Competition is a basis for all purchasing, whether it is in industry or by governmental agency. The purchasing agent for a public school district, however, has many more restrictions than has an industrial purchasing agent. Federal and State laws, as well as board policy set forth-certain procedures, which must be followed.
A. Policy Requirements. Section 104-b of the General Municipal Law requires boards of education to adopt internal policies and procedures governing all purchases of goods and services not required by General Municipal Law, Section 103, to be competitively bid. The board of education's policies and procedures must:
- Prescribe procedures for determining whether a procurement is subject to competitive bidding and, if not, document the basis for such determination, with certain exceptions (e.g., county and State contracts or from preferred vendor).
- Provide that when competitive bidding is not required, the dollar limits for the use of verbal and written quotations, and the required procedures and documentation supporting all decisions made by the purchasing agent, are specified.
- Require justification and documentation, when a contract is awarded to other than the lowest dollar offered, of the reason such award furthers the purpose of this section.
- Set forth any circumstances when alternative proposals and quotations will not be in the best interest of the district.
The board of education must annually solicit input from the purchasing agent regarding the purchasing policies and procedures, and annually review and readopt said policies.
A sample policy is found in Appendix 13.
- To give all recognized and responsible vendors equal opportunity in furnishing supplies and equipment and services to the district.
- To prevent the favoring of one vendor over another.
- To keep district residents informed on business matters pertaining to schools.
- To prevent fraud on the part of the purchasing official.
The purchasing procedure for all school districts in the state, found in General Municipal Law, Section 103, reads as follows:
"Advertising for bids; letting of contracts...
- 1. (Effective until June 1, 2013) Except as otherwise expressly provided by an act of the legislature or by a local law adopted prior to September first, nineteen hundred fifty-three, all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than thirty-five thousand dollars and all purchase contracts involving an expenditure of more than twenty thousand dollars shall be awarded by the appropriate officer, board or agency of a political subdivision or of any district therein including but not limited to a soil conservation district, to the lowest responsible bidder furnishing the required security after advertisement for sealed bids in the manner provided by this section. In any case where a responsible bidder's gross price is reducible by an allowance for the value of used machinery, equipment, apparatus or tools to be traded in by a political subdivision, the gross price shall be reduced by the amount of such allowance, for the purpose of determining the low bid. In cases where two or more responsible bidders furnishing the required security submit identical bids as to price, such officer, board or agency may award the contract to any of such bidders. Such officer, board or agency may, in his or her or its discretion, reject all bids and advertise for new bids in the manner provided by this section.In determining whether a purchase is an expenditure within the discretionary threshold amounts established by this subdivision, the officer, board or agency of a political subdivision or of any district therein shall consider the reasonably expected aggregate amount of all purchases of the same commodities, services or technology to be made within the twelve-month period commencing on the date of purchase. Purchases of commodities, services or technology shall not be artificially divided for the purpose of satisfying the discretionary buying thresholds established by this subdivision. A change to or a renewal of a discretionary purchase shall not be permitted if the change or renewal would bring the reasonably expected aggregate amount of all purchases of the same commodities, services or technology from the same provider within the twelve-month period commencing on the date of the first purchase to an amount greater than the discretionary buying threshold amount. For purposes of this section, “sealed bids”, as that term applies to purchase contracts, shall include bids submitted in an electronic format including submission of the statement of non-collusion required by section one hundred three-d of this article, provided that the governing board of the political subdivision or district, by resolution, has authorized the receipt of bids in such format. Subdivision in electronic format may, for technology contracts only, be required as the sole method for the submission of bids. Bids submitted in an electronic format shall be transmitted by bidders to the receiving device designated by the political subdivision or district. Any method used to receive electronic bids shall comply with article three of the state technology law, and any rules and regulations promulgated and guidelines developed thereunder and, at a minimum, must (a) document the time and date of receipt of each bid received electronically; (b) authenticate the identity of the sender; (c) ensure the security of the information transmitted; and (d) ensure the confidentiality of the bid until the time and date established for the opening of the bids. The timely submission of an electronic bid in compliance with instructions provided for such submission in the advertisement for bids and/or the specifications shall be the responsibility solely of each bidder or prospective bidder. No political subdivision or district therein shall incur any liability from delays of or interruptions in the receiving device designated for the submission and receipt of electronic bids.
