Back to Top

Purchases Frequently Asked Questions

Browse FAQ by Category: The Procurement Process - Sole Source - Banner Tasks - Commodities - Contracts - Office Machine Repair (UIUC only) - Transportation - Shipping

The Procurement Process

Sole Source

Banner Tasks



Office Machine Repair (UIUC only)



The Procurement Process

Q. How do we write specs? Do you have samples?

A. It is the responsibility of the requisitioners to supply full and complete specifications for the products they are requesting be purchased. Information including description/product number, quantity and units, cost estimate, desired delivery dates, delivery information, and any considerations including "special university or governmental approvals" are to be supplied to the buyer/coordinator for incorporation in the bid if appropriate. If the requisitioner has been in contact with vendors who can supply the products, those names and addresses should be forwarded to the Purchasing Division. Note: not all vendors have registered their companies with the University of Illinois System and may not be on the bid list.

Some buyer/coordinators have samples of bids for example only. A request for a sample should be made with the specific buyer/coordinator for the product or service you are procuring. The unique requirements of some commodities preclude a "cookie cutter" bid approach.

Q. How long does it take for the bid process?

A. Illinois State procurement law mandates that bids and sole sources be advertised for a minimum of 14 days on the Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin. In order to have 14 full days, the bid is advertised on the partial 15th day.

Sole source procurements and awards made pursuant to a competitive bid process are subject to review by the Procurement Policy Board (PPB).

Additional time may be needed for obtaining information as well as preparation time for the buyer/coordinator. The formal "Sealed Bid opening" is a public opening at the Purchasing Division offices. After the bids have been read aloud, they are given to the buyer/coordinator for preliminary review and then forwarded to the department for evaluation. The length of time the department needs for the evaluation can vary. After the evaluation is completed, the information must be returned to the Purchasing Division who will review the evaluation and issue an award.

Q. What is stringing?

A. Section 526.2005 of the Procurement Rules of the Chief Procurement Officer for Public Institutions of Higher Education defines "Stringing" as dividing or planning procurement to avoid use of competitive procedures. Stringing is prohibited. If it is apparent that the department did know or should have known of the additional requirement which resulted in additional orders or stringing, the remainder of the project may require formal Sealed Bids. The Dean or Director may be contacted for a letter explaining the situation.

If there are planned purchases that total over the bid limit, those are to be bid. If you are concerned about transactions having the appearance of stringing, you should contact the Purchasing Division.

Q. What if I have only enough funding to do part of the project this FY and I want to finish it next FY?

A. If the procurement involves a multi-phase renovation and the information is available, Sealed Bids may be structured to fit extended funding possibilities. It is important that the vendors be made aware of funding limitations via the Sealed Bid documents. The possibility of a phased schedule option could be built into the requirements of the bid. It is important that the department make the buyer aware of these special requirements so the pricing page is structured for the inclusion of phased purchases.

Q. What is our tax-exempt number?

A. The Illinois Department of Revenue has granted the University of Illinois System a governmental exemption from sales and use taxes on purchases for official use. The U of I System is not exempt from either local or Illinois Hotel Operators' Occupation Tax. However, the University of Illinois is registered under the Illinois Retailer's Occupation Tax Act to sell tangible personal property at retail. To print a copy of the tax exempt letter, go to the State of IL Sales Tax Exempt Letter.

Q. What is the university policy for Invoice Vouchers?

A. Invoice vouchers can be used for amounts less than $499 to pay invoices or reimburse faculty and staff for purchases. Original receipts and method of payment (cash, check, credit card) should be attached to the Invoice Voucher. See sections 7.4, Cash Purchases and 7.6, The University Purchasing Card (P-Card) of the Business and Financial Policies and Procedures manual for additional policy information.

Q. How can I find pricing associated with University of Illinois System contracted vendors?

A. Check the Strategic Procurement Awards Document for contracts negotiated for use system-wide. Additional information is also available on iBuy under Contracts.

Sole Source

Q. What is a sole source requirement?

A. A sole source procurement is permissible when a requirement is available from only a single supplier or when only one supplier is deemed economically feasible. A requirement for a particular proprietary item does not justify a sole source procurement if there is more than one potential bidder or offeror authorized to provide that item.

Q. Why do you advertise sole source transactions, especially requests for parts or services available only from the manufacturer or a utility company?

A. Sole source procurements for which the total cost equals or exceeds the dollar level requiring a State mandated competitive selection process must be advertised on the Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin for a minimum of 14 days. If no other supplier challenges this sole source determination within the 14-day posting period, a contract may be executed with the sole source supplier. If a challenge is received, the Purchasing Division shall consider the challenge information. If Purchasing finds the challenge is supported, it will cancel the sole source request and commence a competitive procurement.

Q. How do I write a sole source letter - what needs to be included?

A. If the requisitioning department believes it has a sole source procurement, it should contact the Purchasing Division to determine whether or not the Purchasing Division concurs that a sole source exists. The Purchasing Division may ask the requisitioning department to submit a written quotation from the supplier and a letter addressing:

  • the scope of the project for which the sole source purchase is needed as well as the person in charge of the project/purchase

  • the performance, quality, features and/or uniqueness of the equipment/service that makes the purchase essential to the project

  • a confirmation that the chosen supplier is the only source that can provide the essential equipment/service and why

  • the signature of an appropriate member of the department

Banner Tasks

Q. How do I request the addition of a new employee to the Banner vendor database?

A. Employees are automatically added to the vendor database as part of the employment process. There is no need to send requests for addition of new employees.

Q. Where can I get help with tasks within Banner?

A. OBFS has created job aids (step-by-step processes) to help with a variety of tasks within the Banner system. These job aids can be printed from the job aid section of OBFS Web site.

If you have problems with the Banner system, please contact the AITS help desk. They will forward your request to the appropriate staff for resolution. AITS at UIC: 312-996-4806, at UIUC/UIS: 217-333-3102.


Q. How do I place an ad?

A. Although each vendor may have a different procedure to place an ad, most vendors will accept a fax or email description of the job. The vendor will then design the ad, and fax or email it back to the department along with a price quote for approval. The department can then proofread the ad for errors. If the department then wants to place the ad, it should notify the vendor using a P-Card number to place the ad and referencing the quote. If the vendor does not accept a P-Card, the department should submit a requisition to the Purchasing Division, referencing the quote. The Purchasing Division will then issue an order to the vendor.

Q. I need to replace a (fax, typewriter, calculator, etc.). Do you have any vendors that you recommend?

A. Check out Strategic Procurement - Contracts & Awards, which may include the products you are interested in purchasing. If you do not find the category, please consult our University Contract Administrator feature to find contact information for a buyer/coordinator who handles those commodities and can provide vendor information and possible discounts available to the University of Illinois System.

Q. How do I deal with problems getting information from the vendor about my order?

A. If a Purchase Order has been issued to a vendor and the vendor is not being cooperative in supplying delivery information, feel free to contact the appropriate buyer/coordinator. You should be prepared to supply the buyer/coordinator with the Purchase Order number, the name of the person you spoke with, and any other pertinent information. Typically the buyer/coordinator will contact the vendor to confirm receipt of the Purchase Order and will work to obtain the necessary information for you.

Q. Can I buy furniture under $500 with a P-Card?


All Universities

Departments may use their P-Card to buy furniture when there is not any single item over $500. If there is a single item over $500, the department should submit a requisition to the Purchasing Division. The State Property Control Act (301LCS 605/7a) requires Purchasing to check the availability or suitability of surplus furniture with Central Management Systems (CMS). If CMS does not have the item requested, the Purchasing Division will file an affidavit to that effect with CMS and process a purchase order.

Q. What furniture items require pre-approval, and who and what department handles these approvals?


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Departments are required to get pre-approvals before submitting an electronic requisition for furniture where panel dividers are used and for departments that are "…wanting to buy metal furniture styles other than the Campus standardized items." Wood furniture is also restricted and must be pre-approved, unless it is "…for the personal office of Deans and Directors reporting directly to the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor or equivalent."

Departments seeking approval for the aforementioned should send a copy of the proposal and drawings to:

Facilities and Services
in care of Jill Maxey
1501 South Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820

With the exception of panel dividers, departments should also include a letter of justification and approval signed by the Dean or Director of the department.

Detailed information relating to furniture approvals are located online in the Campus Administrative Manual (Urbana only).

Q. Does carpet and drapery require pre-approval?


University of Illinois at Springfield

Contact Campus Services.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Departments are required to get pre-approvals before submitting an electronic requisition for carpet and drapery except for the following areas: Chancellor's, Vice Chancellors' or equivalent officers' office areas, Deans' office areas, offices of Senior Administrative Officers, Department Heads' offices and Conference Rooms.

Departments seeking approvals for carpet and drapery should contact Anthony Battaglia, F & S, 3-8262.

Q. What are the rules for purchasing printing?


University of Illinois at Springfield

Campus Services will determine if the service will be provided outside the University. For questions, contact the UIS Purchasing Division at 217-206-6651.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For information on purchasing printing, see Printing and Typesetting in our Types of Purchases section.


Q. Are the vendor terms and conditions in the attached agreement acceptable? Can you review them for us and advise?

A. Departments should review all terms and conditions to make sure they do not have any concerns regarding business issues, such as scope of work, time lines, deliverables, fees, assumptions, etc. The Purchasing Division will review the vendor terms and conditions for the legal aspects of the agreement as well as the business issues. The Purchasing Division will work with the vendor and University Counsel as well as the department to resolve any concerns before issuing the contract or Purchase Order.

