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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 of $10,000 or more, and under the small purchase limit of $100,000 by soliciting at least one quote from a Business Enterprise Program (BEP) certified diverse vendor or State Use - Sheltered Workshop (diverse vendor), when available.

A requisition for a small purchase of $10,000 or more, must include documentation demonstrating competition from multiple vendors.

The individual submitting a purchase requisition should document that at least three (3) quotes were solicited from multiple vendors, including diverse vendors and small businesses (30 ILCS 500/45-45), whenever practical. If the University of Illinois System does not receive at least three (3) quotes, uniform documentation demonstrating the reason the vendor was selected should be submitted along with the purchase.

Reason for the Policy

Small purchase limits may be 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.

When making a small purchase the University of Illinois System shall 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.

Applicability of the Policy

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/competitive procurement limit of $100,000.


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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 reasonable competition from at least three (3) vendors, when practical. This documentation must include either:

  1. quotes from multiple vendors for the supply/service requested; or,
  2. an iBuy Purchase Requisition form documenting the reason(s) why multiple quotes were not attainable.

Reasonable competition can be demonstrated by:

  • obtaining written quotes from competing vendors,
  • requesting pricing via email,
  • web search results demonstrating pricing, or
  • 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 should 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 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. If a vendor supplies terms and conditions for such purchase, then such vendor terms shall be attached to an iBuy requisition as an “Internal Attachment” and use the iBuy Purchase Requisition form to initiate the 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 and ensure the P-Card transactions are in compliance with 7.6 The University Purchasing Card (P-Card).

Standing Purchase Order Requisitions

Requisitions for standing purchase orders under $100,000 require the same level of reasonable competition as other small purchases. When a standing purchase order is for a catalog of items, the Requisitioner can use historical purchase information to determine the quantities and types of products being purchased, in order to evaluate pricing catalogs from multiple vendors.

Professional and Artistic Services

The Illinois Procurement Code defines professional and artistic services specifically as:

  • Law
  • Accounting
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Custom-Produced Art

Procurements for professional and artistic services below the small purchases limit and that have a non-renewable term of one (1) year or less, may be made without the prior notice or level of competition otherwise required of competitive sealed solicitations.

The Purchasing Office should draft the contract for these professional and artistic services.  These small purchases are required to be published to the Illinois Procurement Bulletin within fourteen (14) days after contract execution.

Purchases under an Existing Contract

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

  • Catalog iBuy purchases
  • Purchases off a campus-wide or University strategic contract,

  • Purchases off an Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative (IPHEC) award,

  • Purchases off a State of Illinois master contract which are authorized to be used by Public Institutions of Higher Education in Illinois by the Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education,

  • Purchases from adoption of other approved consortia agreements (e.g. E&I, Big Ten Academic Alliance, Midwest Higher Education Compact, etc…) approved for use by the Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education.


Dividing or planning procurements to avoid use of competitive procedures - known as 'stringing' - is prohibited. A review for potential stringing may occur when the total value of three (3) 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.

Additional Resources

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

Last Updated: March 4, 2021 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance | Effective: March 4, 2021

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