Nonconstruction Vendors and Consultants

Nonconstruction Vendors and Consultants 

In Fiscal Year '10, Columbia University spent approximately $98 million for nonconstruction goods and services in New York City. Some $25 million of this was spent within the University's local community that includes 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). These dollar amounts do not include the local dollars also spent through secondary relationships with the University's large vendor partners. Nonconstruction vendors and consultants interested in working with the University should follow the guidelines listed below.

Nonconstruction Vendors


As part of the registration process with the University, there is the opportunity to provide documentations of certification for your business. Certification does not a guarantee that your firm will obtain business with the University. Relevant business certifications include:

  • Local business
  • Minority-owned business
  • Women-owned business
  • Small business
  • Small disadvantaged business
  • Business located in an Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone
  • Veteran-owned business
  • Service disabled, veteran-owned business
  • Historically black college or university

Information about certification criteria and the certification process is available at the Small Business administration's Web Information on certification as a minority-owned business is available at Businesses that need to be certified or need assistance with business development are encouraged to contact the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) at

Credit Cards

The University has established a procurement card, or P-Card, for staff in schools and departments to make direct purchases of certain goods and services. To accept the P-Card, your business must be able to accept credit cards as a method of payment. The University can refer you to service providers who can help you set up systems to accept credit cards. Although, as with any credit card purchase, the credit card company and bank charge a transaction fee, the P-Card has the advantage of simplifying and expediting payment to your firm without additional billing requirements.

Preferred Vendor Status

The University has a number of preferred vendors that have University-wide Purchasing Agreements (UwPAs) for goods and services that are used in high volume and where competitive pricing, terms, and conditions have been negotiated. Additionally, UwPAs require a review process, which includes an assessment of capacity, as well as a review of the organization's business plan. Small, medium, and large vendors serve as preferred vendors; multiple vendors are listed and are able to provide the goods or services required. UwPA status allows the various individual schools and departments within Columbia to choose a vendor from a select list to obtain needed goods or services.

Strategic Vendor Partnerships

In addition to the Preferred Vendor Status, the University has established University-wide Strategic Partnership Agreements with several large vendors in a few key areas of high-volume goods and services. In turn, these vendors have agreed to utilize local suppliers when possible to improve local sourcing opportunities. The Strategic Vendor Partners (SVP) hold major contracts with the University, and the individual schools and departments are required to order their goods and services from the SVP. These vendors provide goods and/or services such as:

  • Maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) supplies
  • Office supplies

The Strategic Vendor Partners require a high capacity level from minority-, women-, and locally-owned (MWL) vendors, but they also provide mentoring and technical assistance to the MWL vendors with which they work.

Getting Started

Every vendor must be validated and approved before providing goods and services to the University. Once approved, vendors become part of our vendor database. The more data we have about our vendors, the easier it is for our purchasers to identify quality, reliable sources who have established a relationship with us.

This information is also vital because the University is a recipient of a substantial amount of federal funds, and Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) require us to submit reports about the diversity of our vendor base. Our vendor information also helps further the University's commitment to offer opportunities to local and small minority-owned businesses to provide goods and services to the University.

Potential University vendors should only access the below questionnaire under the following conditions:

  • Vendor has been requested to complete the questionnaire by University customer
  • Vendor has been requested to complete the questionnaire by the Vendor Validation group
  • Vendor has been requested to complete the questionnaire by the University Purchasing Office
  • Vendor is seeking to qualify for Facilities and construction-related work

If vendor submits under any other premise, their questionnaire will not be reviewed. Additionally, completion of the questionnaire does not commit or guarantee use of the vendor by the University.

Click here to access the Vendor Questionnaire.

Consultant Services

The various schools and administrative departments at Columbia individually solicit proposals for consultant services, based on a specific Scope of Work. Consultant Services are contracted through a competitive process and requires a Purchase Order, issued through Columbia's Purchasing Department.

Once the consultant is selected, the school or department will work with the consultant to complete a contract, which includes a Scope of Work and negotiated business/legal terms in accordance with Columbia's Purchasing Guidelines, available at

Once the contract is complete, the Purchasing Department will issue a Purchase Order, which permits the service provider to begin performing the contracted services. The Purchase Order is required in order to make payment(s), once an invoice is received, to the consultant following the successful performance of the contracted services.

As stated under basic requirements, a consultant must obtain some insurance, usually in the form of General Liability and/or Professional Liability. The requirements are based on assessments of risk related to the work and are in place to protect both the consultant and the University. Cost of insurance coverage can vary and is determined by a number of factors, such as type of business, financial position, and related legal issues.

Insurance requirements are included in the table provided on the "Construction Contracts" page. Coverage levels, when required, range from $1 million to $2 million. Vendors are responsible for obtaining and providing proof of insurance in the form of a Certificate of Insurance. The University does not make recommendations regarding insurance brokers but can provide a referral guide if the business needs a listing of insurance brokers to contact for more information.

Back to Guide to Working with Columbia - Introduction & Basic Information