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Supplier Selection Guide

Steps to Select the Appropriate Supplier

University financial "Policy #2306 - Contract Compliance" requires all faculty and staff to utilize University designated "preferred contract and marketplace suppliers" for their product and service requirements.  All faculty and staff are to use the following supplier selection process to identify a qualified supplier for the product or service requirement.

Process Steps What's Involved Person Responsible
1. Check the Preferred Contract supplier list for the desired commodity provider Contract list is indexed by supplier name and commodity name Any faculty or staff member
2. If no contract supplier exists for the desired commodity, check the BEN Buys Approved Supplier list Select the letter of the first letter of the supplier name Any faculty or staff member
3. To search for a supplier in the BEN approved supplier database by commodity or any search term to meet your needs Log into BEN Supplier Search Page and enter your search term.
Any faculty or staff member
4. If not in the approved supplier database, submit a request to add a new BEN Buys supplier Complete the online request form and submit it to Purchasing Services Any faculty or staff member
Purchasing Services will send a supplier questionnaire to the desired supplier Purchasing Services

Tips to Remember When Selecting a Supplier

Regardless of the authorized buying method, you should always consider the following when selecting a supplier to satisfy your product or service requirement.

  1. Faculty and staff are required to use BEN Buys approved suppliers, in particular, preferred contract and Penn Marketplace suppliers, to ensure the University leverages its buying power and receives the “least total cost” when purchasing products or services from an external supplier.
  2. If you cannot locate a supplier in the supplier database, and would like to have a new supplier added to the database, complete and submit a request to add a BEN Buys supplier to Purchasing Services.
  3. Whenever Purchasing Services establishes contracts for commodities, the goal is to provide the “least total cost” and high quality service for a specific group of products or services.  The “least total cost” may not always be the lowest price for all products and services, and the buyer may be able to find a lower price for a specific item on any given day.  Only buying those items from a University contract supplier that have the lowest prices and going outside the contract for other items is called “cherry-picking.”  Cherry picking undermines the strategic business relationship with our contract suppliers and leverage to negotiate a “least total cost” contract.  This practice undercuts the overall agreement and the University will lose the overall benefits of the contract.  When suppliers realize that University buyers are going outside the contract to purchase items, the suppliers are less likely to offer their best pricing and service levels the next time the contract goes out to bid.
  4. University faculty and staff are required to abide by the Purchasing Code of Ethics and to protect University proprietary data.  Contract supplier pricing information is University proprietary data.  As such, it must be treated accordingly or its misuse can be considered improper handling of institutional data.
  5. It is imperative that all faculty and staff involved in the purchasing process avoid any and all conflicts of interest.  Employees must disqualify themselves from participating in University buying decisions in which they have a personal financial interest.  This includes purchasing from:
    1. Spouses/relatives/near-relatives
    2. Companies for which the purchaser/decision-maker has stock ownership
    3. Current or former Penn employees
  6. Choose suppliers for the quality and prices of the products and services they provide.  At no time is a faculty or staff member permitted to accept gifts or gratuities from suppliers. (See Ethical Guidelines)
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