Purchasing Procedures

Sourcing Competition and Competitive Bidding
Adding a New Vendor
Requisition and Purchase Orders
Approval Levels
Department Purchasing Card
Request for Payment
Sales Tax
Hazardous Materials
Vendor Classification
Appendix A - Vendor Qualification
Appendix B - Waiver of Competition
Appendix C - Vendor Classification
Appendix D - Contracts Approval Authority
Appendix E - Purchasing Card Policy
Appendix F - Other Centers of University Purchasing Operations
Appendix G - Facilities Operations Purchasing Procedures

I. General

A buying organization is a department or unit of the University that has responsibility for sourcing or purchasing product and services in support of our mission. The Purchasing Department is a direct buying organization that also supports other buying organizations that source specific products and services across the University.  Examples of these organizations with formalized buying activity include Facilities, Dining Services, IT, the Library and the Brewer Bookstore; while other departments also purchase items such as office supplies.

Each buying organization and department making the purchases is responsible for all aspects of this Procedure as it applies to products and services that they source on behalf of the University.  This Procedure is designed to take into account the unique requirements of differing buying requirements; however, in sourcing not all aspects can be anticipated.  In an uncertain situation, please contact the Executive Director of Business Services & EHS, Nick Ormasen, for clarification and resolution.  

Generally, all purchases need to reflect our best efforts regarding the delivery of favorable economics and quality, comply with all applicable law, regulation and SLU specific policies, such as the Conflict of Interest Policy, and must have a sufficient budget to cover the purchase.  The Purchasing Department is available, as needed, to support any aspect of our sourcing activity and the requirements of this Procedure.

II. Vendor Selection & Sourcing Decision

Each buying organization is responsible for its vendor selection and qualification as defined in this Procedure.  A vendor is a 3rd party organization that provides a product or service to the University.  The University’s business will be awarded to the vendor who provides the best overall value in consideration of price, quality, and service (“Value”).

However, other factors could impact vendor selection and the awarding of the business.  For example, compliance with participation goals for Minority and Women Business Enterprises with respect to NY State contracts and grant requirements could limit the available number of vendors to consider which may or may not impact Value.  While our buying decision, generally, is based on Value, compliance requirements are a second consideration that can influence or change the sourcing decision.  The buying organization is responsible for both the buying decision and compliance; this Procedure recognizes and prioritizes that compliance requirements may, in some instances, supersede our focus on Value based decisions.   

Each vendor selected needs to be qualified through a series of standard inquiries as well as the specific requirements of each individual buying organization. The standard inquiries are compliance oriented in focus, for example, addressing potential Conflicts of Interest.  The standard inquiries are available in Appendix A and should be submitted to Purchasing for processing at the time a vendor is requested to be set up in Colleague. Note, Appendix A does not include specific sourcing qualification questions as they vary among our multiple buying organizations and are the responsibility of the specific buying organization to develop.  

Purchase Requests and Transactions using Grant Funds
The University will adhere to the requirements of State, Federal, and other sponsors for all purchases using grant funds (including but not limited to the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Uniform Guidance) in cases where grant requirements are more stringent than University policies.  Consult Corporate and Foundations Relations Staff with questions about purchases using grant funds.     

  1. Sourcing Competition and Competitive Bidding

As already discussed, our decision criteria are based on Value; Value generation in sourcing is best achieved through competition.  While soliciting multiple vendors is always suggested for any purchase, for the sourcing of goods and services over $10,000 this Procedure requires at least 2 quotes, estimates, bids, or other documentation applicable to the buying activity to support that competition was solicited and the economics, quality, etc. were assessed.  This applies to all buying organizations, except for Facilities Operations which solicits competition at values of $25,000 or more.  All supporting documents are to be emailed to purchasing@stlawu.edu at the time the requisition is entered into the SelfService and in this email, include the system generated requisition number. 

In some cases, soliciting multiple vendors is not a practical solution due to our existing conditions such as software system compatibility and updates, limitations on available suppliers, or the need for emergency repairs.  While infrequent in number, such non-competitively sourced arrangements are sometimes appropriate.  As a result, if a buying organization faces such a situation and makes this determination, they should submit a Waiver of Competition Form (see the form in Appendix B) to purchasing@stlawu.edu  at the time they submit their requisition.

