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CollegeBuys.org assists California Community Colleges with vendor contract compliance.Procuring technology for use in the California Community Colleges (CCC) is rarely as simple as clicking the “buy” button—but a partnership of Chancellor’s Office-backed organizations is working to reduce uncertainty and ease the process.

CollegeBuys and the CCC Technology Center are jointly developing a centralized set of reference tools designed to inform chief technology officers (CTOs) across the community college system about compliance with California Public Contract Code and procurement options.

CTO Checklist

The first of these tools is a compliance checklist to help CTOs steer discussions with potential vendors in the appropriate direction. While procurement processes vary from district to district, the document offers a brief list of rules that apply systemwide to ensure no resources are wasted developing contracts that turn out to be non-compliant or redundant.

The checklist was developed over a period of three months by the Technology Workgroup of the CollegeBuys Advisory Group, together with the CCC Technology Center and procurement directors from the 72 CCC districts.

“We worked with the Technology Center and procurement officers from the local districts to come up with a quick and easy cheat sheet for CTOs to refer to when they are in conversation with a vendor,” said Jorge J.C. Sales, Director of Collaborative Services for CollegeBuys, a program of the non-profit Foundation for California Community Colleges.

“Some districts were vague in their policies on how to deploy contracts. Others had very unique and specific policies,” Sales explained. “What we developed was a baseline set of rules for all colleges that says, if the contract exceeds the bid threshold set by the Chancellor’s Office and you’re going to do a competitive Request for Proposal, here’s how to make sure you remain legally compliant.”

“We wanted to educate CTOs so they don’t waste hours on conversations with vendors that lead to nowhere, or end up in conflict with the way things are done in their district,” Sales said. “At the end of the day, if there’s still a gray area, they should refer to their local procurement office for guidance.”

The checklist is available for download here.

Contract Repository

Additionally, a co-branded webpage is in development that will provide information about California Public Contract Code compliance as well as a repository of vendor contracts that community colleges can leverage for their own procurement needs. These are contracts that have already been bid by the Foundation or a California community college, and/or adopted from the California State University, University of California or K-12 system.

The webpage, expected to go live by the Fall 2016 term, will be available on the CollegeBuys website at CollegeBuys.org and also linked from the Technology Center website at CCCTechCenter.org.

“We are working closely with the Technology Center to centralize access to compliance information,” Sales said.

The primary function of CollegeBuys is to streamline technology procurement by securing compliant contracts on behalf of the CCC, such that the contracts are useful to all colleges in the system. CollegeBuys.org serves as a procurement portal for the products and services covered by those contracts. By aggregating demand across 113 colleges, the organization can typically offer significant price discounts for individual colleges.

Publishing a centralized contract repository will allow colleges to reference other compliant contracts and know if a contract already exists with a vendor, which they could then “piggyback” on, Sales explained.


Crista Souza is the CCC TechEDge News Editor