Purchasing FAQ

Purchasing FAQ

What is the purpose of the Purchasing Consortium?

The purpose of the Purchasing Consortium is to deliver increased cost savings and service delivery to member institutions through collaborative procurement initiatives that focus on reduced pricing, improved terms and conditions, reduced risk and/or reduced process costs.

How is the Purchasing Consortium governed?

The Big Ten Academic Alliance Procurement Directors function as the Board of Directors and are responsible for approving all procurement initiatives, award recommendations, and resulting agreements.  A Chair and Vice Chair of the Purchasing Consortium each serving a two-year term are appointed by the Procurement Directors.  The Purchasing Consortium operates under the auspices of the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

How often does the Purchasing Consortium meet?

Big Ten Academic Alliance Procurement Directors meet face-to-face in the Fall at a member campus and in the Spring at the Big Ten Conference Center in Rosemont, IL.  They also have monthly conference calls and actively participate on a listserv to discuss Purchasing Consortium business and share best practices.

How does the Purchasing Consortium decide which joint procurement initiatives will be pursued?

Collaborative procurement initiatives are identified in various ways.  Big Ten Academic Alliance stakeholder groups may bring forward initiatives when there are multiple willing participants who anticipate using any resulting agreement.  In other cases, the Procurement Directors or their staffs may identify opportunities based on their knowledge of common organizational needs. 

How does a supplier become a preferred supplier to the Purchasing Consortium?

Once it has been determined that an initiative should be undertaken, a small team is formed with a buyer from one of the member campuses functioning as lead.  This team develops a request for proposal (RFP) and distributes it to suppliers.  The team reviews the suppliers’ responses to the RFP and recommends one or more suppliers to the Procurement Directors.  The Directors then vote to determine which, if any, suppliers should be awarded the contract, stipulating primary and/or secondary suppliers as appropriate.  The Purchasing Consortium then initiates a Master Agreement with the selected supplier(s).

Who signs the contracts?

The Chairperson of the Purchasing Consortium signs the Master Agreement on behalf of the Purchasing Consortium, and the Executive Director of the Big Ten Academic Alliance signs for the Big Ten Academic Alliance.  In most cases a letter of intent to use the agreement is entered into between a member institution and the supplier once the Master Agreement is executed.

Does the Purchasing Consortium keep a database of suppliers interested in receiving RFPs?

No database of interested suppliers is maintained by the Purchasing Consortium.