Certain supplier relationships are created for use across the University or in a specific division or department such as for office supplies or food.  The buying organization responsible for relationship qualifies the vendor and executes a competitive process on Value before awarding the business as well as on going monitoring of the relationship.  When another buying organization or department utilizes such a vendor, it is not necessary to competitively bid each individual order.  In this procedure, these vendors are classified as either Contracted or Discounted Vendors.  Please see Appendix C for complete detail on vendor classification.  Finally, when such vendors are available University wide, Purchasing will communicate details to the University.

St. Lawrence University’s Conflict of Interest Policy can be found here.

St. Lawrence University's Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) and Small Business in the procurement process.

III. Mechanics

The University has 3 methods of paying vendors and they are:  1) with a University Purchase Order, 2) Department Purchasing Card or 3) a Request for Payment. This Procedure specifically excludes business travel related payments and their associated mechanics. 

  1. Adding a New Vendor

In order for the University to issue a payment, other than those made by Department Purchasing Cards, the entity has to be set up in the Colleague system as a vendor.  It is the buying organization’s responsibility to provide Purchasing the information to complete a vendor set up.   

Our substitute W9, or a standard IRS W9 form are needed to set up US vendors.  This information is sent to purchasing@stlawu.edu.

While this Procedure does not address expense reimbursement for employees or students, to reimburse employees or students contact the Purchasing Department to set them up in the Colleague system.  A Substitute W-9 form is not needed for employees or students.

If payment is to be made to a foreign person or organization, a valid W-8 form is submitted, but the set up will be slower as all W-8 forms need to be reviewed by the Business Office. In some cases, the IRS requires tax withholding on payments to foreign persons and organizations, which this review addresses, among other federal and state requirements.   

  1. Requisitions and Purchase Orders

Requisitions are utilized to initiate both the procurement and payment processes, receive approval for the expenditure, encumber the funds within the applicable budget and provide information to the central Purchasing Department to aid in the creation of a Purchase Order or a Blanket Purchase Order.  Purchase Orders or Blanket Purchase Orders are a standard form University generated contract that, based on the information in the requisition, is produced by Purchasing and submitted to the vendor before the product is made available or service is provided.  The Blanket Purchase Order and Purchase Order define the terms of the transaction.

Purchase Orders or Blanket Purchase Orders are required for the purchase of all goods and services for transactions greater than $5,000 unless specifically excluded elsewhere in this Procedure.

Blanket Purchase Orders are a special type of Purchase Order that can be used in situations where multiple payments are required to the same vendor over time.  To set up a Blanket Purchase Order notify Purchasing by adding the information to the notes section of the requisition when it is set up in the SLU Portal. Blanket Purchase Orders must have a term that remains within the current fiscal year. Purchasing should be contacted via email, at purchasing@stlawu.edu to close a Blanket Purchase Order after all of the products or services have been received. 

Buying organizations wishing to issue a Purchase Order or a Blanket Purchase Order initiate the process by creating a requisition, and sending the appropriate supporting materials, such as a formal quote or estimate from the vendor via email to purchasing@stlawu.edu  concurrent with the set up of the requisition in Colleague Self Service.  The email includes the system generated requisition number.  After review in Purchasing and, if applicable, confirmation that the vendor’s insurance certificate is on file, the Purchasing Department will issue the Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order.  If the review turns up an issue, for example, insufficient insurance, the Purchasing Department will advise the sourcing organization and help to resolve.   Under $5,000 should be made using a Request for Payment and those $5,000 and above need a Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order.

If the sourcing arrangement is under a signed contract, the requisition and Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order process is still required.  One reason for this requirement is that budget administrators will not be able to see encumbrances in the system without the issuance of a Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order. 

A requisition must be created and a Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order must be issued before an order is placed or a contractor begins work.  The Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order represents not only the terms of the transaction, but our order for the product or service.

Approval Levels – Requisitions

In order for Purchasing to process a requisition and issue a Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order, the following approvals are required at the time the requisition is submitted.

