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Understand the Procurement Methods

The procurement method used to procure goods and services is dependent upon several factors, including, but not limited to, the total dollar amount of the purchase and availability or practicability of competition. Services are designated as professional or non-professional. Professional services are those within the scope of the practice of accounting, architecture, dentistry, land surveying, landscape architecture, law, medicine, optometry, professional engineering, pharmacy, and actuarial services. Non-professional services are all services not listed as a professional service. Below are the definitions of the procurement methods and detailed information regarding procedures and required documentation for each method. For information on how to place an order, refer to Make a Purchase Under 10K and Make a Purchase Over 10K

Procurement Methods

Procurement Definitions

  1. Mandatory Sources

  2. Delegated Purchasing Authority (Purchases up to $10,000)

    Delegated purchasing authority is the dollar limit for purchase of goods/services that university departments can approve without competition provided the price is fair and reasonable. The delegated purchasing authority is currently $10,000. Departments may place orders totaling up to $10,000 directly with vendors by issuing an eVA purchase order. The purchase order is also intended to inform the vendor of VCU terms and conditions. This amount includes all charges associated with the purchase (for example shipping and handling). However, if a department has ongoing requirements for goods/services which will exceed their delegated authority, a term contract should be established through University Purchasing. The use of two or more purchase orders to circumvent the department delegated limit is prohibited. Any order placed by a department outside of the established guidelines will be handled as a procurement violation and the individual authorizing the purchase could be held personally liable. While the department is authorized to place certain orders directly with vendors, the department may choose to order any or all items through University Purchasing. Additionally, the department may not authorize a change in the quantity or price of the items being purchased subsequent to placing the original order which causes the order to exceed the department delegated limit without prior authorization from University Purchasing.
    In order to provide departments with this purchasing flexibility, compliance with the Management Agreement and Rules Document, other applicable State rules and regulations must be observed when ordering goods and services.
    Equipment funded by federally sponsored programs must be screened against the University’s Fixed Asset Inventory records as required by the provisions of OMB’s Circular A-110.

  3. Contract Purchases

  4. Demand Payment (exceptions to normal competitive requirements)

    Competition normally is either not practicable or available for purchase of the following goods or services up to $50,000 or unlimited amounts when so designated below:

    1. Print or electronic books, printed materials, reprints and subscription (e.g., print or electronic), videocassettes, film rentals and slide presentations when only available from the publisher/producer or protected distributors. File documentation to include verification of exclusivity. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    2. Academic/research consulting services. Requires approval by Director, University Purchasing.
    3. Alcohol purchased from Alcohol Beverage Control stores.
    4. Speakers and performing artists. (Unlimited)
    5. Royalties. Requires approval by Associate Director, University Purchasing. (Unlimited)
    6. Membership and association dues. Note: Memberships to social organizations require approval by Associate Director, University Purchasing. (Unlimited)
    7. Writers.
    8. Artists and art exhibitions.
    9. Photographers (other than graduation and yearbook photographers).
    10. Advertisements in newspapers, magazines, journals, billboards, websites, radio or television. (Confirm that the requesting department has vetted the advertisement content and method of presentation through University Relations).
    11. Utility charges.
    12. Conference facilities and services (Unlimited)
    13. Accreditation fees.
    14. Academic testing services.
    15. Transplants, related transplant services, and implants.
    16. Pass-through-procurements. (Examples include contracting for alumni functions for which the institution is reimbursed by the alumni and materials purchased for students by a faculty member using State funds and for which the students fully reimburse the institution). Requires approval by Associate Director, University Purchasing.
    17. Televised or radio programs (e.g., athletic events, televised conferences, etc.) whereby specific stations are selected because of market demographics. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    18. Participation in intercollegiate athletic tournaments and events including team travel, lodging, registration, tournament fees, and game guarantees for all athletic events. (Unlimited)
    19. Referees, officials and umpires for intercollegiate athletic events.
    20. Pharmacies participating in pharmacy student in-service programs wherein all qualifying facilities are eligible.
    21. Recipients of awards from the Alzheimer’s & Related Diseases Research Award Fund (ARDRAF), Geriatric Academic Career Award (GACA), and Geriatric Training and Education Center (GTE) administered by the Virginia Center on Aging wherein the requirements are clearly advertised and proposals are evaluated in accordance with published guidelines. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    22. Early intervention services, as required through the “Part C” program, under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), provided by service providers selected by the Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities (VIDD); wherein the requirements are clearly advertised and the selected provider meets the current eligibility requirements of VIDD and the Richmond Infant Council. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    23. Direct payment to a vendor providing specialized technical training on their equipment. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    24. Registration fees for participants in local, regional and/or national competitive academic events or mission related events (e.g. conferences). Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    25. Individuals who are: 1) not citizens of the United States, 2) working in countries outside of the United States, and 3) providing services to fulfill grant requirements in collaboration with the University. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    26. Evaluators participating in pregnancy prevention projects funded by the Virginia Department of Health. Evaluators are identified by localities across the Commonwealth based upon existing knowledge and ability to reach the targeted audience. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    27. Medical/Health care services provided by a hospital or an individual licensed and authorized by law to engage in the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of human illness, injury, or physical disability, mental health, mental retardation, substance abuse, or emotional condition. Contracts with certain public and private hospitals, medical practices and medical clinics that are licensed and authorized by law to engage in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of human illness, injury or physical disability, mental health, mental retardation, substance abuse, or emotional condition, when the purpose of the contract is to provide on-site mentoring and practical experience to medical students enrolled in state institutions of higher education. Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    28. Services provided by pharmacists to support research requirements. The need for services must be advertised and all providers meeting the eligibility requirements are accepted into the program (until a sufficient number of providers have been identified). Requires approval by a Buyer Manager.
    29. Payments to continue existing disability insurance policies for senior administration. Requires use of local funds and approval by Associate Director, University Purchasing.
    30. Legal services or expert witnesses or other services associated with litigation or regulatory proceedings approved in advance by the General Counsel’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office. Requires Buyer Manager’s approval. (Unlimited)
    31. Contributions and donations for activities directly related to the University’s mission and approved by the President upon recommendation of the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. Requires approval by Associate Director, University Purchasing.
    32. Tickets for VCU students to attend VCU sponsored events (e.g. athletic, cultural, etc.) using funds from student fees. Requires Buyer Manager approval.
    33. Payments to support the Virginia Statewide Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) as appropriated by the General Assembly. Requires Buyer Manager approval.
    34. Sponsorship of events directly related to the University’s mission. Requires approval by Associate Director, University Purchasing.
    35. Maintenance agreements, license agreements (including software licenses) and the purchase of consumable items from the manufacturer/producer for existing software and/or sophisticated scientific equipment provided the maintenance, license and/or consumables are only available from the manufacturer. File documentation to include verification of exclusivity. Requires approval by Buyer Manager.
    36. Services provided as part of Ryan White II funding by Peer Coaches selected by the Peer Advocates Coalition of Central Virginia to provide interventions under “Coaching for Wellness” program for individuals infected with HIV. All qualified provided are eligible and accepted into the program contingent upon the need for providers and funding. Requires approval of Buyer Manager.
    37. Group travel in foreign countries. (Unlimited)
    38. Domestic group travel
    39. Purchases from private educational institutions. (Unlimited)
    40. Upgrades and consulting services related to existing software provided the purchase is made from the existing exclusive supplier.
  5. Competitive Purchases between $10,001-$50,000

