Doing Business with the City of Richmond


About the City
The City of Richmond has a population of over 110,000 people.  The City is a charter city that operates under the Council-Manager form of government.  The City of Richmond was chartered as a city in 1909.  Richmond is on a peninsula separating San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay, spanning 32 total miles of shoreline.  The City’s total area is 56.1 square miles, 33.8 of which is land area and 22.3 water area.  

The City of Richmond provides a full range of municipal services, including police and fire protection, construction and maintenance of highways, streets and infrastructure, library services, storm water and municipal sewer systems, wastewater treatment facility and the administration of recreational activities and cultural events.  The City also operates the Richmond Memorial Convention Center and the Port of Richmond.

Methods of Procurement
The City’s methods of procurement include the following:  Purchase orders, contracts, agreements, blanket purchase orders, and leases.  Standard City terms and conditions typically accompany all procurements.  You may get a copy of the Terms and Conditions by going to the City’s website:

Reference Numbers
All procurements made by the City require a purchase order number.  Referencing the purchase order number is essential when conducting business with the City.  The purchase order number must be included on all supplier invoices and shipping documents.

Acting without a PO Number
A purchase order number is vital to doing business with the City.  It is your guarantee that you will be paid.  If a City employee calls you and attempts to place an order without a City purchase order number, you are cautioned to request a purchase order number and to obtain the name and department of the individual.  Proceeding without a purchase order, may result in the City returning your invoice unpaid.

Procurement Ordinance
The City’s Procurement Ordinance 2.52 is the guiding document for all purchasing activities for fair and ethical business practices, designed to ensure the public’s trust. You may get a copy of the Procurement Ordinance by going to the City’s website:

Sales Calls and Contracts
Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding City holidays.  As City staff resources are limited, unscheduled visits by suppliers and contractors are not encouraged.  You may schedule an appointment with purchasing staff by contacting one of the buyers listed in this guide.  Suppliers are encouraged to forward products and service literature to our mailing address attention “Purchasing Division.”

Supplier Presentations

Periodically, a supplier may expend considerable time and expense presenting a product or service to the City, in an effort to effect a sale.  Please be aware that most procurement is the result of competitive solicitations, and that supplier presentations will not guarantee an order.

Awarding to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder limits our ability to develop business relationships with suppliers. Because of this, we maintain an arm’s length association with suppliers. This is one of the many ways we try to minimize corruption in public procurement. Our goal is to treat all suppliers the same.

Public Record
Except for manufacturing processes which are clearly proprietary in nature or where nondisclosure agreements have been executed; all information contained in quotations, bids and proposals submitted to the City, shall become a matter of public record, and made available upon request.

Change Orders/Amendments
The City may at any time, by a written change order or amendment; make changes in the specifications, design or drawings, samples, or other description to which the items are to conform, in methods of shipment and packaging, or in the time or place of delivery of any items.  If any such change causes an increase or decrease in the cost of, or the time required for, the performance of any part of the work under a purchase order, a mutually-acceptable equitable adjustment may be made in the price of delivery schedule or both, and the purchase order modified in writing.  Note: 
A purchase order is our contract with you. Any change to that contract must be in writing.

Purchasing Procedures and Responsibilities
The Purchasing Division makes its purchases under authority granted in the Richmond Municipal Code 2.52. Purchasing assists departments in the procurement of supplies and services which the City needs for efficient operation and maintenance.

Are All Purchases Made by the Purchasing Division?
No, we have a decentralized purchasing function. Some commodities are bought by purchasing staff, some by the other departments. We can direct you to the appropriate person for your commodity or service.

How Can I Do Business With the City of Richmond?
The City of Richmond has implemented an online vendor registration and bid management system. This system allows vendors to register online, receive automated service and commodity solicitations via email, and submit solicitations electronically.  Vendors wishing to do business with the City must register in order to receive electronic notifications of bid opportunities.  Vendors wishing to view current bid opportunities can visit the BidsOnline System website at

How Does the Purchasing Process Work?
All purchases begin with some form of written quotation, bid or proposal. Purchases of less than $3,000 require that we contact only one vendor and determine that the price is fair and reasonable. Most of these purchases will be made using a purchase card. Any purchase made using the card requires an itemized receipt and charges may not be made for items that have not been shipped. Purchases of more than $3,000 require two vendor quotations. Purchases of more than $5,000 require three vendor quotations. Informal quotations may be used for purchases up to $50,000. Formal bids and requests for proposal are used for purchases above $50,000. The City Charter requires that purchases of more than $10,000 be approved by the City Council at a public meeting.   All awards are made to the lowest responsive, responsible vendor and/or the offer that provides the best value to the City.  The City has the right to award to multiple vendors, if it is in the City’s best interest to do so.

