Skip to main content

Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

Model Procurement Ordinance Provides Purchasing Framework

Handling procurement efficiently and ethically is a critical enough issue that SC Code Section 11-35-5320 requires all cities and towns to “adopt ordinances or procedures embodying sound principles of appropriately competitive procurement.” For this purpose, the Municipal Association of SC has for many years offered a model procurement ordinance that municipalities may adopt.

The ordinance provides a simplified purchasing framework suitable for smaller municipalities, although they must still adapt it to meet their local needs and operating requirements. For larger municipalities with a full-time purchasing staff, the model ordinance offered by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority may be more suitable.

The Municipal Association’s ordinance requires the municipality to decide on several specifics:

  • A minimum purchasing amount to which the ordinance applies. Staff can make purchases of a lesser amount without competitive bidding.
  • Which official is responsible for designating the municipality’s purchasing director. It may be the full council, the mayor or a city manager. 
  • A maximum purchasing amount that may be approved by the purchasing director.
  • A maximum amount that may be approved by the mayor or manager.
  • A minimum amount that requires approval by the full council. 
  • Which official, such as a mayor or manager, may recommend that council exempt specific items from the official purchasing procedures. 

The model ordinance also spells out purchasing processes authorized for different circumstances, such as an invitation for bids, a request for bids, emergency procurement in cases of an immediate threat to public health or welfare, small purchases falling under a named amount and sole-source purchasing where the purchasing director has confirmed that “there is only one legitimate and efficacious source” for the item purchased. The ordinance also describes a contract administration process and procedure for resolving protests of purchasing decisions.