Purchasing Guidelines

Purchasing Guidelines



This documentation represents a joint effort by the Purchasing Department, the Accounts Payable Office and the Controllers Office.The purpose is to set forth the policies and procedures required of all University personnel when procuring goods or services. Policies concerning purchasing apply to all funds of the University, regardless of the source.

This manual encompasses the complete purchasing cycle: requisitions, quotations, purchase orders, receiving and payment.In addition, it outlines the procedures required for a disbursement when a purchase order was not written.

Services rendered by the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Departments will be expedited if all University personnel using the system become familiar with and understand these policies and procedures.If the proper procedures are followed by all personnel requesting goods and services, it not only facilitates the job of Purchasing and Accounts Payable, but the requisitioner benefits in these ways:

  1. The goods and services will be received when needed.
  2. The department will receive what it wants within reasonable guidelines. 
  3. Purchases will be acquired at the most advantageous price. 
  4. The department will be protected from any improper and unauthorized charges.

The Purchasing and Accounts Payable Departments have three primary responsibilities:

  1. To serve faculty and staff in securing materials and contracting services.
  2. To conform to the policies established by the Board of Trustees in assuring that purchases are properly authorized, quality goods or services are being delivered to designated locations at the proper time, in the right quantity, and at the lowest possible price. 
  3. To pay our vendors on a timely basis once the goods or services have been received.

All departmental personnel can expedite and simplify the handling of supply, equipment, and service requirements by working closely with the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Departments and adhering to these guidelines.

  1. Plan ahead.Initiate requisitions (or inquiries) well in advance.
  2. Describe accurately on the requisitions the quantity and quality desired and exactly what the item is, use the name brand, or equivalent, with as many descriptive words as possible plus catalog numbers, models, etc. when available. 
  3. Use the appropriate account number and sub-code. 
  4. All amendments and cancellations of an order (before the vendor has made delivery) shall be channeled through the Purchasing Department, which will in turn inform the vendor with a change order.

Purchases Not Involving Purchase Orders

Certain types of transactions do not require a purchase order. However, all purchasing transactions require a certain amount of paperwork be completed. The following is a list of the type of transaction and what paperwork is required.
Transaction Type Required Paperwork

  1. Payment for individual services Invoice Vouchers  (ex. Consulting services) (Exhibit F) 
  2. Purchase of less $300.00 that you are picking up product at a local vendor (Exhibit D) 
  3. Purchase of less than $50.00 that you pick up and pay for personally (Exhibit E) 
  4. Memberships, subscriptions, and voucher registrations (Exhibit B) 
  5. Utilities Direct Bill 
  6. Travel Travel Voucher 
  7. Food Catering Send invoice with account # 
  8. Book purchases from Bookstore Book (Exhibit G) 
  9. Advertising (TV/Radio/Newspaper) Contact University Relations 
  10. Property Leases Copy of lease in AP Office 
  11. Insurance Invoice voucher w/invoice 
  12. Book Purchases from Company use requisition number

These transactions should be sent directly to the Accounts Payable Office for processing of payment. To assure payment please be sure that the invoice is attached to the appropriate voucher. The voucher should be filled out in its entirety with the name of the payee with the address of where to send the payment, reason for payment, name of person requesting payment and date, approval of appropriate Administrator (i.e., department, chairman, dean, etc.), and account numbers to be charged.

Charge Purchase

In order to support small and miscellaneous purchases locally a Charge Purchase Voucher can be used (see exhibit D). On this form the vendor name must be specified along with the description of item(s), the person's name that is going to pick the items up, the estimated amount (under $300.00), and the account number. After giving the white copy of the charge voucher to the clerk at the establishment where the purchase is being made the invoice along with the yellow copy is then forwarded to Accounts Payable for payment.

Petty Cash

For purchases of $50.00 or less prior approval is not required by the Purchasing Department. Simply purchase the item(s) with your own personal money and then present your sales slip or receipt for the amount spent with a standard Petty Cash Form (see Exhibit E) signed by the Division Chairperson and funds will be reimbursed at the Bursar's Office. The amount of the purchase will be charged to the originator's departmental account. Petty Cash purchases over $50.00 must be approved by the Purchasing Director before the Bursar's Office will make a reimbursement. The University does not pay sales tax.

Special Procurement Policies

Equipment that is rented or leased by the University, whether for a definite or indefinite period of time, should have a purchase order assigned. Vendor rental and lease agreements should be attached to the requisition and forwarded to Purchasing (to be signed by the Purchasing Department) and processed with the order.