Types of Solicitations
The City uses three basic solicitations.  The following is a brief description of each of the three types and their use:

Request for Quotation (RFQ):  This process is a flexible and expeditious method for acquiring goods and services, reducing paperwork and administrative time and effort.  RFQ’s are generally used for items of lesser dollar value or where time limitations do not allow for more formal solicitations.  Supplier responses, i.e., “Quotes”, should completely conform to the RFQ requirements and include a firm price and the delivery date.

Request for Bid (RFB): The RFB process is the formal with a more systematic process. Specifications are detailed and negotiation discussions are not allowed.  Bids are due on or before the published date and time for receipt at the City Clerk’s office or electronically through the BidsOnline System.  Bids received after the exact time set for opening of bids will be returned unopened.  If suppliers have questions about bid requirements, they should ask for clarification prior to bid opening.  Contract award is based on the lowest price received from a responsive and responsible bidder.

Request for Proposal (RFP):  The RFP is used when the importance of technical considerations dictates the contract award be based upon cost and “other factors”.  The “other factors” are expressed in the RFP as Evaluation Criteria.  Unlike the RFB, which contains a detailed or design specification, in an RFP the requirement is generally expressed in terms of performance specification or required outcome.  Suppliers are asked to propose their own technical solution to achieve the required results.  Negotiation discussions may be conducted to ensure a complete understanding of all issues and that the proposed price properly reflects that understanding.  Contract award is made based upon the City’s best value determination.  The best value need not be the lowest price.

Request for Qualifications (RFQual):  The RFQual is used to obtain statements of qualifications of potential development teams or individuals (i.e. consultants).  The most qualified need not be the lowest price. 

Basis for Award
It is the City’s desire to pursue the “best” competitive pricing and terms.  Such factors as delivery schedule, quality, compatibility, references, experience, response, warranty, resources, etc., contribute to a decision to award a purchase order or contract to the “lowest-cost” responsive and responsible supplier.

Bid/Proposal Submittal
Procurements less than $50,000 require competitive price quotations, and are conducted through an informal solicitation process.  Procurements of more than $50,000 require formal bids or proposals, depending on the complexity of the goods or services being procured.  Formal bids or proposals must be submitted in sealed envelopes, via the City’s BidsOnline System, mail, or hand delivery depending on the requirements of the solicitation.  Formal bids or proposals may not be submitted via telephone or facsimile.  Late submittals will not be accepted. 

Do I Need a Business License?
Yes, if you are located in, or perform services within, city limits or if you deliver products in company owned vehicles. Call the Business Licenses Division at (510) 620-6742 or visit the City’s website if you want more information.

Insurance Requirement

Vendors performing work on City property must sign the City’s standard contract and provide proof of insurance.  The amount and type of insurance will vary depending on the project scope of work and project size.  Typical requirements are:

  • Auto Insurance with minimum of $1,000,000 combined single limit per accident.  Must include non-owned vehicles used by the vendor.
  • Comprehensive General Liability Insurance, with minimum limits of $2,000,000 per occurrence, $4,000,000 aggregate.
  • Workers’ Comp Insurance covering all of its employees.
  • Professional Liability Insurance may be required depending on the type of service, with minimum limits of $1,000,000 per occurrence.

The City of Richmond must be named as additional insured on General Liability Insurance.  A Certificate of Insurance and Endorsements are required to satisfy the proof of insurance requirements.

How Does the City Make Payments?

Payment may be made by credit card at the time that the product is ordered or picked up from your store if the purchase is under $3,000. If a credit card number is not tendered at that time, the City will be paying for the ordered goods or services using a purchase order. To receive payment, send your invoice to:

                                                                               Accounts Payable
                                                                             Finance Department
                                                                                  PO Box 4046
                                                                         Richmond, CA 94804-0046

Include the purchase order number on all shipping documents, invoices and correspondence related to the order. Standard City payment terms are net 30 days. The City issues checks weekly, with payments mailed each Friday. The City pays by invoice, not by statement. As the payer of City obligations, it is our goal to make payments to vendors in a timely and efficient manner.

Availability of Funds
The City’s fiscal year runs from July 1st through June 30th.  Budgets are set to correspond to the fiscal year.  The City enters a quote/bid process believing that funds are available for the purchase.  However, depending on cost and budget availability at the time, the City may or may not make an award.  The City’s obligation for payment of any contract beyond the current fiscal year is contingent upon the availability of funding from which payment can be made.

What Should I Do If I’m Confused?
You may find our procedures, or requests for bids and proposals, confusing. Give us a call; we will gladly answer any questions on specifications, bid or award procedures, and purchasing methods in general.

