The following guidelines have been developed to streamline the process of working with external vendors. The Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications is available to assist you in navigating the complexities of digital communication projects.

How it works


  • All communications work over $5k and requiring a vendor (freelancer or a firm), must have at least three bids, including one from an internal resource if Duke has a resource in that area (this applies to web, photography and videography).
  • Vendor names are requested through the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications (OMSC), who work in conjunction with Duke Procurement and Accounts Payable.
  • Our recommended vendors are in good standing at Duke, having been certified by OMSC, Registered with Accounts Payable and have agreed to meet Duke’s brand criteria and security measures. This certification is essential; in it we explain both workflow and brand, and that this new set of documentation supersedes any and all in place with Duke previously.
  • Internal client sends out an RFP to the three or more vendors; OMSC is available to review if the client wishes.
  • Once the client selects their vendor, OMSC assures that a scope of work is in place and all necessary paperwork completed, so that the vendor will be in Duke’s system and that invoicing can occur.
  • An OMSC representative usually attends the project kickoff and is available throughout the project if any problems arise or consultation is needed, and then is involved in review before the project is completed.
  • The internal client and vendor then provide feedback on how the project went so that each party can learn and understand. OMSC maintains this feedback database.
  • Please note: vendor services should not be charged to your P card.

Submitting a Project for Approval

For projects over the $5,000 threshold, please contact OMSC by email at Please provide a brief description of your project or an RFP if you have one, along with your budget and proposed deadline. In most cases, approval and guidance will be provided in a timely fashion, with less than a 48-hour turnaround. Print projects will continue to be bid through Duke Print Management Office of Procurement Services.


All work that exceed $5,000 requires approval from OMSC and at least two, though preferably more, competitive bids. To maximize the use of Duke resources, one of the competitive bids must be from a qualified internal service provider if one exists in that category. For example, bids for video work over the $5,000 threshold should include a bid from Duke Media Services. The remainder of the bids must be from approved Duke external vendors.

Preferred Vendors

The Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications (OMSC) and Procurement Services has developed a comprehensive process by which external vendors become preferred and are regularly evaluated. This process includes a feedback mechanism to record a vendor’s track record in customer service, quality of product, cost effectiveness and timeliness. Duke’s pool of communications vendors includes those that have green practices, are diverse (MWBE registered), and responsible purchasing compliant, where possible.

Payment of Vendors

Approval from OMSC is a necessary step in the process for getting a vendor paid. All communications projects utilizing an external vendor require prior approval from OMSC, and should be put forth prior to commencement of the project on a Purchase Requisition order, not on an AP Check Request. If a Purchase Requisition is presented to the Procurement or Financial Services without prior approval from the OMSC, it will not be paid.

Please do not submit an AP Check for communications projects over $2,500, as the request will be denied which will slow the payment process. AP Check requests are reserved for goods and services of $2,500 or less.

!!Important: Special guidelines exist for the use of freelancers or vendors that are former employees of the University or Health System. These circumstances involve a separate process and/or the use of multiple groups within Duke – Duke Temporary Services, Procurement, HR, etc.