Purchasing System

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All county purchasing is handled centrally under the County Financial Management System of 1981. The specific provisions regarding purchasing under the CFMS of 1981 are found in T.C.A. §§ 5-21-118 through 5-21-120. The financial management committee, with the assistance of the purchasing agent, is to establish a purchasing system for the county. The system must provide among other procedures the following:

  1. The purchasing agent shall review all contracts or purchases for biddable supplies, materials, equipment, and other needs of the county;
  2. No purchase or contract can be made when the bid prices exceed the current market price for the same merchandise or service;
  3. Purchases and contracts must be awarded based on the lowest and best bid; and
  4. Specifications development shall be made by the department, agency, or official to receive the merchandise, construction or service. T.C.A § 5-21-119.

Purchasing Agent. Counties that have adopted CFMS of 1981 are deemed to have a full-time purchasing agent.  T.C.A.  § 12-3-1212.  The finance director or a deputy appointed by him or her serves as the county purchasing agent unless the county legislative body establishes a separate purchasing department and appoints a purchasing agent.  If the county legislative body approves a separate purchasing department and a purchasing agent is hired, all duties and responsibilities relative to purchasing are removed from the finance director. T.C.A. § 5-21-118.

Duties of the Finance Director/Purchasing Agent. The duties related to county purchasing are performed by the finance director or his or her designee (unless a separate purchasing department is created and a purchasing agent is  appointed). The purchasing agent’s duties are as follows:          

  • Contracting, purchasing, or obligating the county for supplies, material, equipment, contractual services, rental of machinery, buildings, or equipment. T.C.A. § 5-21-118(b)(1).
  • Transferring materials, supplies, and equipment between county offices or agencies. T.C.A. § 5-21-118(b)(1).
  • Supervising the storeroom or warehouse. T.C.A. § 5-21-118(b)(2).
  • Contracting for building construction and purchase of land. T.C.A. § 5-21-118(b)(3).
  • Public sale of all surplus materials, equipment, buildings, and land. T.C.A § 5-21-118(b)(4).
  • Reviewing all contracts and purchases for biddable supplies, materials and equipment, and other needs of the county. T.C.A. § 5-21-119(b)(1).
  • Reviewing specifications and changes to allow for maximum competition. T.C.A. § 5-21-119(b)(5).
  • Preparing formal and informal bids. T.C.A. § 5-21-119(b)(5).
  • Collecting sealed bids and opening bids publicly. T.C.A. § 5-21-119(b)(5).
  • Evaluating bids (and submitting bids for approval by the financial management committee if required by the committee). T.C.A. § 5-21-119(b)(5).