We were in the process of ordering our items under the FIRE act grant when we found out about the requirement of comp. bidding. We did not do that, we merely selected a vendor of our choice and sought out a proposal (except for our rescue tools, want to compare products but not neccesarily get the cheapest). Can anyone provide any insight on whether or not the Fed's will require us to solicit two or three proposals and go with the cheapest or can we just do business with a vendor of our choice. I know this might sound vague, but any informatino would be helpfull.
South Wheatland FD
I got this third hand so I don't know how accurate it is. FEMA can't force you to go low bid. Low bid never has to be accepted in anything because nowadays service and other post-sale reasonings can be brought into play. If the low bid comes from a guy completely across from the state and service and other issues are going to hinder anything, then going with the in-town guy is fine, as long as the prices are within reason of each other. There might be some issues if the price differences are more than 10%, but I'm not sure. Personally if they were that much different I'd be quizzing the local guy pretty aggressively anyway. Which you said you were doing with the rescue tools. What else are you trying to purchase?
We lucked out on our rescue truck because we're part of the HGAC (Houston-Galveston Area Council) Co-Op Purchasing group. All sorts of equipment is pre-spec'd and bid on by different manufacturers, so all we had to do was pick which one we wanted and go with it. We didn't have to go with individual bids, because all of that was already done.
We are going for rescue tools, training package, portable radios, laptop computer, and LCD display. I think the only think we have a concern with is the training package. We only sought out one company...one that we had been talking with for a while. I don't really view this as a problem, merely an inconvienience that might actually save us some money that we can reallocate to another line item.
Training has some of the intangibles that should allow you to get out of having to take low bid, such as reputation, style of teaching (CD-ROM, Internet, on-site, etc), and certifications of the instructors. Depending on the style, there's only so many companies that offer CD-ROM and Internet based training, so you may only have one company to choose from. The equipment obviously you want the low bid for the same products, just check and make sure specify all of the details in the request, such as installation, testing, etc.
The easiest way around this at award time, is to pre-bid. Get the bids before the application goes in so that you can have the right amount of money for the vendor that you will award the project should you recieve funding from FEMA. That way come success time, all you have to do is make the phone call, request the money, and you're done.
And if I forgot to say it before, congratulations. If you don't mind having others look at it, if you email your narrative to me at email@example.com, I'll post it on my site with some others.
www.firegraphics.org/grants.htm is the page.