It is strongly recommended that certain items of equipment be covered by service contracts in order to assure continuing efficient operation. Forms required by vendors are signed on behalf of the University by the Director of Purchasing and transmitted to them with a purchase order. Occasionally equipment is repaired on per call basis; call the Purchasing Department for information if you are uncertain.

For equipment not on service/maintenance contracts call the Purchasing Department for a purchase order number before calling in the repair. This procedure will help to ensure that the best source of service is contracted.

Contracts and Agreements

University contracts of every kind must be submitted to the Director of Purchasing for acceptance and execution. All contract proposals, the financial terms of which will be binding on the University if accepted, must be submitted to the Director of Purchasing, for approval before financial negotiations start.

Purchasing is authorized to establish purchase agreements, service and maintenance agreements and other working relationships with vendors consistent with satisfying using departments' need in the most economical and timely fashion.

Purchasing has negotiated price agreements or percentage discounts with certain vendors. These usually apply to all items purchased from a vendor and could involve a significant amount of money over a period of time, which frequently leads to lower prices than could be obtained by competitive bidding. It is to the University's advantage to buy from these vendors rather than to purchase like items from another source at a higher price.Such agreements affect source selection by Purchasing and are treated as confidential information. Terms must not be disclosed to competitors.

While controlling various purchasing related activities on the campuses is not the primary role of Purchasing, it is the logical place to monitor a variety of policies. Purchasing will lend reasonable effort in monitoring such policies after they have been developed with the assistance of appropriate University personnel.

Supplier Selection

The University considers its vendors to be valuable assets. It attempts to administer buying practices to enable all worthwhile suppliers to be considered and dealt with ethically. The appropriate ones will be awarded shares of the University's business on the basis of competitive prices, services rendered, and ultimate long-range benefit to the University.

Potential vendors are selected by the Purchasing Department based on their ability to serve the needs of the University in the most efficient and economical manner possible on a continuing basis. Past performances of vendors and cooperation with the University are important factors in vendor selection.It is virtually impossible for the University to purchase efficiently from all available sources for the thousands of items requested. Therefore, the buying power of the University must be concentrated as much as possible with selected vendors to attain the maximum advantage of price and service.

All departments are encouraged to suggest sources of supply with complete addresses and phone numbers. Authority for the final selection of the vendor, however, remains with the Purchasing Department, which is charged with the overall responsibility for developing and contracting with the best sources of supply for the University. Please note that the Purchasing Department will follow each department's recommendations as much as possible.

All computer hardware will be sent to the MIC for approval and price check.

Competitive Bidding

The policies with regard to quotes and bids for Vincennes University are intended to secure timely delivery of goods and services to the University at the most cost effective price; to encourage competition while promoting ethical business practices with all parties.

Competitive quotations or bids are to be secured in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. Orders totaling up to $999.99 - written quotations may or may not be solicited depending on the items.
  2. $1,000.00 to $9.999.99 - Three written quotations should be obtained. 
  3. $10,000.00 and up - Three written quotations must be obtained. 
  4. Any purchase exceeding $100,000 requires that a formal bid process be followed. This must be conducted through the Purchasing Department. Formal advertisements, formal bid openings, and approval from the Board of Trustees may be required. These requirements also apply to construction projects but are handled through the Facilities and Planning Office rather than the Purchasing Office.

In certain cases, such as sole-source purchases or instances where the low bid is not selected, written justification from the end user of the item is also needed. These are the requirements of the governmental body, which audits the Purchasing Department records;however, they are necessary and serve to protect the University.  A written quotation is a legally binding instrument providing such things as pricing, delivery, and shipping terms. Thus, it protects the University budget unit from price increases.

The requisitioning department is encouraged to work with the Purchasing Department early in the requisitioning process.The preferred method of obtaining quotes is for the department to provide Purchasing with a requisition or a memo describing the items needed.If the department knows possible suppliers, these may be suggested. Typically, the Purchasing Department sends prospective suppliers a written description of the goods or services needed on a standard request for quotation form. This process ensures that all bidders receive the same information. Special instructions and deadlines can also be communicated. Planning ahead for purchases, providing descriptions that are accurate and complete, and indicating any time constraint help this process move smoothly.

Upon receipt of the quotations, the Purchasing Department will evaluate the information and decide how to process. The information will be forwarded to the department for recommendations. A letter of justification must be submitted to the Purchasing Department if a user specifies that the product or service be purchased from a particular vendor that does not have the lowest price.This letter must have some substance and give rationale behind the selection.

In the event that the requisitioning department has obtained quotations on their own, copies of all the quotes (not just the preferred one must accompany the requisition.) If the department has contacted companies and received the response of "no bid" from some, this information should also be provided. For the documentation to be complete, the names of the companies contacted and their responses need to be recorded; a list of the bidders alone is not sufficient.

