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Vendor/Contractor Handbook: Doing Business with the City

This general information is for new vendors/contractors looking to grow their business through public contracting. Get to know your procurement teams, review vendor/contractor requirements, review requirements, learn about certification and how to find and compete for City contracts.
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A Message from Procurement Services 

The City of Portland is committed to contributing to a socially just, environmentally sound, economically vibrant and diverse community. In Procurement, that means providing strategic and responsible public contracting services to deliver the best value for our customers.

Procurement Services is working to better serve the City and improve efficiency by streamlining contracting processes where possible. This section of the website is focused on keeping new vendors and contractors informed and making it as easy as possible to work with the City by providing the tools and resources you need.

If you are a new vendor/contractor looking to grow your business through public contracting, you are in the right place. To do business with the City, businesses and vendors must comply with federal, state and local laws, meet general requirements, and meet the specific requirements specified in the solicitation.

The City of Portland is committed to a respectful work environment, free of harassment, discrimination and retaliation and other inappropriate conduct. Every individual has a right to work in a professional atmosphere where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. The City’s Human Resources Administrative Rule 2.02 (HR 2.02) covers all employees of the City of Portland as well as consultants, vendors or contractors who provide services to the City of Portland. The successful Proposer(s) must be in compliance with this rule at all times while under contract. 

Getting to Know your Procurement Teams 

We have four dedicated procurement teams and one amazing Compliance Team. What your business has to offer will help you know which procurement team you will be getting to know, how to compete for work, and additional criteria that may be required. 

Goods covers the procurement of supplies, equipment, and materials. 

Bidding Methods

  • Small: Under $10K, competition is encouraged, but not required. Informal process can be conducted, which includes emailed quotes or proposals, but not publicly advertised. 
  • Intermediate: More than $10K, but less than $150K. Informal process can be conducted, which includes emailed quotes or proposals, but not publicly advertised. 
  • Formal: More than $150K. Solicitation is publicly advertised. 
  • Direct Contracts allow bureaus to contract up to $150K directly with COBID-certified firms (Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity, a State of Oregon agency). 

Additional Criteria

Sweatshop-Free Compliance 

The City must purchase apparel products from manufacturers that comply with the City's Code of Conduct for Apparel Contractors (Attachment 1 of the City's Sustainable Procurement Policy). The Code of Conduct requires that contractors, and any supply chain partners utilized to supply apparel to the City, comply with labor and health & safety standards that ensure workers are not subjected to sweatshop conditions. See the Sweatshop Free Apparel section on the Sustainable Procurement Initiatives page.

Services covers the procurement of professional and ordinary services. 

Bidding Methods

  • Small: Under $10K, competition is encouraged, but not required. Informal process can be conducted, which includes emailed quotes or proposals, but not publicly advertised. 
  • Intermediate: More than $10K, but less than $150K. Informal process can be conducted, which includes emailed quotes or proposals, but not publicly advertised. 
  • Formal: More than $150K. Solicitation is publicly advertised. 
  • Direct Contracts allow bureaus to contract up to $150K directly with COBID-certified firms (Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity, a State of Oregon agency). 

Additional Criteria

Fair Wage Memo

Employees performing certain categories of work under formal contracts for janitorial services, security services, and parking garage attendant services with the City are guaranteed a minimum fair hourly wage, which is detailed in the Fair Wage Memo. See the official memos for Fiscal Years 2019-20 and 2020-21 below. 

Sweatshop-Free Compliance 

See above for description. Applies to contractors providing services related to apparel.  

Design covers the procurement of professional services in the construction industry. 

Bidding Methods

  • In accordance with Oregon Revised Statutes 279C.100-125 the City uses a qualification-based selection process when conducting solicitations for professional services related to public improvement projects. For any projects that do not fall under ORS 279C, the City follows the policies and procedures outlined in Portland City Code 5.68 and the Professional Services Manual. 
  • Direct Contracts allow bureaus to contract up to $150K directly with COBID-certified firms (Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity, a State of Oregon agency). 

