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Business and Financial Policies and Procedures

7.1 Purchasing Operations

The purchasing function consists of business processes related to the acquisition of goods and services for the University.

Purchases of equipment, materials, commodities, supplies, and services for the University are made competitively where practicable or required by law. Performance, quality, suitability, delivery, and service are factors considered when purchasing goods and services. All purchases are made according to the provisions of the Illinois Procurement Code and the Procurement Rules of the Chief Procurement Officer for Public Institutions of Higher Education and other applicable state and federal regulations. The universities have common practices and procedures for purchasing operations.

Approvals and Authorizations

Purchasing Authority - Units should submit properly approved purchase requisitions to the Purchasing Division to authorize initiation of the purchasing process according to established procedures. Limited purchasing authority is delegated to university units by use of the procurement card. Approval requirements are contained in 1 Fiscal Environment - Approval of Financial Documents.

Construction - The University Office of Capital Programs and Real Estate Services, the Departments of Facilities Management (UIC), the Office for Planning, Design and Construction (UIS), and the Office of Facilities and Services (UIUC), handle construction projects. Any of these university offices may ask the Purchasing Division to issue competitive bids and/or purchase orders for construction projects.

Unit Purchases - When authorized by the Director of Purchases, units may buy directly from suppliers, using approved procedures and forms. Unions, student centers, and university bookstores may purchase books, supplies, and other items for resale when purchases are less than the competitive bid limit. This applies to one-time purchases or total annual purchases. University libraries purchase books and other items for their collections. The Purchasing Division does not have the authority to make personal purchases for individuals, nor help them in any way with such purchases.

Purchases from other than State Appropriations

Purchases of goods and services with funds other than those provided by the State of Illinois follow the same policies, regulations, and procedures as for state-appropriated funds. Special procedures may be followed when required by the provisions of a grant, contract, or special trust fund.

Purchasing Function

Mission Statement

The Purchasing mission is to support the procurement requirements of the University in a professional, ethical, and timely manner.

Vision Statement

The Purchasing Division will utilize technology, streamline processes, and provide value driven services, enabling Purchasing customers to acquire necessary goods and services.


The purchasing function contains several related processes:

  • Pre-Requisition Services -Obtain specifications and market information about commodities, equipment, and services to help university    departments in planning, budgeting, and acquisition timing.
  • Buying - Identify vendors, negotiate, bid (when required), issue purchase orders, and/or execute contracts, expedite as requested [excluding procurement cards (P-Cards)], issue change orders, and cancel orders.
  • Transportation - Ensure efficient and economic routing of goods from the vendor to the University and handle any transportation claims against the carrier that may arise.

Delegations of University Purchasing Authority

Board of Trustees - The Board of Trustees has delegated the responsibility and authority for purchasing to the Comptroller, except where the authority to purchase specific items has been assigned to another officer or committee.

Comptroller - The Comptroller has delegated to the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance (SAVP) the authority to formulate and to publish the general policies and procedures required to carry out the actions of the Board of Trustees and to meet statutory requirements regarding purchasing matters. The SAVP is also authorized to develop, install, and oversee the operation of appropriate business systems to accomplish the purchasing function.

Senior Associate Vice President - The SAVP has University-wide responsibility and authority for:

  • Developing and issuing necessary operational policies and procedures for purchasing.
  • Monitoring purchasing operations to ensure that procedures are in compliance with University policy.
  • Developing and maintaining essential business systems.

Day-To-Day Operations

The OBFS chief business officer at each university has responsibility and authority for the day-to-day operation of the purchasing activities and the processing of the various purchasing transactions for their university.

These officers may delegate to the Directors of Purchases the actual direct supervision of the purchasing processes including the responsibility and authority for:

  • Purchasing commodities, equipment, and services as requested by university units.
  • Establishing and monitoring effective internal procedures to efficiently process purchasing documents.
  • Coordinating with other administrative units to provide a timely and accurate purchasing function.
  • Providing regular training and instruction to university personnel who originate, process, complete, or use purchasing documents, data, or files.
  • Approving professional services contracts of less than $1,000,000.
  • Approving the purchase of commodities, equipment and general services costing less than $1,000,000 and not subject to Board of Trustees approval.
  • Approving purchases which exceed the dollar levels listed above, but which the Board of Trustees has exempted from its approval.
  • Establishing procedures to: 1) ensure that insurance requirements for vendors, service providers, contractors, and consultants are included in purchasing documents; and 2) route certificates of insurance to the University Office of Risk Management (UORM) to review for acceptance, or for corrective action. (See 6 Insurance for additional information.)

Purchasing Division

The Purchasing Division has the following operational responsibilities:

  • To purchase commodities, equipment, and services as requested by the various univesity departments, at the lowest price consistent with required quality, from suppliers who will deliver purchased items at the specified time and place.
  • To conduct preliminary negotiations with suppliers, to locate sources of supply, to obtain price quotations through formal and informal procedures, to select vendors, and to place purchase orders. The Purchasing Division also handles interviews with salespersons.
  • To follow-up on purchase orders as requested (except P-Cards) to ensure that the vendor fulfills the purchase agreement on delivery, and that the carrier delivers the shipment promptly and in good condition.
  • To handle, directly with the vendor, all correspondence concerning purchases, including price adjustments, the return of defective or incorrect materials, additional shipments to fill shortages, purchase order cancellation, and to present claims for shortages and damages.
  • To furnish prices and estimates of cost for materials, equipment, and services to university departments.
  • To suggest changes that will improve product quality, promote better availability, or provide greater economies in purchase or application.
  • To maintain or obtain catalogues and other data about vendors, materials, and services for university departments to use in determining their needs. Such data may include information that is necessary to determine the overall responsibility of a vendor.
  • To provide information, training, and assistance to departments participating in the P-Card program and to review compliance of P-Card transactions (when applicable) with established University procedures.
  • To encourage the use of business enterprises owned by minority, female, and persons with disabilities as suppliers of goods and services to the University if such action provides value to the University and is not in direct conflict with any other statute, policy, or regulation.

Invitations for Sealed Bid / Request for Proposals

Invitations for Sealed Bid (IFSB), Requests for Proposal (RFP), or quotations are used to purchase or contract for competitive items where practical or required by law. The Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education is authorized to adjust bid limits annually for individual procurements of supplies or services other than professional or artistic services, and procurement of construction.

The IFSB/RFP dollar levels for the current fiscal year are available at: Purchases - Helpful Links Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin Small Purchase Limits / Competitive Solicitation Thresholds page. Announcements and advertisements publicize additional bid information and provide the bid due date, time, and place of the bid opening. Announcements must be published on the Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin for a minimum of 14 days. All IFSBs/RFPs are opened publicly.


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Last Updated: November 29, 2018 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance | Effective: March 3, 2014

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