Notre Dame's procurement team works to increase small and diverse suppliers in bidding processes

Author: Karrah Herring

Procurement TeamNotre Dame's Procurement Team in the Division of Finance

As an anchor institution in its region, the University of Notre Dame has a long history of contributing to the economic impact of the greater South Bend area.  Anchor institutions such as universities, hospitals, sports venues and arts and culture institutions hold unique and influential roles in American cities. In 66 of the 100 largest inner cities, an anchor institution is the largest employer. These institutions often contribute to the economic growth of their cities and regions. Notre Dame is no different. Various departments across Notre Dame’s campus continually look for opportunities to enhance their impact to the surrounding community.

The procurement services team in the division of finance is one of those campus groups committed to increasing mutually beneficial ways to engage with the city of South Bend, region and even the state of Indiana. With the help of several campus partners, the procurement team recently created and is now implementing a Master Subcontracting Plan aimed at increasing the participation of diverse and small businesses in the University’s RFP (request for proposals) process. This process allows businesses to bid on providing supplies or services to various campus departments.

New Procurement uniform guidance from the federal government triggered the procurement team to look at all their processes and be compliant by July 1 of last year. Uniform Guidance requests institutions make a good faith effort to increase small business and supplier diversity participation in their bidding processes. While the university’s plan is not required and does not include quotas or hard metrics related to success with awarding contracts to diverse suppliers and small businesses, staying true to the mission of the university and its Catholic character, the procurement services team and their campus partners chose to take the extra step to show their commitment to local, regional and statewide diverse and small businesses. The master subcontracting plan includes a mission statement with several lines that capture the essence of the procurement team’s goal:

Here at Notre Dame we look to engage our mission not only with our diverse campus community which thrives on inclusion, but also our local, regional and national partners. Keeping with this spirit, it is the goal of this plan to show our authentic human community actively taking steps to engage small and diverse businesses in our region and beyond. By engaging an expansive group of businesses in this way, the University is able to share the economic impact of our institutions contracting across diverse businesses and also benefit from the services and products of businesses we may not have engaged in the past.


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The procurement team is committed to actively taking steps to see those numbers improve. Gilberto Carles, senior director of procurement shared, “This process is not a race, it is more like a marathon. With hard work and perseverance we will enjoy the journey to increase and select small businesses and diverse suppliers in our request for proposals. It won’t happen immediately, but all the small steps our team is taking will help us reach that goal.”

Those small steps are already having an impact. When working on an RFP, Kevin Cannon, associate director of procurement, and his team have been actively looking for diverse and small suppliers by utilizing the South Bend Regional Chamber business list, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) federal government list and the Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA), under Indiana’s Certified MBE and WBE Businesses state website for diverse suppliers. These additional steps have yielded 12 diverse or small businesses being invited to bid in the RFP process. Eleven of those 12 responded and 4 were awarded contracts with the university. Kevin expressed the excitement shared by his team about their work,“We are excited about the opportunity to increase our small business and minority participation in the RFP process, especially locally.” 

To learn more about the procurement processes including small business and supplier diversity, visit their website:

Contact: Karrah Herring, director of public affairs, 574-631-4588, 

Sources: National Center for Education Statistics; Anchor Institutions and Urban Economic Development: From Community Benefit to Shared Value.