Internal Staff Purchasing Procedures
The purpose of this section of the Purchasing Department's website is to provide information necessary to buy goods and services in support of Washington County Public Schools (WCPS). Purchasing activities are governed by BOE Procedures and Regulations, specifically, Purchasing Standards DJ. The Purchasing Standards DJ addresses most aspects of materials management to include acquisition of goods and services. It is important to note that the competitive requirements set forth in the Purchasing Standards DJ apply to the purchase of goods and services by schools and offices whether using public or non-public funds.
Purchasing approval thresholds set by BOE Policy DJ-E(1) Summary of Procurement Requirements and Procedures:
- $0.01 to $10,000 - reviewed by school principals, department supervisors, and Supervisor of Purchasing
- $10,000 to $25,000 - reviewed by the Purchasing Review Committee
- $25,000 to $50,000 - reviewed by the Superintendent
- $50,000+ - reviewed by the BOE
All purchases, regardless of the funding source, should be made with dedication to ensuring that:
- WCPS staff conducts all purchasing activities in a fair and impartial manner.
- Purchases are made with durability and life cycle cost taken into account.
- All qualified and capable vendors are provided access and opportunity to do business with WCPS.
- Competitiveness of pricing is required.
- All interactions with vendors are conducted with the highest degree of ethics and professionalism.
All WCPS employees are responsible to conduct their procurement activities in accordance with WCPS policies and regulations.
Any purchase or contract entered into by any WCPS official or employee that violates the provisions of the Purchasing Procedure, or any other purchasing-related policy or regulation, shall be the personal responsibility of that individual and not the obligation of WCPS.
Public confidence in the integrity of WCPS’ purchasing activities is very important. Improprieties, or even the appearance of improprieties, can undermine this confidence with very negative consequences. Maintaining positive vendor relations is essential to ensure that vendors will continue to conduct business with WCPS while providing the most competitively priced goods and/or services.
A successful procurement involves a series of activities that are undertaken to assure that goods and services are delivered in a timely and economical manner. Such activities usually involve the following steps:
- Recognition of need
- Preparation of the specification or scope of services needed
- Identify the required procurement method (solicit RFB, RFQ, RFP, sole source, competitive negotiation, etc.)
- Prepare the solicitation document
- Receipt of quotes, bids or proposals
- Review bids for lowest responsive and responsible bidder or select the proposal that is most advantageous
- Issue Purchase Order or Contract
- Ensure vendor is compliant with the terms and conditions of the PO or contract
- Receipt of goods or services
- Payment to vendor
A contract is a mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish the supplies or services and the buyer to pay for them. There are numerous types of contracts which are commonly used within WCPS.
Use the Contract Cover Form which includes routing instructions as the cover page to any proposed contract. Without exception, all contracts must be submitted to the WCPS Office of Legal Counsel for review in advance of any commitment to the vendor. The Office of Legal Counsel will contact you or your supervisor if they have questions or edits to the proposed contract. Once approved by the Office of Legal Counsel, the contract is then submitted to the Superintendent.
All contracts must be signed by the WCPS Superintendent.
If named as a Contract Monitor or Administrator on a contract, you are responsible to ensure that vendors are complying with the terms and conditions of the contract.
Cooperative Purchasing Program
WCPS encourages cooperation with other governmental agencies for the purchase of like supplies, materials, equipment and services. WCPS’ cooperative purchasing program involves working with other jurisdictions to combine requirements into one solicitation in order to increase efficiency and to reduce administrative expense. Participating jurisdictions also benefit from the resulting combined purchasing power by paying lower prices.
WCPS participates and, for several procurements, sponsors “cooperative procurements” with other local governments including Washington County Government, City of Hagerstown, and Hagerstown Community College. WCPS regularly utilizes contracts established by the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium, Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee, Maryland Department of Information Technology, and Maryland Department of General Services.
There are many forms of cooperative procurement such as joint solicitation model, “piggy-back” model, multiple award schedules, and aggregator/broker arrangement by third party. Cooperative procurement is a form of strategic sourcing. Cooperative contracts leverage value-added pricing, vendor service levels, and advantageous contract terms.
The limitations of engaging in cooperative procurement include: contract pricing that may not be optimal; less flexibility in the requirement to conform to the specifications and material terms of the base contract; possible decline in opportunities for local, small or disadvantaged suppliers; and the temptation to “shop” for a specific brand rather than considering a products inherent capacity to meet the requirements. For this reason, market research and due diligence must be performed on a case by case basis, before deciding to use a cooperative contract.
