Buying 101

Understanding New York State's Buying Process

Procurement involves the purchasing of goods, known as commodities, and services. If you are a government organization in New York State, the buying process can be understood in five steps:

To determine what you need today, ask yourself:

• What specifically do I need?
• How much do I need?
• When do I need it by?
This is when the buying process becomes complicated. There are several different procurement options depending on what type of organization you are. Click below for more information for your organization.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the business you buy from is a responsible vendor.
As soon as it arrives, be sure to check for:

• A purchase order or delivery statement
• Damaged items
• Incorrect quantities or goods

For services, make sure to review the agreement for those services. Be sure to follow up with the vendor if there is an issue.
Double check all invoices before making your final payment. Avoid additional fees and interest payments by paying the vendor quickly.

The buying process is different for each type of organization in New York State and it is important that you understand which rules and regulations apply to you. Select below to learn more.

For State Agencies

When it comes to choosing a method for procurement, state agencies must procure commodities or services in the following order according to State Finance Law:

  1. From a preferred source vendor.
  2. Through a OGS Procurement Services centralized contract.
  3. By piggybacking or using pre-established agency contracts.
  4. Conducting your own procurement, including discretionary purchases.

After the procurement is complete, the invoice will need to be paid.  For State agencies that are customers of the OGS Business Services Center, invoices should be reviewed and approved by the agency and then emailed to Accounts Payable at

Helpful Resources

For Municipalities

Local governments do not follow the same government procurement laws as state agencies.  Instead their purchasing process is shaped by General Municipal Law and whatever policies and procedures that the local government adopts.  There are several types of procurement for local entities to consider including:

  1. Piggybacking on existing government contracts, including OGS Procurement Services
  2. Conducting your own procurement
  3. Cooperative purchasing.

Piggybacking on existing contracts is another option for local governments.  This means that you can receive the same services and commodities as the contract holders at the same price .  To use existing OGS Procurement Services contracts visit the Using Centralized Contracts page for more information.  

Conducting your own procurement provides you with the ability to seek the specific services or commodities that you need by yourself.  This form of competitive bidding requires you to follow not only your own rules and regulations, but that of General Municipal Law.  Contracts are awarded on a basis of best value and lowest bidder.  To learn more check out the OSC Local Government Management Guide: Seeking Competition in Procurement (PDF). 

Cooperative purchasing occurs when two or more local entities seek to purchase goods or services together, resulting in greater purchasing power and cost savings.  Any city, town, village, county, fire or school district, BOCES, and improvement districts can sign an intergovernmental cooperative agreement to seek procurement together.

For questions and resources related to state guidelines for local government procurement, please consult the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) today.

For School Districts

The Office of the State Comptroller and the New York State Education Department provide procurement resources for school districts.  In addition, school districts are eligible to use certain OGS Procurement Services centralized contracts. Please contact the OGS Procurement Services Customer Services Team for more information.

Helpful Resources


SUNY has several laws, policies, and procedures that shape how procurement is done.  To learn more visit check out the following helpful resources: