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Human Resources Department

Employee Resources

7-1 Purchasing Policy

General Services 750

Return to Administrative Policy Manual

Approved: General Services/County Administrator
: County Administrator
Revised Date
: July 27, 2004

  1. Purpose
  2. Policy
  3. Responsibilities
  4. Procedure

I. Purpose

To obtain the best value in goods and services for the County on behalf of the public, to promote fairness and consistency in its purchasing practices, and to define the responsibilities of the Purchasing Agent, as well as County departments, agencies and special districts in the purchase of goods and services.

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II. Policy

  1. All purchases by any County officer or employee shall be fair and shall seek the best interest and value for the taxpayer dollar. All buying activities, whether performed by the Purchasing Division or through delegated authority, shall be conducted within the established processes and procedures for the purchase of all goods and services.
  2. All purchases by any County officer or employee, shall be made with a purchase order or other written authority first obtained from the Purchasing Agent, except as follows:
    1. Purchases under five hundred dollars ($500). Purchases of goods and services under $500 per transaction may be authorized by a department head without the prior approval of the Purchasing Agent, under authority as directed by the Purchasing Agent and the County Auditor. Splitting or separating purchases for the purpose of circumventing this limit is prohibited. 
    2. Items exempt by law.
    3. Specific order of the Board of Supervisors, where the Board has delegated certain purchases or believes it will be practical and efficient to delegate certain purchases to department heads, and it is not inconsistent with the goal of efficient, responsible purchasing. 
    4. Emergency purchases may be made without benefit of competitive bid when time is of the essence. Every emergency purchase shall be promptly reported to the Purchasing Agent in writing with the facts constituting the emergency. Emergency purchases should be made only for the following reasons:
      1. To preserve life, health or property;
      2. Upon a natural disaster;
      3. To correct or forestall a shutdown to maintain essential public services; or
      4. Other unforeseen events.

    Emergency purchases are not valid for urgencies resulting from a lack of planning and organization.
  3. Signature Authority
    1. Unless otherwise provided by law, authority of County personnel to execute agreements on behalf of the County shall be approved by way of ordinance or resolution of the Board of Supervisors. County officials including department heads, the County Purchasing Agent, or other individuals signing on behalf of the County must receive such authorization or delegation prior to the execution or commencement of any agreement. Please refer to the Purchasing Division Policy and Procedure Manual found on the General Services website for additional signature authority information.
  4. CAL-Card
    1. CAL-Card enables the County to streamline the traditional paper and procurement process for small dollar purchases. The CAL-Card allows County departments, agencies, and offices, under strict guidelines, to more rapidly obtain low dollar value purchases directly, without the necessity of preparing individual purchase requisitions and processing individual receiving reports for each transition. The CAL-Card controls ensure that the card can be used only for specifically approved categories of purchases and within specific dollar limits. In addition, certification of all purchases is required by each Cardholder, with additional verification performed by the designated Approving Official before payment is made to the vendor.  

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III. Responsibilities

  1. Department Heads are responsible for ensuring that:
    1. All officials and employees of Sonoma County promote fairness, integrity, courtesy and goodwill in all vendor relations. 
    2. Employees of his/her department discharge their duties impartially so as to assure fair competitive access to government procurement by suppliers, and to foster public confidence in the integrity of the County procurement system.
    3. Employees of his/her department do not solicit, demand, accept or agree to accept from another person, a gratuity or an offer of employment in connection with any decision, approval, recommendation, or preparation of any part of a program requirement, specification, standard or contract. Sourcing practices and decisions must remain free from bias and favoritism. Decisions on contracts and professional service agreements may result from departmental recommendations, but are subject to final approval of the Purchasing Agent.
    4. Departments shall provide continuous changes as they occur to a list of those individuals authorized to process requisitions, blanket purchase order releases, delegated purchase authority (DPA), authorized confirming orders (ACP), and claims for payment. The department head or his/her designee shall provide this authorized list. 
    5. Department heads may:
      1. Authorize delegated purchases up to $500 per transaction per internal policies and procedures; 
      2. Authorize CAL-Card purchases up to $2,500 per transaction; 
      3. Recommend vendors;
      4. Develop departmental specifications or scopes of services for necessary purchases; 
      5. Make procurement as authorized by law.
  2. The Purchasing Agent is responsible for:  
    1. Developing specific policies and guidelines to ensure the purpose above.
    2. Negotiating, purchasing, and contracting for the County the needed quality in goods supplies, equipment and services from the most qualified, responsible, and responsive bidder in accordance with policies and procedures.
    3. Consulting with and receiving direction from the County Administrator and Director of General Services on procurement actions that may involve significant policy issues.
    4. Establishing policy and standardizing the process for contract management and administration, including:
      1. Entering into construction contracts up to $100,000;
      2. Entering into contracts for services up to $25,000;
      3. Procuring goods subject to internally established policies and procedures

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IV. Procedure

Please refer to the Purchasing Division website for more information on purchasing including: County ordinance, resolution, policies and procedures.

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