INFRASTRUCTURE

Notre Dame University boosts procurement opportunities for small, diverse businesses

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The University of Notre Dame's procurement policy is to give minority-owned businesses equal opportunities to work with them.

Recognising the difficulties faced by small and minority-owned businesses to break into established markets, the University of Notre Dame has levelled the playing field with an amendment to its procurement policy.

The Procurement Services’ Uniform Guidance Bidding Policy was updated from July last year to stipulate that all purchases over US$150,000 would be part of a competitive bidding process, according to the university’s online mouthpiece NDWorks.

This is in keeping with the Indiana-based private Catholic university’s mission and overall ethos of diversity and inclusivity. In its procurements process, the university focuses on “establishing strategic alliances, promoting community relations and minority business programs, and advocating ethics in purchasing”.

From January 1 this year, the school moved to further improve the efficacy of its procurement practices.

In collaboration with the Office of Public Affairs and Office of Economic Development, it expanded its competitive bidding programme to encourage the participation of small, women-owned, veteran-owned, disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses in Request for Proposals (RFPs) for purchases over US$150,000.

NDWorks said this is in compliance with federal requirements urging institutions that receive federal funding to work with businesses of all types and sizes.

All university stakeholders involved in the procurement process have been urged to ensure fair evaluation of the proposals and the selection of the best option for the school, as well as to approve suppliers whose bids bring the best value and not purely on the basis of their being small, diverse and/or minority or women-owned.

Also as part of the program, the Procurement Services office has said it will actively identify a list of small and diverse businesses and teach them how to do business with the university.

For that purpose, the university has released a list of certifications it recognises for the program on its website. The list is as follows:

  1. AbilityOne Program: Formerly known as JWOD, the AbilityOne Program is administered by the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled through two Central Nonprofit Agencies, the National Industries for the Blind, and NISH (serving people with a range of disabilities)
  2. Alaskan Native: The federally recognised Native American entity
  3. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise: A small business certified by the US Dept of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.
  4. Disabled: This is a business that is at least 51 percent owned, controlled and operated by a disabled individual or individuals
  5. Service Disabled Veteran: A business that is at least 51 percent owned by a veteran with a disability that was incurred while in the line of duty
  6. Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business: A business that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women, all of whom must be US citizens.
  7. Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Institutions of higher education in the US that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the African American community.
  8. HUB Zone: A small business certified by the SBA as having its principle office in a certified historically under-utilized business zone, and at least 51 percent owned and controlled by US citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, or an agricultural cooperative or an Indian tribe.
  9. Minority Business Enterprise: A business that is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated, managed, and controlled by minority group members. “Minority group members” are US citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American. Ownership by minority individuals means the business is at least 51 percent owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals.
  10. Minority Woman Business Enterprise: A business that is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated, managed, and controlled by minority group members or women. Ownership by minority individuals or women means the business is at least 51 percent owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals.
  11. SBA 8(A): A small business participating in the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program. The business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are US citizens. SBA 8(A) certified businesses automatically count as Small Disadvantaged Businesses.
  12. Small Business Enterprise: A business concern eligible for assistance from SBA as a small business is one that is organized for profit, with a place of business located in the US. It must operate primarily within the US or make a significant contribution to the US economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labour. Together with its affiliates, it must meet the numerical size standards as defined in the Small Business Size Regulations. The business must also qualify as small as defined by SBA size standards for the company’s primary NAICS.
  13. Small Disadvantaged Business: A small business that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are US citizens. (Effective 2008, the SBA ceased its SDB certification program and now allows a business to self-represent its SDB status in good faith.)
  14. Veteran Owned Business: A business that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more veterans, who control and operate the business. Control in this context means exercising the power to make policy decisions and operate means to be actively involved in the day-to-day management of the business. The term “veteran” means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable.
  15. Woman Business Enterprise: A business that is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated, managed, and controlled by one or more women who are United States citizens. Ownership means the business is at least 51 percent owned by one or more women or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more women.
  16. Woman-Owned Small Business: A business that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be US citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.