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Columbus Vendor Services is an eGov initiative made possible through a collaboration of the City Auditor's Office, the Department of Finance & Management - Purchasing Office, and the Mayor's Office - Equal Business Opportunity Commission Office, and seeks to accomplish the following:
Provides a one-stop, twenty-four hour portal for vendor services and contract information.
Allows vendors to express interest in doing business with the City and effectively self manage W9, registration, compliance, and bid information.
Provides open access for vendors to compete for the public’s business.
Assists City agencies in obtaining necessary goods and services in a timely, efficient, and cost effective manner while complying with applicable laws, regulations, and mandates.
Records the supporting documentation for financial transaction activity of the City.
Improves operations in the form of electronic bidding, sourcing, and purchasing of goods and services.
Conducts City business in an open environment under public scrutiny to ensure public trust in the government’s business.
By implementing Vendor Services in the beginning of 2006, the City of Columbus has modernized its methods to provide public noticing of procurement opportunities, detailed documentation of the basis for award, and increased the availability of bidding and financial records. Other expected benefits include a wider choice of suppliers, lower operational costs, better quality, improved delivery, and reduced cost of procurement.
Governmental procurement activity is significantly different than private industry. In addition to goals of obtaining necessary goods and services in a timely, efficient, and cost effective manner, government must conduct business in an open environment under the scrutiny of the public, the press, and competing vendors. Just getting a “good deal” may not be good enough in government where laws and administration regulations mandate extraordinary procedural requirements.
Prior to 1998, the City of Columbus did not have an integrated vendor file. Each agency kept its own vendor lists for sourcing, payment, and vendor profile information. This included separate vendor files for financial and procurement activities in a legacy system as well as even paper lists of vendor information that were kept in individual buyer’s desk drawers.
In 1998, the City Auditor replaced the existing financial management system with an integrated accounting, asset management, budgeting, and purchasing system. This allowed the City to begin moving more internal documentation electronically. The City was able to increase coordination and reporting capabilities by integrating the processing of procurement activities within the financial system.
As the integrated system was implemented, the Auditor’s, Equal Business Opportunity, and Purchasing Offices worked together to establish and maintain a common vendor file. City personnel have been able to establish vendor records for all entities for which business is conducted and share information. However, vendors were required to submit separate applications to each respective agency for W-9, contract compliance, and vendor registration. Also, in the recent past most agencies would copy and mail their bid packages to any vendor who requested them, even though many would decide not to bid. Using an online e-procurement system allows agencies to simply provide vendors an electronic notice of their opportunities, which should result in savings to the City of Columbus in postage, paper, and time.