- 1. (Effective June 1, 2013) Except as otherwise expressly provided by an act of the legislature or by a local law adopted prior to September first, nineteen hundred fifty-three, all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than thirty-five thousand dollars and all purchase contracts involving an expenditure of more than twenty thousand dollars, shall be awarded by the apropriate officer, board or agency of a political subdivision or of any district therein including but not limited to a soil conservation district, to the lowest responsible bidder furnishing the required security after advertisement for sealed bids in the manner provided by this section. In determining whether a purchase is an expenditure within the discretionary threshold amounts established by this subdivision, the officer, board or agency of a political subdivision or of any district therein shall consider the reasonably expected aggregate amount of all purchases of the same commodities, services or technology to be made within the twelve-month period commencing on the date of purchase. Purchases of commodities, services or technology shall not be artificially divided for the purpose of satisfying the discretionary buying thresholds established by this subdivision. A change to or a renewal of a discretionary purchase shall not be permitted if the change or renewal wold bring the reasonably expected aggregate amount of all purchases of the same commodities, services or technology from the same provider within the twelve-month period commencing on the date of the first purchase to an amount greater than the discretionary buying threshold amount. In any case where a responsible bidder's gross price shall be reduced by the amount of such allowance, for the purpose of determining the low bid. In cases where two or more responsible bidders furnishing the required security submit identical bids as to price, such officer, board or agency may award the contract to any of such bidders. Such officer, board or agency may, in his, her or its discretion, reject all bids and readvertise for new bids in the manner provided by this section.
- 1-a. Whenever possible, practical, and feasible and consistent with open competitive bidding, the officer, board or agency of any political subdivision or of any district therein charged with the awarding of contracts may use the stock item specifications of manufacturers, producers and/or assemblers located in New York state in developing specifications for items to be let for bid in its purchasing contracts and may use the data and information contained in stock item specifications forms as provided in section one hundred sixty-four-a of the state finance law to assist in his determination of what constitutes a stock item of a manufacturer, producer and/or assembler located in New York state for the purpose of helping to retain jobs, business and industry presently in the state of New York and attracting expanded and new business and industry to the state of New York so as to best promote the public interest.
- 2. (Effective until June 1,2013) Advertisement for bids shall be published in the official newspaper or newspapers, if any, or otherwise in a newspaper or newspapers designated for such purpose. Such advertisement shall contain a statement of the time when and place where all bids received pursuant to such notice will be publicly opened and readm, and the designation of the receiving device if the political subdivision or district has authorized the receipt of bids in an electronic format. Such board or agency may by resolution designate any officer or employee to open the bids at the time and place specified in the notice. Such designee shall make a record of such bids in such form and detail as the board or agency shall prescribe and present the same at the next regular or special meeting of such board or agency. All bids received shall be publicly opened and read at the time and place so specified. At least five days shall elapse between the first publication of such advertisement and the date so specified for the opening and reading of bids."
- 2 (Effective June 1, 2013) Advertisement for bids shall be published in the official newspaper or newspapers, if any, or otherwise in a newspaper or newspapers designated for such purpose. Such advertisement shall contain a statement of the time when and place where all bids recieved pursuant to such notice will be publicly opened and read. Such board or agency may by resolution designate any officer or employee to open the bids at the time and place specified in the notice. Such designee shall make a record of such bids in such form and detail as the board or agency shall prescribe and present the same at the next regular or special meeting of such board or agency. All bids received shall be publicly opened and read at the time and place so specified. At least five days shall elapse between the first publication of such advertisement and the date so specified for the opening and reading of bids.
There have been several amendments to this law since its adoption. Some have liberalized its provisions and others have interpreted its meaning.
