RPI now has signed master agreements in place with Airgas and America To Go certifying these corporations as preferred vendors for all of the Institute’s compressed gas and off-campus catering needs, respectively. These agreements are based on the change in the Institute two years ago to move away from the purchasing card system.
Recently RPI has become a part of the Educational and Institutional Cooperative Purchasing group, which allows RPI access to contracts for resources that are bargained down based on mass purchasing through multiple institutions. What this means is that RPI, through its agreement with E and I, now has access to resources at significantly discounted prices.
Before this agreement with Airgas, RPI met its compressed gas requirements through the Noble Gas Solutions corporation. According to Assistant Vice President for Administration Paul Martin, Noble Gas solutions was unable to lower their prices to match the new discounted prices RPI was able to find through E and I, leading RPI to sign this new master agreement. Rachael Kruse, associate director of Contract Administration said that this new master agreement signing and the new system of going through E and I has streamlined the purchasing process. Now instead of the process formerly in place, people requiring the services of Airgas or America To Go can now go directly through the appropriate company after attaining approval for the purchase.
Where America To Go is concerned, RPI has had no company contracted specifically for the purpose of off-campus catering before now. This need was met primarily through Sodexo, and through personal purchasing followed by reimbursement. According to Kruse, this new system is a vast improvement over the old because it allows oversight and approval on the front end of the process so it won’t be possible for an Institute-associated private party to cater an off-campus event under the assumption that it will be reimbursed, only to be denied later in the process. Martin has also said that the services of America To Go will also allow, initially, access to 15–18 different off-campus food services for off-campus catering.
Overall these changes should improve the way purchasing works on campus, providing a more smooth process that is also at a large discount in the case of America To Go, and at a 10–15 percent discount over what RPI had previously in the case of Airgas, according to Kruse.