What Are the City’s Delivery Requirements?
Deliveries in almost all cases are required to be made to us F.O.B. Destination. Failure to meet specified delivery dates may cause cancellation of the order, liquidated damages, and removal from bid list.
Never ship materials or initiate any services without a purchase order number!

How Are the City’s Emergency Purchases Handled?
There are times during emergencies when an order must be placed by City personnel after hours or on weekends when the Purchasing Division is normally closed. Emergency purchases may be made for items which are immediately necessary for the continued operation of the division involved or which are immediately necessary for the preservation of life or property. Rest assured, you will be paid for anything you sell to City employees under these conditions.

How Is Public Purchasing Different From Private Purchasing?
The public procurement process, and the people involved, is subject to complete public accountability, regarding the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money. Public purchasing must guarantee fair and open competition with equal opportunities for every supplier. A unique characteristic of public purchasing is the underlying principle that prices are not as critical as fairness and impartiality in obtaining them.


It is the intent of the City of Richmond to develop and promote economic growth for the community in which it serves.  The City desires to foster the growth of small and local emerging businesses. It is the policy of the City to ensure full and equitable opportunities for Richmond business enterprises, including small and nonprofit businesses, to participate as contractors in the provision of goods and services to the City.  Please visit the City’s website to view the Richmond Business Opportunity Ordinance.

Rating Incentives
Whenever a bid process is utilized in awarding a contract, the following rating incentives shall apply:

(a) A five percent (5%) or five point rating incentive to bids submitted by Richmond business, Richmond small business or Richmond nonprofit business prime contractors;
(b) A five percent (5%) or five point rating incentive to bids submitted by Richmond business joint ventures that utilize a minimum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total contract amount allocated to Richmond businesses, Richmond small businesses or Richmond nonprofit businesses;
(c) A five percent (5%) or five point rating incentive to bids submitted with a minimum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total contract dollar amount allocated to Richmond businesses or Richmond nonprofit businesses and ten percent (10%) of the total contract dollar amount allocated to Richmond small businesses or Richmond small nonprofit businesses. Rating incentives shall not cumulatively equal more than ten percent (10%) or ten points.

Is my business a Richmond Business?
The Richmond Business Opportunity Ordinance defines a Richmond Business as follows:

2.50.040 Definitions

"Richmond business" means any business which possesses or establishes all of the following at least six (6) months before bids or proposals are opened:
(1) A written agreement for City occupancy or proof of ownership of a Richmond office;
(2) Proof that business is transacted in the Richmond office;
(3) A conspicuously displayed business sign at the Richmond business premises except where the business operates out of a residence;
(4) Proof that the office is appropriately equipped for the type of business for which certification as a Richmond business is sought. Where equipment, such as computers, and reproduction and communications machines are typically and routinely used in a non-Richmond location, comparable equipment shall be installed and routinely used at the Richmond office. A Richmond office that is used solely or primarily for meetings shall not comply, unless such activities are the sole or principal use of the principal non-Richmond office;
(5) A valid City of Richmond business license;
(6) An operating telephone that, when answered by a person, is answered only on the Richmond premises;
(7) Proof that the Richmond office is the principal office of the business where the predominant office work of the business is performed; and
(8) When the Richmond office is a branch or supplementary office of a multi-location business, proof that the Richmond office is staffed by at least one full time equivalent employee (minimum thirty (30) hours per week), or that the Richmond office is staffed by at least one full time equivalent employee at least as many hours per week as the principal non-Richmond office.
"Richmond nonprofit businesses" means any Richmond business or Richmond small business which is a public benefit organization certified by the City as an organization formed for purposes other than generating a profit and in which no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its directors or officers. A Richmond nonprofit business must be incorporated by the State, treated as a corporate entity under the law and be on file with the Internal Revenue Service. Richmond nonprofit businesses must apply for tax exempt status at both the federal and State levels.

Is my business a Richmond Small Business?
The Richmond Business Opportunity Ordinance defines a Richmond Small Business as follows:

"Richmond small business" means any Richmond business that is certified as a small business by the California Department of General Services, or as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise by the California Unified Certification Program.

Contact Information

We hope this guide has helped you in understanding the City’s policies and procedures.  If you have any questions, below is our contact information:

Purchasing Division                                        Risk Management            
Phone:  (510) 620-6732                                     Phone:  (510) 620-6974
Accounts Payable                                            Contract Compliance 
Phone:  (510) 620-6735                                     Phone:  (510) 307-8011
Business License                                             Enterprise Zone                                                     
Phone:  (510) 620-6742                                      Phone:  (510) 307-8024
City Manager’s Office                                                 
Phone:  (510) 307-8131                                                 

Purchasing Division 
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