Reference Number: 
CTAS-189

Purchasing agents, buyers, department heads, and county officials should have an understanding of the laws that govern their purchasing system, including the purchase of goods and services. The county’s purchasing operation is subject to close scrutiny by the county legislative body, local citizens, businesses, and the media. Moreover, purchasing agents and buyers are dealing with the legal implications of purchasing on a daily basis.

Purchasing laws for county government are codified in the Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.). The purchasing laws contained in the T.C.A. provide the legal and procedural framework for purchasing in county governments. County purchasing activities are also governed by common and case law, and where applicable, by the federal laws and the Uniform Commercial Code. Generally, the purchasing laws place an emphasis on control, price, openness, and accountability.(Patricia C. Watt, An Elected Official’s Guide to Procurement, (Government Finance Officers Association))

The laws regarding purchasing for county governments are not uniform, and several options exist. There are many state laws of general application, as well as several local option laws which may apply. Unless the county has adopted one of the optional general laws to centralize purchasing, the county’s purchasing functions are performed by several officials and are not handled through a single office. The various general laws that may apply to county purchasing, either separately or in combination, are--

  • The County Purchasing Law of 1983, T.C.A. § 5-14-201 et seq.
  • Title 49 of the Tennessee Code Annotated
  • The County Uniform Highway Law, T.C.A. § 54-7-113
  • The County Purchasing Law of 1957, T.C.A. § 5-14-101 et seq.
  • The County Financial Management System of 1981, T.C.A. § 5-21-101 et seq.

In addition to the foregoing general laws, private acts may be passed by the General Assembly to govern purchasing in a particular county. Also, in those counties that operate under metropolitan or charter forms of government, the county’s purchasing procedures will appear in the metropolitan or county charter.

Newly elected and appointed county officials should examine which purchasing law(s) applies to their particular county.

