Doing business with a large transportation organization is not as daunting as one might think.The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) uses technology and in-person networking to facilitate relationships with companies pursuing opportunities with the authority.
About 10 years ago, SEPTA implemented an Electronic Procurement System (ePS), using eQuote for solicitations under $100,000. Recently, SEPTA expanded its ePS capabilities, conducting a soft launch of an electronic bid (eBid) system for selected solicitations of over $100,000.
“We previously received sealed bids that were delivered in person or sent by mail. Sometimes, the bid documents were incomplete,” said Marie Chua, SEPTA’s sr. director, procurement & supply chain.
The eBid system is aimed at automating the procurement process — once a company registers via SEPTA’s website and selects the appropriate commodity codes related to their line of business, it will receive electronic notifications for new procurement opportunities. Notices will also continue to be published on SEPTA's website and in local newspapers.
“The new system is beneficial for everyone involved. Bids cannot be submitted to SEPTA until all required information is complete. The submitter will receive an acknowledgment message once the bid is successfully transmitted," said Chua. "SEPTA can be assured that all of the bids we have received are complete. Greater operations efficiencies are achieved because we don’t have to physically open and process documents sent manually.”
In addition to utilizing new technologies to improve the procurement process, SEPTA supports the growth of small-, minority- and woman-owned businesses with its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. SEPTA's DBE Program is designed to meaningfully involve small businesses in all facets of SEPTA's contracting and purchasing activities.
The DBE Program Office certifies companies as DBEs and provides technical assistance, training, and other resources for vendors looking to do business with SEPTA. The authority currently has 465 certified DBE firms.
As part of its commitment to small business equity and raising the numbers of minority and woman-owned firms participating in its contracts, SEPTA holds a number of outreach events throughout the year.
“We host certification workshops and networking events and have partnered with other Greater Philadelphia region entities to spread the word on how to do business with SEPTA,” said Mary Connell, the authority’s DBE program director. “In April, we had record attendance at our ‘Meet the Primes’ event, where minority and woman-owned businesses were invited to network with our prime contractors, as well as our engineering and procurement teams.”
Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.