Policy 1201: Authority and Responsibility for Procuring Goods and Services

Subject Area: Procurement/Disbursement
Responsible Office: Financial Services
Sponsor: Chief Financial Officer
Originally Issued: December 1986
Revised: September 2003, October 2007, May 2008, February 2010, December 2014, February 2015, August 2015, January 2016, August 2017
Refer Questions To: Mark Fehlberg, (773) 702-3321

Purpose: To assign authority and responsibility for procurement of goods and services.


  1. Under the By-Laws of the University, the Chief Financial Officer is vested with the authority to conduct the business activities of the University including the responsibility for the procurement of all goods and services.
  2. The Executive Director of Procurement Services and the Associate Vice President for Finance will establish, formulate, publish, maintain, and interpret policies and procedures to be followed by all procurement centers of the University in order to provide for the efficient and responsible conduct of all procurement and disbursement activities of the University. All University procurement policies shall be in compliance with federal regulations for procurement standards, which provide that no commitment of funds shall be made unless, as stated in OMB A-110 §40, “such materials and services are obtained in an effective manner and in compliance with the provisions of applicable Federal Law and executive orders.”
  3. The Executive Director of Procurement Services has the authority and responsibility to negotiate all procurement terms and execute all purchases and leases of goods and services. In some cases authority has been delegated to other designated units within the University for specified goods and services (see policy statement 8 below). Contract Suppliers are established to facilitate strategic purchasing in support of the University’s mission. All departments should first attempt to use the contract suppliers when ordering goods and services. Further guidance for departments is set forth in the Policy of Procurement and Engagement of Services.
  4. The Chief Financial Officer has final signature approval for all purchases of goods, services and rental/lease agreements in excess of $1,000,000, or in excess of those specific fund commitment levels enumerated in policy statement 8.
  5. Department Heads have authorization to issue a University purchase order through the Procurement Services purchasing system to incur or make a commitment up to $25,000. This authorization may be further delegated within the department. Documentation that the requestor is not the approver of the purchase order must be maintained. A University Purchase Order is the preferred method of acquiring goods and services and should be used whenever possible. Select items do not require a University Purchase Order and can be acquired using an ePayment Voucher or a GEMS card. A list of the selected items is found via the Preferred Purchasing Methods guide.
  6. The University will reimburse individuals for non-travel business related purchases up to $500. To be reimbursed the individual must include detail documentation that describes the purchase and proof of payment. These items become the sole property of the University.
  7. No other employee of the University, except as provided for in policy statements 5, 6, and 8, or as authorized by the Trustees of the University of Chicago or the By-Laws of the University is empowered to incur any obligation or make any commitment, on behalf of the University for the purchase of goods, services or equipment unless approved in writing by the Executive Director of Procurement Services, Associate Vice President for Finance, or the Chief Financial Officer.
  8. Certain officers and departments other than Procurement Services have responsibility and authority for the procurement of specific goods and services as indicated below. These procurement centers do not have authority for procurement outside the identified items and services, and must obtain the prior written approval of the Chief Financial Officer for any procurement above the maximum per transaction amount shown below. Documentation that the requestor of specific goods and services is not the approver of the transaction must be maintained.