DJ-R-1: Purchasing

D: Fiscal Management

Adherence to a policy of buying in the open market implies that vendors are given the opportunity to bid on items to be purchased.  It carries the further implication that  vendors are made aware of the needs of the Board of School Trustees (the “Board”) as they arise, either by direct notification or by some form of public announcement. 

Bids are solicited in various ways, according to procedures outlined under “Bid Procedures”. 

Purchasing on an economical basis depends on different factors, including quantity buying, price, and competence of the purchasing staff. 


Certain economies are effected through quantity buying.  Unit prices are generally lower when quoted on large quantities, rather than on small quantities, of the same product.   As well, overhead costs are kept at a lower level when a few large orders have to be processed rather than a large number of small orders or when covering orders / contracts are in place to draw upon as required. 

To gain the advantages arising out of quantity buying, it is Board practice, as far as is reasonably possible, to buy for its entire system on an annual basis; furthermore, in some cases, the Board joins with certain other civic bodies in its purchase of materials in common demand.  Under such circumstances, bids are invited by the Board or by other interested civic agencies, depending on which body requires the largest quantity of the material involved. The most favourable bid determines the price for the different parties.  Though bids are called on a joint basis, ordering and billing are done individually. 


Any consideration on price must centre on the lowest  bid meeting specifications and all conditions of the bid document, if a bid document is issued.   While the policy of the Board, generally speaking, is to accept the lowest bid, this practice is not necessarily followed in all cases.   Consideration must be given to such  matters as listed below.                                                                                                                                                          


Specifications are normally laid down for items on which bids are invited; however, the Board is prepared at all times to consider bids on products that are an approved equal to, or better than, the specified items for the purposes they are to serve. 

Some price differential may be regarded as justified in the case of a product  that offers advantages over that specified; however, should an alternative bid appear more satisfactory than the original specification, further bidding is regarded as mandatory. 

On the other hand, it may be desirable and highly practical from the standpoint of maintaining uniformity, with advantages accruing,  to purchase products that conform with those already in the possession of the Board, even though another product offered at a lower price might serve as well as that specified.   It is clearly understood, however, that in any case in which the Director of  Finance & Administration, to maintain uniformity, submits a recommendation involving a significant price differential, a full report shall be made to the Board. 


The question of quality may arise in cases in which bids are equal or nearly equal.  Under such conditions, it is expected that the Director of  Finance & Administration will ordinarily be qualified to advise on the most economical purchase and that, if necessary, he/she will call for the assistance of other persons with specialized knowledge in the fields concerned.  In the case of labour and material bid documents, the advice of the Director of  Facilities will be sought as well as that of the Director of  Finance & Administration. 


In any case in which tie bids or bids that are not significantly different are received on equally suitable materials, the source of supply will be taken into consideration.  Generally speaking, under such circumstances, preference will be given to local, provincial, Canadian, or British Commonwealth products, in that order, over products from other countries.  The Board, however, will not lose sight of the fact that products fabricated elsewhere may be handled by vendors that conduct bona fide business establishments in the Vancouver area or in other Canadian centres.


Urgency of the need is an important factor in relation to all purchases. Should the vendor whose bid is lowest indicate a probable delay in delivery, higher bids from vendors who guarantee delivery as required will be taken into consideration. 


Should tie low bids be received on any item or list of items with other things being equal, the Board will take into consideration the nature of the service given by any or all of the bidders concerned in any previous dealings they may have had with the Board.  Under no circumstances will the Board permit subdivision of orders to tie bidders.


The Board reserves the right at all times to reject bids on any item or items, whether because of price consideration or any other reason that would appear to make it inadvisable to buy under the terms of the bids submitted or to conclude any agreement without going out to re-bid.


Economy in purchasing is dependent to a considerable degree on the competence of the purchasing staff.  A capable Director of  Finance & Administration, with the assistance of a well-trained staff, will develop an effective routine in the matter of buying materials.  Equally important, he/she will keep informed on developments in purchasing techniques, price changes, and market conditions, and he/she will bring to his/her position a knowledge of new products, as well as of tests, standards, and research findings relating to products in use or products that might be used by the Board. 

While it is the practice of the Director of  Finance & Administration to maintain a record of vendors or products, the Board, in order that it may at all times obtain bids from as many sources as possible, considers it the responsibility of the Secretary-Treasurer: 

  • to cause to be inserted in the local daily papers and in the Journal of Commerce, from time to time, general advertisements inviting business firms to bid on products as listed or to request that they be registered in the Board office as vendors of products in certain general fields;
  • to keep a register of vendors or products, such register to be under constant review so that it may include all potential vendors considered to be responsible bidders; consistent failure to meet specifications or promised delivery dates shall be regarded as sufficient reason to regard a particular supplier as an irresponsible bidder. 


Calls for Quotations and Tenders 

Quotations and tenders shall be obtained on prospective purchases in accordance with the following rules:

  • up to $5,000: at the discretion of Director of  Finance & Administration;
  • between $5,000 to $15,000:  quotations, oral or written, at discretion of the Director of Finance & Administration from the previously accepted vendor or the previous satisfactory low bidder, plus two other vendors, in rotation, who are registered with the Board for the commodity concerned, such quotations to be recorded on or attached to the requisition; 
  • between $15,000 to $25,000:  written quotations from all registered vendors concerned; quotations to be attached to or recorded on the requisition; 
  • over $25,000:  sealed tenders to be obtained from all registered vendors concerned, and tenders to be tabulated and submitted to the Director of Finance & Administration together with a recommendation for awarding the tender. 

