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Purchasing Policies and Procedures Manual
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Purchasing Manual
IX. Bid Specifications
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Page Index:
Policy
Procedures
   A. Purpose of Specifications
   B. Developing Specifications
      1. Use of Brand Names
      2. Restrictive Specifications
      3. Samples
      4. Approving Specification
   C. Standard Specifications


POLICY

Invitations for Bid and Request for Purchases shall contain technical and descriptive requirements of commodity and its intended use or application.. Performance specifications shall be used whenever possible so as to describe the capabilities that are required for the intended use of the commodity.. Specifications will not be unnecessarily restrictive so as to impair competition.. The use of brand name specifications should be limited insofar as possible, and when used should be accompanied with the statement "or equal". All bid specifications shall be developed by the user department and reviewed and approved by the Materials Management Department. 

PROCEDURES

A. Purpose of Specifications

Specifications describe what is required or desired and, therefore, what the successful bidder is to furnish. Specifications, relate to the technical and descriptive requirements of a product or service and to its intended use or application. As such, the degree to which specifications are open or restrictive directly affects the type and extent of competition obtained.

B. Developing Specifications

Specifications describing the essential characteristics and, to the extent possible, performance requirements are required for all items being purchased. User departments will be responsible for developing the initial specifications to be included on Request for Purchases forms. Specifications must be sufficiently specific to provide bidders with a complete understanding of exactly what the University wants to buy thereby ensuring a common basis for all bidders to compute their bids. As a general rule, when user departments develop specifications, they should rely as much as possible on existing standards and specifications from sources, other than manufacturers, that have done significant work in the area. For example, specifications developed by other local universities may be a helpful and timesaving source of information. Federal Government specifications may also provide another excellent basis for establishing University specifications. 

1. Use of Brand Names

"Brand name" specifications cite a brand name, model number, or some other designation that identifies a specific product of a manufacturer as an example of the quality level desired. Generally, the use of brand names should be limited to low dollar value items and/or "shelf" items which do not warrant spending additional time and resources to develop a University tailored specification. Whenever a brand is used, it should be indicated that the brand name is used merely as a specification and not as a statement of a preference for the specific product cited. Furthermore, where a brand name is included in a specification, there will be an accompanying statement that equivalent items of another brand are acceptable. Terms such as "brand X or equal" or "brand X or equivalent" will be used in this statement. 

2. Restrictive Specifications

Specifications which include unnecessary and restrictive features are defined as restrictive specifications. Since restrictive specifications result in a deliberate limitation of competition their use is expressly prohibited by the University.

3. Samples

In some cases, it may be more practical to have vendors submit samples with their bids as a substitute for developing detailed specifications. This is most often desirable when the items to be purchased are highly performance oriented such as waxes, cleaning agents, tires, paint, and classroom furniture. Under this procedure, bidders are invited to offer their price and a sample of the product against a general descriptive specification. MMD then inspects and evaluates the product to determine the sample which best meets the University's needs.

Whenever samples are obtained and used in evaluation or award of bids, the samples should be retained for checking and comparing deliveries for compliance. The invitations for bid should indicate that all samples submitted by vendors become property of the University and that undamaged samples will be returned to bidders upon written request.

4. Approving Specification

The Materials Management Department (MMD) shall review and approve all specifications giving special attention to such factors as completeness, specificity, and reasonableness of requirements. If specifications are found to be restrictive or for some other reasons do not meet the approval of MMD, the user department will be contacted and appropriate changes will be made upon agreement between the user department and the representative commodity buyer. In the event that the agreement cannot be reached, the specification shall be submitted to the Vice Provost for Administration.

C. Standard Specifications

Items for similar use frequently are bought on a recurring basis by one or more user departments. Given that user departments are responsible for developing initial specifications for items they purchase, it is possible that similar items are purchased under many different specifications. In order to eliminate duplications of effort and inconsistencies in developing standard specifications for recurring and common use items. A standard specification establishes a University-wide norm with respect to the essential attributes of an item.

To determine which items are most suitable for standard specifications, MMD must know the number of items required and the associated purchasing volume. To accomplish this, MMD will monitor the frequency of requests and associated dollar values. Items which are ordered on a recurring basis in a volume that represents a high dollar expenditure can then be identified as potential candidates for standard specifications and stocked in general stores.

When developing standard specifications, MMD will consult with appropriate user departments to ensure that all essential characteristics and requirements have been considered. Once a standard specification is established, user departments will be provided such information. 

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