Certified Minority and Women Owned Business Vendor Purchases

Vincennes University is committed to providing minority & women owned vendors every opportunity to compete for its business. Efforts will be made in the Purchasing Department to identify minority vendors, inform those vendors of University requirements and solicit quotes from such vendors whenever possible. Efforts will be made to communicate to minority vendors regarding the purchasing process so that they may become more viable suppliers.


Information, with the exception of prices offered, received in confidence from vendors will not be released. Pricing and competitive offers will be released only after an order has been placed and accepted by the selected vendor. Notification of the award, pricing and competitive offers will be released only by the Purchasing Department.

The Purchasing Requisition

The purchasing process begins with the submission of a purchase requisition to the Purchasing Department. The purchase requisition form should be filled out completely including the following items:

  1. Department name and date of preparation.
  2. Requisitioner's name and campus telephone number. 
  3. Signature of authorized budget administrator. 
  4. Quantity desired – Every item should have designated a unit of measure (i.e., 1 each, 1 dozen, 1 carton, 1 gross, etc.) 
  5. Description of item(s) to be purchased.A brief description plus catalog numbers, models, etc.The number of items in each carton, package or box should be shown to clarify (4) above. 
  6. Name and address of SUGGESTED vendor or possible vendors. 
  7. Account number(s); provide all Banner Numbers.It is very important that the proper account codes be used.Examples would be 77106 account codes for computer software, 77104 account codes for capital equipment which also should include shipping charges, and 77512 account codes for non-capital equipment.. 
  8. Critical delivery date; if normal processing is satisfactory, enter ASAP, but if there is a critical date, enter it.However, be realistic when selecting this date. 
  9. Place to be delivered (with building and room number shown).If the order is to be sent to a location other than Central Receiving (or the mail room), the ship to address should be shown in the body or the description area.

Since one purchase order is issued from each requisition, it should include items to be acquired from only ONE vendor.Note, however, that up to four different account numbers can be used on each requisition. For this reason, items of similar classification from the same supplier should be grouped on the same requisition.

If for some reason the requisitioning department is seeking only information about certain products or services, place the words "FOR QUOTE ONLY" under the description; and the originator will be contacted after the information and prices have been gathered.

Purchase Order

Upon the selection of the supplier from whom the goods or services will be purchased, the Purchasing Department prepares a purchase order and sends copies to the vendor and appropriate departments. Cancellation and modification of orders before the items have been shipped should be directed to the Purchasing Department in writing with reference to the vendor and purchase order number. The appropriate change notice will be issued.Please keep the Purchasing Department informed of any changes.

Once the purchase order has been prepared, the funds of the applicable budget unit will be encumbered by the amount of the purchase order. This is a budgetary mechanism, which allows the University to track not only the actual expenditures but also the purchases "in process". This in turn reduces the amount of uncommitted funds for that department or budget unit and is reflected in each department's monthly budget unit control report.

The purchase order specifies to the vendor the items that the University offers to purchase, and, when accepted without change by the vendor, constitutes a legally enforceable contract.

No purchase order is processed for less than $100.00.


All shipment of goods to Vincennes University needs to be routed through either the mail room or Central Receiving. Size and quantity will determine where the item(s) will be delivered. Less than 75 pound items, (unless large quantities) will be delivered to the mail room and they will then be distributed to the appropriate department. Over 75 pound items and larger quantity shipments will be delivered to the Central Receiving Department who will then distribute to the proper department. Neither location is considered a storage area but instead is a receiving and delivery entity as well as an inspecting area for checking in and getting an accurate count on the goods received.The importance of timely submission and/or entry of receiving reports cannot be overemphasized. Since Accounts Payable receives most invoices at approximately the same time that shipments are received, the entire accounts payable process is facilitated if receiving reports are not delayed.

Damages and Discrepancies

Any damages, overages or shortages should be reported promptly in writing to the Accounts Payable Department. The report should contain the following information:

  1. Name of carrier and a copy of the freight bill.
  2. Order number and date. 
  3. Supplier's name and address. 
  4. Invoice number and a date (if available). 
  5. Extent of damage or shortage (be specific).

If the damage or shortage is not evident at the time of delivery, the carrier must be notified within fourteen (14) days of shipment to allow them to make an inspection report.Keep all containers, packing materials, wrappers, etc. for inspection. Failure to do so will negate any change of substantiating the claim.After the claim inspection report has been completed, it should be forwarded to Purchasing, which will notify the vendor of the shortage or damage in order to make the replacement.

