Financial Affairs

PROCUREMENT SERVICES :: PURCHASING

Described below are purchasing processes for most orders of goods or services. If you have any questions please contact Procurement Services.

PURCHASING


Overview & General Standards

University departments are allocated specific funds each fiscal year during the annual budget process for purchasing activity.  Within each department, a budget manager is assigned responsibility for these funds and has the authority to make, approve and delegate purchasing transactions within the guidelines listed in this and other university policies.

Budget managers, including university officers, have the fiduciary responsibility to ensure funds are properly spent, including:

Budget managers may delegate aspects of their purchasing authority to other university employees through the Budget Manager Delegation system in Campus Connect or through allowance of a University ProCard.  While the budget manager may delegate transactional authority, they remain responsible for the budget as well as for ensuring their designees understand the approval requirements and exercise good judgment in protecting the best interests of the University.

Vendor Selection

Vendors should be selected based on their ability to successfully perform the terms and conditions of the contract or sell at a competitive price. 

Procurement Services retains the primary, but not exclusive, responsibility for the selection of vendors, evaluation of costs (both for purchase and on-going costs), determination of delivery methods, and negotiation of the general terms for contracts (with input from the Office of the General Counsel).

Preferred Vendors
Whenever possible, University departments should select a preferred vendor for their purchasing needs.  These vendors provide a high level of value to the University and should be utilized for most purchases. 

Departmental Vendors
If a preferred vendor is unable to fulfill the requirements of the purchase, departments may select an alternate vendor.  In these cases, departments should take into account factors that provide value, which may include:

Internal University Resources
Departments should also check to see if the university offers internal resources at no cost or a lower cost than external vendors.  See the Internal University Resources page for more information.

New Vendors
For any payments that will be made through Accounts Payable (including purchase orders), the vendor must be set up in PeopleSoft.  This will take place by Procurement Services for requisitions or by Accounts Payable upon receipt of an invoice.

New vendors will be required to fill out applicable IRS tax forms prior to a requisition being approved or payment being made.  Vendors may be subject to IRS tax withholding.

Departments are encouraged to contact Procurement or Accounts Payable early in the process to ensure vendors are set up correctly and to avoid delays.  International vendors have special requirements and may take additional time to set up.

Vendor Selection for Purchases over $25,000
For purchases or contracts over $25,000, competitive bidding requirements apply to vendor selection, see the Purchases over $25,000 section below for more information.

Special Purchases Processes and Prohibited Expenses
Several types of purchases have special requirements or are not allowed to be bought with university funds.  See the Prohibited and Special Purchasing Processes policy for more information.

Contracts and Master Agreements

Contracts are subject to this policy as well as to the Contract Requirements and Procedures policy, which states:

A formal written contract, i.e., a document with agreed-on terms, signed by both parties, must be in place for all non-goods contracts (e.g., contracts for services, consulting, construction, licensing, etc.), unless the contract value is less than $1,000, and all Special Risk contracts, unless authorized otherwise by OGC.  A formal written contract is not required for transactions only involving the purchase of goods, provided that (a) Procurement Services' policies and procedures are followed, and (b) the transaction does not involve any issues of Special Risk.

This policy should be applied to extensions and renewals of existing contracts as if such arrangements were being negotiated and signed for the first time. 

Contracts that also require a purchase order cannot be signed until given approval by Procurement Services, as changes may be necessary through the business or legal review processes.  Once a purchase order is generated and the contract signed, Procurement Services may send both documents to the vendor.

Master Agreements
A master agreement ("MA") is a special type of contract that is commonly used when utilizing a vendor to purchase goods or services multiple times over a longer period of time, but the specifics (e.g. quantity, specifications) of each order are not known up front.  Combining these types of purchases under an MA may provide better leverage on pricing and other terms and as such, an MA should be used in these circumstances whenever possible.

The MA covers various general legal and business terms so that a contract does not have to be negotiated for each individual order.  Typical business terms include price (by part, hour, etc.), brief description of services provided, quality of service expectations, included ancillary services (warranty, shipping, etc.) and other key terms.  A quote and purchase order is then generated, referencing the MA, for specific orders that includes what specific products or services are being ordered. 

