From the University of St. Thomas Purchasing Committee
The newly formed University of St. Thomas Purchasing Committee has been working for the past two months to provide St. Thomas departments with guidelines related to bidding and preferred vendors.
The work of the committee is occurring at the direction of the university’s Board of Trustees and is consistent with the Bulletin Today announcement by Dr. Mark Dienhart and Dr. Susan Huber on May 21.
The Purchasing Committee reviewed the industry best practices of bidding and working with preferred/contracted vendors. The Purchasing Committee agrees with the Board of Trustees’ task force that bidding and working with preferred/contracted vendors is indeed best practice for purchasing. This is true both in business and in higher education.
In higher education, these best methods are reinforced regularly by the National Association of Educational Procurement, of which St. Thomas is a member. The university’s director of Purchasing and Payables is a regional president of that organization.
The best method of bidding drives vendors to offer their best pricing which helps drive overall savings for institutions. Using preferred/contracted vendors helps focus institutional spending with fewer suppliers which can also reduce costs by gaining all potential volume discounts and better leverage with preferred vendors. It can also help reduce administrative costs (vendor set-up and maintenance and management, mailing, tax documents, etc.) and help departments save the time they now use searching the marketplace. This results in overall efficiency in purchasing related tasks.
Bidding goods and services over $3,000 will be implemented effective immediately at St. Thomas via a new bidding system, e-Bid. Several members of the Purchasing Committee and departments that do a large volume of ordering were trained on e-Bid in June. For those departments not yet trained, please work directly with Purchasing Services to execute bidding for goods and services over $3,000 in the e-Bid system.
Purchasing Services is offering additional training this summer and fall through Leadership Academy. The first classes are scheduled for both Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.
St. Thomas departments that wish to purchase goods and services in identified categories are being asked to use the university’s preferred vendors. This vendor listing can be found on the Purchasing and Payables Web site.
Modification of the preferred vendor list is an ongoing process. Items purchased from competitively bid contracts (office supplies, scientific supplies, maintenance supplies, etc.) do not need to be bid for purchases over $3,000, although bidding for high-ticket items still is recommended. Goods and services from single-source providers also will not need to be bid once documented and approved with Purchasing Services.
We recognize that there will be growing pains based on these new processes. Please feel free to contact Purchasing Services with questions.
Members of the St. Thomas Purchasing Committee are: