TSRI's Purchasing Services Gets the Goods
By Mika Ono
From pipettes to pens, from furniture to mass spectrometers,
Purchasing Services helps bring The Scripps Research Institute
(TSRI) the supplies, equipment, and services it needs to stay
at the forefront of science.
"We work with approximately 160 user groups across campus,"
says Tom Gilmartin, director of Procurement, who manages Purchasing
Services as well as Shipping and Receiving, Central Stores,
and the Mail Room [which will be profiled at a later date].
"We purchase goods and services that ranging from office supplies
to high-value capital equipment and scientific instrumentation."
Sandy Dierdorff, manager of Purchasing Services, adds, "I'd
say only about 30 percent of our work is the type of thing
that people first think of, like ordering supplies and equipment.
The rest involves coordinating our efforts with those in other
TSRI departments to manage large projects or moving people
and equipment from one location to another."
Purchasing is currently playing a central role in equipping
and furnishing the labs and offices at the new CarrAmerica
Building at 3215 Merrifield Road, which will open later this
year. Purchasing is responsible for moving laboratories and
offices from other buildings on campus into the new location,
moving laboratories from across the country into the building,
and coordinating the delivery of supplies, furniture, and
equipment with the construction schedule.
"Typically, we contact new, incoming investigators three
to six months prior to their arrival at TSRI to discuss their
purchasing-related needs and concerns," says Gilmartin. "What
equipment will the lab bring to TSRI and what equipment needs
to be purchased? Does this equipment require special utilities?
Will the equipment fit in the space? Will it fit through the
halls and entranceways during the move? We try to anticipate
potential problems and to minimize them in coordination with
Facilities and other TSRI departments."
Additional issues sometimes include deinstalling, moving,
and re-calibrating delicate scientific equipment and long-distance
shipping of refrigerated or frozen biological or chemical
samples that may represent years of experimental work.
"Each lab is different," comments Gilmartin. "Whatever the
lab's particular needs, we try to arrange for a smooth transition."
Timing is also key. Ideally, the equipment, furniture, and
supplies arrive when the laboratory space is readynot
long before or after. "We place some orders two to three months
ahead of delivery," notes Dierdorff. "The hard part is that
the actual delivery date is often a moving target. Construction
timelines may change or delivery from the vendor may be uncertain."
Throughout this process, Purchasing works closely with the
Office of Sponsored Programs to prepare purchase requisitions
in accordance with grant requirements, Research Computing
to ensure that appropriate computer equipment is ordered,
Facilities Planning and Construction to make sure that the
facility's design supports the utility requirements of the
equipment, Shipping and Receiving (also part of the Procurement
Department) to bring equipment and supplies to their final
destinations, and Accounts Payable to pay suppliers.
Puchasing also works with an array of outside vendors. "In
addition to finding competent vendors to get the job done,
we are looking to reduce the institute's liability while work
is being done on the TSRI campus," notes Gilmartin. "Issues
such as vendor insurance coverage and contract terms may become
important over the long-term."
"We have a great group," continues Gilmartin, who, like many
of his staff, is a long-time employee having worked at TSRI
for 21 years. "But we don't function as an island. The Purchasing
group's efforts are coordinated with those of many other support
service departments at TSRI. We work together with the common
goal of facilitating the scientific work being carried out
Director of Procurement Tom Gilmartin
and Purchasing Services Manager Sandy Dierdorff are two of
the long-time employees in the group. Gilmartin has been with
TSRI for 21 years; Dierdorff, for 29. Photo
by Biomedical Graphics.