All new MAs, where orders would require a purchase order, with an actual or estimated value over $3,500 require review and approval by Procurement Services prior to execution and may be subject to the same policies and restrictions as a purchase order.  If the anticipated amount of the MA is greater than $25,000, bidding requirements also apply.

Making Purchases with Federal Grant Funds

When purchasing goods and services with federal grant funds, special standards and procedures apply.  Guidelines that promote compliance with these requirements are displayed on the Office of Research Services website.  These guidelines must be followed by Principal Investigators and federal grant awards and by all those involved in initiating, processing, or reviewing and approving purchases made with federal grant funds. 

Purchases up to $3,500

Departments are generally able to spend up to $3,500 without the need for a purchase order or additional approvals, except in some circumstances, outlined below.    For these types of purchases, the university ProCard is the preferred payment method.

Purchases over $3,500

In addition to the circumstances above, most purchases over $3,500 require a requisition and approval from Procurement Services prior to the order being placed (this includes verbally authorizing orders, signed contracts, accepted proposals, etc.).  In line with the Contract Requirements and Procedures policy, no person has the authority to bind DePaul to purchases over this amount except in accordance with this policy.  Purchases by individuals acting beyond the scope of their authority may be void and can result in personal liability and progressive discipline. 

The $3,500 threshold encompasses all costs that may be ordered or project work to be conducted (e.g. a $4,500 contract with three payments of $1,500 would require a requisition, not be sent through AP or put on a ProCard).

Certain vendors who bill via "flat-file" directly to the University or are otherwise exempted by Procurement Services do not require a requisition. Additionally, purchases in the categories below do not require a requisition but may have other requirements. 

Requisitions & Purchase Orders
When entering a requisition, detailed specifications describing the relevant goods or services required, warranty periods, payment terms, delivery terms, allowable variances, etc. should be included as this information will be transmitted to the vendor once it is approved. 

Backup documentation (quote, contracts, etc.) is required to be attached for all requisitions unless otherwise exempted.  Departmental estimates in lieu of vendor provided documentation may be acceptable when projecting spend, provided there is a legitimate basis for the estimate.

Procurement Services reviews the requisition for reasonableness of the request, pricing and vendor selection as well as compliance with this and other policies.  Procurement may, after consultation with the requisitioning department, choose to award the purchase to a vendor other than that recommended by the end user.  Once approved by all levels, the requisition is converted into a purchase order.  Procurement will then transmit the purchase order to the vendor, initiating the order.

Additional approvals may be required, depending on the type of purchase and/or dollar amount:

Procurement may consider a requisition to be non-compliant and “after-the-fact” if it is submitted too late for the approval process to implement changes if needed.  Procurement may consider such requisitions compliant: (1) if we have the opportunity to review a contract or other documents prior to requisition entry but within enough time to conduct a review or (2) the invoice is part of a standard renewal without any upfront quoting or contracts (e.g. membership, support, etc.).

Deposits and Prepayments
Deposits and prepayments are generally discouraged, but are acceptable in small amounts (e.g. 10-20%) or where it is common for the industry (e.g. events or catering).  The deposit is factored into the total cost of the contract and is used to determine the approval framework.

If a purchase order is required, departments that wish to pay a deposit or prepayment via the ProCard may do so only with the permission of Procurement Services.  If the total value of the deposit plus remainder is less than $3,500 and no purchase order is required, all payments can go on the ProCard without Procurement's approval.

Change Orders
If the terms of the purchase should change after a purchase order was created (quantity, cost, etc.), a change order can be requested by contacting Procurement Services. 

Depending on the change, additional approvals may be required and Procurement Services may require additional documentation.

Purchases over $25,500

See the competitive bidding section for additional information.

Prohibited and Special Purchasing Processes

Certain types of purchases are either not allowed, or have specific processes that must be followed, regardless of their payment type (ProCard, reimbursement or voucher request).  This is not an exhaustive list.  If planning on making any purchases that may have special risks or other issues, contact Procurement Services to discuss prior to purchasing.

University departments may have stricter rules in place regarding how budgets can be utilized.  Contact the unit budget manager to see if any additional restrictions are in place.