Howard University
Vendor's Guide for Doing Business with Howard University
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Part I
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General Information

  • The University's Director of Materials Management is the only individual authorized to commit the University to the acquisition of supplies, equipment, and nonprofessional services.
  • All purchases must be made on the basis of an approved purchase order that has been duly signed by an authorized agent of the University; purchases made on any other basis will not be honored by the University.
  • Payments to vendors will be made only on the basis of an approved purchase order, receiving report, and a vendor's invoice.
  • The University will not make payments to vendors for deliveries made to other than Howard University premises unless expressly provided for in the purchase order or by expressed written approval of the Director of Materials Management.
  • The University has issued a "University Purchasing Card" to selected employees and will honor purchases made with the card from certain Merchant Category Classifications (MCC). The purchasing card will not accept or approve blocked merchant categories.
  • Howard University does not conduct business with organizations that are on the General Services Administration Excluded Parties List.

Purchasing Procedures

Materials Management Department uses two types of purchase order: (1) a regular purchase order, and (2) a limit sum purchase order (purchase contract).

  1. Regular Purchase Order - Regular purchase orders are used to procure commodities on a one-time basis. The Materials Management Department is responsible for processing and approving all regular purchase orders.
  2. Limit Sum Purchase Order (Purchase Contract) - A limit sum purchase order establishes a dollar volume of purchases, at a predetermined unit price, that can be made with a vendor over a specified period, usually one (1) year. Vendors must comply with the price and terms of the purchase order for the period that it is in effect. When the limit sum purchase order is used, the user department is responsible for placing its own orders with the vendor. The personnel authorized to request goods or services against limit sum orders will be indicated in the purchase order.

The University also issues a Howard University Purchasing Card. The card facilitates direct procurement for small purchases of goods and services up to $3000.00 per aggregated transaction, monthly.

Competitive Solicitation Policy

Howard University's policy is to procure all commodities when feasible, through competitive solicitation. Three methods of competitive solicitation are used:

  1. Formal Solicitation - Formal sealed bids are used to procure services and commodities valued at $25,000 or more. Vendors are required to submit sealed bids in writing on or before the designated bid opening date. Bidders may attend bid openings. Proprietary information is held in confidence if requested by the bidder.
  2. Informal Solicitation - Informal Bids are used to procure services and commodities whose value is estimated at more than $15,000, but less than $25,000. Once again, vendors are required to submit written bids/proposals, however, public bid openings are not held.
  3. Telephone Quotation - Telephone quotations are solicited from vendors for commodities valued at less than $15,000.

Vendors'/Bidders' List

The Materials Management Department solicits invitations for bids only from among the vendors included on the approved vendors'/bidders' list. Therefore, vendors wishing to do business with the University must comply with certain requirements and apply for inclusion on the bidders' list. Once they are on the list, bidders will be selected for bid solicitation by commodity. 

How to Apply

To be included on the bidders' list, vendors must complete and submit a pre-qualification application.

Pre-qualification applications may be obtained by submitting a written request to the Materials Management Department. The pre-qualification applications are reviewed by the Materials Management Department to assess the applicant's financial position, capacity by product line, and business history. The Materials Management Department notifies applicants in writing of their acceptance or rejection. 

The Solicitation-Bidding Process


The Materials Management Department prepares and issues bid invitations, which include technical specifications for the item(s) to be procured, information concerning quantities and delivery requirements, and due dates for bids. At least three bidders are solicited, and they are selected from the bidders' list. If a large number of bidders is on the list for a particular category, the selection of bidders may be made on a rotational basis.

Bid Preparation

Bids must be prepared in accordance with the specifications contained in the bid invitation. If brand names are used in the specifications, bids may be submitted for that brand or for an "approved equal brand."

Bids must:

  •  reflect net cost;
  •  clearly indicate the unit price(s);
  •  note discounts and other applicable costs.

Since Howard University is a nonprofit institution, it does not pay sales tax. Sales tax exemption number will be provided upon request of the vendor.

It is the University's policy to accept bids only for FOB (Freight on Board) destination; therefore, bids should not include freight costs. 

Solicitations for new or special commodities may request vendors to submit samples with their bids. All submitted samples become the property of the University for testing and/or other procedures. Samples should be labeled with the bid number and the bidder's name. Bidders may request that undamaged samples be returned by submitting a written request to the Materials Management Department.

Bid Opening and Review

The Materials Management Department receives all bids and secures them, unopened, until the specified bid opening time. No late bids will be opened. The bids are tabulated and reviewed to ensure that all terms and conditions have been met. The award is normally to the lowest responsive responsible bidder who meets all requirements of the bid invitation. For awards over $15,000, the successful bidder will receive a notification of bid award, and a solicitation offer and Purchase order confirming award. Unsuccessful bidders for awards over $15,000 will receive a copy of the notification of bid award for their information.

Successful bidders cannot execute a contract until a written purchase order is received, signed by the authorized agent of the University.

Special Situations

A number of special or unusual situations are sometimes encountered in the bidding process. These are addressed below:

  • Tie Bids - When two or more bids are received for the same net price, award will be made on the basis of a lot drawing.
  • Bid Withdrawal - Bidders can withdraw their bids at any time prior to the bid opening. Bidders must submit written requests for bid withdrawal to the Director of Materials Management.
  • Bid Changes - Changes may be made to bids if they are submitted up to 24 hours before the time of bid opening. Bid changes may be accomplished by telephone; however, such changes must be confirmed in writing and received by the Materials Management Department prior to bid opening.
  • Bid Errors - Bidders are responsible for submitting accurate and complete bids and, once bids are open, bidders will be held liable for the terms and price submitted in their bids. Care should therefore be taken that bids contain no errors in terms or price.

Delivery of Goods

Unless otherwise directed, goods will be delivered to the Howard University Central Receiving Facility, located at 2244 10th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Drop shipments, particularly for items requiring installation, should be delivered to the location designated on the purchase order

Vendor Payment

The University's Office of the Comptroller is responsible for paying vendors for commodities and services delivered. The Materials Management Department and the user departments are responsible for providing the Office of the Comptroller with the proper documentation for processing the payment. The documentation required is an approved purchase order, a receiving report, and a vendor's invoice. Payments to vendors will be made only upon submission of these documents.

Vendors must comply with the requirements of the purchase order to ensure prompt payment. Vendor invoices should include a complete commodity description that matches items listed on the purchase order. A copy of the purchase order should be attached to the invoice. (Items reflected on the purchase order are not to be changed without an authenticated change order issued or confirmed by the designated buyer). Under normal circumstances, a vendor will receive payment within 30 days of the receipt of the invoice by the Office of the Comptroller. Howard University will endeavor to take advantage of any cash discounts by making payments within the designated discount period.

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