  • Requisitions and requests for payment for amounts greater than $5,000 must be approved by Department Heads/Directors.
  • Requisitions for amounts greater than $10,000 must be approved by the Division Vice President.
  • Requisitions for amounts greater than $100,000 must be approved by the Division Vice President and the Vice President for Finance & Administration or the President. Please avoid whenever possible asking the President for approval in the normal course of activities as the Vice President for Finance & Administration has the same approval authority.
  • In addition to the above approval levels, requisitions for computer equipment, software, software as a service and related items must be approved by the Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Officer. This is an off-line process that can be initiated by contacting IT via their service request system.


For the University’s protection, it is important that contractors have an up-to-date certificate of insurance on file before a Purchase Order is issued and work begins.  Generally, a “contractor” is a vendor who comes on to our campus or provides a service, such as transportation to our students. Some exceptions include guest speakers, certain performers, and instructors.  Purchasing’s review of a requisition includes verification that the certificate is on file with Risk Management and, if it is not, Purchasing will notify the buying organization.  It is the buying organization’s responsibility to obtain the certificate of insurance from the vendor.  Typically, when notified, the vendor will request a certificate from their insurance carrier, who should send it directly to Purchasing (purchasing@stlawu.edu).  When the certificate has been received, Purchasing will issue the Purchase Order.  Our minimum insurance requirements are available here: https://www.stlawu.edu/offices/purchasing/insurance-requirements

Large projects or higher risk activities may have additional insurance requirements and the Risk Management staff should be consulted by contacting Eric Shinnick (eshinnick@stlawu.edu).


The buying organization should indicate when an item ordered or service provided has been received or delivered when using Purchase Orders.  The buying organization does this by entering a Receiver using SLU Portal, at the time the product was received and verified as accurate or the service provided satisfactorily. The Business Office is unable to pay an invoice for a product or service under a Purchase Order until the receiver is completed.  Receivers do not need to be entered for Blanket Purchase Orders. 


Instructions are printed on Purchase Orders to mail invoices directly to the Business Office except for Facilities Operations, Dining Services, the Bookstore, Athletics, and the Warehouse.  For these departments the Purchase Order instructs vendors to mail invoices to their department directly. See Appendix F and G for these buying organizations’ sourcing procedures.

Invoices for Blanket Purchase Orders should always be sent directly to the buying organization.  When the goods have been received or services provided, the buying organization should email the invoice to the Business Office with the Blanket Purchase Order number.  This will act as an approval for payment and payment will be issued by Accounts Payable.

  1. Department Purchasing Card

Department Purchasing Cards are available to departments to purchase from retail vendors and are to be used for purchasing goods and services less than $5,000 per transaction. Splitting a single purchase into several smaller transactions for the purpose of purchasing an item in excess of $5,000 is prohibited.  The Department Purchasing Card Procedure is available in Appendix E.

While infrequent, there are some situations where a credit card payment is required by a vendor for a transaction above $5,000.  In these situations, a buying organization should contact Purchasing for assistance. Purchasing, in collaboration with the Business Office, will determine how to pay the vendor.      

Athletics team travel and Advancement events are covered by this Purchasing Procedure and not the Travel Policy. Both Athletics and Advancement have higher credit limits on their departmental Purchasing Cards due to the need to pay for group travel and event venues.   

  1. Request for Payment

A Request for Payment, is the method used, to initiate direct payments to vendors when needed. Generally, this is for payments of $5,000 or less when a Purchasing Card cannot be used. This is the same process utilized for reimbursement under the Travel Policy.  Department Administrative Assistants can approve up to $1,500 and Executive Assistants can approve up to $2,500.

Payments under $5,000 can also be submitted to the Business Office by using a Request for Payment in the SLU Portal, generally, for the following buying transactions; subscriptions, registrations, membership fees, honoraria, speaking fees, etc. Some of these transactions may be formally contracted and the Contract Approval Authority Procedure applies. See Appendix D

After completing a Request for Payment in the SLU Portal the requestor will receive an email that the request is complete. The requestor must attach in an emailed the invoice along with any supporting documentation and send that to Accounts Payable for payment.

If an employee is requesting a reimbursement to themselves, the email must first be forwarded to their supervisor for approval, via signature, and then sent to Accounts Payable.