Construction covers all other aspects with the construction industry. 

Bidding Methods

  • Invitation to Bid (ITB): Code requires award based on lowest price unless an exemption is approved. 
  • Request for Proposals (RFP) or Alternative Delivery: Requires an exemption to the low-bid process and authorization from Council. Findings need to be addressed in the exemption that support an alternate process. 

Additional Criteria

To learn more about additional contractor requirements for construction contracts, please visit our Additional Contractor Requirements (Construction Only) page. 

Compliance provides education, evaluation and enforcement of the City’s Social Equity Contracting Strategy for firms doing business with the City of Portland in the Construction, Design and Professional Services fields.

To learn more about compliance requirements, types of compliance, and the methods to track it, please visit our Post Award Compliance page. 

Vendor/Contractor Requirements 

There are four separate vendor registrations to do business with the City of Portland. Each registration is a fairly short, one-time process. After you complete it once, it is likely that you'll never do it again. 

Register Your Business with the Oregon Central Business Registry

To do business in the State of Oregon, your business must be registered with the State. You may contact the Secretary of State Corporation Division at 503-986-2200 or go online to register.

Current Portland Business License Tax Account

To do business with the City, your Portland Business License Tax Account must be in compliance. This applies to both resident and non-resident vendors. Register if you don't have an account.

Register with Buyspeed 

The City requires your business to be registered in Buyspeed, our online vendor portal. In BuySpeed, you can also view bid opportunities and sign up to be notified of bid opportunities. By registering your business, you will receive notices about solicitations that match the NIGP commodity codes you select. Registering also gives you the opportunity to certify your business as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Equal Benefits (EB) compliant business.  See the document below for step-by-step instructions for vendor registration in BuySpeed. Need help with BuySpeed? Email BuySpeedVendorHelp@portlandoregon.gov or call the number on the right hand side of this page

Get Setup as a New Vendor in SAP 

SAP is a resource planning software that incorporates key business functions at the City of Portland. After winning work with the City, vendors will need to be setup in SAP to get paid (excluding payments using Procurement Cards). To get setup in SAP and get paid, vendors/contractors must fill out and return the following forms: 

• Vendor Master Request Form (after winning work, your bureau contact should be able to do this on your behalf)
IRS W9 (Revision October 2018) form (doesn't apply to businesses outside of the United States)
ACH Vendor Payment Authorization Form (only applies to businesses with bank accounts in the United States) 

Certified for Success 

The City requires and highly encourages vendors/contractors to certify their businesses, which may give your firm an edge in winning work. 

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Certification

The City of Portland requires Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) certification of all vendors, contractors, and sub-contractors doing business with the City.

To be EEO certified, your firm must fill out the online form, when you register your business on BuySpeed stating that you do not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, marital status, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or source of income. Your company must also take steps to ensure equal opportunity in all aspects of employment. These aspects include, but are not limited to, hiring, promotion, transfer, advertising, layoff, termination, rates of pay, training (including apprenticeship), and terms and conditions of employment.

Equal Benefits Compliance

City contractors are required to provide benefits to their employees with domestic partners equivalent to those provided to employees with spouses. When you register your business on BuySpeed, fill out the form indicating your Equal Benefits status. Per the City's Equal Benefits Ordinance, registration is required for contracts that meet or exceed the “formal” dollar threshold, which is $100,000 for Public Improvements and Professional services, and $150,000 for Goods and Ordinary services.

Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) 

The City of Portland promotes the utilization of Disadvantaged, Minority, Women, Emerging Small Businesses, Service Disabled Veterans Business Enterprises (D/M/W/ESB/SDVBE) contractors and sub-contractors to promote inclusion and a sustained, vibrant local economy. These types of Contractors are often referred to as COBID Contractors. COBID stands for Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity. It is an Oregon state agency. 

To learn more about D/M/W/ESB/SDVBE certification, visit the Get Certified section of the Business Oregon - Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) website.

