

Yes, but only for procurements for services over $25,000. Vendors may challenge purchasing procedures affecting specifications and awards before or after the bid. Such challenges must be made in writing to the procuring agency head, detailing the specific nature of the complaint or objection.

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