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How Boston's bidding process works

Contractors can bid to work on projects for the City. Here's how the process works from start to finish.  

The processes we use to award work are determined by city and state law. They are designed to provide us with products that meet our needs at the lowest price. Suppliers must be responsible, responsive, and be registered in the Supplier Portal to work with the City of Boston. 

Services and Goods (Non-construction)
The rules of awards are determined by the total value of the work. For example, if the City anticipates paying $5,000 each year for three years, the total value is $15,000. Depending on the value of the work, we may have multiple options to choose from. This list covers most but not all of the ways the City awards work.
  1. Sound Business Practices: For work below $10,000, the City uses “sound business practices” to find the suppliers that give us the best value.
  2. Written Quote Contract: For work between $10,000 and $50,000 ($100,000 for Boston Public Schools), the City asks for quotes from at least three suppliers, including one certified by the City of Boston’s Supplier Diversity Department or the State of Massachusetts’ Supplier Diversity Office, and awards the work to the supplier with the lowest price.
  3. Invitation for Bids/Request for Proposals: For work above $50,000 ($100,000 for Boston Public Schools), the City publicly advertises in the City Register,, COMMBUYS, and the Goods and Services Bulletin for at least two weeks before reviewing the submitted bids. All businesses can submit bids, bids are opened at a predetermined time and place. Only suppliers that meet the minimum criteria identified in the advertisement are considered. The City always uses standard contracts for procurements in this price range.
    • Invitations for Bids are used when the City only needs to consider price. The City awards the contract to the supplier who meets our minimum criteria and has the lowest price.
    • Requests for Proposals are used when the City needs to consider things in addition to price. Suppliers submit separate price and non-price proposals. Then, we score the non-price proposals before looking at the price proposals. Considering both, we give the work to the supplier we think has the “most advantageous” proposal for the City.
  4. Inclusive Quote Contract: This is a special, Boston-specific process that lets us use the written quote process for work up to $250,000 if we only get quotes from certified businesses.

All construction work is awarded using the Invitation for Bids process. Requirements vary depending on the type of construction being done and the value of the work. Learn more about construction projects. 


All IFBs/RFPs are advertised in the City Record. We publish the Record every Monday with a list of opportunities for the week. These opportunities can also be viewed in the Supplier Portal,

Most suppliers submit their bids using the Supplier Portal, but you can also submit them on paper in-person or through the mail. The location to mail in or drop off your bid will be listed in the advertisement. Late submissions will not be considered.

For certain types of work, only paper bids or proposals will be accepted. These procurements will not be posted on the Supplier Portal. Remember to check the City Record, and the relevant state publications to see which bids are paper only.

After the proposed work is awarded, we will send a contract to the winning bidder online. The bidder signs and then the City will create a purchase order. We will also email the suppliers who were not selected.


City departments sometimes release Requests for Information to do market research. The City communicating with a supplier about an RFI does not imply a right to contract with them. Responding to an RFI will not give a supplier an advantage when competing for work with the City. Anything you send to us may be subject to public records requests.

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