The Contracting Process at Los Angeles World Airports
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) procures over $500 million a year of goods, materials and services to maintain efficient operation of its network of airports at Los Angeles (LAX), Van Nuys (VNY) and LAWA-Palmdale Land Holdings (PMD). From asphalt to safety equipment to legal services, many of LAWA’s divisions utilize outside contractors to provide specialized products or services to fulfill the needs of the airport.
While each contract solicitation presents a unique business opportunity focused on individual goals and needs, there is a standard process by which LAWA solicits and evaluates potential contractors.
The process generally includes the following steps:
- LAWA issues a Request for Bid (RFB) or Request for Proposal (RFP) at the time it is seeking contractors for specific projects, which contains details on the contracting process and criteria for selection. An RFB is utilized for the purchases of materials, supplies, equipment, construction services and non-professional services, and an RFP is used for unique, scientific, expert or technical services of a temporary and occasional nature, performed by independent contractors whose occupation is the rendering of such services.
- LAWA advertises in a variety of sources (detailed below) to inform potential contractors about business opportunities.
- Potential contractors must sign and return required administrative forms along with their proposals. These forms are detailed within the RFB or RFP.
- Once the detailed proposals and required city administrative documents are submitted, designated staff members from our contracting department review the proposals for compliance, and provide it to an evaluation committee to determine the qualifications of the proposers. RFBs are evaluated based on the amount of the product or service purchased and involve a telephone quote (contract value of less than $1,000), a letter bid (value of $1,000 - $10,000), formal, written and sealed bid ($10,000 - $150,000) or formal, written and sealed bid in response to an advertisement and approved by the Board of Airport Commissioners ($150,000 or more). In the RFP process, proposals are generally evaluated on the minimum qualifications stated in the RFP and other criteria, which may include experience, financial stability of the proposer, cost and staff size and location. The City Attorney’s office oversees this process.
- Depending on the nature of the contract, interviews may be conducted with the proposers, utilizing a standard list of questions, based on the evaluation criteria stated in the RFP/RFQ.
- Qualified contractors are then selected based on the evaluation criteria stated in the RFP/RFQ.
The City Attorney’s office reviews all RFPs, attends pre-proposal meetings, reviews proposals of selected firms and prepares contract documentation to ensure that the vendor-selection process is in conformance with any and all City Charter and City Administrative Code contracting requirements. Please see LAWA’s Evaluation Guidelines for details on our proposal evaluation and selection process.
Additional details on the procurement process are provided below.
Types of Procurement at Los Angeles World Airports
Los Angeles World Airports procures materials, products and services through the following methods:
- Request for Bid (RFB) Process :
A Request for Bid is used for purchase of materials, supplies, equipment, construction services and non-professional services.
Los Angeles City Charter, Section 371, requires an open and competitive bidding process in awarding the contract to the
- lowest responsive and responsible bidder : meeting the product/services specifications. Bids are not subject to negotiation.
The RFP/Selection Criteria
As noted, in the RFP process, proposals are generally evaluated on the qualifications outlined in the RFP. Other criteria that may be utilized in selecting potential contractors is as follows:
- Professional/Technical Services Contracts : (Experience of lead firm and sub-consultants with similar types of projects, Experience and qualifications of key staff members, Financial stability, Cost, Staff size and location)
- Concessions Contracts : (Financial return to LAWA, Facility design, quality of improvements and capital investment, Concept, merchandise, marketing plan and pricing, Proposer financial capability, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation)
- Request for Qualification (RFQ) & Request for Information (RFI)
In preparation for the procurement of services and for budget purposes, LAWA may perform preliminary research for potential contractors, and cost of the same services that are offered prior to developing the Request for Proposal. In rare instances, a Request for Qualification or Request for Information is used.
Request for Qualification (RFQ) is typically used when the City wishes to select a vendor to help develop a project (including project scope, cost, time frame, staffing, etc.) and to subsequently implement that project. A RFQ is used to gather information about vendors to determine if they are capable of performing certain types of services for the City. The RFQ might ask for information such as the size of the company, the amount of business conducted during the last year, the number of customers of projects similar to what the City is contemplating, the cost per project and time frame for completion, and appropriate references. The RFQ is usually reserved for the selection of engineers, architects, or other highly specialized technical providers.
Request for Information (RFI) is used when the actual scope of work is not known or difficult to define or when LAWA needs to develop a “pool” of likely proposers. An RFI is a solicitation of ideas, solutions and/or recommendations to assist LAWA in the development of a scope of work for an RFP.
All Request for Proposals (RFP), Request for Bids (RFB) and Special Bids are now available through the City of Los Angeles Business Assistance Virtual Network at www.labavn.org
A panel is appointed to review the proposals for the contract. The proposals are evaluated against the criteria set forth in the proposal solicitation. Please see LAWA’S Evaluation Guidelines for details on our proposal evaluation and selection process.
