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Simplified Bid Process


The simplified bidding process is conducted by the Purchasing Office on all purchases less than $49,999.99, but more than $5000 (excluding printing).

Simplified/official sealed bidding is not intended to circumvent previously established purchasing procedures. Mandatory State contracts must be used unless prior approval is obtained from Purchasing. UW-Madison and UW System (UWS) have non-mandatory contracts available for campus use which provides convenience and savings (bids are not required if buying from a contract vendor). Click on the following website to view the various contract vendors:


Departments should forward specifications/requirements to the Purchasing Office. Specifications must be clear and detailed enough to identify the products or services needed. Specifications that are not clear enough may result in products not meeting the needs of the department and may require rebidding.

Bid documents will be prepared and e-mailed to the bidders. Allow a minimum of 1-2 weeks for simplified bids.

Unless justification has been provided and approved for a specific brand, model, etc., solicitations will be requested allowing "equal alternate material" to be bid in order to encourage competition. If vendors submit bids for a product or service different from that specified, a determination must be made if the alternate item is an equal substitution. The vendor must provide sufficient product information for the user to evaluate the alternate item. If not awarding to the low bidder, justification for not accepting the low bid must be documented.

When comparing bids/quotes, the following elements will be considered: price (discount) and conformity with ORIGINAL specifications, (Minority Business Enterprises receive a 5% price preference and Sheltered Workshops receive a 2% price preference in competitive bidding).

Upon reviewing the bid results, Purchasing may elect to solicit additional bids. Purchasing will be the agent of record on the purchase order; it is their responsibility to see that the requirement for competitive bidding has been met.

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