Learn About Supplier Types


The University orders goods and services from a variety of suppliers. There are five types of suppliers that the University relies upon to provide goods and services:

  • Strategic–Preferred with University-Wide Purchasing Agreement (UwPA)
  • Preferred 
    • University-Wide Purchasing Agreement (UwPA) and Task Order  
    • Includes State/Federal Contracts
  • Master Agreements
  • Department Select Agreements
  • Validated
    • Includes U.S. Government Publishing Offices (GPO) and Cooperatives

The image below illustrates the different types of suppliers.

This image describes the different types of suppliers at Columbia University, which form a pyramid.

More detailed information about each type of supplier can be found below.

Strategic–Preferred suppliers are long-term cooperative business partners committed to leveraging the strategic and operational capabilities of the University and supplier to achieve significant operational goals to mutual benefit. This type of supplier has a more enhanced UwPA, and its relationship is further refined than standard UwPA, with clearer expectations and service levels negotiated.

The Strategic–Preferred supplier meets the following qualifications:

University-Wide Purchasing Agreement (UwPA) Supplier

A UwPA supplier is a supplier that has been awarded a University-Wide Purchasing Agreement by Central Purchasing to provide products and/or services at negotiated rates/prices and leverages University’s purchasing spend.

The UwPA supplier meets the following qualifications:

UwPAs are awarded when Purchasing has identified an opportunity to leverage University spending on specified goods and/or services across multiple departments. Individual suppliers are identified through internal utilization and external resources.

Based on the availability of goods and/or services in the marketplace, as well as increased opportunity to leverage the University's spending, a determination is made to either negotiate with existing suppliers or to solicit a request for proposal (RFP).

Task Order Supplier

A Task Order supplier is a supplier that has been awarded a Task Order Agreement by Central Purchasing and Facilities to supply products and/or services at negotiated rates and/or unit pricing.

The Task Order supplier meets the following qualifications:

No bidding, negotiations, or departmental justifications are required when utilizing Task Order supplier for the following:

  • Individual transactions up to $30,000
  • Single trade, single transactions up to $70,000
  • General contractors using multiple trades and up to $100,000
  • Term agreements (e.g., architects, engineers, etc.)

Task Orders are awarded through the following process:

All work for Task Order suppliers must be processed through Facilities or with its consent.

Master Agreements suppliers are approved suppliers that have a negotiated master agreement in place with Purchasing with agreed terms and conditions for the supply of specified services.

The Master Agreements supplier meets the following qualifications:

Engaging a Master Agreement supplier does not require bidding or departmental justification, but the work must be consistent with prices, terms, and scope identified in the contract.

Department Select Agreements (DSA) suppliers are contracted by Purchasing to supply specified goods and/or services at the request of a single or small number of departments.

The DSA supplier meets the following qualifications:

Departments are responsible for ensuring that pricing and terms of service are in accordance with the negotiated DSA.

Validated suppliers are those suppliers from whom specific departments wish to receive goods and services on an ad hoc basis. These suppliers are not preferred, but have undergone a supplier verification process and been approved as legitimate suppliers.

The process to become an approved supplier must be initiated by a requesting department or school. Many sourcing decisions are made at the school and department level. There are hundreds of decision-makers across these decentralized departments, and suppliers need to seek out opportunities with these decision-makers to gain visibility.

Once a supplier has been awarded business by a school or department, providing excellent service, high-quality goods, competitive pricing, and effective compliance support are often the best strategies for getting known by other departments and considered for other opportunities. To clarify, an approved supplier is not a preferred supplier.

All procurement requirements associated with non-UwPA vendors apply.

Visit the Vendor Management site to make changes to your current supplier profile. Please note: Only current suppliers can modify their information.


View the Goods and Services Contracts Policy for more information on sourcing requirements at Columbia.