Any contractor performing services, other than speaking, performing or instruction, on campus must have an active certificate of insurance on file and it is the buying organization’s responsibility to make sure an up-to-date copy is sent to Purchasing prior to work beginnings.  All exceptions must be approved by Risk Management.

  1. Sales Tax

Taking advantage of the University’s tax-exempt status to avoid the increment cost is required; the majority of States have granted SLU tax-exempt status and vendors in those states will waive sales tax when provided with the tax-exempt certificate issued to SLU applicable to their state. Merchants will generally require a copy of this certificate and proof that the University is the direct purchaser of the goods or services in order to waive the sales tax; this is usually determined when the buying organization is discussing the price with the vendor.  As a result, it is the buying organization’s responsibility to provide the vendor with the applicable tax-exempt certificate.  The Business Office is available to assist if necessary.

The University’s tax-exempt certificates and additional information on sales taxes can be found here.

  1. Hazardous Materials

Some items that are procured may be dangerous or regulated and may require a special license and/or internal approvals. Generally, these conditions arise with sourcing associated with our academic laboratories.  

Radioactive substances and lasers must be procured only through the University Radiation Safety Officer, Jill Pflugheber. The radiation safety officer manages the interaction with Purchasing in accordance with this Procedure.

Certain drugs, syringes, and chemicals require special licenses for possession. Strong acids and bases, certain lasers, as well as many solvents must be handled and stored according to state and/or federal regulations. It is the responsibility of the buying organization to ensure that all ordered items are compliant with current University policy and with state and federal regulations. Environmental, Health & Safety is responsible to support buying organizations to both advise and ensure compliance with best practices and the applicable law and regulation. 

  1. Vendor Classification

The University classifies vendors into 5 categories:

1) Contracted Vendors

2) Discounted Vendors

3) Retail Vendors

4) Facilities Primary Contractors

5) Other Vendors

These classifications identify the vendor’s relationship with the University.  The Purchasing Department maintains a master list of vendors within Colleague for the first 4 classifications.  Vendor classification details can be found in Appendix C, including the applicable definitions.

Appendix A

Vendor Qualification Questions Form

This form should be completed by all suppliers and contractors.  Vendors with long term relationships will need to complete this form at least every 5 years.  Questions about this form should be directed to the Purchasing Department at purchasing@stlawu.edu.                 

Appendix B

Waiver of Competition Form

The University procures goods & services competitively whenever practicable.  This form needs to be completed by the buying organization in accordance with the St. Lawrence University Purchasing Procedures when a situation occurs in which competition is not possible or appropriate for purchases of goods or services in excess of $10,000 ($25,000 for Facilities contractors).  Some situations that require the use of this form include the use of a sole source, or single acceptable source or service, and emergency situations. 

Purchases covered by an existing University contract do not need to complete this form. 

The buying organization should complete this form and it should be submitted to purchasing@stlawu.edu at the time the requisition is entered.

Appendix C

Vendor Classification

Contracted Vendors

Vendors with competitively bid contracts that result in a sourcing relationship with the University and depending on the terms we may or may not be legally obligated to do business with receive “Contracted Vendor” status.  All contracts must be reviewed and signed in compliance with the Contract Approval Authority Process (Appendix D) and must have a sufficient budget to cover the purchase.  Vendors with long standing contracts must be evaluated and competitively bid at least every 10 years.

Discounted Vendors

Discounted Vendors are designated by the Purchasing Department based on formal discount program, that creates value for the University.  We are not obligated to purchase from a Discounted Vendor, however they should be used when they offer the best Value.  Discounted Vendors typically offer goods and services across divisions and a list of Discounted Vendors will be maintained on the Purchasing website.  

Retail Vendors

Retail Vendors are those who operate a retail or online store and do not have a formal continuing relationship with the University.  Department Purchasing Cards should be used for retail purchases under $5000 whenever possible.  As with all transactions, the University’s tax-exempt status should be used whenever possible. Retail Vendors are typically paid by a Department Purchasing Card and are not added to the master list of vendors.

Facilities Primary Contractors (Appendix G)

Facilities Operations partners with a selected group of contractors, who are classified as Facilities Primary Contractors. They have positive well established relationships with proven Value for the University.  New contractors may be added and existing contracts dropped to / from the group as appropriate.