Interviews are conducted where appropriate. For each specific contract - depending on its nature - LAWA staff typically prepares a standardized list of questions following the evaluation criteria published in the RFP/RFQ for possible use by the interview panel. Standard procedures are followed for each step of each contract proposal process. Time spent with firms during interviews is dependent upon the length of the firms’ presentations and time allotted for follow-up questioning.
Opening of the Bids
Bids valued between $10,000 - $25,000 do not have formal public openings, but do have stated opening dates and times, usually on Fridays at 2:00 p.m. at the Purchasing Office. Bids valued at greater than $25,000 have a formal public opening and have stated opening dates and times. After an award of contract is made, bid recap sheets of informal awards (less than $25,000) are available to the public for inspection at the Purchasing Office. Formal bids (more than $25,000) may be reviewed on request.
Awarding the Contract
It is part of standard procedure that at the time a contract is awarded, LAWA staff submits a report to the Board of Airport Commissioners describing the RFP process, the contractor selection process and the reasons why the recommended contractor submitted the most responsive and responsible bid or proposal. Recommendations set forth in such reports are almost always by unanimous vote of the selection panel.
LAWA’s Procurement Services Division (PSD) administers the Contractor Responsibility Program (CRP). PSD provides technical support, conducts the CRP reviews and determines contractor responsibility. Upon receipt of complaints regarding alleged responsibility violations by a current or prospective contractor/tenant, the PSD collects necessary facts and documentation from the complainant(s) and issues a “Notice to Respond” to the alleged contractor/tenant summarizing the facts of the investigation. A contractor/tenant found non-responsible is subject to sanctions.
LAWA enjoys an excellent reputation for its contracting practices, and the CRP ensures that we maintain the highest standards with our contractors.Purchasing, Procurement and Contract Management at Los Angeles World Airports
Utilizing a coordinated de-centralized process, various LAWA Divisions are associated with Procurement Services Division at LAWA's three airports.
RFB/RFP/RFQ Preparation, Vendor Selection and Contract Management
Planning & Development Group manages the procurement process for major construction projects. The majority of contracts in this division are for personal and professional services.
Commercial Development Group administers concessions, including the food/beverage, specialty-retail, car rental, space rental and other passenger services concession program. Examples of other concessions programs include Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), Baggage Carts, Baggage Storage, Business Service Centers, Duty Free Shops, Food & Beverage, Gift & News, Locker Rentals, Rent-A-Car, Specialty Coffee, Specialty Retail and Vending Machines. Concessions contracts typically involve revenue to Los Angeles World Airports carried out in the form of rental/leasing contracts.
Other Divisions : Many LAWA divisions purchase professional/technical and personal services along with a variety of products, services and materials. We recommend that small businesses initially work with the Small Business and Job Opportunities representative for the division where they are interested in marketing products or services - as he or she will be happy to make a first contact for you. Other divisions include, but are not limited to:
- Accounting Operations and Financial Management
- Airport Operations
- Airport Police
- City Attorney
- Environmental Services
- Facilities Management and Utilities Group
- Finance and Budget
- Human Resources
- Information Management and Technology Group
Procurement Services Division has two units that handle different types of projects: Purchasing and Contract Services. Purchasing Services purchases materials, supplies, equipment, construction services, equipment rental services, repair and maintenance services and oversees delivery of goods and services for the three airports comprising LAWA: Los Angeles International (LAX), and Van Nuys (VNY) airports and for our non-aviation facilities at Palmdale (PMD). Contract Services is the central access point and repository for all procurement and contract requirements. It assists LAWA Divisions, prospective vendors, and contractors with the provision of requirements and compliance information, including contractor's efforts to increase minority and women business participation, as mandated by City of Los Angeles and Board of Airport Commissioners policy. For more information, please contact: Los Angeles World Airports, Contract Services Unit, P.O.Box 92216, Los Angeles, CA 90009-2216; phone: (424) 646-5380, fax: (424) 646-9262, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Business and Job Resources Center: This division assists those businesses who wish to sell their goods or services to the Airports. The center's primary function is economic development - their mission is to provide neighboring businesses with improved access to opportunities with LAWA. BJRC offers lists of pre-qualified subcontractors and certified minority, woman and disadvantaged businesses.
This office is also responsible for implementing and monitoring the First Source Hiring Program (FSHP). For any questions and request for assistance regarding FSHP, please contact Sontue Beacham or Allyson Lavalais at (424) 646-7300.
For information on business opportunities rel="noopener noreferrer" at LAWA, access the Los Angeles Business Assistance Virtual Network
For an overview of the procurement process at LAWA, you are welcome to attend our monthly seminar Doing Business with LAWA.
As a covered entity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of Los Angeles does not discriminate on the basis of disability and, upon request, will provide reasonable accommodation to ensure equal access to its programs, services and activities.