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Business and Financial Policies and Procedures

7.2.3 Purchases below the Small Purchase Limit (Small Purchases)

Policy Statement

In conducting small purchase procurements for supplies, general services and construction, the University of Illinois System shall use practices that encourage reasonable competition and support small businesses, diversity, transparency, and other statutory requirements. Units are encouraged to seek diverse vendors (minorities, females, persons with disabilities and veterans) for purchases greater than or equal to $10,000 and under the small purchase limit by soliciting at least one quote from a Business Enterprise Program (BEP) certified diverse vendor or State Use - Sheltered Workshop, when available.

A requisition that is less than the small purchase limit but greater than or equal to $10,000, must include documentation demonstrating competition from multiple vendors. Small purchases should be made from the vendor offering the lowest-cost.

The individual submitting a purchase requisition shall document that quotes were solicited from multiple vendors, including diverse vendors and small businesses. If the University of Illinois System does not receive multiple quotes, documentation demonstrating the reasons why must be submitted along with the purchase requisition for the purchase using the Small Purchase Waiver form.

If a purchase requisition is submitted for a vendor that is not the lowest-cost vendor, the individual submitting the requisition must complete the Small Purchase Waiver form, documenting the justification for the request.

Small purchase limits are adjusted annually or by rules promulgated by the Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education and published on the Illinois Procurement Bulletin for Public Institutions of Higher Education.

Pursuant to changes in the Illinois Administrative Code the University of Illinois System is required to establish practices that ensure maximum reasonable competition and promote small businesses, diversity, transparency and other statutory policies. Documentation of each purchase must be maintained in the procurement file. This policy outlines the procedures to meet these requirements. See 44 IL Admin Code 4.2020 for additional information.

The Illinois Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500/20) states the applicable source selection and contract formation requirements. This policy is applicable to all purchases subject to the Illinois Procurement Code that are below the small purchase limit.

Procedure

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Small Purchases Greater Than or Equal to $10,000

It will be required that a requisition for supplies, general services and construction that is less than the small purchase limit but greater than or equal to $10,000, include documentation demonstrating competition from multiple vendors. This document must include either:

  1. quotes from multiple vendors for the supply/service requested or;
  2. a small purchase waiver documenting the reason(s) why multiple quotes were not attainable.

The small purchase should be made to the vendor with the lowest-cost. If a purchase requisition is submitted with a purchase to a vendor other than the lowest-cost vendor, the individual submitting the requisition must complete the Small Purchase Waiver Form documenting the justification for the request. 

Competition can be demonstrated by:

  • obtaining written quotes from competing vendors
  • requesting pricing via email
  • web search results demonstrating pricing
  • telephone quotations (must be documented to state which vendor was contacted and the pricing quoted)

Note: Obtaining quotes for items that are not similar in nature is not considered "reasonable competition".

Units have a shared responsibility to consider small and diverse businesses in this competitive process. Small and diverse businesses can be identified by searching the Illinois Department of Central Management Services' Business Enterprise Program (BEP) and Small Business Set-Aside Program directories or by contacting the University of Illinois System's Office of Procurement Diversity.

Small Purchases Less than $10,000

Purchases for services that are not prohibited or restricted and less than $10,000 may be conducted by units using the Contract for Services under $10,000 template. Purchases for supplies or services that are not prohibited or restricted and less than or equal to $10,000 may be purchased through an iBuy purchase requisition. Purchases for supplies or services that are not prohibited or restricted and less than or equal to $4,999 may be purchased using a Purchase Card (P-Card). If possible, competition should be sought by units making these purchases.

Standing Purchase Order Requisitions

Requisitions for standing purchase orders require the same level of competition as other small purchases. When a standing purchase order is for a catalog of items, the Requisitioner should use historical purchase information to determine the quantities and types of products being purchased, in order to compare pricing catalogs from multiple vendors. A spreadsheet demonstrating these calculations should be submitted along with your requisition.

The Standing Purchase Order should be made to the vendor with the lowest-cost. If a purchase requisition is submitted with a purchase to a vendor other than the lowest-cost vendor, the individual submitting the requisition must complete the Small Purchase Waiver form documenting the justification for the request.

Professional and Artistic Services

Professional and Artistic services are defined as:

  • Law
  • Accounting
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Custom-Produced Art
Procurements below the Professional and Artistic services small purchases limit and that have a non-renewable term of one year or less may be made without the prior notice or level of competition otherwise required of competitive sealed solicitations.
Professional and Artistic small purchases are required to be published to the Illinois Procurement Bulletin Public Institutions of Higher Education within fourteen (14) days after contract execution.

Purchases under an Existing Contract

Competition does not need to be demonstrated if a purchase is made under an existing contract, as competition was established through the initial solicitation/award process. Examples of where a small purchase may be made under an existing contract include:

  • Catalog iBuy purchases
  • Purchases off of a campus-wide contract
  • Purchases off of an Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative (IPHEC) award
  • Purchases off of a State of Illinois master contract which are allowed to be used by Public Institutions of Higher Education in Illinois
  • Purchases from other approved consortia agreements (e.g. Big Ten Academic Alliance, Midwest Higher Education Compact, etc…)

Stringing

Dividing or planning procurements to avoid use of competitive procedures - known as 'stringing' - is prohibited. A review for potential string may occur when the total value of three or more purchases for same or similar items exceed the small purchase limit during any 12-month period. The Purchasing Director and State Purchasing Officer will jointly determine if a competitive or other consolidated procurement is warranted.

Forms Used in this Procedure

Small Purchase Waiver Form

Additional Resources

Restricted Items & Purchases Requiring Special Approval
iBuy Resource Page
Procurement Contract Search
Strategic Procurement Awards
Central Management Services - Business Enterprise Program Certification Directory
Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSP)

Last Updated: November 10, 2017 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance | Effective: January 15, 2017

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