A few of the interpretations of the statute which have been issued by the courts and State agencies are presented under the following headings:
- Competitive bidding. The Advertising Law requires competitive bidding on all purchase contracts involving an expenditure of more than $10,000 ($20,000 effective June 22, 2010) annually for items of materials, supplies, and equipment. This is generally interpreted as covering groups of items as well as individual items. There must be formal bidding with legal advertisement if a single item to be purchased exceeds $10,000 ($20,000 effective June 22, 2010) or the aggregate cost of an item or reasonable commodity grouping estimated to be purchased in a fiscal year would exceed that figure. (Opinion of the State Comptroller 59-647.) The limitation on public works contracts is $20,000 ($35,000 effective November 12, 2009) before formal advertisement is required. Public works contracts apply to those items or projects involving labor or both materials and labor. The law does not cover professional service contracts such as for insurance, electricity, water, or services performed by engineers, architects, and attorneys.
- Seasonal items. The law requires advertising for seasonal items. A season's supply of fuel oil for delivery on demand or the purchase of school lunch supplies, milk and ice cream, bread and meats as required are bid where consumption of such items is above the legally required dollar limit.
- Advertising. Formal advertising is required when the annual purchases exceed the dollar limit established by the bid law. When a district buys an item of supply it is necessary to advertise if the annual purchases exceed $10,000 ($20,000 effective June 22,2010) regardless of the number of deliveries called for during the school year. For example, the total value of paper or paper towels used during the year, if purchased one-half in July and the other half in December, might be less than the bid law requirement (currently $10,000 ($20,000 effective June 22, 2010)) for each purchase. However, since the total of the purchases exceeds $10,000 ($20,000 effective June 22, 2010) in the school year, the purchase must be formally advertised and bid. Lack of storage facilities could also be a deterrent to accepting delivery in one lot. Other considerations may exist which would justify dividing the purchase.
- Intent. The general intent of the law and the school district's responsibility should be the basis for action. The general interest of the taxpayers and the economical and efficient operation of the schools should dictate the action to be taken by the district. Circumstances vary, and a procedure considered good for one district could work to the detriment of another. In Pioneer Coal Company Vs Board of Education of the City of Rochester, Monroe County Supreme Court, Wheeler, J., September 10, 1949, it was held that "it is the well-settled law of this state that in the absence of fraud, corruption, or abuse of discretion, the judgment or discretion of the proper officials will not be disturbed by the courts." However, evading the intent of the law cannot be countenanced.
- Specificity of bid proposals. Here again, circumstances will be the determining factor. For example, a school district has the right to determine the kind of bus it requires as to type, size, power unit, and other important factors. Generally accepted educational practices may make it desirable to have several makes of office machines available for students, rather than have all equipment of one type. The same principle may apply to homemaking equipment and shop machines. Educational authorities have the responsibility to specify which textbook is to be used without regard to competition. School officials certainly have the right to determine the type of pupil seating best adapted, in their opinion, for a particular district. It may be highly desirable to match existing furniture as far as possible, in order to provide for flexibility and interchange of equipment. Even a manufacturer's style or symbol may be mentioned in a specification to indicate the standard required. However, the phrase "or equivalent" should be included in order to provide for competitive bidding. When the low bidder offers an alternate or substitute, the board must determine whether the item offered is, in fact, equal to that specified. Remember that the award must be made to the lowest responsible bidder meeting specifications. Bidders may be disqualified for failure to meet specifications.
limits. The bid limit refers to the net, not the gross, price.
Section 103 of the General Municipal Law was amended to clarify that
the bid limit applies to the net, rather than the gross, price. "In
any case where a responsible bidder's gross price is reducible by
an allowance for the value of used machinery, equipment, apparatus
or tools to be traded in by a political subdivision, the gross price
shall be reduced by the amount of such allowance for the purpose
of determining the low bid." Examples are old computers,
lathes, sewing machines, etc., turned in on the purchase of new,
and so indicated in specifications. In such cases, the bidding
sheet usually provides for a gross price for the new item or items,
less an allowance for the trade-ins, and the resulting net delivered
When a discount is involved, the net price is the determining factor as to whether an item comes under the bid limitation. Thus, the discount is not considered to be a part of the payment. However, the specification should state that the board reserves the right to purchase by individual items groups of items, or by total of all items in line with the best interests of the school district. The board should also specify that all discounts will be considered in determining the lowest responsible bidder.
of equipment authorized by law. Section 103, subdivision 5
of the General Municipal Law makes it possible for a board of education
to standardize on a particular type or kind of equipment, material,
or supplies by adopting a resolution, "...by a vote of at least
three-fifths of all the members of the governing body of a political
subdivision" affirming that there is need for standardization.
shall contain a full explanation of the reasons for its adoption." However,
this action does not eliminate the necessity of advertising for bids
and awarding the contract "...to the lowest responsible
bidder furnishing the required security."
Standardization, as the word implies, permits and defines the purchase of a specific make, model, or type of equipment or supply. For example, to concentrate on one satisfactory make or model of school bus may be practical and economical because of the interchange of parts, or the ability of personnel to operate any one of the fleet of buses. In the case of school or library equipment, it may be desirable to match existing furniture in design or color for aesthetic reasons.
Although the approval of such action by a governing board does not eliminate the need for formal advertising on purchases over the bid limit, the words "or equal"--"or equivalent" are not required in the specifications. The make or model may be specified, and anyone who can furnish the item may bid. It would be advisable for the specifications to indicate that the board has standardized on the item(s).
Section 103, subdivision 6 also provides that "surplus and second-hand supplies, material or equipment may be purchased without competitive bidding from the federal government, the state of New York or from any other political subdivision, district or public benefit corporation."
The Office of Counsel of the State Education Department has indicated that competitive bids are not required on new textbooks when the publisher is the sole source of supply. In the case of textbooks, however, it is advisable for the purchasing official to ascertain their cost on both a delivered price and at the publisher's plant. Then, on the basis of transportation costs, the district may determine which bid is the most beneficial. Library books and magazine subscriptions should be advertised if the total is over the current limit of $10,000 ($20,000 effective June 22, 2010), as various vendors might be in position to bid.
- Local agricultural purchasing. A board of education may require provisions under specific criteria that mandate that the essential components of food products are grown, produced or harvested and/or processed in New York State and may separately purchase eggs, livestock, fish, dairy products, species of fresh fruit and vegetables directly from producers or growers, and milk directly from licensed milk processors employing less than 40 people. (General Municipal Law Section 103, subdivisions 8a, 9 and 10.)
- Emergencies. Emergency purchases without bidding are also provided for in an amendment to the advertising law. A public emergency may arise out of an accident or other unforeseen occurrence which could affect the life, health, or safety of children, and where immediate action cannot await competitive bidding. Fire or damage by the elements to electrical systems or school plumbing is examples. (Authority for emergency purchasing is contained in Section 103, subdivision 4, of the General Municipal Law. Note the words "accident" and "unforeseen occurrence." Boards of education should observe this strict definition in declaring the existence of an emergency.)
- Maximizing advertisements. Advertising for bids, as required by the law, seems clear enough. To obtain as much coverage as possible and to reach the best markets, the suggestion is made for small or rural districts to advertise in a newspaper in the nearest city as well as in the rural paper. To be sure that the information covered by the advertisement is seen by suppliers who could bid on the district's requirements, it is a good practice to mail copies of the advertisement and specifications to prospective vendors known to the school purchasing official and post notices of bids in the district's business office. At least five days must elapse between the first publication of an advertisement and the date specified for the opening of bids. It is preferable, if time permits, to allow at least five working days, if not ten days to two weeks, on bids.
- Opening of bids. Advertised bids must be opened publicly and read aloud. Bidders and/or other interested persons may attend such openings. The purchasing agent or any other designated person should open bids. If there are no spectators present, it is advisable to have another person from the business office or administrative staff present as witness.
- Recording and safekeeping of bids. Bids may be received at any time after advertising and before they are opened and read. It is highly desirable to date and time stamp the bids when received. Usually a special or distinctive envelope is provided by the district to identify the bid by name such as "Bid for Library Furniture" so that if bids for more than one project are to be opened at the same date and time, they may be properly grouped before opening. Any bid received after the official time for opening cannot be considered. A letter should be sent to the bidder with the unopened bid stating that bid was received after official time of opening.