Emergency Order Procedures

EMERGENCY ORDERS SHOULD BE KEPT TO A MINIMUM. If one cannot be avoided, the best method to expedite it as follows: take the requisition with the necessary signatures on it and "walk it through" or "fax it" to the Purchasing Department.

Only in an extreme emergency situation will a purchasing authorization be given over the telephone prior to the receipt of the purchase requisition.When this does occur, the requisitioner will be required to provide the following information:

  1. Department and requisitioner
  2. Materials/Service required 
  3. Vendor's name 
  4. Total price 
  5. Account number

When the requisition is forwarded to Purchasing it must show the words "CONFIRMING ORDER" and have the assigned purchase order number on it.

Personal Purchases

The Purchasing Department does not become involved in personal purchasing negotiations, nor is a University purchase order issued for personal transaction for individuals. Some vendors will offer to Vincennes University employees the same discount they offer to Vincennes University and the Purchasing Department can inform you of who those companies are.

Gifts and Gratuities

It is policy of the Purchasing Office as well as other related personnel of the University to decline personal gifts or gratuities in connection with the purchasing function.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest State Statute #35-44-1-3, Conflicts of interest; public servants:
"A public servant who knowingly or intentionally: (1) has a pecuniary interest in; or (2) derives a profit from; a contract or purchase connected with an action by the governmental entity served by the public servant commits conflict of interest, a Class D felony."

The University on occasion enters into purchasing contracts with students, faculty, and staff or members of their immediate families.Acquisitions from a business in which an employee has a financial interest is prohibited unless full disclosure of the background facts and a uniform Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form is approved and on file with the Vice President of Financial Affairs and the State Board of Accounts. The term "financial interest" would clearly include any ownership interest in a small business or corporation, where a contract or sale to Vincennes University could be expected to have some direct effect on the owner's interests.Disclosure of any such ownership interest, held by the employee of his/her spouse, MUST BE MADE annually. This Conflict of Interest Form is to be processed through the organizational structure with signatures of the responsible persons required at each level and returned to the Vice President for Financial Services. Completed forms shall be submitted to the Vice President for Financial Services and to the President of Vincennes University for his review prior to being submitted to the Board of Trustees for final approval. No employee should ever be in a position by which the employee is empowered to contract or purchase on behalf of the University, if the employee, their spouse or child may financially benefit from the contract or purchase.

Telephone Solicitations

Telephone solicitations from unknown vendors, subscription services, advertising agencies, or directory services should be referred immediately to Purchasing. No agreement may be made from a telephone solicitation under any circumstances.


Equipment is defined as any single item whose value (purchase price) is over $500.00 and has a life expectancy of over one year. Since equipment items will be used for long periods of time it is very important that these purchases are planned in advance. The Purchasing Office is a resource to help specify product, locate prospective vendors, conduct a formal bid, negotiate and assure timely and accurate delivery and installation. All equipment purchases require using the proper equipment sub-code as well as beginning with a "6" and receive the proper administrative approvals. The shipping charge needs to be included with the equipment purchase.

Computer Equipment

All requisitions for computer equipment, software and peripherals should be sent to the Purchasing Department.They will then be routed to the Management Information Center (MIC). The purpose is to ensure that the requisitioners are advised, when necessary, of issues of compatibility with existing and planned computing networks, campus computing directions and centrally supported equipment, possible availability of the desired items through surplus inventory of campus equipment or through site license agreements on software and general campus consulting services for assistance in evaluating alternatives. The best way for the end user to expedite this process is to consult with MIC early in the planning stages.

Audio-Visual Equipment

The University continues to request that the Audio Visual Center staff which is located in the LRC be consulted before purchasing of audio-visual equipment is made in order to ensure that a reasonable amount of uniformity and compatibility of equipment exist across campus.

University Telephone System

All telephone repairs for the staff, faculty and students should be reported to the Vincennes University MIC Department. Reporting to this single location for trouble reports should help expedite repairs.Request for telephone installations, deletions, moves and line cords should be submitted through a work order on the PROFS Program under the heading of "TELEPHONE" all pricing requests should be submitted to the Telecommunications Department.

Disposal of Used Equipment

The Inventory Control Facilitator is responsible for coordinating disposal of used equipment. Please emailmhutchison@vinu.edu for instructions concerning the reassignment or disposal of these items. Usually there are other departments requesting used equipment. The Purchasing Department maintains a list of these requests, and an effort to match the needs with the available items will be made.The Inventory Control Facilitator and Purchasing Director work hand in hand to assure the most efficient use of the Universities resources.