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Affordability and Efficiency FAQ

What does compliance mean with regard to this mandate?

In accordance with the Governor's Affordability & Efficiency mandate the intent is that purchases must be made utilizing the identified Preferred Suppliers. Over the course of the next several years, the University will be adding Preferred Suppliers as new expense categories are identified. In the meantime, if there are expense categories that do not have Preferred Suppliers, purchases must follow Ohio University Purchasing policies and the laws of the State of Ohio, e.g. bid limits.


What is a Preferred Supplier?

Preferred suppliers are suppliers that have a negotiated agreement with Ohio University. Using a preferred supplier allows campus to purchase through an existing agreement without the need for bidding and/or contract. A supplier is added to the Preferred Supplier list when they are awarded business as the result of a public competitive bid conducted by Ohio University, IUC-PG, State of Ohio, or one of several Purchasing consortia in which Ohio University is a member.

How will departments within Ohio University comply with this mandate?
  • Check the Preferred Suppliers list first. Preferred Suppliers are listed on the Purchasing web site and are searchable by name or commodity code.
  • Use BobcatBUY for all goods and services purchases.
  • Direct spend to catalog suppliers in BobcatBUY for efficiencies and cost savings. 
  • Engage the Purchasing Department early for large purchases so they can help find what you are looking for from preferred suppliers or their affiliates.
How does a Supplier become Preferred?

A supplier is added to the Preferred Supplier list when they are awarded business as the result of a public competitive bid conducted by Ohio University, IUC-PG, State of Ohio, or one of several Purchasing consortia in which Ohio University is a member.

New suppliers/commodities may be requested using the Preferred Supplier Recommendation form for potential new Preferred Supplier so they can be added to the RFP plan at the appropriate time. Submitting a recommendation does not automatically make a supplier preferred. The supplier must participate in an RFP for the goods or services they are recommended to provide.  

The University Purchasing Department analyzes spend and looks for opportunities to leverage spend for certain expense categories across the entire University or in conjunction with other universities in the State of Ohio. These new opportunities are aligned, balanced, and planned with competitive bidding requirements from expiring contracts. Preferred Supplier recommendations will be held until the appropriate RFP is conducted for the suggested expense category. 

Can I use my PCard with a preferred supplier?

We do not want you to use the PCard for Preferred Supplier for several reasons. PCard spend does not give the University the detail needed to track and leverage spend with that supplier. Additionally, the benefits negotiated through the contract, such as free shipping, waived service fees, and product warranty may not be extended through a PCard purchase. In order to best manage the Preferred Supplier relationship, the purchases should to be made using BobcatBUY.

In the event that a PCard is the only choice for your purchase, the purchaser must ensure the supplier is aware that you are purchasing on the OHIO University contract. The pertinent contract number can be found on the Preferred Supplier List. The University’s account number can also be found on the punch-out catalog homepage in BobcatBUY.

If I purchase from a preferred supplier using a catalog, what is the process?

In BobcatBUY, look for the supplier’s logo on the home page. Clicking on the logo will take you to a punch-out catalog on the supplier’s website. This catalog has Ohio University negotiated pricing. Much like on-line shopping, you can select the desired items, add them to your cart and checkout. The items will be returned to a shopping cart within BobcatBUY and a requisition is created. Once the department has approved the purchase, a PO is created. There is no need for purchases to be reviewed by the Purchasing Department. 

If I purchase from a preferred supplier that does not have a catalog, what is the process?

You will need to contact the supplier and obtain a quote or scope of work (SOW). You must ensure that the supplier is aware that you are purchasing on the Ohio University contract, the pertinent contract number can be found on the Preferred Supplier List. You would enter a requisition in BobcatBUY using a Non-catalog form for goods or a Services Agreement form for services. These purchases will be reviewed and approved by the Purchasing Department.

What if I can’t find what I need from a preferred supplier?

If you can't find what you need from a preferred supplier, follow these steps:

Step 1:  Is the required item covered by a Preferred Supplier Contract?

Review the covered goods and services for preferred supplier listing. The listing includes a detailed description of the goods or services to help the campus buyer understand if what they want to purchase is required to be purchased from a preferred supplier.  If the item you require does not fall within any of the covered goods or services on the listing, then normal purchasing policy and procedures apply. 


Step 2:  Is what I need available from a Preferred Supplier?

If what you require is part of the covered goods and services, search the Preferred Supplier List to identify which preferred supplier can provide the required item.  Search Catalogs in BobcatBUY (BCB) if available.  Be sure to search directly within the punch-out catalog, using the shop everything box in BCB will give you unreliable results as not all of the suppliers can support this level of search functionality.  

If you cannot find what you are looking for from the preferred supplier, inquire with the preferred supplier account manager. The account manager’s contact information is found on the Preferred Supplier list under additional information. Often the account manager can find the item you are looking for or suggest a comparable item.   

You may also request help from Purchasing to engage the Account Manager or suggest an alternate preferred supplier to inquire about your item. 

Step 3:  I can’t find what I need from a preferred supplier, now what?

If after a reasonable research, you are unable to find your desired item from a preferred supplier, or it us not available at the required time, or an acceptable alternative cannot be found, you should follow this guidance:

  • If purchase amount is over $50,000, you should request RFP/RFQ from Purchasing at If purchase amount is under $50,000, submit requisition in BCB.
Can I purchase from a preferred supplier's retail store and get Ohio University contract pricing?

Each supplier and purchasing contract is different and the process to purchase from a retail outlet will vary. Please refer to the Preferred Supplier Retail Store Grid for further instructions on how to purchase.

What is a commodity code?

Commodity codes are standard classification codes for products and services used to detail where money is spent within the University. Also know as Purchasing Categories, Commodity codes are a way Ohio University organizes the expense categories for its purchases.

How do I purchase sustainably?

Please refer to the Sustainable Purchasing page for the Office of Sustainability. Purchasing and the Office of Sustainability partner on projects to offer green products to the University from our Preferred Suppliers. Preference is given to local companies during the RFP evaluation process as we desire to maintain a positive impact on the local economy.

How will the mandate to use preferred suppliers be audited?

Internal audit has added the Preferred Supplier mandate to its list of items to review periodically.

What if I find significant cost savings from another supplier?

Price is one of the many components of a well-negotiated Preferred Supplier agreement. Often there are fees waived, warranties and free shipping. These all must be taken into consideration when comparing price with another supplier.

Preferred suppliers also offer process efficiencies when catalogs are used. Electronic transmission of POs and invoices significantly reduce the touches to a purchase which saves administrative costs and processing time.

What if there is no preferred supplier for the good or service that I want to buy?

If there is no preferred supplier for your item, then use normal purchasing policies and procedures to make your purchase. Remember to keep the competitive bid limit in mind and if your purchase is over $50,000, contact Procurement to assist you with completing an RFP.

Can I still use my pcard to purchase food?

As long as the food purchase is not a catered event, is less than $250, and complies with the catering policy, you can use your pcard. the purchase of food must also comply with all other university policies (ex., Policy 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment).

Do we have a preferred supplier for books, not necessarily textbooks?

We do have a catalog with Complete Book available to purchase books in BobcatBUY. However, books has not been one of the covered goods that has had a strategic sourcing review in which we looked to address the entire university's requirements. Complete Book is considered a recommended supplier, not a preferred supplier, therefore you may continue to purchase books as you have in the past.