Q. I have a contract from a vendor. What am I supposed to do with it?

A. Departments are not authorized to sign vendor contracts. Most vendor contracts have some terms and conditions that are unacceptable to the University of Illinois System. When the system is paying for goods or services, Purchasing must be involved in order to insure unacceptable terms are taken out or a standard University Contract form is used in place of the vendor form.

Q. Who can sign a contract from a vendor?

A. Departments are not authorized to sign vendor contracts. After approval by University Counsel, contracts must be signed by the Comptroller or designee and the Secretary of the Board of Trustees and filed in the Board Office.

Q. Where do invoices for contracts get sent?

A. If there is a purchase order associated with the contract, payment should be made in the same manner as all purchase orders with invoices being sent to Rantoul.

University of Illinois
Invoice Processing Center
P.O. Box 820
Rantoul, IL 61866

If a contract number has been issued, departments are to complete an Invoice Voucher, referencing the contract number, and send the Voucher to Accounting for payment.

Q. Where can I look to see if the University already has a contract?

A. Check the Strategic Procurement Awards Document for contracts negotiated for use system-wide. Additional information is also available on iBuy under Contracts.

Office Machine Repair (UIUC only)

Before July 1, 2010:

For OMR service through June 30, 2010, please contact: Pam Marshall or Marla Osterbur at 217-333-3590.

Beginning July 1, 2010:

Q. Do we need to call the vendor ourselves for office machine repair?

A. Yes. Beginning July 1, 2010, the Department will work directly with the office machine repair vendor. The vendor pricing list will be available soon.

Q. How long does it take for a repairman to show up?

A. Most contract vendors respond within eight working hours.

Q. What is included in a maintenance agreement for a certain machine, such as parts, labor, preventive maintenance inspections, etc.?

A. Maintenance agreements include one preventive maintenance inspection a year, which includes cleaning, lubricating and any adjustments required. Also included are all replacement parts and any emergency service (during working hours) including extra cleaning and adjustments deemed necessary by the vendor.

Q. How do I submit my monthly meter read?

A. Monthly meter reads are submitted using the University of Illinois System's electronic procurement system, (iBuy). A list of per click (copy) charge for your piece of equipment will available soon at Urbana Purchasing - OMR Website. Job aids for submitting monthly meter reads will available soon on the OBFS training website at OBFS Training - Urbana Purchasing OMR Job Aids.

Q. Our machine is not under a maintenance contract, how do we get it repaired?

A. Select the vendor from the OMR Master Contract List (will be available soon) that services your piece of equipment, place the service call the vendor and pay the vendor using your P-Card.


Q. What are the corporate identification number for the contracted car rental companies?

ID #XZ62053
Phone: 800-227-7368
ID #XZ62053
Phone: 800-325-8007

Q. How do I get a travel information/discount card or National car rental coupons?

A. Contact the Travel Management Office at 217-244-8785 or complete the Request for Travel Info Cards/Coupons and email it to Travel Management Office:

Q. What is the process to make moving arrangements for newly hired personnel?

A. Departments should send a letter or email containing the following information to Bill Dielman in Purchasing:

  • The name and phone number of the new employee.

  • The maximum amount that the department will pay for this move. (Note: Dean of the College or equivalent must approve anything over $7,500.)

New employees then have the option of calling the preferred vendor contact to arrange for a pre-move estimate or requesting that Transportation Services (217-333-3561) have the relocation vendor contact the employee. The contact names are:

Joe Ronk, CBH Moving and Storage
Phone: 800-747-1118
Phone: 217-351-0629

James McNeely, Federal Companies/Allied Van Lines
Phone: 800-728-5123
Phone: 217-352-5123


Q. How do I ship UPS?


University of Illinois at Springfield

Contact Campus Services who will handle the UPS shipment.

University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Please fill out the Service Desk Request Form for access to CampusShip. The form is also located on the Purchasing Shipping webpage.

Q. If I already have a UPS account number, how do I do online shipping?

A. See the CampusShip Information under Shipping.

Q. I received something that is damaged, what do I do?


University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Contact the UPS Preferred Customer Service Desk at 800-377-4877 to start the claim process. If you need assistance, please contact the AITS Service Desk at or 217-333-3102.

Q. Who is our Customs Broker at Chicago, Springfield and Urbana?


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Customs Broker for the University of Illinois System is SEKO Logistics. For help with shipments going through customs, please contact:
SEKO Logistics at

Q. How do I send an international shipment?


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Documents and Items under 50 lbs and having a commercial value less than $2,000:

Your international shipments and documents can be created in CampusShip. If you need assistance, please contact the UPS International Help Desk at 800-782-7892.

Items with a commercial value more than $2,000 or over 50 lbs.

Send your shipment information to SEKO Logistics

Last Updated: July 24, 2018

Give us feedback about this page Submit Feedback