Other Vendors

Vendors who do not fit within the other categories are classified as Other Vendors.  Payments under $5000 should be made using a Request for Payment and those over $5000 should be made using a Purchase Order or Blanket Purchase Order.

Appendix D

Contracts Approval Authority

Appendix E

Purchasing Card Policy

Appendix F  

Other Centers of University Purchasing Operations

Due to the diverse nature of required supplies there are five centers of purchasing activities that have their own processes that are independent of those described in this document.  Dining Services food sourcing, Library acquisitions, Bookstore resale, and the Warehouse buy organizations utilize commodity specific software to place orders and issue Purchase Orders.  All information is uploaded or entered manually into the Colleague system and payments are issued by the Business Office.  Due to the large size of the staff in Athletics their workflow has been adjusted to utilize a central department purchaser within the buying organization. These processes are described below.

New Federal Procurement Standards 2 CFR 200

During the grace period for implementation of the new Federal procurement standards ending June 30th, 2018, SLU will continue to follow its standard purchasing practices that comply with current federal procurement standards.

Bookstore Resale Items

The Bookstore has buyers who are designated to buy for specific types of resale items, such as gifts, text books, trade books and SLU branded goods.  For the most part the same vendors are used throughout the year.  The exception is when the Gifts Buyer travels annually to a large show to find new products and vendors.  The Bookstore uses the HelloPOS system for ordering, receiving, paying, and tracking items in their inventory.

Buyers, typically bookstore department heads, do their own ordering and enter Purchase Orders to HelloPOS.  Depending on the vendor, the orders are sent electronically or by fax to the vendor.  Prices are not generally indicated on Purchase Orders.

Items are delivered to the buyers and they enter a receiver in HelloPOS.  Some buyers will enter costs for the items received.  Buyers then print a receiver and forward to the Bookstore Accounts Payable (AP) Clerk.

Invoices are delivered to the Bookstore AP clerk.  Bookstore AP clerk matches invoices with receivers and if items agree, will enter the invoice to HelloPOS.  If the buyer previously entered cost information, Bookstore AP clerk will confirm amount.  If the item was prepaid with a purchasing card, Bookstore AP clerk will enter information to HelloPOS and indicate as prepaid so no payment is issued.  If the items purchased cannot be scanned (i.e. jewelry, scarves), Bookstore AP clerk will first enter information to the inventory system, then enter invoice for payment.  Buyers will have written individual cost amounts on the invoice (for Bookstore AP clerk to enter to HelloPOS) and sign the invoice.

Once Bookstore AP clerk has completed entering invoices to be paid for the week, a file is generated to send to the Business Office.  One file is a PDF which the Bookstore AP clerk prints and the other is a text file which is saved to the R drive.  Bookstore AP clerk calculates a total of the invoices and compares to the total listed in the file.  If they match, Bookstore AP clerk notifies Business Office AP clerk that the Bookstore A/P file is ready to upload.  Bookstore AP clerk also sends Business Office AP clerk a copy of the pdf and prints one for the bookstore manager.  The bookstore manager reviews and initials his copy which is filed.

If a new vendor is used, Bookstore AP clerk sets up in HelloPOS and requests Purchasing to set up in Colleague.  The normal procedure for adding a new vendor, including the completion of the Vendor Qualification Questions Form is followed.  The HelloPOS vendor code is entered to the Colleague vendor screen and this data is used to cross reference vendor codes in the two systems.

The Bookstore AP clerk uses some screens in Colleague such as VENI and VEND to monitor vendor payments and addresses.  Bookstore AP clerk uses the SLU portal to request payments for purchasing items that are not to be immediately added to the inventory system (i.e. prepayments) or are non-resale items.

Dining Services Food Sourcing

Dining Services uses large food vendors and they also use a handful of other vendors for specific products such as the convenience store items at the Café. 

Orders are placed using the CBORD system. The system has recipe and inventory information that can be used to help make purchasing decisions.  The system interfaces directly with each companies order system.  At this time orders are placed online or with sales reps through open accounts.

Most suppliers drop off invoices at dining units when delivering goods.  Managers sign to indicate their approval and forward to the Dining Services clerk.  Some invoices are also delivered to her directly and she will confirm the invoiced items have been received.  Managers, leaders, receiving and storage personnel provide verification that items have been received.

