FAQ's

Q: 
What is the MHEC?
A:
The Massachusetts Higher Education Purchasing Consortium (“MHEC”) was established under Massachusetts State Law (Ch. 15A, € 24A) to provide efficiencies and cost savings to institutions of higher education. With a recent change to MHEC’s bylaws, membership in MHEC is now open to public and private colleges and universities, not for profit charter, technical and vocational schools, municipalities, including elementary and secondary schools and not for profit educational organizations located in New England (Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island).
Q:
How does MHEC establish contracts?
A:
MHEC conducts its procurements in a fair open and competitive manner consistent with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30B requirements.  MHEC Contract Managers have completed MCPPO training and most are fully designated MCPPO’s (Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Officials)
Q:
How is MHEC different from other purchasing consortiums?
A:
MHEC is a regional, not a national purchasing consortium and as such, we pride ourselves on providing New England members with quality products and services, competitive pricing, and excellent customer service. MHEC contracts with global companies as well as national, regional and local businesses including small, minority and women owned businesses. Our contracts are not established through a third party – we create bid specifications by working closely with our members. MHEC then negotiates competitive prices and attractive contract terms and manages all reporting and contract compliance throughout the life of a contract. If there is a question or concern regarding an MHEC contract, it is our responsibility to address it and MHEC staff stand ready to assist our members and supply partners in resolving any contract related issues. 
Q:
Is the MHEC the same as the Massachusetts State Purchasing Office?
A:
No, MHEC is a separate group purchasing organization established by Massachusetts General Law. While we collaborate with other purchasing groups, MHEC is not the same as the Massachusetts procurement office, the Operational Services Division (“OSD”) in Boston, MA.
MHEC is established pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 15A, Section 24A.
Q: How does a school, municipality or organization become a member of MHEC?
A:
It’s easy. Click here to download an application form. Or call MHEC @ 413-545-4669 if you have questions. Effective November 4, 2011, there is no cost to become an “Associate” member of MHEC.
Q:
What is the combined membership total volume on MHEC contracts?
A:
In FY11, MHEC members purchased over $150 million of commodities and services using MHEC negotiated contracts.
Q:
What are the benefits of MHEC membership?

A:

  • Member volume is aggregated resulting in competitive pricing
  • MHEC contracts meet all Massachusetts public bidding requirements
  • Contracts are established and available for member use, freeing up staff time for other priorities
  • Members have access to over 50 contracts with almost 500 supply partners including global, national and small, minority and women owned businesses
  • Many contracts offer MHEC discounts to staff and faculty
  • MHEC’s contract database allows members to search by contract, vendor, brands and product category
  • Members receive quarterly newsletters, invitations to the annual Expo event and quarterly meetings and access to deeper discount pricing through the “Ed-$ave” program
Q:
How do I gain access to MHEC contract information on –line?
A:
Member schools can register on-line by clicking on Login – register located at www.mhec.net.  A training video is also available to demonstrate how to access and search the website.  Contract access is available to member organizations.
Q:
When are MHEC contracts available on the MHEC website?
A:
As contracts are created or renewed, they are loaded to the web page. Check the site at www.mhec.net for contract lists as well as files in pdf format that can be downloaded in text format.  MHEC members have full access to contract information after logging in as an MHEC member.
Q:
What do I do if a vendor or product is needed but is not included in any MHEC contract?
A:
Please call your purchasing department and ask that they contact MHEC to discuss. MHEC develops contracts based on member feedback and need. We may be able to add a product to an existing contract or suggest other contracts that might meet your need.
Q:
How is the MHEC financed?
A:
Historically, MHEC has been financed primarily through member dues and other sources of income.  Starting in FY 2012, MHEC will be aligning its business model consistent with other purchasing consortia and begin implementing a contract service fee paid by MHEC supply partners based on the amount purchased from an MHEC contract. MHEC intends to incrementally replace all current funding with the contract service fee and eventually eliminate membership dues.  In addition, starting November 4th, there is no cost to join the MHEC as an “Associate” member.
Q:
How do I know which vendors service my school, municipality or organization?
A:
MHEC makes every effort to award contracts that will service all of New England, however, if there are any geographic restrictions, those will be specified in the contract.
Q:
What instructions should I give to a vendor who is interested in participating in the bid process?
A:
MHEC regularly receives inquiries from businesses interested in “getting on the list.” Please refer any businesses interested in becoming an MHEC contractor to our website, mhec.net, click on "Suppliers" and then select "Pre-qualification & Bid Process” where specific information and instructions for vendors can be found.  Note that pre-qualifying for a bid does not indicate that you are a contracted supply partner.  You must first respond to a formal bid and be awarded through a competitive bid process. 
Q:
How are bidders selected to be contractors by MHEC?
A:
As stated above, MHEC establishes contracts as a result of a competitive bid process. After a thorough analysis of each bid response, awards are made based on the most responsible and responsive bid (s) submitted at the lowest price. MHEC can and does make multiple contract awards to cover all New England states.
Q:
Do MHEC bids meet the needs and requirements of the public/state bid process?
A:
Yes.  MHEC conducts its procurements in a fair open and competitive manner consistent with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30B requirements. Most MHEC Contract Managers and staff have completed MCPPO training and / or are fully designated MCPPO’s (Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Officials).
Q:
Is use of MHEC contracts mandatory?
A:
No.  Member schools determine their own policies. While there are schools that have made purchasing from MHEC contracts a requirement, purchasing decisions are at each member’s discretion.
Q:
How does group purchasing save time and create efficiencies for members?
A:
On average, MHEC procurement staff spend eight (8) weeks working on a solicitation and an additional four (4) weeks to complete the final award process and contract execution. Approximately 480 hours of MHEC procurement staff time, not including administrative support time, are required for each bid. If each member school bid all of MHEC 57 contracts individually, each school would need almost 13 full time procurement and purchasing staff. MHEC, by doing the procurement on behalf of its members, frees up staff time to focus on other projects or priorities and creates administrative efficiencies for our members.
Q:
How does group purchasing save me money?
A:
Each school, organization or municipality may spend $500,000 on technology related purchases each year. MHEC members spent $101 million in FY 2010 on technology purchases. When MHEC members join together, bidders recognize their significant purchasing power and they sharpen their pencils to provide a competitive price and attractive contract terms.  MHEC members benefit from the power of aggregating purchasing and receive other cost saving benefits including free shipping on most MHEC contracts, online ordering through the MHEC Market Place and deeper discounts through the new ED$AVE program.
Q:
Who does the MHEC work for?
A:
MHEC works for its members. We work every day to earn the support of our members by researching the latest trends in products and services, understanding our member’s business needs, benchmarking MHEC contract prices to make sure that we provide a competitive contract and providing the most responsive customer service when questions or problems arise. Think of MHEC as an extension of your organization’s purchasing department.