They seldom get the headlines of a Harvard University or a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but hundreds of companies in Massachusetts support higher education institutions across the state under contracts that total in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. The Boston Business Journal reviewed the money spent in the 2013 fiscal year on independent contractors by more than two dozen colleges and universities in Greater Boston – the most expensive contracts at each school — and found a total of more than $709 million. That doesn’t count several dozen additional nonprofit colleges or universities and hundreds if not thousands of smaller contracts at each institution. Four of the biggest contracts were at Harvard University. Three of those, totaling $164 million, went to construction companies and one, for $40 million, went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a research subcontract….
…With contracts totaling $16 million, Aramark, a food service provider, was one of the most prevalent vendors among local colleges and universities, with contracts at Simmons College, Wheaton College, Regis College, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Berklee College of Music and Stonehill College. Looking forward, construction companies and related functions, such as architects, will continue to score the biggest vendor contracts at colleges and universities, said Jim Murtha, chairman and CEO of Maguire Associates, a higher education consulting company in Concord. Construction is the type of big-ticket function that most higher education institutions cannot bring in-house, he said. Yet, new types of pricey contracts are starting to evolve – for one, outsourced facilities management services, Murtha said. Those contracts include everything from janitorial services to painting lines on a ball field. Smaller colleges, in particular, are finding it less expensive to outsource all of these functions to one vendor, rather than running part of it in-house – janitorial services, for example – and signing smaller contracts with different service providers to fill the gaps….