Central PurchasingUniversity of CincinnatiDivision of Administration and FinancingCentral Purchasing

Central Purchasing

Frequently Asked Questions for Suppliers

How does the university buy?

Depending on the amount of the purchase and availability of the item in the marketplace, the university makes purchases using written competitive bidding for larger purchases, and electronic (phone, fax, e-mail) bidding for smaller purchases as competition warrants. Approximately 50% of purchases are repetitive and represent the largest individual dollar commitments. For many of our repetitive procurement needs, annual Term Contracts and purchase agreements are formulated. Most Term Contracts and purchase agreements are competitively bid in the spring and awarded effective July 1, the beginning of UC’s fiscal year. The awarded suppliers will then provide the authorized items during the contract period at the quoted prices. The benefits to the university of a Term Contract or a purchase agreement are consistent quality, quantity pricing, fast delivery, and reduction in the university’s inventory cost. A current listing of Term Contracts is available on our website.

How do suppliers become eligible to do business with the University of Cincinnati?

A supplier must be added to the university’s vendor file. To be added, a supplier must complete the on-line vendor registration form. Note: this process merely registers the vendor with the university.  It does not give the vendor an "approved" or "preferred" status, nor does it pre-empt the need for Central Purchasing to solicit bids depending on the dollar amount.

How does a supplier get on the right bid list?

A supplier must check the appropriate commodity and services box on the vendor registration form. It is suggested that only those categories which represent their primary sales activities be checked. Once registration has been accepted and one of our Buyers queries the system for a specific commodity, the firm will appear on a list associated with that commodity. However, when each competitive purchase is initiated, the Buyer will select prospective bidders from that list in a number proportionate to the dollar value, as well as those firms that he/she has evaluated as offering a maximum effort in competition and service. It is suggested that the supplier contact a Buyer by phone after registering if they wish to provide additional information for evaluating their firm’s potential as a bidder and to familiarize the Buyer with their products. When a bid inquiry is sent to a firm, they should be sure to respond, even if only to indicate "no bid". In the event they do not respond to three consecutive bid inquiries, their firm’s name may be removed from future bid lists.

What can a supplier do to ensure that their bid is correct?

  • Carefully read the bid inquiry.
  • Sign the bid
  • Return the entire original bid packet intact by the indicated deadline.

Unit costs and totals must agree and terms of payment must be clearly stated. Vendors should thoughtfully analyze whether they can handle the job (i.e., they can afford to maintain the level of product stock to insure delivery as stated in their bid). Construction contractors must complete the Bid Form and include the required bid bond. Failure to comply with any of the above can result in disqualification.

For term contracts, if a Vendor does not feel they can adequately supply the entire contract volume to the university, they may bid on a portion of the items or note that they are only quoting on a maximum award of $XXX. High-dollar or complicated bids may contain instructions to follow before contacting the Buyer with questions.

How does a supplier find out if they have won an award?

Vendors receiving awards are sent a copy of the purchase order or term contract by U.S. mail.  Additionally, a Bid Analysis Report printout will be available for review in our lobby. It will identify the bidders who responded to the price inquiry and their respective prices. The supplier should give the quotation number from the bid to review applicable Bid Analysis Report. The report must remain in the Central Purchasing Department.

How are bid award decisions made by Central Purchasing?

Non-construction bids are awarded to the lowest and best bidder based on criteria identified in the specifications. Bid specifications may include service, delivery, and other factors in addition to price. A low bidder who does not comply with a substantive part of the specifications may be disqualified on that basis. Requisitioning departments may require a Preliminary Bid Analysis Report and copies of the proposals for review.

How does a supplier file an award protest?

Any protest of an award must be made within 48 hours and directly to the Buyer in writing. All letters of protest must contain a statement of the facts and reasons which form the basis of the protests. Any written protest will be promptly investigated and respectfully answered. Late protests which will prejudice the university or the successful vendor will not be accepted.

Does the University have a disadvantaged/minority Business Enterprise Development program?

Yes. Refer to the the Office of Supplier Diversity information.

Who makes the actual buying commitments?

Buyers in Central Purchasing are the only employees authorized to commit the university for purchases of more than $300. Purchases under $300 can be made by individual university departments through the UC Flex Small Dollar Invoice. Suppliers must obtain a signed Purchase Order, Term Contract Release form or procurement card number before shipping or providing items/services to a university department.

How do I check the payment status of an invoice?

Contact Accounts Payable at 513-556-6772