    A. Best Value Acquisition (BVA)
    Purchases of goods/services when competition exists in the marketplace and award of contract is based on the best overall proposal, including but not limited to price.

    1. When the estimated cost of goods or services is between the applicable single quote limit and $50,000, written quotes from four (4) valid sources shall be solicited (including a minimum of four SWaM businesses provided there is sufficient registration). If fewer than the required number of total sources and/or SWaM businesses are solicited, the reasonsmust be documented and have advance written approval from the Supplier Diversity Champion or his/her designee.

      Note: Spot (single non-recurring) purchases may be exempt from the competitive process if issued to DMBE Certified Small Businesses through a single quote at the Buyer’s discretion and when price reasonableness has been documented.

      When a spot purchase is made using the single quote process the buyer will record the purchase in the “Small Business awards under 50K” spreadsheet (Stored in the “Q Drive” team shared files under – U:\Team Files\Purchasing\Current). The spreadsheet will be reviewed quarterly to ensure the equity of the award process.

    2. Quotes may be solicited through eVA using Quick Quote.
    3. In lieu of an evaluation committee, the buyer or end user may solely evaluate and rank proposals.
    4. Proposals may be evaluated and ranked based on its overall merits. Evaluation criteria and associated weights are not required.
    5. Negotiations may be conducted with the top ranked firm(s), but it is not a requirement. Consideration should be given to the value added through negotiations.
    6. A written summary evaluation document must be submitted by the evaluator(s) which provides rationale for the selection of firm(s) and a recommendation to award.
    7. Public posting is not required

    B. Quick Quote

    Purchases of goods/services when competition exists in the marketplace and specifications can be defined. Award of contract is based on lowest price.

    1. When the estimated cost of goods or services is between the applicable single quote limit and $50,000, written quotes from four (4) valid sources shall be solicited (including a minimum of four SWaM businesses provided there is sufficient registration). If fewer than the required number of total sources and/or SWaM businesses are solicited, the reasons must be documented and have advance written approval from the Supplier Diversity Champion or his/her designee.
    2. Specifications must be designated proprietary or non-proprietary. Occasionally, departments may require the purchase of a particular brand name product. Limiting competition to only one brand name is known as a proprietary specification. However, because of the State’s competitive procurement requirements, such requests should be the exception rather than the rule. A proprietary specification excludes consideration of a proposed “equal.” Proprietary items are available from several distributors and competition between them can be obtained. The user department must provide a written proprietary justification which clearly demonstrates that only one brand name product meets the user’s requirement. This justification must contain clear, in-depth, accurate and verifiable information since it becomes a matter of public record and is subject to protest. The use of a proprietary specification may be appropriate where:
      1. the desired product must be compatible with or is an integral part of existing equipment or products;
      2. pre-qualification of products is necessary to support a specific need of a program;
      3. the desired product is covered by a patent or copyright;
      4. the requested item must yield absolute continuity of results; and/or 5. the desired item is one with which the user has had extensive training and experience.
    3. The solicitation should be concise and include specifications of the goods/services to be procured. It should stipulate the information requested from the Offeror for evaluation purposes: specifications, price, delivery time. Also, any specific terms and conditions related to the procurement should be incorporated. Quotes may be solicited through eVA using Quick Quote.
    4. Quotes are evaluated based on specifications, delivery time, and price. If specifications and delivery time are met, then the award goes to the lowest price. Evaluation criteria and associated weights are not required.
    5. Public posting is not required
  6. Competitive Purchases over $50,001

