How to write municipal mobile equipment specifications in the new decade

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

These series of articles have been written to provide assistance to individuals who find themselves faced with the responsibility of preparing mobile equipment specifications for their city, county, agency or municipality, and who may have had little or no formal training in specification writing or performing mobile equipment market research. Municipality, as used in this guide is an interchangeable term for city, county, agency, governing body, association or similar authority.

Getting Started
First, determine if your municipality has ordinances or procedures that govern the way you do your product market research and specification development. As an example, Miami-Dade Country (MDC) has a Code-of- Silence Ordinance that prohibits County staff from all verbal and some written communications with vendors, once the bid that contains the specifications has been advertised for bidding. Since County employees outside the main procurement process may not have a practical way of knowing when that advertising trigger occurs, all communications about a bid or its requirements should be handled by your agency’s procurement section or by the appropriate Department of Procurement Management once the development work is completed.

Your municipality may have different procedures or timelines that are dependant upon the anticipated dollar threshold of the planned acquisition. In Miami- Dade County, the Fleet Management Division (FMD) of the General Services Administration (GSA) are responsible for reviewing and approving the technical content of Miami-Dade County mobile equipment purchases. After approval, the FMD will submit those specifications to the Department of Procurement Management (DPM) for processing. All protocols and time guidelines should be taken into account in your planning process: anticipated product and specification research and development time, the times for other agencies’ reviews, timelines to formulate the specifications into an Invitation To Bid (ITB) and obtain all necessary internal approvals such as budget office and executive management, time for the ITB to be on the “street” and an allowance for response evaluation time, scheduling of any required Board or Commission approvals, time allowances for protests and anticipated product build time. All should be considered and used to plan the starting time for the development of the research and specifications for the needed equipment.

The purpose of good mobile equipment specifications is to: obtain equipment for the municipality, that is properly equipped and wellsuited for performing the work required, providing the right level of product quality and durability while being purchased in an effective manner that provides for delivery of the equipment at the needed time, and promoting open and competitive bidding in a manner that assures the municipality the greatest degree of bid competition and the best price. This is a concept known as value purchasing. In short, the right item at the right time at the right price.

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