Most purchases should be processed through the University’s Buysite purchasing system. The University maintains a list of preferred contract vendors for a variety of goods and services as well a full list of vendors in the Buysite system. Some purchases may also be paid with ePayments or GEMS cards. See the list of preferred purchasing methods for guidance on which method to choose.

Cost Limits

There is no theoretical price limit on BuySite orders. Very large orders ($100,00 and more) will need additional levels of approval.

Purchases totaling $10,000 or less, including delivery, do not need price quotes.

Purchases $10,001 and above require competing quotes and documentation. In addition, the initiator must type the winning quote number in the “Quote #” box in the BuySite requisition. BuySite will reject requisitions over $10,000 where that box is blank.

Purchases between $10,001 and $150,000 should have a minimum of 2 (preferably 3) price quotes. Quotations need to be detailed in the Source and Price Reasonableness form, which must be attached to the BuySite order. Written price quotes are preferred. They should also be attached to the purchase requisition. It is the order initiator’s responsibilty to solicit the quotes. If competing quotes are not available or if the lowest quote is not the preferred purchase, the situation should be explained on the form.

Purchases over $150,000 should also have competing quotes attached to the requisition. If there are no possible competing vendors, the circumstances should be explained on the Source and Price Reasonableness form and the form attached to the purchase requisition. The reasons should be sufficiently detailed to allow the purchasing department to judge the case quickly. If not, the purchasing department may seek competing quotes on its own, which can slow down the purchase. You should also attach an explanation if the winning quote is not the lowest of the competing quotes that you provide.

Some preferred supplier contracts have special order handling procedures that may be exceptions to the rules above. If in doubt, check the terms of the preferred supplier contracts.

Source and Price Reasonableness Form

The Source and Price Reasonableness form is an internal document that must accompany all purchase orders between $10,000 and $150,000 (guidance in assessing price reasonableness). This form should not be sent to the vendors or anyone outside of the University. Any quotes and pricing information received from the vendor should not be shared with anyone outside of the University.

Purchase Orders that Do Not Go Through BuySite

Some purchase requisitions cannot or should not be placed through BuySite:

  • Orders to vendors who require payment in a foreign currency. BuySite cannot currently handle these.
  • Orders to vendors who require advance payment or scheduled payments before completion of delivery.
  • Orders that require Purchasing Department contract negotiation, such as purchased vehicles. Such orders are not common and usually you will have been in negotiation with Purchasing before you are ready to place the requisition.

Requisitions for the above categories are placed via the paper form 100. Form 100 requisitions are subject to the same requirements for competing quotes as BuySite requisitions: all requisitions of $10,001 and above need 2 or 3 competing quotes or a sole source justification. You should also provide an explanation if the winning quote is not the lowest quote.

Adding a Vendor to the System

Sometimes a desired vendor may not be available in Buysite. If this issue is encountered, the requestor should try to find another vendor in the system that sells a comparable product. If there are no other available vendors, then the requestor should contact his/her Financial Administrator to request the addition of a new vendor and provide the following information: company name, full address, telephone and fax numbers, and a contact person. This information is required when submitting vendor request to Shared Services.

Special Events

special event is defined as a University-hosted venue involving services at any dollar amount to be provided by a supplier whether performed on the campus or at an off-campus location. When arranging a special event, the event planner must submit all contracts with third party vendors/service providers to Procurement Services for review. A completed Purchase Request Form (Form 100) should accompany each agreement/contract. Contact Diane Stanek, dstanek@uchicago.edu, 2-3323

Paying from an Invoice

A purchase not handled by requisition and purchase order can be paid with an ePayment request along with the appropriate invoice.

When a Purchase Order Is Not Required

Whenever possible, procurement of goods and services should be made through the BuySite purchasing system. However, there are occasions when that is not a viable option (e.g. the vendor for a one-time purchase is not in our purchasing system, materials for University business are needed immediately or on a time-sensitive basis). There are also some goods and services which are often not paid for via purchase orders such as:

  • Advertising
  • Article Reprints/Copyright fees
  • Books, Guides, Instructional Manuals
  • Business Luncheon & Dinner Meeting Expenses
  • Computer Software & Computer Online Services
  • Conference Registration Fees
  • Corporate Payments: Employment & Real Estate Taxes, Insurance Premiums,
  • Employee Professional Development
  • Freight Charges, excluding Federal Express
  • Gifts
  • Legal Fees, Benefit payments
  • License Fees Membership Fees & Dues
  • Membership Fees and Dues
  • Parking Fines related to University owned vehicles only
  • Penalties and Fines, other
  • Photocopy expenses
  • Postage
  • Real Estate Acquisitions
  • Reimbursements to Individuals for miscellaneous business related expenses
  • Subscriptions to Newspapers and Magazines
  • Unexpended Funds returned to sponsoring agency
  • University Sponsored Event expenses

Personal reimbursement or direct payments to the vendor with an ePayment request would generally be the methods of payment in these cases.