MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XVIII No. 5
May / June 2006
Meritocracy and a Diverse Faculty
A Brief History and Workings
of the MIT Corporation
Committees of the Faculty:
An End-of-Year Recap
Lippard and Sharp Awarded
National Medal of Science
Energy Research Council and Forum:
A Major New Institute Initiative
Efficient Use of Energy:
Part of MIT's New Energy Initiative
Fueling Our Transportation Future
Lighting a Fire in MIT's
Undergradute Education
Some Thoughts on the Arts
Reflections on the "Visualizing Cultures" Incident
On the "Visualizing Cultures" Controversy and its Implications
Communication Requirement
Evaluation Process Begins
A Modest Proposal:
A Dental Insurance Plan for All Students
New Resource on Faculty Website:
"Current Practices"
"Soft Skills" to Help Avoid the "Hard Knocks"
Computer Space Planning for MIT
Tops IT-SPARCC's Priority List
Seniors Report Increased Satisfaction
with Faculty Interaction
Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative
Primary Form of Support
for Doctoral Students
Printable Version

Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative
MIT Sloan School dean reveals how a new campus resource
is making quick work out of purchasing

Richard Schmalensee

The goal of the Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative is to simplify and improve the purchasing of commodities and services across the Institute – saving time and money that can be redirected to each unit’s higher priorities, like lab equipment or research. The initiative, introduced in January 2005 by John Curry and Bob Brown, is a collaborative effort with the MIT Procurement Department and representatives across MIT. As a steering committee member of this important initiative, I wanted to share with you the process that was undertaken and the progress that has been made.

Phase 1 of the initiative began with the review of printing and express shipping. The MIT Procurement Department and an extended team of experienced buyers, including DLC staff and service providers like the Publishing Services Bureau, undertook the work of evaluating competing vendors. Team members pooled their knowledge and negotiated terms. The result: reduced costs, improved quality and service, and streamlined ordering tools.

What makes these efficiencies possible is buying power.

MIT spends millions of dollars each year on printing and shipping. The Procurement Department and its partners have leveraged that buying power on behalf of the entire Institute. The more frequently the community purchases from participating vendors, the stronger its bargaining power.

The Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative Website rolled out with two commodities in place, printing and shipping. Other frequently purchased products and services – like catering, office furniture, copiers, and office printers – will be available through the program in the coming months.

Members of the MIT community can take advantage of this program by visiting the Website, where they can quickly evaluate and compare the services of multiple vendors. Who are the best printers for departmental newsletters? What’s the most efficient way to send a package across town or around the world? These questions and many more are answered there.

To print or not to print

The Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative site provides a profile of each participating printing company, as well as a toolkit of resources and related links, such as access to the Publishing Services Bureau Website. There, members of the community can even evaluate a project to determine whether print is the most effective medium for the job at hand.

Overnight or across town

On the shipping pages of the site, members of the MIT community can find out how to get their documents and packages across town or to the furthest reaches of the globe easily and inexpensively. A quick online form streamlines the air bill creation process and makes it simple to choose the most cost-effective service for a particular package. The Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative’s shipping team has negotiated prices even lower than previous bulk-pricing structures.

Keeping the machine oiled

The Procurement Department and its partners will continually monitor the performance of these suppliers by looking to the MIT community for feedback about services rendered. Find out more about both the process and the vendors at

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