FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

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Reverse Auctions

A reverse auction is a live, real-time, virtual bidding event in which qualified and pre-selected Penn State suppliers are invited to bid their prices down (versus up in a traditional auction).

A reverse auction is used when a competitive bid is identified for a large quantity of standard items with common specifications such as vehicles, residence hall and classroom furniture, and audiovisual equipment.

Purchases equal to or greater than $25,000 for standard items with common specifications qualify for a reverse auction.  

Choosing a reverse auction instead of a traditional written bid or proposal can save money. Over the past two years, Purchasing has saved the University about $1.7 million through reverse auctions. Typically, reverse auctions save time as well.

Search Purchasing’s commodity directory to identify the appropriate Purchasing Agent responsible for the commodity that you would like to auction.

After a Purchasing Agent conducts pricing research, the starting price will typically be the difference between the initial benchmark pricing obtained by either educational discount pricing, or sample quotes from various manufacturers.

A reverse auction could last a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the items being auctioned. Events for commodity items can be completed in a few minutes, while more complex items or multiple lots of items can require more time as vendors sharpen their pencils behind the scenes.

The Purchasing Agent facilitating the reverse auction is present, and the reverse auction requestor is more than welcome to attend the live event.

It’s not required that you be present, but as the auction requestor, you are invited to attend the live streaming event.

No, if you are not satisfied with the bids, for price or other reasons, Penn State can reject the results of the auction.