The purpose of this policy is to define a process for all new and recurring procurement (through purchase or lease) of computer hardware, software, services, and artificial intelligence technologies using Washington University funds or grant funds administered by Washington University Resource Management (“IT Procurement Process”). The IT Procurement Process is designed to improve efficiency, ensure appropriate justification/approvals, and increase the value of hardware, services, and software procurement.
This IT Procurement Process is required to be followed by Washington University Policy when the CFU, a school, or a department contemplates the acquisition of computer hardware, software, IT services, or artificial intelligence technologies involving any one of the following:
- There is a need for the software solution to function as part of the larger IT infrastructure, or for the software to be integrated with other university systems or software (e.g. WUSTL key login), REGARDLESS of the expense;
- The solution involves 3rd party access to sensitive university data (eg. Student or Patient information); OR
- The anticipated expense will be at least $50,000 for hardware, and at least $15,000 for software or IT services.
Process Steps (Please also see attached flow diagram for a visual depiction):
- Provide intake information by identifying and describing:
- Your need and scope of the request. Be as specific as possible in outlining the requirements and include functionality, performance (size, speed, and other), capacity, retrieval frequency, storage, and other elements (*NOTE: it is strongly recommended that you use the Information Technology Requisition form attached to this policy);
- Background information including any available product/service documentation relative to any 3rd party suppliers/vendors that may be involved; AND
- Your timing needs for product/service deployment and identifies the funding source.
2. Send the description of need and scope to Resource Management at firstname.lastname@example.org along with a list of vendors you have identified that can provide proposals to fulfill your requirements.
3. Resource Management will involve WashU IT as appropriate. Either Resource Management or WashU IT will acknowledge receipt of your information within two business days and a preliminary discussion may be arranged.
4. The size and complexity of acquisitions can vary widely. Reasonable expectations around delivery milestones for the specific purchase will be discussed in the preliminary discussion.
5. As appropriate WashU IT will review and assess your initial description of need and scope.
a) For hardware, the assessment will include, but not be limited to:
- Identification of existing hardware that could possibly fulfill your need;
- Knowledge of or experience with any of the vendors you’ve identified as possible sources;
- Alternative ideas of solutions to fulfill your need;
b) For software, the WashU IT office will assess:
- Determination if the software is already available through the WU software library;
- Possible availability of existing WU licenses that you could use;
- Alternative software solutions (from a third-party vendor or WU developed) to fulfill your need.
c) For services, the office will assess:
- Cloud services (laaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.) that might provide a solution;
- Consulting services and potential sources.
6. The assessment may result in the WashU IT posing additional questions to the originating school or department, seeking clarifications regarding the description of need and/or the scope.
7. Ultimately, WashU IT will work with the originating school or department and Resource Management to reach a decision that the purchase:
- Is a fit with the IT strategic direction;
- Is not a fit, but is a valid exception;
- Is not a fit, and no exception will be granted.
8. If all issues have been clearly addressed and the decision is made to proceed, the school or department, Resource Management, and WashU IT will collaborate to support the following procurement activities as appropriate:
a) If necessary, conduct a Request for Proposal (RFP) process including, identifying the bidder’s list, timetable, and issuance of the RFP.
b) Resource Management will receive and share proposals with the school or department and WashU. Proposals are tabulated and any clarifications and questions are asked of and answered by the vendors.
c) The award decision is a collaborative one, intended to ensure the need and scope requirements will be fulfilled on time, and that the financial and service value for the school or department and WashU is optimal.
d) After an award decision is made (or if no RFP occurs and there is a direct agreement with a vendor required), Resource Management will work with WashU IT to conduct
contract negotiations with the vendor. Focusing on legal language, risk, value, technical clarity, and term of the contract.
e) Timing expectations for contract negotiations are as follows:
> For low cost and low-risk transactions, allow at least two weeks for review;
> For higher cost and more complex requests, allow at least four weeks for review. NOTE: Due to variations in complexity, some negotiations may take much longer to complete.
f) Once contract terms are finalized, and after Resource Management approval on terms and conditions, the contract may be executed by an authorized WashU signatory as well as the vendor. Final contract documentation must be sent electronically to email@example.com for storage.
g) After final contract signatures, the school or department should work with Resource Management to issue any applicable Purchase Orders aligned to the specific contract requirements.
Requirements for Procurement Activities:
- In any award decision, there needs to be an affirmation that there are no conflicts of interest, as defined by Washington University’s Conflict of Interest Policy.
- The location of the vendor must be identified as domestic or foreign.
- With the award decision, it must be documented who was on the negotiation team, who authorized the purchase and that the final contract IT terms are consistent with the needs of the requesting school or department.
- The requesting school or department must make appropriate resources available to collaborate with and support Resource Management and WashU IT in performing all procurement activities, including vetting project requirements, ensuring product and services scope and pricing are effectively negotiated, and securing required approvals for contract signatures.
- Resource Management and WashU IT will collaborate to determine whether additional subject matter experts (eg. legal, security, insurance, finance, etc.) may be required to provide inputs and the school or department may be required to assist in communicating and gathering information to support such experts. Involvement of such expertise may also result in extended times required for the completion and approval of contracts.
- Under certain circumstances, it may be impractical or unnecessary to conduct an RFP or even a full contract negotiation for certain low-risk projects. In some cases, it may be appropriate to abbreviate or even bypass some procurement steps set forth in section 8 above. The applicable school or department should work with Resource Management to verify the steps necessary and ensure appropriate approvals and order processing occurs.
Revised December 2020