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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

New legislation should streamline purchasing procedures

August 11, 2007

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A new three-year set of regulations should make purchasing procedures at Kansas University quicker and more cost-effective.

Barry Swanson, director of purchasing at KU, said Kansas Senate Bill 52 made it possible for the new test purchasing guidelines at two Kansas Board of Regents universities: KU and Fort Hays State University. He said the new regulations would change purchasing dramatically.

Swanson said KU would no longer have to follow state-assigned purchasing contracts with most of its purchases and is allowed to search the open market for purchases under $5,000.

"We are no longer answering to Topeka with most of our university purchases," Swanson said. "We process bids ourselves and control specifically what we purchase."

In previous years, purchases had to be made through contracts and approved by the state government. The new procedures will allow KU to make approvals on its own and not have to send purchase proposals to state officials in Topeka.

"Processing times will go from weeks to days because we won't have to go over to Topeka for approval," he said.

Separate departments and the purchasing division at KU will be responsible for making sure the purchases are reasonable and logical, Swanson said.

"We give them (departments) that budget and expect them to make good decisions," he said.

The new procedures also will save the university money, Swanson said. The procedures have produced more contracts with KU and created competition, which allows for lower prices.

"Buying based on the old contracts doesn't meet their (faculty) needs," Swanson said. "We pride ourselves on excellence, not mediocrity. Sometimes that means buying something outside the contract that fits a certain need."

Swanson said the new purchasing procedures would allow KU to purchase items from local businesses, too. He said furniture that KU usually had to buy from a Kansas City-based vendor now would be bought from a furniture vendor in town.

Although the program is only a three-year test, Swanson said he thinks it will be effective and save the university and state government time and effort to work on other issues.

"I can guarantee you that it will result in faster purchases and processing and save at least a little money for the university," he said. "I would hope that it will result in some long-term change in the procurement process."

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