What is the MHEC?
Answer: The Massachusetts Higher Education Purchasing Consortium (“MHEC”) was established under Massachusetts State Law (Ch. 15A, € 24A) to provide efficiencies and cost savings to its members. Public and private colleges and universities, not for profit charter, technical and vocational schools, municipalities, including elementary and secondary schools, libraries, housing authorities and not for profit educational organizations located in New England (Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island) are all eligible for FREE membership.
How does MHEC establish contracts?
Answer: MHEC conducts its procurement in a fair open and competitive manner consistent with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30B requirements. MHEC Strategic Sourcing Managers have completed MCPPO training and most are fully designated MCPPO’s (Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Officials).
How is MHEC different from other purchasing consortia?
Answer: 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.
Is the MHEC the same as the Massachusetts State Purchasing Office?
Answer: No. MHEC is a separate group purchasing organization established by Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 15A, Section 24A). 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.
How does a school, municipality or organization become a member of MHEC?
Answer: It’s easy. Click here MHEC Membership Application to complete and submit a membership application. Or call MHEC @ 413-230-3202 if you have questions. There is no cost to become an MHEC member and no obligation to purchase from an MHEC contract.
What is the difference between submitting a membership application and creating a website login?
Answer: A membership application is the official document that must be submitted to become a MHEC Member. We only need ONE membership application per organization. Applying is the first step to becoming an MHEC member. The second (and last) step is for you and any of your staff to create their individual login accounts and password to access the “member only” areas of our website by clicking here Create MHEC Login and Password. The is no limit to the number of individuals within your organization that can create a login and password.
What is the combined membership total volume on MHEC contracts?
Answer: MHEC members purchased well in excess of over $300 million from MHEC contracts in 2022 and that number grows every year.
What are the benefits of MHEC membership?
- Member volume is aggregated resulting in competitive pricing and attractive contract terms
- MHEC contracts meet Massachusetts public bidding requirements
- Contracts for routine purchases are available to members, freeing up staff time for other high priority projects
- Members have access to over 50 contracts with over 700 supply partners including global, national and small, minority and women owned businesses
- Many MHEC suppliers extend their discounted contract pricing to staff and faculty
- MHEC’s contract database allows members to search by contract, vendor, brands, product category and keywords
- Members receive regular contract updates, invitations to the annual Expo event and quarterly meetings and access to deeper discount pricing through our monthly “SaveMORE!” program
How do I gain access to MHEC contract information online?
Answer: Members must create a login and password to access contract information (supplier contacts, pricing, PDF contract document). Click here to create a login and password: Create MHEC Login and Password. Training videos on how to create a login and password and how to search our contracts database are available (click here Training Videos). Access to contract information is limited to member organizations.
When are MHEC contracts available on the MHEC website?
Answer: As contracts are created or renewed, they are loaded to the web page and contract updates are sent out monthly in 1st Monday, our monthly member digest. MHEC members have full access to contract information after logging in as an MHEC member.
What do I do if a vendor or product is needed but is not included in any MHEC contract?
Answer: Please contact the MHEC contract manager to discuss. Click here for a complete list of MHEC contracts and contract managers MHEC Contracts and Managers. MHEC develops contracts based on member feedback and need. We may be able to add a product to an existing contract, suggest other contracts that might meet your need or re-open a contract to add a product or supplier.
How is the MHEC financed?
Answer: MHEC is financed primarily through a contract service fee paid by MHEC suppliers based on the volume purchased from an MHEC contract. Members pay nothing to purchase from an MHEC contract.
How do I know which vendors service my school, municipality or organization?
Answer: Most MHEC suppliers serve all of New England however we also contract with small, regional and local companies that may serve a more limited geographic area. If there are any geographic restrictions, those will be specified in the contract. If you want to know whether a specific supplier is on an MHEC contract, you can simply log in, click on “Search”, then “Search Contracts” and finally the “Suppliers” drop down box.
What instructions should I give to a vendor who is interested in participating in the bid process?
Answer: MHEC regularly receives inquiries from organizations interested in doing business with MHEC members. There is a process for businesses interested in learning more about MHEC and being notified of bid opportunities when they are available. Please refer any interested businesses to our website, www.mhec.net, where businesses can click on the "bidder registration” link at the bottom of the page. There, you will find a link for our "Bidder Registration Form." Please note that completing and submitting this form does not mean that the business is on an MHEC contract – submitting the form enters the business into our database. The business will then start receiving regular updates from MHEC including notifications of bid opportunities. A business must submit a response to a formal bid and be awarded a contract in order to do sell products and services to MHEC members.
How are bidders selected to be contractors by MHEC?
Answer: 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 ensure that members throughout New England have access to MHEC suppliers.
Do MHEC bids meet the needs and requirements of the public/state bid process?
Answer: Yes. MHEC conducts its procurements in a fair open and competitive manner consistent with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 30B requirements. Most MHEC Contract Managers have completed MCPPO training and/or are fully designated MCPPO’s (Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Officials).
Is use of MHEC contracts mandatory?
Answer: Member schools determine their own purchasing policies. While there are schools that have made purchasing from MHEC contracts a requirement, purchasing decisions are at each member’s discretion.
How does group purchasing save time and create efficiencies for members?
Answer: MHEC procurement staff spend a great deal of time researching products and services, soliciting input from members, identifying new suppliers, drafting a solicitation, evaluating bids, awarding and then managing contracts. All MHEC suppliers have been vetted and determined to be qualified to provide excellent pricing and service to MHEC members. 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.
How does group purchasing save me money?
Answer: Here is one scenario: A college, K-12 school system, organization or municipality spends $500,000 on technology related purchases each year. MHEC members spent almost $34 million in FY 2020 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 i-buy marketplace™, discounted pricing that is often offered to member faculty/staff and deeper discounts through the SaveMORE! program.
Why should I become an MHEC Member?
Answer: MHEC frees up personnel in a member organization to focus on other areas of their business, while we work as an extension of your purchasing department. Your contracts and membership services teams at MHEC research the latest trends in products and services, understand member business needs, and benchmark our contract prices to ensure competitive contracts. Our mission is all about serving our members and being responsive when questions or problems arise.