Section 3 Program

Section 3 is a provision of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Act of 1968. Section 3 requires recipients of certain HUD financial assistance to direct employment and contracting opportunities to low and very-low income persons and businesses residing in the community, where the project is located, to the greatest extent feasible. Section 3 policies apply to Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) projects and situations for all construction projects for which the amount of HUD sourced assistance exceeds $200,000; and all contractor/subcontractor situations where the contract or subcontract exceeds $100,000 with HUD sourced funds. Section 3 Residents are residents of Public and Indian Housing; or persons who live in the Portland metropolitan area or non-metropolitan county and who earn 80% or less of the area median family income, based on household size. A Business 3 Concern and a business that is 51% owned by Section 3 Residents; or employs Section 3 Residents, for at least 30% of its full-time, permanent staff; or provides evidence of commitment to subcontract 25% or more of the dollar amount of the awarded contract to Section 3 Business.

To search for Section 3 Businesses, please visit our Contract Compliance Reporting System.

Social Equity in Goods, Services, and  Design Services through Direct Contracting 

The City may directly enter into contracts for Goods and Services and Professional services with COBID firms with an estimated cost of $150,000 or less without a competitive solicitation process, known as direct contracting. Direct contracting puts contracts in place in less time and supports COBID firms. Direct contracting is administered by the Bureaus. If you are interested in receiving a direct contract, please reach out to a bureau that you are interested in contracting with. Some bureaus have Contract Equity Coordinators, who can share more about their direct contracting needs.  

Social Equity in Construction 

The City of Portland supports initiatives that help address social equity in the City's contracting processes and help to diversify the workforce. Learn more about the contract types, programs, and policies that apply to construction. 

Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) and Community Equity and Inclusion Plan (CEIP)

The Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) and the Community Equity and Inclusion Plan (CEIP) are two City of Portland efforts to increase equity and diversity in construction trades among minorities and women. The CEIP applies to all City of Portland's public improvement contracts that utilize alternative contracting methods and have estimated contract values of $10 to $25 million. The CBA applies to all public improvement contracts with estimated contract values of $25 million and above. 

The CEIP and CBA share the same workforce requirements: at least 22% of total apprentice hours be performed by minorities and 9% by women. For journey level hours, the CEIP and CBA requires that at least 22% of hours be performed by minorities and 6% by women.  

See the official resolution for the CBA and CEIP in the pdf below. 

See the CBA and CEIP templates for contracts below.  

Community Opportunities and Enhancement Program (COEP)

The Community Opportunities and Enhancements Program (COEP) is a City of Portland strategy to increase diversity and equity in construction contracting. The goals of the COEP are to increase the number of people of color and women in the trades and to remove barriers for construction firms owned by people of color and women so that they can successfully participate in public contracting. The program is funded by a 1% set-aside of eligible costs on all City-owned public improvement contracts. Through a series of grants, the COEP will provide workforce development and business technical assistance to accomplish its goals.

The Bureau of Revenue and Financial Services is responsible for managing the COEP Fund, managing the Community Equity and Inclusion Committee and oversight of the intergovernmental agreement with Prosper Portland.

The Office of Equity and Human Rights provides technical assistance applying an equity lens to the process, programming and the outcomes for the City and Prosper Portland to ensure that the program meets its equity objectives.

Worksystems, Inc is responsible for managing contracts with service providers to deliver workforce development services.

The Community Equity and Inclusion Committee (CEIC) is a volunteer advisory and review body for compliance and equity efforts on City-owned projects between $10 and $25 million, the threshold that applies to projects subject to the Community Equity and Inclusion Plan. They will also advise the city on priorities for COEP funding.

Prosper Portland will manage the day-to-day operations and implementation of the grant program. Prosper Portland will manage contracts with service providers, measure outcomes and support the community in accessing these services. Prosper Portland will subcontract with Worksystems, Inc (WSI) to manage the workforce development component of COEP.

