The University of Chicago

Financial Services


User Guide for Purchasing Goods and Services

This University of Chicago User Guide is published to explain conduct relative to University of Chicago Policy No. 1201: Authority and Responsibility for Procuring Goods and Services for all employees. It is the responsibility of Procurement and Payment Services to define and implement the methods of procurement conduct. By providing for many purchasing activities to requesting departments, Procurement and Payment Services offers local buying control (with certain limitations) to the initiator. Please keep in mind that any written or oral commitment of University funds must be in accordance with the procedures explained in this guide.

Rules of Dollar Limits for Purchases

The following dollar limit guidelines are presented to explain purchase activity in terms of the requirements to be considered BEFORE a purchase order will be issued.

Purchases up to $5,000: Considered as small dollar purchases. See Processing Your Purchase for more information.

Purchases of $5,000 to $24,999: Purchasing and Payment Services may solicit by phone or in writing for these products. A requesting department may also solicit their own price quotations at this dollar level and document the purchase decision on the BuySite Price Reasonableness Form and attach the results of their market research. (For more information, see the Price Reasonableness Procedure.) A minimum of (2) quotations, preferably (3), is required to meet competition.

Purchases of $25,000 and Above: All products and services purchased having a total cost of $25,000 or more MUST be cost justified through price competition. A minimum of (2) quotations preferably (3), is required to meet competition. Purchasing and Payment Services will solicit price quotations, bids or proposals on behalf of the University initiator. No individual or department other than Purchasing and Payment Services is authorized to solicit price competition for purchases at this level. (Certain Procurement Centers of the University have authority to solicit quotations at this cost level. These Centers are specified in the University Procurement Policy 1201, and are authorized for limited procurement actions.) Departments requesting purchases at this dollar value are to submit a PURCHASE REQUEST (Form 100) to Purchasing and Payment Services for the goods and services needed. Include an attachment of the specifications required, recommended vendors to be solicited, if known, and any special instructions or limiting factors of material evaluation to be considered with this purchase. Also submit any market research material obtained by the department from prospective vendors. Any commitment made by a department prior to authorization by Purchasing and Payment Services may not be acknowledged and purchases made may be non-binding upon the University.

Types of Purchase Orders Available

In order to purchase goods or services, a department must submit a properly completed and approved PURCHASE REQUEST (Form 100) to Purchasing and Payment Services. This Purchasing Form 100 (catalog number Z7-100) may be obtained from The University's Preferred Office Supplier. Complete instructions are on the reverse side of the REQUEST. All sections of this form in red lettering titles are to be completed by the requesting department. Send the original copy to Purchasing and Payment Services, 6054 South Drexel, Suite 400. Upon processing of the REQUEST by Purchasing and Payment Services, a University Purchase Order will be issued to a vendor. University Purchase Orders can be of the following types:

Electronic Purchase Orders:

Identified by having the initial "W" letter description followed by a six digit number, BuySite, the University's web-based, electronic Purchase Order system, is an application for creating, submitting, approving and tracking the status of Purchase Orders. BuySite, which uses a shopping cart methodology, allows users to select merchandise, review what they have selected, make necessary modifications or additions, and submit a request for the purchase of the merchandise in the cart. Users can shop for items by:

  • SKU Number
  • Category
  • Supplier
  • Advance Search
  • Favorites List

Other features include cart editing, requisition history, favorite's management, PO tracking and email notifications. These are Purchase Orders issued at the department level for goods and services having a maximum total cost of $24,999.

Regular Purchase Orders:

Identified by having an initial "U" letter designation, followed by a six digit number. This Purchase Order is for a one time purchase and will specify the materials or services covered by the order.

Standing Purchase Orders:

Identified by having an initial "U" letter designation, followed by a six digit number. This Purchase Order is issued for a period of time, beginning and ending dates are specified, and covers multiple purchases of a particular commodity or group of commodities, as well as providing for varying quantities as needed throughout the period of the Purchase Order. Once issued to a vendor, this Purchase Order allows the department to order directly from the vendor the materials or service as needed and described in this Purchase Order. Standing Purchase Order requests should be limited by the user to those situations whereby multiple purchases of at least 20 occurrences are likely to be required during the period of time of the order. An estimated dollar value that you intend to spend for that time period must be indicated on the REQUEST.

Maintenance and Repair Orders:

Identified by having the initial "U" letter designation, followed by a six digit number. Maintenance and Repair Orders may be issued as either REGULAR or STANDING PURCHASE ORDERS depending upon how it will be invoiced.