City Contracting Basics

1. You need to be an official business entity.

  • Sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Corporation, or a Corporation properly registered with the state
  • Must be in good standing with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation

2. What does your business do?

  • Does it provide materials, supplies, and equipment?
  • Does it provide professional services? (i.e. legal, accounting, architectural, engineering, or healthcare services)
  • Does it provide construction and/or public works services?

3. Sign up for an account on CitiBuy.

  • With the exception of construction and public works contracts, the majority of contracts are procured through a central purchasing process using CitiBuy.
  • For construction and public works contracts, bid books must be purchased at the Abel Wolman Building.
  • Businesses should establish a CitiBuy account to view available contracting opportunities, receive updates, and submit bids or proposals.
  • Register with CitiBuy.

4. Does your business provide construction or public works-related services?

  • For businesses that provide construction services or those pertaining to public works (including architectural and engineering services), they must be prequalified before they can bid.
  • The pre-qualification process evaluates a business's ability to perform and finance the work necessary for a specific construction or public works project.
  • This process is handled by the Office of Boards and Commissions

5. Is your business minority or women-owned?

  • Baltimore City has a robust subcontracting preference program for certified minority and women-owned businesses.
  • For contracts valued at $50,000 or higher, the city will review to determine if:
  • Portions of the contract can be subcontracted and
  • If so, what goals will be set?
  • Goals are established based on market availability.
  • Only MBE and WBE firms certified by Baltimore City can count towards the goals.
  • For certification.

6. If you've come this far, your firm is ready to bid. Solicitations for bids or proposals are located:

  • On the ___(CURRENT CONTRACTS)___ tab on this site as well as
  • For supplies, equipment, services, or materials, on CitiBuy
  • For construction and public works contracts, on the weekly Board of Estimates agendas, and
  • In the Baltimore Sun and the Daily Record.

7. Based on the solicitation, you may need to purchase a detailed bid book.

  • Bid books must be purchased for public works solicitations.

8. The instructions in the solicitation must be followed completely.

  • In order to maintain an open and fair process, bids or proposals may be rejected if the Board of Estimates determines if the error is of a material nature.
  • Bids cannot be accepted after the date and time indicated in the solicitation.

9. There are generally two types of solicitations:

  • Invitation for Bids/Notice of Letting
  • Request for Proposals

10. An Invitation for Bids/Notice of Letting is a solicitation in which competitive sealed bids are invited through a public notice procedure requiring that bids be received by a specified time, opened publicly, and evaluated in terms of price.

  • This is the traditional type of solicitation. The City knows specifically what it wants and is asking for prices.
  • Under the City Charter, the Board of Estimates awards these contracts to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.

11. A Request for Proposals is a solicitation in which the method of the award is based on price and technical or other scoring.

  • The City generally knows what it wants, but wants proposers to develop the method and cost for the product or services.
  • This is generally a two-step process. The price and technical proposals are scored independently.
  • Under the City charter, the Board of Estimates either awards these contracts to the highest-scoring responsive and responsible proposer or to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. The process will be stated in the solicitation

12. Be mindful of bonding and financial security requirements.

  • As part of the solicitation, you may need to obtain certain bonding or other financial securities.
  • The solicitation will describe and list the bonding or securities required. The value, manner, timing, and form of a bond or financial security must comply with the specifications and requirements in the solicitation.
  • Failure to comply with all requirements in the solicitation may result in the bid or proposal being rejected as unresponsive.

13. Your bid or proposal must be responsive and responsible.

  • Responsive is a determination that a response complies with the material requirements of the solicitation.
  • Responsibility is a determination, based on characteristics of a responder that demonstrates that the responder is capable of satisfying the City's needs and requirements for a specific contract, and includes a good faith determination of fitness, capacity, integrity, and other considerations affecting work performance and financial responsibility, as well as previous compliance with contract terms, including but not limited to subcontractor utilization required by the contract.

14. If you do not win a contract, the City will tell you so in advance of awarding the contract.

  • The timing of when businesses are notified can depend on the schedule of the Board of Estimates as well as the urgency of awarding the contract.
  • Regardless, unsuccessful bidders will be notified with enough time to protest the award.

15.  Click here to view the latest agenda of items to be considered by the Board of Estimates.

16. Unsuccessful bidders or proposers may protest the award.

  • If the Board of Estimates determines the protestor has standing to protest (i.e. they are directly impacted by the proposed action to award the contract), the Board will hear and consider the protest.

  • For more information on protesting awards.

17. The Board of Estimates adopts all items on the agenda that are of a routine nature en masse by one vote.

18. Items under consideration, such as those being protested, or those of a non-routine nature will be considered and voted on individually.