For more information on COEP's program design, timeline, and how to sign up for email updates, visit Prosper Portland's COEP page

Prime Contractor Development Program (PCDP) 

The Prime Contractor Development Program (PCDP) creates increased prime contracting opportunities for COBID contractors with the City of Portland. Projects in the PCDP range from $5,000 to $1 million. 

Through the PCDP, contractors receive technical assistance in different areas of work, including sewer and water, street and park improvement, building construction and tenant improvements. The program also provides educational opportunities in job costing, bidding and estimating, along with business development. While these certified contractors benefit from participating in PCDP, the program also offers the unique opportunity for city bureaus to access a pool of contractors that have historically been underutilized.

Subcontractor Equity Plan (SEP)

The Subcontractor Equity Program (SEP) requires that any city-owned construction projects and all city-sponsored projects valued at $150,000 or more include an aspirational goal that 20% of hard construction costs go towards COBID subcontractors. Of the 20%, 14% should go to Disadvantaged, Women, or Minority Business Enterprise contractors. The City encourages prime contractors to diversify their D/M/W/ESB/SDVBE subcontractor utilizationfor all available divisions of work. Prime contractors often use the State Directory of Certified Firms to find and contact potential subcontractors to use on the contract. Prime contractors will also be required to provide disclosure forms for first-tier subcontractors or sub consultants. The Subcontractor Equity Program (SEP) specification documents and forms are included in solicitation packages and are discussed at pre-bid meetings. Contractors are required to report on their continued utilization of D/M/W/ESB/SDVBE subcontractors throughout the life of the contract. See program details in the PDF below.

Workforce Training & Hiring (WTHP) Program

The goal of the Workforce Training & Hiring Program is to increase the numbers of women and minorities in the construction trades through apprenticeship opportunities on City of Portland projects. The Workforce Training & Hiring Program applies to city construction projects estimated at $200,000 and above and subcontracts at $100,000 and above. The Program includes: a requirement that a minimum of 20% of the labor hours per trade are worked by state registered apprentices; an 18% goal for minority participation; and a 9% goal for female participation. See how the City is doing by checking out our Workforce Hiring & Training Program Dashboard

Details of program requirements are included in the bid document for each project. The Workforce Training & Hiring Program adheres to Administrative Rules 1.20. 

Insurance and Workers Compensation Requirements

As you enter into contracts with the City of Portland you will be required to provide and maintain insurance coverage, including providing proof of insurance in the form of a certificate of insurance. Required insurance coverage must continue in effect throughout the term of the contract until final acceptance of the entire project, or through the products-completed operations required period.

Specific insurance requirements will be specified in the solicitation or contractual documents. The general coverage might include Commercial General Liability, (including products-completed operations), public liability and property damage, and business automobile liability coverage, contractual liability insurance and additional insured endorsement of the City using an applicable ISO (Insurance Services Office) endorsement or other form applicable to the contract and subject to approval by the City Attorney.

Additional Resources  

Minority Evaluator Program 

On December 16, 2009, Portland City Council passed a resolution requiring all City Bureaus to include at least one minority evaluator in the procurement award process.

As a result of passing this resolution, the City of Portland Procurement Services implemented the Minority Evaluator Program (MEP). The Minority Evaluator Program (MEP) will serve our internal staff and external customers by ensuring that there are diverse and qualified evaluators to serve on the various panels that award city contracts.

If you are interested in the program or have further questions about your participation call Tiffani Penson at 503.823.7785 or email MEP@portlandoregon.gov

You may sign up to volunteer using the Minority Evaluator Program Application online form.

Mercatus Directory 

The Mercatus Directory features entrepreneurs of color from the Portland metro area, and is supported by Prosper Portland. There are several Mercatus memberships to choose from: 

  • Mercatus Community – designed for the arts community and those launching new businesses.
  • List Your Business – designed for businesses that are registered and operating.
  • Level Up – for businesses ready to maximize their visibility and take their business to another level.

For more information, please visit the Mercatus website