(a) For purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION. Educational and eleemosynary institutions governed by boards of trustees or similar governing bodies, state trade schools, state junior colleges, state colleges, or universities under the supervision and control of the State Board of Education, city and county boards of education, district boards of education of independent school districts, Department of Youth Services, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and the Alabama School of Math and Science.
(2) INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. Equipment, supplies, and other tangible personal property, software, services, or any combination of the foregoing, used to provide data processing, networking, or communications services.
(3) JOINT PURCHASING AGREEMENT. An agreement in writing providing for the lease or purchase of information technology under a single contract. A joint purchasing agreement may be entered into by any number or combinations of educational institutions. If a joint agreement is executed by each of the participating educational institutions it shall set forth the categories of information technology to be purchased or leased, the manner of advertising for bids and awarding the contract, the method of payment by each participating educational institution, and other matters deemed necessary to carry out the purposes of the agreement.
(b) The State Department of Education and the Department of Postsecondary Education, in addition to monitoring and oversight, may also purchase, with the consent of the Director of Finance or his or her designee, from joint information technology contracts when purchases are necessary to maintain statewide application and compatibility.
(c) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in Articles 2 or 3 of Chapter 16, Title 41, educational institutions that are required by this chapter to let contracts for the purchase of goods and services by competitive bidding may enter into joint purchasing agreements for the lease or purchase of information technology for use by their respective educational institutions. Competitive bids for information technology may result in awards to multiple vendors for each one product line in order to meet the specific requirements of participating educational institutions or to achieve compatibility with existing technology already in use. Each participating educational institution shall pay its share of expenditures for purchases under any agreement in the manner set forth in the agreement and in the same manner as it pays other expenses of the educational institution. Educational institutions entering into a joint agreement pursuant to this section may designate a joint purchasing administrator to be responsible for issuing the invitation to bid, evaluating the bids received, and awarding the contract, in which event the joint purchasing administrator shall have the responsibility to comply with Chapter 16 of Title 41.
(d) All the terms and conditions of Chapter 16 of Title 41, that are not expressly modified by this chapter shall apply to joint purchase agreements. This chapter shall not be construed as granting any educational institution authority to purchase goods and services or increasing the authority, other than the authority to enter into joint purchase agreements, of any educational institution to purchase goods and services.
(e) It is the intent of the Legislature that all joint purchasing agreements conform to all applicable competitive bid provisions of Alabama law pertaining to state contracts, including, without limitation, those contained in Chapter 16 of Title 41 and Chapter 2 of Title 39.