Procurement Policies

What is a Department Sponsor?

“Department Sponsor” is the term used by the University to refer to the Department point of contact for purchases and/or Contracts with a vendor. The Department Sponsor is required to verify that all related invoices reflect the pricing established. If there are non-performance or inadequate performance issues, the Department Sponsor must document the incident in writing to the vendor and CC the Procurement Manager. Department Sponsors must monitor Contract termination provisions and provide a timely request to Risk Services to provide a notification of termination in accordance with those terms.

Pre-Planning Requirements

The Procurement Office cannot overemphasize the importance of Departments evaluating the need for a good or service well in advance; this includes renewals for existing contracts. Depending on the commodity or service, the time required to procure may vary. Purchases that require formal competitive bidding or contract negotiations, for example, need optimal time in order to obtain the best value and garner cost savings through the procurement cycle. If adequate time is not allocated for the procurement process, efficiency and effectiveness may be hindered.

Competitive Bidding

To ensure the University is prioritizing best value when obtaining goods and services, competitive bidding requirements have been put in place for purchases of $10,000 or more.  These policies apply to all purchases, whether they are made via invoice and paid through Accounts Payable or made by p-card. The thresholds below are based on aggregate amounts, therefore, the dollar sum of purchases made to a vendor during a single 12 month period must be considered when determining what bidding requirements to follow. For example:

  • Multi-year contracts where $10,000 or more will be paid to the vendor in a 12-month period at any time over the term of the contract
  • A purchase with a base price of $9,000.00 has additional taxes and fees that add up to a final total of $10,100.00
  • Individual transactions are below $10,000 but your department will pay the vendor more than the micro-purchase threshold during a 12 month period

Exceptions to bidding requirements may be appropriate in certain circumstances as provided for in the “Exceptions to Bidding” section.

For purchases under $10,000, Department Sponsors are not required to receive prior approval from the Procurement Office. Department Sponsors should use their best judgment and seek at least one verbal quote when determining if the purchase is necessary and of best value. Intentionally splitting a purchase over $10,000 into smaller increments to avoid competitive bidding will be considered a violation of this policy.

Departments are no longer required to issue a Purchase Order to vendors. In the event a vendor requires a purchase order to be generated, a requisition should be submitted and Accounts Payable will provide the requesting department with the PO to send to the vendor.

Informal competition is required for standard purchases of goods or services. The Department Sponsor is responsible for independently seeking written quotes for the purpose of validating the price and quality for reasonableness. Acceptable quotes include web searches, email communications, public product listing, etc. Department Sponsors must include quotes with requisition submissions and receive approval from the Procurement Office before a purchase is made. If the purchase involves a contract, the Department Sponsor must send the Contract Review Form with attached quotes to the Procurement Office for approval before it is submitted to Risk Services. The number of quotes required depends on the following thresholds:

  • $10,000-$49,999: Two written quotes from comparable and qualified sources
  • $50,000-$99,999: Three written quotes from comparable and qualified sources

Purchases of goods and services should be evaluated based on best value and not exclusively on price. In order to remain in compliance with Uniform Guidance, Department Sponsors are required to provide a brief rationale if the lowest price is not selected out of the quotes obtained. Provided all bidding requirements have been met, Department Sponsors can expect a decision within two business days after submission. If you are having difficulty finding quotes, the Procurement Office can be consulted for assistance.

Formal competitive bidding is required for purchases $100,000 and over. Some of the most common types of competitive solicitation methods include Request for Proposals and Request for Quotes. Department Sponsors must consult the Procurement Office to initiate the competitive bidding process. The Procurement Manager will help the Department Sponsor determine the best method of procurement and prepare the necessary documentation to issue to potential vendors.

Exceptions to Bidding

An exception to bidding requirements may be granted by the Procurement Office in the event the product or service can only be obtained from a Sole Source. Such circumstances may include:

  • Existence of patents, copyrights, proprietary information, property rights etc.
  • The vendor or agency is the only one that can meet the required timeline of a project
  • The product or service is explicitly required by a federal awarding agency
  • Inadequate competition – bids were solicited but none were received
  • Unique properties from a sole source that cannot be found elsewhere
  • The product or service to be obtained must be compatible with product or service already acquired by the University
  • Continuation, maintenance or update of an ongoing service
  • Time does not permit competitive bidding due to a public emergency. A “public emergency” is classified as the need to correct or prevent an emergency health, environmental or safety hazard and/or enable the emergency repair or replacement of existing equipment essential for daily operations.

Sole Source Justification

In the event a purchase of goods or services $10,000 or more fits within the aforementioned sole source circumstances, a Sole Source Justification Request must be submitted to the Procurement Office for approval. Once approved, the request will be maintained for future reference. An expiration date will be determined by the Procurement Office after which point Department Sponsors should re-evaluate if the vendor would still be considered a Sole Source. Requisition submissions for a vendor that is an approved Sole Source do not need to be accompanied by alternative quotes.

Under Uniform Guidance, Sole Source Justification for federal funding is limited to the following circumstances:

  • Aggregate purchase amount does not exceed micro-purchase threshold of $10,000
  • Product or service is only available from a single source
  • Public emergency does not permit time for competitive bidding
  • Bids were solicited but competition was deemed inadequate

Competitive bidding is not required for standard purchases made through a preferred vendor for which a contract has already been negotiated by the University. Requisitions submitted to the Procurement Office for approval do not need to include alternative quotes. Some of the benefits of using contracted suppliers:

  • Competitive bidding is not required as the University has already completed this process
  • Terms and Conditions have already been negotiated
  • Certificates of Insurance are already on file
  • Makes purchasing more efficient and less time consuming
  • Discounts may be available
  • Protects the University from unnecessary risk

Group Purchasing Organizations are designed to leverage the purchasing power of many institutions. By partnering with other GPO members, PLU can obtain discounts from vendors through collective buying power. Pricing negotiations are executed by the GPO, relieving departments and the University as a whole from the competitive bidding process. A list of Group Purchasing Organizations that PLU is a part of have been provided below.

  • E & I Cooperative Service – Nonprofit Organization specializing in education
  • Omnia Partners – Cooperative that operates across many different industries
  • Sourcewell – Provides contracts for both educational and government sectors
  • OETC – Consortium for educational technology products

Pacific Lutheran University is also registered with the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services and is, therefore, eligible to use State Contracts.