- Award of contract. If the board of education is in session when bids are opened, a contract may be awarded at once. However, it is advisable to review bids carefully, and a reasonable time may elapse between opening of bids and award of contract. In case identical bids are received, the award may not be divided. The board should determine which bidder is to receive the contract. If the board believes there may be collusion between bidders, all bids may be rejected and advertised.
- Equipment requiring installation. This handbook does not go into detail in connection with construction contracts (new buildings, additions to buildings, etc.). However, when bids are requested on equipment to be installed or erected in a school building (such as lockers, shelving, and science equipment), the district should, in its specifications and instructions to bidders, specify that the vendor is to comply with all State and local regulations relating to labor, such as minimum hourly wage, working conditions, insurance, and safety factors. The inclusion of such requirements may eliminate confusion and possible misunderstanding between the vendor and the district as the work progresses, and insure no work stoppage because of infringement of labor laws or regulations.
withdrawal of bid submitted. Section 103(11) of the General
Municipal Law allows a bidder to withdraw a bid when:
- The mistake was made known prior to the award of the contract or within three days of the bid opening, whichever is shorter;
- The price was based on an error of such magnitude that enforcement would be unconscionable;
- The bid was submitted in good faith and the bidder submitted evidence that the mistake was a clerical error;
- The error in the bid, substantiated by original work papers, documents, or materials used in preparing the bid, evidences an unintentional substantial arithmetic error and/or omission of a substantial quantity of work, material, or service;
- The district is no better or worse off then it was prior to the bid (status quanta).
The sole remedy for bidder error under this section is the withdrawal of that bid and the return of the bid bond or security. The reformation or amendment of a bid or contract is strictly prohibited. The board of education may, at its discretion, award the bid to the next lowest bidder or rebid the contract.
D. Multi-Year Leases and Installment Purchases. A motivating factor behind use of multi-year leases and installment purchasing over traditional methods of acquiring equipment, machinery and apparatus is the ability to make payments over the life of the equipment. More importantly, technology has advanced so rapidly that equipment becomes technologically obsolete before its physical life is over. Technological developments bring about either new techniques of instruction or more efficient operation. The sections of law that govern such agreements are as follows:
of Personal Property Section 1725 of the Education Law provides
- The board of education may enter into an agreement for the lease of personal property.
- The board of education must adopt a resolution stating the reason why such agreement is in the best financial interest of the district.
- The agreement may not exceed the current year unless the voters approve such agreement, either as a separate proposition or as an appropriation, with indication, in the budget presented to the voters.
- Such agreements are subject to competitive bidding requirements if the total amount over the term of the contract exceeds the dollar limit for purchases established by Section 103 of the General Municipal Law.
Agreements for Instructional Equipment. Section 1725-a of the
Education Law, authorizes school districts to enter into lease-purchase
agreements for instructional equipment subject to the bidding requirements
of the General Municipal Law. This section also provides that
the Commissioner of Education shall promulgate regulations defining "instructional
equipment" and that any such lease-purchase agreement must have
the prior written approval of the Commissioner before execution.
In accordance with the requirements regarding definition of instructional
equipment and prior approval of lease-purchase agreements, Commissioner's
- The board of education of any school district may enter into agreements for the lease-purchase of instructional equipment, in accordance with section 1725-a of the Education Law and this section, with the payments to be applied against the purchase price of the equipment.
- All such lease-purchase agreements shall be subject to written approval of the commissioner before execution. Applications for approval of lease-purchase agreements shall be in a form prescribed by the commissioner and shall be submitted no more than 90 days and no less than 30 days prior to the date of execution of the agreement. A variance may be granted from the time limitations for submission of such applications upon a showing of good cause satisfactory to the commissioner.
