Documentation of the rationale for the selection of a vendor and their goods and services should be maintained and included as a part of the internal control procedures at any district. For auditors, documentation is paramount to show that goods and services were competitively procured. Just read any of the NYS OSC audit reports on procurement and you’ll see how closely the OSC examines this area. When a district exceeds the bidding threshold of $20,000 for purchased goods, GML requires districts to issue a formal bid. Purchasing goods from Amazon has become increasingly common in the last several years because of cheaper prices. Because of this increased use of Amazon, it is easy than ever for some districts to spend over the bidding threshold. So how do you document that the goods were purchased competitively and comply with GML?
Amazon has a bid feature which enables a district to get quotes so that districts can demonstrate that purchases considered competitive pricing. Amazon Business and OMINA Partners have created an Amazon Business cooperative that has contracts which are available to public sector entities including state and local government agencies, public and private K-12 school districts and higher education organizations, and nonprofit businesses. Their online store provides tools to guide the users to preferred products, approval workflows, analytics, seller certifications, and flexible account settings. They claim to have hundreds of thousands of suppliers across multiple product categories like office supplies, IT products, MRO, and more all in one place.
One district we work with shared that they work with a dedicated Customer Advisor on the Amazon Education Team. They recently received an email with two opportunities to save additional money and best use any remaining fiscal year funds:
1.) Request for Quote Tool:
Amazon can help secure inventory and seek discounted pricing on bulk orders. When you have an opportunity that hits $7,500 or 999 Qty, use the bulk buying feature available on your account. They even have a short video to help guide you through the process (click here).
2.) Custom Supply Kits:
You order the same items to be handed out or packaged for Students/Teachers. Amazon can help by shipping pre-packaged kits with needed items that are ready to hand out. You can learn more about Amazon’s School Supply Boxed storefront here.
You can register for a free Amazon Business account and get the ball rolling. There are a lot of advantages to enrolling which include ensuring purchases are tax exempt and getting free shipping on eligible orders over $25. Save money while being in compliance with GML as well as your purchasing policy by utilizing Amazon’s bid features.
Ray has been a member of Cerini & Associates audit staff since 2019. Prior to that he was owner of a Distribution and Manufacturing company dealing with schools and government agencies.