October 14, 2009
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recently implemented a vendor database that allows members of the public to search for vendor and contract information on the CTA website. The database is intended to improve the transparency of the CTA’s procurement activities by making data about individual vendors and contracts more easily accessible to the public, particularly vendors interested in doing business with CTA.
Users can search the Vendor, Contract and Payment Search database using keywords in different categories. The contract payments section allows users to search by amounts paid, vendor and date. The contracts and awards section allows users to search by vendor, contract number, award amount, description and date. The vendors section allows users to search by vendor, city, state and zip code.
The database flags contracts awarded to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), small businesses that are at least 51% owned and controlled by a minority or woman who is a socially and economically disadvantaged person. DBEs are flagged with an asterisk so that users can easily identify DBEs from a list of many vendors.
This database supplements procurement information posted on other parts of the CTA website, including information about contract opportunities and general information about CTA’s DBE contracts.
The City of Chicago and its sister agencies, the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Housing Authority, operate similar databases. The CTA website provides links to these databases and links to the procurement websites for these and other local governments in the region including City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority and the Public Building Commission of Chicago. By linking to these other resources, CTA consolidates access to procurement information for local governments in the City of Chicago for members of the public.
Other local governments in the United States have made similar procurement transparency efforts. For example, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Miami-Dade County both operate online procurement databases. MTA’s vendor search database includes less information than the CTA’s, as it only includes data about individual DBE vendors and their specialties. However, MTA’s database allows the user to export data in Excel to facilitate analysis of the data. Miami-Dade County’s procurement database allows users to search solicitations, awarded contracts and contact information for individual buyers. Unlike the CTA’s vendor database, the County’s database does not allow users to search by vendor and information about vendors can only be found in PDF documents for individual awarded contracts.
Hat tip: Chicago Tribune, “CTA puts vendor and contract information online,” September 29, 2009.