- As used in Education Law,
section 1725-a and this section, instructional equipment
means instruments, machines, apparatus or other types of equipment,
which are used directly in the instruction of students and which:
- Are not consumed in use and retain their original shape and appearance with use;
- Are not expendable items such as textbooks or supplies;
- Are not capital improvements, as such term is defined in subdivision 9 of section 2 of the Local Finance Law; and
- Do not lose their identity through incorporation into a different or more complex unit.
- Installment Purchase Contracts. General Municipal Law,
Section 109-b authorizes the use of installment contracts for the
purchase of equipment, machinery and apparatus. Chapter 137
of the Laws of 2003 amended Section 109-b to continue to authorize
school districts to enter into lease- purchase contracts and to
obtain financing from a source other than the vendor, including
the issuance of certificates of participation (COPS).
For the purpose of Section 109-b, agreements--whether they be titled installment purchases, lease-purchase or leases with options to purchase-- constitute installment purchase contracts when a component of the periodic rental payment is, in reality, an installment payment applied toward the purchase of the equipment. The school district is building equity in the equipment over the course of the agreement. This results in title passing to the school district automatically or for nominal consideration at the end of the term of the agreement, or for an option price which is an amount less than the fair market value of the equipment at the time of purchase. (Opinions State Comptroller, 1982, No. 82-51; Opinions State Comptroller, 1980, No. 80-187.)
bidding required. Subdivision 6 of Section 109-b makes it
clear that installment purchase contracts are subject to competitive
bidding requirements if the total amount proposed to be paid
over the term of the agreement exceeds the current limit established
by Section 103 of the General Municipal Law. Section 109-b
mandates that all installment purchase contracts (IPCs) contain
the so-called "executory
clause" set forth in the statute as follows:
"This contract shall be deemed executory only to the extent of the monies appropriated and available for the purpose of the contract, and no liability on account thereof shall be incurred by the purchaser beyond the amount of such monies. It is understood that neither this contract nor any representation by any public employee or officer creates any legal or moral obligation to request, appropriate or make available monies for the purpose of the contract."
- Authorization. Since there is a mandatory referendum required for the issuance of debt by school districts then any installment purchase contract would also be subject to referendum. If the authorization for the issuance of obligations would have been subject to referendum only if the obligations had a maturity of more than five years or not less than some other minimum period, then the installment purchase contract will be subject to referendum only if the term of the contract is equal to or more than such minimum period.
- Certificates of Participation (COPs). COPs may be sold at public or private sale, either independently or in connection with a pooled or aggregate program. The proceeds of the COPs may be used for the establishment of reserve funds to secure the COPs and to pay for credit enhancements and the actual and necessary expenses directly related to the issuance of COPs (other than personal service expenses of the political subdivision), in addition to being applied toward the cost of the capital acquisitions. The proceeds from COPs may only be invested in certain government obligations or special time deposit accounts or certificates of deposit with banks or trust companies as prescribed by Section 109-b. COPs are declared to be a proper investment for municipalities in the State and may be deposited for any purpose for which the deposit of State obligations is authorized.
- Regulations of the State Comptroller. The authority to enter into installment purchase contracts, to authorize the execution and delivery of COPs and to conduct a negotiated sale of COPs are subject to rules to be promulgated by the State Comptroller. Except as provided in those rules, private sales of COPs are subject to the Comptroller's approval. Also, the annual financial report of the political subdivision to the State Comptroller must contain a detailed statement of installment purchase contracts entered into by the political subdivision, the provisions made for payment, the purpose for which the installment purchase contract was entered into, whether COPs were issued and such other information as the Comptroller may require.
- Competitive bidding required. Subdivision 6 of Section 109-b makes it clear that installment purchase contracts are subject to competitive bidding requirements if the total amount proposed to be paid over the term of the agreement exceeds the current limit established by Section 103 of the General Municipal Law. Section 109-b mandates that all installment purchase contracts (IPCs) contain the so-called "executory clause" set forth in the statute as follows:
E. Multi-Year Service Contracts should not be entered into in the absence of specific legislative authority. The legislative authority currently available to school districts, subdivision 14 of Section 305 of the Education Law, provides for multi-year transportation and cafeteria service contracts only. Contracts for such items as cleaning/maintenance, trash removal, maintenance of clock systems, care of grounds and snow plowing, should:
- Be for a single year only;
- Be bid as a public works contract;
- require the payment of minimum wage rates and supplements; and
- Specify which party provides equipment and supplies. A contract for the purchase of management services for cleaning and maintenance of school buildings would also need to meet the above conditions, unless exempt as a professional service under General Municipal Law. In any case, where contracts include the purchase of supplies, materials and equipment, the one-year contract limitation and the bidding requirements of Section 103 of the General Municipal Law apply.
