Construction Contracts

Thank you for your interest in working with Columbia University. Over the past several months, we have experienced a significant increase in interest from construction-related vendors and contractors interested in working with Columbia.

In order to improve our service and provide a more timely response to interested construction-related vendors and contractors, we are currently updating our systems and will not be adding additional vendors/contractors to our portfolio at this time.

In preparation for working with us, please read below for details. This information includes:


Doing business with Columbia requires some basic business capacities on the part of vendors. These include Web access and acceptance of credit cards, as well as basic financial reporting and administrative capabilities (such as order tracking and tax information).

Regardless of size, any company wishing to do business with Columbia will be required to maintain the appropriate insurance and be prepared to provide high-quality goods and services, timely delivery, and competitive pricing. Additionally companies must maintain ethical business conduct.


The University asks vendors who would like to do business with Columbia to email us at You should indicate details on the goods and services that your business provides.  

You will only be contacted by our Purchasing Office if the University is seeking more firms with your specialty.

Insurance Requirements

All businesses engaged in construction-related consulting services, including architects and engineers performing work in connection with an existing or planned structure, must meet University insurance requirements. These requirements are based on an assessment of risks related to type and amount of construction work to be completed. Requirements vary as follows:



General Commercial Liability

Commercial General Liability is broad based insurance that covers the liability assumed in the performance of the general, nonprofessional activities of many businesses.

  • Range from $1-5 million



Certain types of contractors/vendors perform activities that are highly specialized professional services and are not fully covered under a Commercial General Liability Policy. These contractors/vendors might be required to carry Professional/Errors and Omissions

Liability Insurance.

This liability is required for consultants only (not required for construction contractors).

  • Range from $1-2 million



Workers Compensation covers an employer's statutory financial obligation to pay the costs associated with an employee's medical treatment and time away from work due to a work-related injury or illness. By state statute, with very limited exceptions, all businesses

with employees are required to either purchase workers compensation coverage or become an authorized self-insurer.



Business Automobile Liability insurance covers the liabilities assumed by a business when the type of motor vehicles required to be licensed for operation on public roads are used in the course of their business activities. In situations where the contracting party will be using motor vehicles to perform operations or provide services on Columbia-owned property, the contracting party should be required to carry Business Automobile Liability insurance.

  • Range from $1-2 million


Columbia University has a long-standing commitment to working with minority-, women-, and locally-owned (MWL) businesses, whether by establishing purchasing relationships with vendors, entering into consulting agreements for services, or contracting for construction, renovation, or repair services. The University's local community includes the 13 zip codes in Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood (10025, 10026, 10027, 10029, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10035, 10037, 10039, and 10040) and the four zip codes within the South Bronx (10451, 10454, 10455 and 10474).

In fiscal years 2009 and 2010, Columbia contracted for more than $160 million in construction and repair and maintenance services with MWL firms, representing one-third of its construction and repair and maintenance spending. For the first half of fiscal year 2011, the MWL labor force participation is 47.5%

Columbia University has set a goal of 35% construction contract spending with MWL firms. The University accomplishes this through both prime and subcontracting opportunities. Additionally, in 2007 Columbia joined with the Mayor's Commission on Construction Opportunities to ensure that we continue our efforts to support the growth of MWL businesses in New York. Guidelines for acquiring construction contracts are included below.

The University continues to build on this record and encourages all construction businesses that are certified by a governmental or quasi-governmental entity as minority- and women-owned to become qualified by Columbia to bid on our construction projects. 

Columbia University Facilities (CUF), working with contractors, seeks to ensure that contracts and subcontracts include bids from MWL contractors, professional service providers, vendors or suppliers. Additionally, we seek to ensure that major contracts/subcontracts employ minorities, women and local community members in the workforce.

The University's Purchasing Department and University-wide Vendor Subcommittee review completed applications with an emphasis on trade areas, historic trade spending, and MWL gap analysis to promote MWL representation in every trade area. An applicant who meets these standards is asked to present its qualifications to the Vendor Subcommittee, which votes on firm qualification following the presentation.


One of the ways in which CUF is working to build the MWL contracting opportunities is through a pilot mentoring program for small and medium-sized MWL construction trade firms. The program includes a combination of classroom training and one-on-one assistance to enhance the ability of small- and medium-sized MWL firms as they compete for business at Columbia and across the City. Program partners include the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Columbia University's School of Continuing Education. Visit the MWL Business Initiatives section of this Web site for information on the MWL Construction Trades Certificate/Mentorship Program.  

Bid Opportunities

Columbia utilizes a selective bidding process to seek bids on its construction projects. The University generally contacts a minimum of three companies per project to solicit bids. Each firm selected on a bid must be qualified as a Columbia University vendor prior to being included on a direct bid contract.

Any construction-related firm wishing to bid on a project at Columbia must first complete a qualification process at the University. The process, generally, involves the completion of an online application. This online application is available at: You can also click here for information on our pilot program for posting select bid opportunities.

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