The decision to “piggy-back” or otherwise participate in a cooperative procurement over using a traditional and independent procurement process, must involve the weighing of the benefits, risks and shortcomings of each of the various procurement options.
If a vendor fails to meet its contractual obligations, staff should first notify the Purchasing Department for assistance and advice.
The Purchasing Department may assist or refer you to the Office of Legal Counsel depending upon the seriousness of the violation.
The Purchasing Department will intervene to try to resolve the problem and assist with documenting the situation in the contract file if warranted under the circumstances. If a vendor consistently fails to perform, it may be necessary to cancel the contract. Serious and repeated incidents of failure to perform may result in suspension or separation from doing business with WCPS.
Department heads and employees with budgetary responsibility are encouraged to test new products to be kept informed about the products and services for their areas. When testing and reviewing products with a salesperson or vendor, they shall remind salespersons and vendors that WCPS will not accept delivery of materials shipped without a purchase order. Contracting with suppliers for the purpose of placing orders shall be made through the Purchasing Department except in cases of an emergency with the authorization of the Superintendent or his/her designee.
Purchase requisitions are used to begin the process of buying goods and services. WCPS staff members must have an authorized employee enter the purchase requisition into the financial system by creating the purchase requisition, allocating the appropriate funds, and then releasing the purchase requisition into workflow for approval. After the purchase requisition has been through the approval process, the Purchasing Department will convert the requisition to a purchase order and send it to the vendor for the order to be placed.
School Principals are responsible for what is ordered for their school and ultimately what is received in to the building; however, they may delegate the receiving responsibility to others in the school. Generally, the school secretary acts as the school's primary receiver. It is important that these individuals complete the purchase order receiving component in the financial system and know what to do if a receiving irregularity should arise.
There are several common sense rules to properly complete the receipt of an order.
Rule #1: Do not receive what you did not order
Washington County Board of Education Policy DJF-R states that “Washington County Public Schools will not accept delivery of materials shipped without a purchase order”; therefore, a school should never receive merchandise without an associated purchase order. If a vendor attempts to deliver a product or service without a purchase order reference on the packing slip or delivery notice, and the school cannot quickly identify that the shipment is in response to a valid order, the school should refuse delivery. If the school signs for the order, the school has accepted the shipment and the vendor will expect payment. The school may also be subject to the vendor's rules about returns and restocking fees if it is decided later that they do not want or did not order the item(s). Therefore, checking for a purchase order number to ensure that the merchandise was ordered may avoid serious and costly future problems related to the shipment.
In general, vendors and common carriers will not leave a package if the school refuses shipment (refuses to sign the delivery document). However, if no one is present at the school to officially accept or refuse delivery, drivers have sometimes just "dropped off” packages. If this happens, and the school did not order the merchandise, call the Purchasing Department (301-766-2840) immediately upon discovery. Inaction at this point may be construed as acceptance of the order.
Please note that when a requisition is created, allocated and released through the financial system workflow for approval, the requisition is then converted to a purchase order. The vendor will receive the purchase order by their preferred method and begin processing the order. Once you receive the order, the requisition originator must receive on the purchase order in the financial system. If your order is not received, please check the electronic index to determine if the requisition is awaiting approval. If the order is not pending in the system, call the Purchasing Department. Please note you do not currently receive on credit card orders in the financial system (refer to Forms and Documents).
Rule #2: Verify that the items on the packing list are in the box
Unless there is visible damage to your package, delivery drivers will generally not remain at the school while you check the contents of each box. Therefore, the receiver usually just signs for a specified number of boxes. Once the receiver has signed for the shipment, he/she should immediately open the box and determine that all the contents are indeed what the school ordered on the purchase order. This is done by checking-off the items received, one by one, against the electronic purchase order in the Purchase Order Receiving module.
Rule #3: Damaged Goods
If there is damage, please do not dispose of the item(s) or the box in which the items were shipped. Vendors often request the item(s) to be returned for inspection and/or may require credit from the manufacturer. Contact the Purchasing Department for assistance.
- Take care of all routine receiving in a timely manner, including any problem or issue with your order. The longer a problem persists, the less likely the players are to remember the details.
- Seek assistance from the Purchasing Department whenever you have a question.