The City University of New York (“CUNY” or “University”) acquires goods and services to fulfill its mission to provide high-quality, accessible education in the City of New York. The University’s purchasing policies reflect applicable laws and regulations, including the New York State Finance Law, New York Education Law, New York Executive Law, and requirements set by the CUNY Board of Trustees.

CUNY uses a University-wide collaborative purchasing process for core goods and services managed by the Office of the University Controller – Procurement (University-wide contracts) with decentralized purchasing at the colleges to meet specific needs (college-specific procurements). To obtain high-quality goods and services at fair and reasonable prices, the University employs a variety of procurement methods including telephone and written Requests for Quotations, Invitations for Bids, and Requests for Proposals. The Procurement Officers leverage their expertise to determine the most appropriate method for any given purchase.

Generally, CUNY is required to purchase goods and services from the following sources and in the following order:

Preferred Sources include: Corcraft; NYS Preferred Source Program for People Who Are Blind (NYSPSP); and NYS Industries for the Disabled Inc. (NYSID). Preferred Sources must be considered for all goods and services offered by these Preferred Sources meet CUNY’s form, function, and utility. For additional information regarding Preferred Source product and service offerings, please visit the NYS OGS website for “List of Preferred Source Offerings”.

University-wide contracts are established by the Office of the University Controller for use by all CUNY colleges. University policy requires CUNY colleges to use University-wide contract that have been strategically sourced, whenever possible. Please contact of the Office of University Purchasing for additional information.

There are several Centralized Government Contracts that CUNY utilizes to meet its purchasing needs.

NYS Office of General Services (OGS) centralized contracts are created by NYS Procurement (NYSPro) for core goods and services needed by government entities across the State. For a listing of all NYS OGS contracts, please visit >New York State Procurement Website.

NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) requirements contracts are created by DCAS for use of all NYC Agencies and are also available for use by CUNY. Depending on the DCAS agreement, a mini-bid (competition) may be required for use. For additional information, please visit the NYC DCAS Office of Citywide Procurement website.

US General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule 70 & 84 are created by GSA for use by state and local governments, including institution of higher education such as CUNY. Depending on the GSA agreement, a mini-bid (competition) may be required for use. For additional information, please visit >GSA Schedule eLibrary.

The University may also use certain centralized contracts procured by the >NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) and the >NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

CUNY college-specific purchasing is conducted by each college. Each dedicated purchasing team employs a variety of different procurement methods to acquire goods and services. The most commonly used methods are listed below.

Request for Quotes / Informal Purchasing / Discretionary Purchases
The University may use informal procurement (discretionary) to procure commodities and services with a value of less than $100,00, which are not available through preferred sources or centralized/university-wide contracts. Pursuant to NYS Finance Law, the threshold may rise to $200,000 when the vendor pool is limited to NYS-certified MWBEs, or NYS small businesses, or manufacturers of recycled or remanufactured commodities or technology, or food products that are grown, produced or harvested in NYS, or a combination of the vendor pools listed. CUNY may obtain telephone or written quotes from vendors or use any of the other methods listed below.

Invitation for Bids (IFB) / Competitive Sealed Bids (CSB)

The Invitation for Bid method is used to obtain goods and services capable of being described in the solicitation so that bids submitted by potential vendors can be evaluated against the description. This method itemizes the goods / services to be performed in such detail that the only determinant factor is price. All vendors on the appropriate bidders list are invited to bid and if applicable, the procurements are publicly advertised in the NYS Contract Reporter or the City Record (NYC). Vendors submit bids that are opened in a public “bid opening” and the contract is awarded to the qualified responsible vendor submitting the lowest responsive bid or the best value to CUNY.

Request for Proposals (RFP) / Competitive Sealed Proposals (CSP)

RFPs are used to obtain services where experience, organizational capability, and proposed approach are the most important factors. This method lists the contract deliverables and overall goals in general terms and requires each proposer to offer a detailed strategy for the delivery of the requested services.

These proposals must be evaluated and ranked. An evaluation committee chooses the best proposals and then negotiates with the top proposer(s) before making a selection and awarding a contract(s). All vendors on the appropriate proposers’ list are invited to submit a proposal and where applicable, the procurements are publicly advertised in the NYS Contract Reporter or the City Record (NYC).


Our procurement professionals follow these policies to govern the procurement process. We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards with respect to our sourcing activities, and we expect our business vendors to do the same.

Purchasing Policy and Procedures of The City University of New York (updated 02.21.17)

Informal Purchasing Policy (updated 11.09.15)