Contracting basics for suppliers

Get a basic overview of the City's contracting process and learn what types of contracts we award.


Competitive bidding is the primary method for issuing solicitations.

In general, solicitations will be requested through 1 of the following documents:

  • Low Bid Solicitation
  • Contract Proposal (CP)
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Interested businesses should respond to the document by following the solicitation's instructions.

Contract categories

Although the City's needs vary, contracts with the City and County of San Francisco fall into 1 of 3 general categories:

  • Procurement
  • Construction
  • Professional services

Contract award types

Purchase Order

We use Purchase Orders for 1 time purchases of a set amount of goods.

Term Contract

We use Term Contracts when 1 or more departments need to buy a large amount of products or services. Term Contracts usually last at least 3 years.

  • Examples include: fuel, office supplies, and janitorial contracts

Contract Purchase Order

We use Contract Purchase Orders for construction, professional services, and other transactions.

The City will prepare a:

  • Contract Purchase Order, which verifies that funds have been encumbered and work can begin
  • Contract document, which describes the vendor's and the City's duties and outlines the scope of work

Departmental Contract

A Departmental Contract allows a department to order directly from a vendor.

The Departmental Contract may cover:

  • Limited purchases of items not on a Citywide Contract
  • Monthly charges, such as for copier rental or maintenance

Emergency Order

During an emergency, OCA may give a department permission to make an emergency purchase from a vendor. We will generate a purchase order number.

The department will provide the vendor with both:

  • The purchase order number
  • A list of needed supplies

Departmental Purchase Order (DPO)

Departments may place their own orders for products up to $10,000 (including tax and shipping).

Departments are encouraged to solicit competitive bids.

Last updated October 31, 2022