Step by step

Purchasing decision tree

Need to buy goods or services for your department but don't know where to start? Let us help.

Use the purchasing decision tree below to help you through the process. But before you do, you should first determine if your transaction falls under Chapter 21 of the San Francisco Administrative Code because these are the only transactions that go through OCA. The following are transaction types that fall under Chapter 21:

  1. Commodities, defined as products, including materials, equipment and supplies, purchased by the City. Commodities are generally procured by OCA unless delegated to a department on a case-by-case basis. Even then, the resulting contract must go through all standard City approvals and be signed and approved by OCA. 
  2. General Services, defined as those services that are not Professional Services (which is defined below). General Services include, but are not limited to, janitorial, security guard, pest control, parking lot management, and landscaping services. They can also include equipment maintenance services. General Services are procured by OCA unless delegated to a department on a case-by-case basis. Even then, the resulting contract must go through all standard City approvals and be signed and approved by OCA.   
  3. Professional Services, defined as those services which require extended analysis, the exercise of discretion and independent judgment in their performance, and/or the application of an advanced, specialized type of knowledge, expertise, or training customarily acquired either by a prolonged course of study or equivalent experience in the field. Professional service providers include, but are not limited to, licensed professionals such as architects, engineers, and accountants, and non-licensed professionals such as software developers and financial consultants. Departments have been delegated the authority to procure Professional Services directly. However, the resulting contract must go through all standard City approvals and be signed and approved by OCA. 
  4. Equipment Lease Agreements 
  5. Software License and Support Agreements
  6. Online Content Agreements 

Transactions that do not fall under Chapter 21 are those that fall under the San Francisco Administrative Code's Chapter 6 (Construction), Chapter 23 (Property Contracts), and Chapter 21G (Grant Agreements), as well as transactions that do not otherwise meet the definition of a contract under any other Administrative Code section such as: membership dues, conference fees, regulatory fees, government licensing fees, Federal, State or regional parks and bridges fees, application fees, fines, taxes, stamps or mailboxes purchased from the United States Postal Service, and other transactions of similar nature.

1

Question 1

Are you buying a commodity, general service, professional service, software or other technology that is available on an OCA citywide contract, DT contract or your own department’s contract? Review OCA’s current citywide term contracts for commonly purchased goods and services and DT's technology agreements to help you answer this question. 

  1. If yes, release a PO against the contract (or, where applicable, follow the special instructions for using the contract).
  2. If no, go to Question 2.
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2

Question 2

Is the purchase for professional services, software or online content?

  1. If yes, you must enter into a contract with the supplier. The contract is subject to City’s standard approval process for contracts. City departments are generally responsible for completing their own solicitations and contracts for professional services, software and online content before sending them to OCA for final approval. A solicitation will be required if you are not eligible to request a waiver to solicitation from OCA. You can start the process here.
  2. If no, go to Question 3.
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3

Question 3

Is the purchase for a commodity or general service, under $10,000 and non-recurring?

  1. If yes, use your departmental Prop Q Purchasing Authority to issue a stand-alone PO. Remember that Prop Q cannot be used for technology, professional services, and some other items. Alternatively, if your transaction qualifies as a sole source or another reason to waive solicitation requirements, you can get a solicitation waiver from OCA. This will allow you to use the solicitation waiver basis as your purchasing authority instead of Prop QYou can start the process here.
  2. If no, go to Question 4.
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4

Question 4

Is the purchase for a commodity or general service, over $10,000 and non-recurring?

  1. If yes, submit a requisition to OCA in PeopleSoft. Use the CL-500 Requisition Checklist (2-20) to help you. If your transaction qualifies as a sole source or another reason to waive solicitation requirements, you can get a solicitation waiver from OCA. Once we receive your request in PeopleSoft, we will issue the PO after conducting a bid or (if applicable) granting you a waiver to solicitation. You can start the process here.
  2. If no, go to Question 5. 
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5

Question 5

Is the purchase for a commodity or general service, over $10,000 and recurring?

  • If yes, start the process here.
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Last updated November 15, 2022