The University of Chicago

Financial Services


Before Your Purchase

Purchase requests generally originate at the departmental level.  Depending upon the size and complexity of the anticipated purchase, a specialized Procurement Center (designated by policy) or Procurement and Payment Services (PPS) may need to be engaged in the solicitation process. 

Following are general guidelines for actions required before your purchase. For the governing policy, please visit Policy No. 1201: Authority and Responsibility for Procuring Goods and Services.

Purchases Less Than $5,000

The department may issue a BuySite order to a supplier with a University agreement; or, when there is no preferred supplier under agreement, a supplier that they select. The department is not required to contact PPS prior to the issuance of a BuySite order. When a department chooses a new supplier, one that is not listed in the University's supplier database of current and previously used sources, the department must contact PPS to initiate the vendor documentation and the establishment of the supplier into the vendor database via a BuySite Request for Vendor Addition or Update. The department determines source and price reasonableness and such evaluations remain at the department without pre-approval review by PPS.  PPS is available for vendor recommendations if the department cannot identify a suitable supplier.

Purchases Between $5,000 and $25,000

The department may issue a BuySite order to a supplier with a University agreement, or when there is no preferred supplier under agreement, a supplier that they select. Such purchase requests may be forwarded to PPS for review, who will conduct an informal process of competition. This can be accomplished by written solicitation, telephone quotations and/or negotiations. Suppliers selected for competition are generally those firms listed in the vendor database but may include new suppliers in the process of being added to the vendor database, at the discretion of the buyer. Document the price reasonableness of your purchase decision by completing the BuySite Price Reasonableness Form or the Purchase Request Form 100 (where applicable). For more information, visit Processing Your Purchase.

Purchases Over $25,000

All purchases over $25,000 must include a formal, written competitive process documenting aspects of price or cost analysis consistent with University policies, requirements of applicable Federal regulations and the state and city statutes and ordinances that are obligations upon the University. Competitive process includes confidential solicitations to vendors qualified by the University from its vendor database and other sources it obtains about viable suppliers relative to that solicitation. The process is not open to the general public as an open bid competition and the awards are not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. The agreements of the University are held to be confidential business matters of the University, with public disclosure of such information made available when agreed to by the contract parties and in the best interests of the University. For more information, visit Processing Your Purchase.


All purchasing documents and related correspondence which quote prices, specifications, initiator requirements, terms and conditions of purchase are confidential and may not be revealed to parties outside the University.