PURCHASING THROUGH AGENCIES OTHER THAN VENDORS
A. Office of General Services. State laws make it possible for school districts to purchase supplies and equipment through the State Office of General Services (OGS) without competitive bidding. The purchasing agent may take advantage of State contracts for the purchase of such items as computers, mowers, and buses. The use of State Purchase Contracts is considered a good business practice in view of the generally lower prices available by this method of purchasing. The costs of advertising, developing bid specifications and quality control of the items are not borne by the local district. OGS does not actively solicit participation by school districts in their purchase contracts, but welcomes inquiries and provides information upon request.
Requests for copies of contracts, inquiries regarding availability of contracts, and questions regarding purchases under the State Contract system should be submitted in writing to the Office of General Services, Procurement Services Group, Room 3711, Corning Tower Building, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12242. Information may also be found at: www.ogs.state.ny.us/BU/PC/PSG.asp.
B. Purchase of Prison-Made Goods. Section 184 of the State Correction Law, as well as an interim opinion by the Attorney General, makes it mandatory for all subdivisions of the State, including school districts, to secure their requirements from the Division of Industries, State Department of Correctional Services, to the extent to which such requirements can be supplied. If the desired goods are not promptly available, a "Certificate of Release" should be obtained from the Division of Industries. A catalog of prison-made goods may be obtained from Department of Correctional Services, Division of Industries, 550 Broadway, Albany, NY 12204-2802
C. Products Made by the Blind and Disabled. Such products must be purchased without public bidding as stated in Sections 175-a and 175-b of the State Finance Law. Suitable products produced by the blind and generally used by schools, such as brooms, brushes, wet mops, dust mops, towels, and other items have been approved by the Office of General Services for specifications and price, and are listed in a catalog of products which is available from the Industries for the Blind of New York State, Inc., 230 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12203. Products of the New York State Industries for the Disabled include items such as ball point pens, picture frames, file folders, calendar desk pads, metal book ends, mail trays, and drawer organizers. Further product information may be secured from New York State Industries for the Handicapped, 155 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210.
D. Participation in County Contracts. School districts are permitted by law  to take advantage of county purchasing contracts providing the program has been authorized by the board of supervisors of the county legislature in which the school district is located.
E. Cooperative purchasing agreements may be made by two or more school districts. Any agreement entered into must have the approval of the governing bodies of each district willing to participate, and costs of operation are prorated in accordance with the volume of purchases and utilization of these arrangements by each participating district. Such a joint operation may be effected through a Board of Cooperative Educational Services  (BOCES).
In addition to cooperative purchasing agreements, it is possible for two or more school districts jointly to advertise and receive bids for any materials or supplies desired provided regulations are followed which apply to any purchases made by individual districts. Agreements must be clear as to procedural details and specifications between the participating school districts before such joint action can be undertaken. The participating districts may appoint one official or one body to recommend award of contracts after advertising and bidding. Specifications may also be written requiring vendors to deliver items and bill each district separately for its portion of the contract. It has been demonstrated that cooperative purchasing by two or more districts has resulted in lower prices because of the larger quantities involved, and savings have resulted to the districts in expense, time, and effort.
Buses, among other items, have been purchased cooperatively to the advantage of the participating districts where the districts have agreed in advance on common specifications. Many other items of supplies and equipment lend themselves to cooperative purchasing. The advertising law still applies in cooperative bidding and purchasing projects.
_________ General Municipal Law, Section 103, Subdivision 3.
 General Municipal Law, Section 119.o.