Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Procurement’s Purpose?
A. The Procurement Department is here to help save you money (so that you can spend it on other things your department needs). The practice of competitive solicitation tends to drive prices downward and ensures participation of a representative cross section of qualified vendors, thereby guarding against favoritism and fraud. We are a public university, and we are firmly committed to prudent and effective stewardship of resources.
The office of Procurement ensure compliance with State laws and regulations governing purchasing, ensure cost controls in obtaining reasonable prices, and maintain internal control procedures and maintenance of purchase orders and contracts.
Q. Why does purchasing at the University seem so cumbersome?
A. As a governmental entity, the University is subject to Tennessee State laws, audit, and public scrutiny. Also, the University is committed to fiduciary responsibility to protect its public assets and fairness to vendors, which mandates transparency of processes unique to a publicly-funded institution. Remember, the source of the funds that we spend is predominantly taxpayer dollars and student tuition dollars.
Although you may feel overwhelmed by all the procurement requirements and procedures, bear in mind that the requirements are not intended to confuse or hinder but to encourage competition, ensure transparency of operations and to deter favoritism and malfeasance. It is important also to remember that your Procurement Department staff is available to execute all purchases and to assist you in navigating the overall process.
Q. How do I know which vendor to buy from?
A. In some cases, there may already be a contract available to utilize for your purchase. Please contact Procurement any time you need clarification or assistance with a purchase.
Q. How do I create a requisition?
A. Please refer to the tutorial at: https://www.apsu.edu/sites/apsu.edu/files/purchasing/Govs_eshop_Training_-_Requestor_-_11-08-13.pdf
Q. What are Bid Thresholds?
A. Bid Thresholds are the maximum limit of purchase that determines how a purchase must be made. Any purchase that exceeds $20,000 must have three quotes. Anything over $100,000 must be done by sealed bids. These are landed costs, to include delivery and any other charges associated with the purchase. It is best to involve Procurement in your needs as early as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays.
Q. Who is responsible for completing credit applications received from vendors?
A. It is against University Policy to complete/sign any vendor forms. Forward any credit application requests to email@example.com. Procurement will send the necessary information directly to the vendor.
Q. What is the difference between a Invitation to Bid (ITB) and a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
A. The ITB is the means of conveying to perspective suppliers a list and description of materials, supplies, services and equipment specifications that the department wants to purchase, and invites price quotations (bids) from suppliers. Supplies, materials, services and equipment should be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder pursuant to a ITB.
The RFP is a method of negotiated source selection where the department can provide functional or performance specs that can describe the desired end result of the equipment or services desired; however, detailed, clear and concise specifications are not available, making it impractical for a ITB. RFP award will be based upon the best overall quality proposal.
Q. What is the proper procedure if I have a contract that needs to be signed?
A. All Contracts and agreements that need to be signed by the University MUST be reviewed by the office of Procurement and Contract Services. Once the contract/agreement is reviewed and approved, it will be forwarded to the appropriate person for signature.
Q. Who can sign a contract on behalf of the University?
A. There are a limited number of people who can enter into a binding contract that contractually obligates the University monetarily. These delegations of authority can be found at https://www.apsu.edu/policy/delegation-authority-approval-and-execution-contracts-and-agreements-1010 . Unless you are one of these people, you should never sign an agreement or contract as a representative of the University without first consulting the Contract Specialist. You may be held personally liable for the full cost of the contract.
Q. What is a VPAT?
A. VPAT stands for Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. A VPAT is a form to be completed by the vendor that documents their product’s conformance with the Section 508 Accessibility Standards. A completed VPAT should state which criteria the product supports, and explain what features it utilizes to support accessibility. This document must be requested from the supplier if the product will be used by students, staff, or the general public. A VPAT is required for any software you are requesting to purchase.
Q. What if the vendor’s product is not VPAT complaint?
A. The Vendor will need to complete the Accessibility Conformance and Remediation Form that serves as a mean for auditors and vendors to document accessibility gaps associated with products and to a indicate plan for addressing these gaps in the future.