OHIO streamlines process for initiating orders from non-preferred suppliers for rare occasions when preferred vendors cannot be utilized

Published: January 21, 2023 Author: Staff reports

The Ohio University Business Service Center and the Office of Finance are pleased to announce a new process improvement rolling out to campus effective immediately. The A&E Exception form is no longer required for purchases from non-preferred suppliers.

Preferred vendors have been expanded and OHIO now has more than 250 preferred suppliers and 30 catalogs available in BobcatBUY(BCB) (not all vendors offer a BCB catalog). In addition, finance has created new strategies for managing spend on the backend which will allow this process to be effectively managed and reported on using spend data in lieu of additional exemption processes.   

In 2016, Governor John Kasich issued a mandate on affordability and efficiency in conjunction with House Bill 64. Institutions of higher education were asked to use preferred vendors and leverage state-wide procurement contracts in the areas of printing, office supplies, computer hardware, outbound shipping, scientific supplies and equipment, and travel services.  

Ohio University embarked on a significant plan to meet these mandates including increasing catalog offerings of preferred suppliers, embracing Inter-University Council (IUC) state-wide contract vendors (IUC contracts), and instituting an exemption process to ensure compliance. Using IUC contracts, OHIO now exclusively uses COMDOC for copier/printers; Brown Enterprise Solutions (BES) for office supplies and equipment; CDW-G and Software House International (SHI) for computer hardware, FedEx for outbound shipping; 40+ vendors for scientific supplies and equipment; and Christopherson Business Travel (CBT) for travel.  

Preferred vendors come with many additional benefits including free shipping, warranties, etc. and should be used whenever possible. However, in the rare occasions when a preferred vendor may be impractical due to specific research needs, timing and product availability, extraordinary cost savings, etc. campus constituents will no longer need to fill out individual exemption forms. The best way to make purchases that are compliant is still to use BCB. All contract terms (including pricing) are already in the BCB system to ensure that preferred supplier benefits are applied properly. 

Generally speaking, university purchasing methods should be prioritized in the following manner when making purchases:

  • BobcatBUY orders – Goods and services should be purchased from BobcatBUY, whenever possible. 
  • Non-catalog or special requests – When goods and services are not available from BobcatBUY, when special instructions cannot be provided any other way (i.e., you have a contract to review/engage a vendor) , or when an emergency dictates the order be expedited, a non-catalog requisition should be created in BobcatBUY.
    • Non-catalog requisitions must be made with existing suppliers whenever possible. Use of new suppliers requires additional approvals and can therefore delay purchases and add internal expense. 
    • Non-catalog requisitions must be reviewed by Purchasing. 
  • PCards must be used in accordance with the PCard policy. When using the PCard, preferred vendors should still be used whenever possible. To ensure that the OHIO contract price and benefits are extended to credit card transactions, you will need to place your order through the account rep for the vendor. You can find this information on the Preferred Suppliers website. Utilizing Bobcat Buy is still the most effective way to ensure compliance with preferred vendors.
  • Reimbursement – While reimbursement to individuals for purchases made with personal resources is not a standard purchasing method it may be permitted in some circumstances for legitimate business expenses if approved by the planning unit.  Reimbursements must follow all applicable university policies and procedures.