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Business with the DTA: A Guide for Contractors and Suppliers

The Duluth Transit Authority operates the buses that keep the Twin Ports moving. To provide our services, we rely on a broad range of contractors and suppliers who work with us through the procurement process. The goods and services we purchase are crucial to providing safe, reliable travel for our customers.

Goods and services purchased for the DTA range from pencils to market research to buses. We spend more than $12 million a year. And we encourage small businesses and firms owned by minorities and women to pursue contracts and compete for the DTA work.

We want to make it easier for you to do business with the DTA, so we've prepared this page to help you offer us your products and services. It tells you what we buy and how we buy. It explains our procurement system. And it lets you know how we select vendors and what we expect from them.

Addresses and telephone numbers for DTA procurement offices are listed below. You may contact them directly to find out what their needs are or to ask questions about their procurement policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the DTA buy? Whom does it buy from?

Some of the DTA's procurements are for complex, specialized transportation equipment, but like any large company we also need office supplies, consulting services, paint, uniforms - practically anything you can think of. We buy from small vendors and large vendors. Click here for a listing of the DTA's purchasing needs.>

Is selling to the DTA complicated?

No more than doing business with any large federal business. Each contract is detailed and contains specifications and requirements that vendors must meet.

Will I be paid promptly for my work?

Yes. Generally, vendors will be paid within 30 days for services or goods or sooner. The DTA strives to pay all complete capital invoices in under 15 days. We know how vital it is to be able to predict cash flow, and we want to make doing business with us as productive as possible.

How do I become a vendor to the DTA?

The first step is to get on the Bidders List, a computerized record of vendors who supply the goods and services we often need. The DTA maintains its own Bidders List. Vendors may enroll on some or all by calling or writing to the procurement department and requesting applications. All solicitations are also listed on the DTA website, so even if you are not registered you may offer bids or proposals.

It is important to know that even though your firm's name is placed on a Bidders List, this doesn't guarantee that you'll automatically recieve a solicitation to bid every time the kinds of goods or services you provide are needed. To be sure you're aware of opportunities to bid on the DTA contracts, search the website and the Duluth newspaper for major bid opportunities.

How will I hear about upcoming opportunities?

To reach as many potential vendors as possible, the DTA uses several ways of announcing bid opportunities.

  • You may be contacted: If you're on a Bidders List, you may be contacted directly when we need the goods and services you supply. However, being on a Bidders List does not guarantee that you will receive all bids and RFPs.
  • Check the Newspapers: Advertisements announcing most of our major purchasing needs appear in the Duluth News Tribune.
  • Consult our Web Site: The DTA frequently posts bid solicitations on this web site.
How does the procurement process work?

We solicit bids and proposals in three ways:

  1. Informal Solicitation: When we're buying goods and services for under $10,000, we often contact vendors for bids by telephone or fax, rather than advertise. We turn to Bidders List and other sources to locate qualified suppliers.
  2. Invitation for Bid (IFB): An IFB is used to obtain bids when a contract is competitively bid. Vendors submit bids that are opened in a public meeting at the location, date, and time specified in the IFB; the contract is awarded to the qualified vendor submitting the lowest bid. IFBs are usually for goods or trade services (such as computer hardware and construction). IFBs over $25,000 are advertised; suppliers on the Bidders List may be notified by mail or by telephone.
  3. Request for Proposal (RFP): We send RFPs to obtain proposals when a contract is competitively negotiated. A selection committee evaluates the proposals and, based on the selection criteria set forth in the RFP, negotiates with proposers before making a selection and awarding a contract. RFPs are typically for professional services (economic consulting, systems design, management services, architectural and engineering services) and major equipment purchases such as rolling stock.
Who is my contact at the DTA?

The DTA has specialized departments to conduct the procurement process.

How does the DTA decide who gets a contract?

The procedures for making contract awards differ, depending on whether the contract is based on an informal solicitation, and IFB, or an RFP. Informal solicitations are usually awarded based on the lowest response quote, but may specify another basis for award. IFBs are awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. This means that while competitive price is the critical factor, the DTA will also determine if the lowest bidder can responsibly fulfil the contract. Delivery performace, quality, and ability to meet bid specifications are all important considerations in evaluating a bidder's level of responsiveness.

For contracts based on RFPs, a number of creteria are considered. These are specifeied for each contract and may include competitive pricing, demonstracted ability to fulfill the contract, quality of samples, previous experience, and contract performance. The DTA may choose to negotiate with one or more vendors as part of the RFP process.

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