UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH POLICY 05-02-05
CATEGORY: FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: Department Purchasing Authority and Responsibilities
EFFECTIVE DATE: April 7, 2006 Revised
This policy establishes the purchasing authority for departments and their associated
responsibilities. It also describes purchases that are prohibited.
Department Authority for Purchasing
The University’s central Purchasing Department is authorized to manage the purchasing
process as established in University policy 05-02-14, Authority for Management of
Procurement. Commitments in the name of the University are reserved solely for authorized
University purchasing agents. Unless delegated in writing by the central Purchasing
Department or by a resolution of the Board of Trustees, purchasing authority for all other
departments is limited to $5,000 per purchase for goods or services. All purchase
transactions that exceed $5,000 must be approved by the Purchasing Department or
regional campus Purchasing Department. Further restrictions of purchasing authority may
be placed on individual purchasers by department managers. A purchase commitment
may not be divided into smaller transactions in order to circumvent established purchasing
University departments have the initial responsibility for specifying items to be purchased
or the services to be performed. Specifications should include a general description of the
items/services, manufacturer and model number, quantity, physical characteristics,
compatibility and integration requirements, required delivery date and any other pertinent
requirements. The Purchasing Department will assist in formulating a specification when
requested to do so.
Specifications must be prepared in a manner that permits fair and equitable consideration
from all known sources qualified to meet the University's requirements. The appropriate
purchasing unit will consult with administrative officers, competent specialists, or others in
order to secure any technical assistance required in this regard.
When available, University contracted suppliers should be used as the source for the
purchase (see Policy 05-02-15, Required Use of Contracted Suppliers). A list of University
contracted suppliers is available at www.bc.pitt.edu/purchasing/index.html.
If a University contracted supplier is not available, departments should attempt to obtain
three competitive quotes for all purchases under $5,000.
Formal competitive bidding is required for all purchases greater than $5,000 (see Policy
05-02-16, Competitive Bidding). The Purchasing Department reserves the final decision in
the selection of sources. When conducting competitive bidding, the Purchasing
Department should be contacted to assist with developing a Request for Quote (RFQ) or
Request for Proposal (RFP), and to oversee the bid evaluation process to ensure fair and
Exceptions may be made with acceptable written justification from the appropriate vice
chancellor, campus president, dean, or director when deemed appropriate and acceptable
by the University Purchasing Department (see Policy 05-02-17, Directed or Sole Source
Positive efforts should be made to provide opportunities to bid to disadvantaged, minority
and women-owned businesses.
In order to mitigate the risk of financial loss to the University, all purchases of goods and
services must be conveyed to suppliers using a written or electronic form of contract
approved by the University’s Purchasing Department. The Purchasing Department will
consult with the Office of General Counsel for non-standard terms and conditions when
necessary. All purchase orders must be sent to suppliers using procedures established
by the Purchasing Department. Verbal orders are prohibited.
All purchasers should understand the legal consequences of the commitments that they
make on behalf of the University, and should have sufficient knowledge to recognize and
bring to the attention of their supervisor or the Purchasing Department any situation that
requires consultation with University authorities on tax, legal, liability, and insurance matters.
In order to protect the University against possible claims or damage suits, under no
circumstances should work commence (especially construction or repair work of any kind)
or product be accepted without a contract that is executed by an individual with appropriate
Grants, Contracts, Sponsored Programs, Restricted Funds
Purchases charged to grants, contracts, sponsored programs, or restricted funds must
comply with University policies and any specific expenditure policy of the funding source,
if more restrictive than University policy. The business manager or grant administrator is
responsible for understanding and complying with these funding source restrictions in
each research agreement.
The following purchases are prohibited.
1. Personal purchases using any University purchasing method.
2. Political contributions in accordance with Policy 05-06-06, Political Contributions.
Advance Written Approval
The following purchases require advance written approval from the Chancellor, Provost or
appropriate Senior Vice Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Dean or
equivalent Academic Director. Otherwise, such expenditures are personal and should not
be purchased with University funds.
1. Purchases for organized business meetings, whether on or off campus. Organized
business meetings may include other University individuals whose presence is required
and necessary for the conduct of official University business such as interviewing of
candidates and special University programs. The meal cost, including tips, may not
exceed $60.00 per person.
2. Gifts and charitable contributions.
3. Purchases for official University business events such as retirement receptions,
employee recognition receptions or University-endorsed student activities are permitted
with the appropriate approvals.
Training and Knowledge of University Policies and Procedures
All individuals with purchasing responsibilities are required to complete Purchasing
Fundamentals training. This training is provided by the Purchasing Department, and
provides purchasers with a basic knowledge of purchasing policies and procedures.
Department purchase records should be retained in compliance with University Financial
Records Retention Schedule at www.bc.pitt.edu/frs/FinancialRecordRetentionSchedule.html.
Conflicts of Interest and Ethics
All individuals with regular purchasing responsibilities are required to comply with University
Policy 05-02-02, Conflict of Interest and Procurement Relationships, and University Policy
05-02-03, Code of Ethics.
For detailed guidance on specifications, source selection, approved contract forms, and
other purchasing procedures, see www.bc.pitt.edu/purchasing/tools.html.