The Dining Services clerk assigns the correct accounting code to the invoice based on what the item is and where it was delivered.  If there is a new vendor, she obtains their W-9 form and forwards to Purchasing to add to the master vendor list.

The Dining Services clerk enters vouchers to Colleague using the VOUM screen.  She will keep all vouchers entered during a day together in a file.  She will run a voucher register of vouchers she entered in a day and keep in the same file.  She will also enter the vouchers to an excel file she maintains for additional reference.

The Dining Services clerk enters the items purchased for the Dining inventory to their inventory system (excel spreadsheet).

The Dining Services clerk forwards the file of invoices entered and voucher register to the Director of Dining Services, for review.  She initials the register to indicate her review and return.

Dining Services uses the normal central purchasing processes to make nonfood purchases.

Library Academic Material Acquisitions

For departmental and special collection accounts the Library Assistant, works with faculty liaisons and the Acquisition/Catalogue Librarian, to determine book orders.  The Library Assistant enters such orders to the online library system called Sierra.  For serials, periodicals, standing orders and electronic database subscriptions another Library Assistant enters orders to Sierra. 

The Library Assistants receive the books and invoices for their orders.  They enter the invoices to Sierra.  They will then generate a pay file which is saved in a shared folder.  They will print the file and compare the file total to a total of the invoices entered.  Once it has been verified that the file is correct, they notify the Business Office that a file is ready to upload to the Colleague A/P system.  This file creates vouchers which are paid in the normal Accounts Payable cycle.

Library acquisitions are generally purchased from the same vendors, but occasionally a new vendor must be created.  The Library Assistant will create the vendor in Sierra and ask Purchasing to create the vendor in Colleague.

Faculty liaisons are sent a monthly budget report and a listing from Sierra of books ordered and charged to their accounts.  If a Library Assistant receives a book order from Faculty in excess of $100, the Acquisition/Catalogue Librarian must approve. 

The Library Assistants use Colleague to review vendor addresses and payment history. They use the SLU Portal to monitor budgets for which they are responsible.  The Library uses the normal central purchasing processes to make purchases not catalogued in the Library collection.


Athletics has an Employee Specialist, who enters all requisitions directly into Colleague for all purchases made by the department.  The coaches submit a paper form and quote to her and she enters the requisition.  Requisitions are then approved by the Associate Director of Athletics for Business.  Orders are shipped directly to the coaches and invoices are sent directly to the Specialist.  She then contacts the coaches to ensure the invoice is accurate and everything has been received.  She then enters a Receiver in Colleague and sends the invoice to the Business Office for payment.


The Warehouse utilizes the TMA system to issue Purchase Orders, charge items against budgets and work orders, and track inventories.  The system is also used by Facilities as a work order system.  Ordering, receiving, and payment approval are separated among 3 employees to ensure separation of duties. All payments are entered into the Colleague system as Request for Payment weekly and documentation is provided to the Business Office.  Checks are issued from the Business Office. 

Appendix G

Facilities Operations Purchasing Procedures

The Facilities Operations organization does the highest dollar amount of buying on campus and due to this scale has a separate procedure to ensure that the greatest Value is being obtained.

Facilities Primary Contractors

Facilities Operations partners with a selected group of contractors, who are classified as Facilities Primary Contractors. They have positive well established relationships with the University.  These contractors are utilized for the majority of projects on campus and in some cases, at the discretion of the buying organization these contractors assist with development of the project scope which can reduce engineering fees and avoid costly change orders.  New contractors may and should be added to the group when appropriate.


Facilities Primary Contractors should be benchmarked periodically against each other and other contractors to ensure the greatest Value is being obtained.  Examples of benchmarking include comparison of time and material rates and fees, and getting multiple bids/quotes to compare.  It is Facilities Operations responsibility to ensure the university is achieving the best value.


While competition is always suggested, all contactor work over $25,000 should have multiple quotes, estimates or bids. Due to scale, timing, added expense of additional engineering, and other requirements, competition is not always possible however the reason should be recorded on the Waiver of Competition Form (Appendix B).   Purchases of goods and supplies are subject to the $10,000 competition requirement.