HISD touts sourcing process during small business conference

More than 300 small business owners and supplier diversity professionals learned how HISD has improved its strategic sourcing process during a conference held Thursday.

“We always get questions about what are the projects we have available and when are they going to take place,” said Gilberto Carles, the district’s general manager of procurement services. The department recently updated its website to provide small businesses better information about projects and bid opportunities. “You will be able to find out who the buyer is for a project, the project name, the schedule.”

Carles was one of 16 speakers at the Government Procurement Connections’ 2014 State of Procurement event held at Houston Community College Southeast. The three-hour program included various speakers from Houston Metro, the City of Houston, Port of Houston Authority, Houston Airport System, and NASA, as well as opportunities for small businesses to network.

“Small business owners don’t have a lot of time to go to expos,” said Tiko Reynolds, the event chair and small business external relations officer with Houston Metro. “We wanted to bring the decision makers to them, so that small businesses can learn how to do business with various agencies, what business certifications are required and what opportunities are on the horizon.”

Carles shared information about HISD’s procurement services and spending categories. The procurement services department is committed to increasing the participation of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) for general supplies and services, classroom supplies, technology equipment, warehouse operations, food services, and cafeteria equipment.

“We’re trying to create a database that can connect you to the spend categories that your company focuses on, so we can be able to contact you when opportunities for those categories become available,” Carles said.

Attendees also learned how to search the HISD procurement website to review a list of current bid opportunities and a project calendar that outlines various requests, including items and services related to the district’s efforts to build and renovate up to 40 schools under its 2012 bond program.

The district’s current M/WBE commitment is 48 percent for design and program management contracts awarded in the bond program. Construction Manager at Risks have committed to a 20 to 40 percent M/WBE spend.

“It’s important for us to connect with you,” Carles said. “We’re excited, and we believe we’re going in the right direction.”