General Services Department

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) What does the General Services Department do for the City of Houston?
A) The General Services Department was created in April 1999 to function as the city's in-house developer. The department provides a full range of services, including project, property, energy, environmental and security management on behalf of other city departments, except Aviation.

Q) What is GSD's role in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process?
A) GSD is the city's professional representative in the administration of design and construction contracts. On behalf of other city departments, GSD will help prioritize and develop project design and construction schedules and oversee project management and implementation.

Q) Is GSD a division of the Public Works & Engineering Department?
A) No. GSD was created by City Ordinance 99-378 (.pdf) in April 1999 and became operational in July 1999.

Q) What kinds of facilities does GSD design and construct?
A) GSD is responsible for all vertical construction and parks: fire and police stations, multi-service centers, libraries, municipal courts, public works facilities, and solid waste facilities. The department also handles facility restorations and renovations.

Q) How do I know if I should submit a bid through General Services or through Public Works?
A) All bids are received at one location: the City Secretary's Office, City Hall Annex Public Level.

Q) How does a company/individual qualify to place a bid?
A) A company must be bondable and insurable in accordance with city requirements with all property taxes paid in full.

Q) How long does the bidding process typically take?
A) The minimum duration for the bidding process is 21 days from the first date of advertisement. Once the bid period has commenced, the bid opening date may be postponed by the issuance of an addendum through the City Secretary's office.

Q) Which buildings/facilities does GSD maintain and manage?
A) GSD maintains over 200 facilities including, City Hall, City Hall Annex, 611 Walker, Municipal Courts, Police and Fire Departments properties , PWE Utility Maintenance facilities and Health & Human Services Department's Administration Building.

Q) What is GSD's role in Energy Deregulation?
A) GSD serves as the City's energy manager, handling energy price negotiations for city facilities and utilities, and specifying energy conservation measures for city operations.

Q) Does GSD provide energy-related services directly to citizens?
A) No. Private sector energy providers offer these services to citizens. However, the City of Houston's Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department handles various regulatory affairs that relate to citizens.

Q) Describe the type of environmental services GSD delivers?
A) GSD provides environmental consultation and remediation on behalf of other city departments; as well as manages many environmental and remediation projects such as soil, groundwater and well monitoring and analytical testing.

Q) What type of services does Security Management deliver?
A) Security Management is responsible for the day-to-day security of various city facilities such as the screening of visitors.

Q) When responding to a RFQ (i.e. request for qualifications for professional design services), how can a small company compete with a large company for City business?
A) RFQ responses are evaluated on multiple factors. Some factors enable small firms to compete on an equal basis: approach, quality control, and past performance on schedule and budget. Other factors, such as relevant project experience, may not. Respondents should consider how their team would score on all factors when deciding whether to respond to an RFQ. Sometimes, teaming with a larger or more experienced company may be a good strategy.

A smaller company should consider pursuing smaller City projects. For example, on projects under $3 million, rather than advertise a RFQ, GSD may select firms from its files of pre-submitted qualifications and prepare a short list for interviews. While there is no guarantee that a small- to medium-sized firm will be selected using this method, our experienced project managers understand the potential of a smaller company to perform smaller projects in a more responsive and cost-effective manner.

Nevertheless, all companies, large and small, should submit their qualifications to be included in GSD's files. We prefer to receive this information in the form of a Standard Form 254 (.doc) or the new Standard Form 330 (.doc or .pdf); however, we will also accept brochures or other printed materials.