Buying bill for higher ed reaches Senate floor

From Staff Reports

   A Senate bill co-sponsored by state Sen. Dewey "Rusty" Crowe, R-Johnson City, received unanimous approval from the Senate Education Committee this week. The bill allows higher education institutions to purchase goods and services through a group purchasing organization in hopes of lowering prices and expenses.
   "In these tight fiscal times when our colleges and universities are having to do more with less, it is essential that we make available to them proven cost-saving options," said Crowe. "The healthcare industry has achieved significant operational savings through the group purchasing alternative and this legislation will allow higher education in Tennessee to benefit from a similar partnership."
   Senate Bill 1288 requires that group purchasing organizations employ and certify competitive processes to obtain the most competitive bid or proposal for goods and services offered, considering price, quality and service.
   The state's higher education system faces a new round of funding cuts. Gov. Phil Bredesen's budget includes a 9 percent cut in almost each state department or agency.
   Crowe is co-sponsor of a bill introduced by Sen. Randy McNally, R-Knoxville. The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. John Hood, D-Mufreesboro, is scheduled to be taken up by the Higher Education Subcommittee today.
   The bill permit the group purchasing provided the price quotation of the group purchasing program results from a competitive process and represents the most competitive bid or proposal, considering price, quality and service, for the goods or services sought to be purchased.
   "It is our hope that through regular utilization of the group purchasing organization's portfolio of products and services that higher education can reduce operational costs without compromising the quality of their educational missions."
   An amendment to the bill requires universities to provide an annual summary and evaluation report of the results of the purchases made utilizing a group purchasing program.