Special Rulings on Bidding 

Notwithstanding the rulings laid down in the above section pertaining to "Bid Procedures", it is further ruled that: 

  • variations in the bid procedures may be authorized by the Superintendent of Schools and the Secretary-Treasurer,  if time is an important factor or where the interest of the Board would be adequately protected without following the normal bid procedure; 
  • permission is granted to the Director of   Finance & Administration to authorize an extension to an original contract under circumstances where the full extent of the work required could not have been ascertained when the contract was awarded. 


  • The Board reserves the right to require bid bonds be posted by bidders on any item or items.
  • A performance bond may be requested  from the successful bidder in any contract where, in the opinion of the Director of Finance & Administration and the Secretary-Treasurer, it may be required to ensure contract completion. 

Submission and Receipt of Bids  

Each quotation shall be submitted in a specially marked envelope  provided by the Board, except that confirmation of telephone quotations, when necessary, or written quotations urgently sought by telephone may be submitted on ordinary stationery. 

Each tender shall be submitted on a tender form and in a specially marked envelope provided by the Board, and the envelope shall be sealed.  The use of the form shall be mandatory in every case in which a sealed tender is submitted. 

A locked mailing box for receipt of sealed tenders shall be kept in a convenient place in the Board's Education Centre, and the box shall be opened by two designated members of the staff of the Secretary-Treasurer’s Office at the closing time for each group of tenders. 

Bid documents must be received in the location and at the time specified in the bid document.  Any bid document received after the specified closing time shall be returned to the bidder unopened. 

Sealed tenders shall be opened in the Education Centre by the Secretary-Treasurer or his/her delegate in the presence of one of the staff.

The tenders will be initialled by the Secretary-Treasurer or his/her delegate, date-stamped, and forwarded to the proper department for tabulation and recommendation pertaining to the awarding of the tenders. 

Tabulation of Bids

  • Bids pertaining to building and grounds maintenance and involving labour and materials shall be tabulated in the  Facilities Division.  
  • All other bids will be tabulated in the  Finance & Administration Division; it will be noted that some of these bids will include labour, such as in the installation of equipment
  • The above segregation of bids is to serve as a guide to assist in distribution to the proper department for tabulation and recommendation to award.

Recommendations for Award     

Low Bid 

Contracts shall be awarded to the low bidder meeting all Board specifications on the recommendation of the division head responsible for the tabulation. 

It will be noted that the term "low bid" includes the situation where the difference in price does not justify the additional clerical cost of splitting an order. 

The purchasing procedure allows authority to the senior management to accept other than low bid where they feel better value is obtained, subject to a report being made to the Board with the details  (Reference: Board Minutes of 1971 February 22).

Other Than Low Bid 

A tabulation of all tenders, received together with a recommendation by the appropriate division head,  shall be referred to the Board for approval to award the contract.

Safety of Students   

Where contracts for services or supplies have a direct impact on the safety of students, the recommendation for award must be forwarded to the Board for approval (Reference: Finance and Legal Committee  Report of 1989 October 30; Board Minutes of 1989 November 06). 

For ease of  reference and for audit purposes, bid document references shall be documented on the related requisitions.


Most purchases made by the Board stem from requisitions or from annual supply lists and annual estimates submitted in accordance with Board requirements.

All requisitions, irrespective of their nature, shall be addressed and forwarded to the Director of   Finance & Administration who shall delegate to a member of his/her staff responsibility for recording the date of receipt of each requisition and for distributing the various copies.


All Board orders for goods and services shall be transmitted by the Director of  Finance & Administration, or his/her delegate, to the vendors concerned through the Board's purchase order forms; such forms shall bear the signature of the Director of  Finance & Administration or such other staff member as may be designated by the Secretary-Treasurer.  Purchase orders are, in effect,  Board contracts on which are listed the conditions of purchase.  Any exception to the above must relate directly to contracts approved by the Board, the employment of consulting engineers, and the obtaining of other services required in connection with the design of school buildings or to supplementary items of a minor nature associated with goods or services already ordered in the normal way.

The Board also offers the flexibility to schools to purchase, on their own, supply items below a predetermined unit cost limit, using a Purchasing Card.  The Director of  Finance & Administration will have the responsibility for the Board’s Purchasing Card program.


In connection with the provision and replacement of equipment for new schools or schools already in operation and, also, the provision of the necessary supplies for the educational program, it is highly desirable and, in some cases, essential that the Director of  Finance & Administration have the advice and assistance of members of the educational staff; such advice and assistance may pertain to the nature and quantity of equipment or supplies required not only for schools of different sizes and types but also for classrooms in which varied educational programs are conducted.

To prevent charges of favouritism or discrimination in matters of equipment and supplies as they relate to school programs, the Board considers it desirable that there should be a high degree of standardization and that standardized lists of equipment and supplies should be approved by a representative group from the educational staff working with the Director of  Finance & Administration.

In all possible cases, it is required that complete specifications be prepared and kept as relating to items of equipment to be purchased from outside vendors or be fabricated in the Board workshop.


Changes or introduction of guidelines or Board policies affecting significant bids  must be presented to the appropriate Standing Committee and Board for review and approval prior to being sent out (Reference: Finance & Legal Committee Report of  1989 October 30; Board Minutes of 1989 November 06).


No amendment shall be made to any regulation dealing with Board authority or the delegation of Board authority, unless due notice of motion, in writing, setting forth the proposed amendment shall have been given at a Board meeting previous to that at which the same comes up for consideration and a two-thirds majority of all trustees holding office at the time of the meeting vote in favour.

Note:  The Board has approved (1982 February 01) a variance to this purchasing policy with regard to library books: for the terms of this variance, see ILAC Library Materials Selection and Adoption.

DMT Responsibility: D-FSS


Adopted Date: 
Friday February 08, 1980
Revision Date: 
Aug 1990
Sep 1994
Jan 1999
Sep 2000