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UMass Lowell recognizes four types of contracts, which, generally speaking, enable departments to purchase materials/services in excess of the $5,000 limit when accompanied by a single quotation from the contract vendor.
Although vendors on university, State (OSD) and Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium (MHEC) and Educational and Institutional Cooperative (E&I) contracts offer pre-negotiated pricing; on orders that exceed $25,000, the university can often achieve higher value through the formal bid process.
The four types of contracts:
  1. Consortium Contracts
    a. Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium (MHEC): a purchasing consortium created for, and used by, many institutions of higher education throughout New England;
    b. Educational and Institutional Cooperative (E&I): a purchasing consortium created by the National Association of Educational Procurement, is used by institutions of higher education across the country.
  2. Campus Contracts: created by the UMass Lowell Purchasing and Strategic Contracting Department 
  3. State Contracts: created by the Operational Services Division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for use by all agencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and
  4. University Contracts: created by the UMass Purchasing Council for use by all six UMass campuses.
Contracts make use of the competitive procurement to leverage the University's buying power by committing one or more types of products to one or more vendors  In exchange, the contract participants receive special pricing based on the vendor's anticipation of business to be realized during the contract term.
On large purchases, the best method is generally a dedicated bid for the particular commodity/service that is required. Please note that because a vendor is listed as being on contract does not mean that everything they sell is covered by that contract. Departments should check for the specific items that they wish to purchase. Also note that each contract also has a defined contract term, so departments are cautioned to check the contract dates before they issue a purchase requisition to insure that the contract is valid.
Note that a university contract should always take precedence over any similar contract that might be offered by any other contracting entity.