County Purchasing Laws Table
County General Highway Schools
Anderson 1981 1981 1981
Bedford 1981 1981 1981
Benton 1939 Priv. Act Ch 541 1943 Priv. Act Ch. 250/CUHL 49-2-203
Bledsoe 1983 1941 Priv. Act Ch. 153/CUHL 49-2-203
Blount 1957 1957 1957
Bradley 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 313 1947 Priv. Act Ch. 354/CUHL 49-2-203
Campbell 1981 1981 1981
Cannon 1983 1933 Priv. Act Ch. 788/CUHL 49-2-203
Carroll1 1975 Priv. Act Ch. 23 1975 Priv. Act Ch. 23/1986 Priv. Act Ch. 148/CUHL 1975 Priv. Act Ch. 23/49-2-203
Carter 1981 1981 1981
Cheatham 1933 Priv. Act Ch. 250/1983 1933 Priv. Act Ch. 250/1945 Priv. Act Ch. 309/CUHL 49-2-203
Chester 1983 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 68/CUHL 49-2-203
Claiborne 1981 1981 1981
Clay 1983 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 565/CUHL 49-2-203
Cocke 1957 1957 49-2-203
Coffee 1957 1957 49-2-203
Crockett 1937 Priv. Act Ch. 806/1983 1937 Priv. Act Ch. 806/1933 Priv. Act Ch. 826/CUHL 1937 Priv. Act Ch. 806/49-2-203
Cumberland 1981 1981 1981
Davidson Metro Charter Metro Charter Metro Charter
Decatur 1983 CUHL 49-2-203
DeKalb 1979 Priv. Act Ch. 63 1979 Priv. Act Ch. 63/CUHL 1979 Priv. Act Ch. 63/49-2-203
Dickson2 1957 1957 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 16/49-2-203
Dyer 1983 1929 Priv. Act Ch. 421/CUHL 49-2-203
Fayette 1983 1974 Priv. Act Ch. 234/CUHL 49-2-203
Fentress 1981 1981 1981
Franklin 1981 1981 1981
Gibson 1983 1929 Priv. Act Ch. 111/CUHL 49-2-203
Giles 1981 1981 1981
Grainger 1983 1980 Priv. Act Ch. 232/CUHL 49-2-203
Greene 1957 1957 49-2-203
Grundy 1983 1939 Priv. Act Ch. 435/CUHL 49-2-203
Hamblen 1983 1949 Priv.act Ch. 313/CUHL 49-2-203
Hamilton 1983 Priv. Act Ch. 90 1983 Priv. Act Ch. 90 1983 Priv. Act Ch. 90/49-2-203
Hancock 1983 1941 Priv. Act Ch. 149/CUHL 49-2-203
Hardeman 1989 Priv. Act Ch. 90 1989 Priv. Act Ch. 90/CUHL 1989 Priv. Act Ch. 90/49-2-203
Hardin 1983 1929 Priv. Act Ch. 113/CUHL 49-2-203
Hawkins 1957 Priv. Act Ch. 256 1957 Priv. Act Ch. 256/CUHL 1957 Priv. Act Ch. 256/49-2-203
Haywood 1983 1991 Priv. Act Ch. 24/CUHL 49-2-203
Henderson 1981 1981 1981
Henry 1983 Priv. Act Ch. 137/1995 Private Act Ch. 10/1983 CUHL 49-2-203
Hickman 1981 1981 1981
Houston 1983 1945 Priv. Act Ch. 366/CUHL 49-2-203
Humphreys 1983 1935 Priv. Act Ch. 634/CUHL 49-2-203
Jackson 1983 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 111/CUHL 49-2-203
Jefferson 1981 1981 1981
Johnson 1957 1957 49-2-203
Knox 1980 Priv. Act Ch. 286 (county charter) 1980 Priv. Act Ch. 286 1980 Priv. Act Ch. 286/49-2-203
Lake 1983 1980 Priv. Act Ch. 262/CUHL 49-2-203
Lauderdale 1983 1929 Priv. Act Ch. 304/CUHL 49-2-203
Lawrence 1957 1957 49-2-203
Lewis 1983 1937 Priv. Act Ch. 395/CUHL 49-2-203
Lincoln 1981 1981 1981
Loudon 1957 1957 1957
McMinn 1981 1981 1981
McNairy 1990 Priv. Act Ch. 171 CUHL 49-2-203
Macon 1937 Priv. Act Ch. 161/1983 1965 Priv. Act Ch. 234/CUHL 49-2-203
Madison 1981 1981 1981
Marion 1983 1933 Priv. Act Ch. 24/CUHL 49-2-203
Marshall 1965 Priv. Act Ch. 69/1983 1965 Priv. Act Ch. 69/1955 Priv. Act Ch. 238/CUHL 49-2-203
Maury 1957 1957 49-2-203
Meigs 2007 Priv. Act Ch. 28 2007 Priv. Act Ch. 28/CUHL 49-2-203
Monroe 1981 1981 1981
Montgomery 1957 1957 49-2-203
Moore Metro Charter Metro Charter Metro Charter
Morgan 1981 1981 1981
Obion 1983 CUHL 49-2-203
Overton 1957 1957 49-2-203
Perry 1983 1977 Priv. Act Ch. 18/CUHL 49-2-203
Pickett 1983 1957 Priv. Act Ch. 104/CUHL 49-2-203
Polk 1957 1957 49-2-203
Putnam 1981 Priv. Act Ch. 63 1989 Priv. Act Ch. 122/CUHL 49-2-203
Rhea 1981 1981 1981
Roane 1957 1957 1933 Priv. Act Ch. 477/49-2-203 (schools informally use 1957)
Robertson 1981 1981 1981
Rutherford 1943 Priv. Act Ch. 421 1951 Priv. Act CH. 55/CUHL 49-2-203
Scott 1981 1981 1981
Sequatchie 1983 CUHL 49-2-203
Sevier 1983 1969 Priv. Act Ch. 133/CUHL 49-2-203
Shelby 1974 Priv. Act Ch. 260 1974 Priv. Act Ch. 260 1974 Priv. Act Ch. 260/49-2-203
Smith 1983 CUHL 49-2-203
Stewart 1983 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 171/CUHL 49-2-203
Sullivan 1947 Priv. Act Ch. 261 1947 Priv. Act Ch. 261/CUHL 1947 Priv. Act Ch. 261/49-2-203
Sumner 2002 Priv. Act. Ch. 113 2002 Priv. Act. Ch. 113/CUHL 2002 Priv. Act Ch. 113
Tipton 1941 Priv. Act Ch. 518 1973 Priv. Act Ch. 114/CUHL 49-2-203
Trousdale Metro Charter Metro Charter Metro Charter
Unicoi 1983 1949 Priv. Act Ch. 678/CUHL 49-2-203
Union 1981 1981 1981
Van Buren 1983 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 460/1986 Priv. Act Ch. 111/CUHL 49-2-203
Warren 1981 1981 1981
Washington 1957 1957 49-2-203
Wayne 1983 1941 Priv. Act Ch. 32/CUHL 49-2-203
Weakley 1981 1981 1981
White 1981 1981 1981
Williamson 1957 1957 49-2-203
Wilson 1981 1981 49-2-203

1Carroll County - 1975 Priv. Act Ch. 23 is applicable to schools, but only for transportation purchases.

2Dickson County - 1951 Priv. Act Ch. 16 does not apply to bridges or school buildings