Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)

Montana law does not grant preference to small businesses or disadvantaged businesses, including women- or minority-owned companies. Information on minority business enterprises (MBE) and women's business enterprises (WBE) can be obtained by contacting the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program with the Montana Department of Transportation.

Reciprocal Preference Law

Reciprocal preference, outlined in Title 18, Chapter 1, Part 1, Montana Code Annotated (MCA), provides a Montana resident bidder a preference against the bid of a nonresident bidder from any state or country that allows preference for its resident bidders. These preferences are applied by State agencies to Invitation for Bids (IFB) for the purchase of goods, printing, construction, repair, and public works of all kinds, including non-construction services, with a total contract value of greater than $25,000.

A Montana public agency, when determining the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, applies the reciprocal preference to the bid of a nonresident bidder equal to the percent of the preference given to the bidder in their resident state or country. The reciprocal preference is applied against other states and countries and not other public entities such as political subdivisions. For instance, if the low bidder is from a state that grants a 10% preference to its resident bidders, 10% must be added to that bidder's price if it would benefit a Montana resident bidder. Political subdivisions (including local governments) are only required to apply the reciprocal preference to IFBs for construction, repair, and public works and not to IFBs for the purchase of goods and printing.

The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) maintains a website that provides information on preference laws for all states, NASPO State Preference Repository. The preference law information is reviewed and updated annually.

Please note: If it appears that a reciprocal preference may apply, contact

Applicability Under the Montana Procurement Act

(1) Procurement officers must apply a reciprocal preference to IFBs for goods, printing, and non-construction services for public works, but only if federal funds are not involved and only if it will benefit a Montana resident bidder, ARM 2.5.408(2). "Non-construction services" as defined in 18-2-401(9), MCA, is work performed by an individual, not including management, office, or clerical work, for:

  • the maintenance of publicly owned buildings and facilities, including public highways, roads, streets, and alleys;
  • custodial or security services for publicly owned buildings and facilities;
  • grounds maintenance for publicly owned property;
  • the operation of public drinking water supply, waste collection, and waste disposal systems;
  • law enforcement, including janitors and prison guards;
  • fire protection;
  • public or school transportation driving;
  • nursing, nurse's aid services, and medical laboratory technician services;
  • material and mail handling;
  • food service and cooking;
  • motor vehicle and construction equipment repair and servicing; and
  • appliance and office machine repair and servicing.

(2) A resident bidder must complete a Montana Resident Preference Affidavit to verify resident eligibility, and this affidavit must be on file with the State Financial Services Division before a bid award can be made. If the nonresident bidder is still the lowest responsive and responsible bidder after the preference adjustment has been made, the contract price is the price bid, not the adjusted price, ARM 2.5.408(4).

(3) The business name and federal identification number on the Montana Resident Preference Affidavit must match the business name and federal identification number on the submitted bid documents in order to be considered for the application of reciprocal preference ARM 2.5.408(5).

(4) In addition to the reciprocal preference, in case of a tie bid, preference must be given to the bidder, if any, offering American-made products or supplies, 18-4-303(10), MCA.

Per Montana Statute, 18-5-502, MCA, preference is also given to blind persons under the following:

(1) Whenever state property is proposed to be made available to private persons for use as a vending facility, if two or more substantially equal proposals submitted by responsible bidders are determined to most closely meet the purchasing agency's specifications and if one of the proposals has been submitted by a blind person, the contract must be awarded to the blind person.
(2) For purposes of this section, proposals are substantially equal if their overall ratings, as determined by the purchasing agency in accordance with the request for proposal, do not differ by more than 3%.
(3) Any contract awarded pursuant to this section to a blind person must prohibit transfer of the contract by sublease, assignment, or any other method.

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