    A. Request for Proposal (RFP)

    Purchases of goods/services when competition exists in the marketplace and award of contract is based on the best overall proposal, including but not limited to price. Departments must provide the buyer with information on the RFP checklist for the initiation of the RFP process. The department must also review the RFP Evaluation Committee procedures to become familiar with the process.

    B. Invitation for Bid (IFB)

    Purchases of goods/services when competition exists in the market and specifications can be defined. Award of contract is based on lowest price. Departments must provide the buyer with information for the initiation of the IFB process including specifications, vendor list, delivery date, and any other information the evaluator needs.

  7. Sole Source (over $10,000)

    A sole source is a unique product or service that is only available from one source; competition is not available. Sole source procurements are not intended to be simple or quick processes because such purchases bypass competitive procurement. Sole source requirements generally take a minimum of 10 to 15 business days to process after the requisition and justification is sent to purchasing. Processing sole source procurements requires market analysis and documentation to substantiate that the vendor is the only practicably available source for the required goods or services, that the contracted price is fair and reasonable, and the contracted terms are consistent with the laws of the Commonwealth. Price is not a justification for a sole source procurement. Also, If a specific item must be procured but the manufacturer has multiple distributors, the purchase must be made competitively.

    Sole source documentation is public information, posted by University Purchasing, and is available for review by vendors who may claim that they can provide equivalent goods or services. Therefore, your sole source justification must contain clear, indepth, accurate and verifiable information to avoid protests and the resulting possibility of delaying your purchase request.

    The department must complete the sole source documentation form and send to the assigned buyer. Sole source justification must:

    • Describe in general terms the product/service you are requesting.
    • State the unique design/performance features (for products) or the unique qualification/experience (for services) that are essential to meet your specific requirements.
    • Provide information on the market research that was recently performed to determine that this is the only product/service that will fulfill your requirements. Options for selecting how the market research was conducted are on the documentation form.
    • Identify other products/services and firms that were considered and why they did not meet your requirements or provide information to support why other products/services were not considered (category options are provided on the documentation form).

    If the department anticipates other associated costs (e.g. maintenance after warranty period, consumables, etc.), these should be included at the time of the initial purchase to ensure a comprehensive contract is established. The purchasing staff must ensure supporting documentation is complete before the order is finalized. Therefore, the department may be required to provide additional information.

  8. Emergency Purchase (over $10,000)

    Emergency purchases will be processed only when the need for supplies and/or services, if not procured immediately, will cause serious operational or financial loss, or where life and property must be protected. Purchasing is required by state law to obtain such competition as is practicable under the circumstances. Emergency purchases can cover only that which is necessary to cover the emergency. Subsequent requirements must be obtained using normal purchasing procedures.

    In all emergencies, the requesting department is required to prepare a written determination indicating the nature of the emergency, and the reason for selection of the particular vendor. This written determination from the requesting department must be included in the procurement file. Emergency procurements must be publicly posted by Purchasing. Deans/Department Heads should establish a contact in their area to coordinate with University Purchasing if emergency purchases are required. These purchases must be critical in nature and have the advanced approval of the Dean/Department Head. The approval of the Vice President will be required for any emergency exceeding $30,000. In the event of an emergency, contact the appropriate buyer for specific guidance and assistance.

    If an emergency occurs at a time outside the normal work-day (i.e. nights, weekends, holidays), the department may place the order. The department will obtain such competition as is practicable under the circumstances (e.g. obtain three quotes, etc.). As soon as practicable, the department must submit an eVA requisition and a signed written determination stating the basis of the emergency and for the selection of the particular contractor. The written determination must be included in the procurement file.

    Emergency procurements must be publicly posted by Purchasing subsequent to the event. A contingency plan is in place to address a catastrophic system failure wherein the financial system would not be accessible for an extended period. In this situation, the departments should obtain or utilize their existing corporate purchasing cards. The corporate purchasing card must be used for all purchases under $5,000. To accommodate departments that chose not to obtain corporate purchasing cards, the Dean’s Office can
    request a higher monthly limit (up to $100,000) for specific cardholders in the Dean’s Office for a period not to exceed 30 days. This request must be submitted in writing to the purchasing card Program Administrator.

  9. Surplus Inventory

    Surplus property is that which no longer has any usefulness or value to your department. Prudent and timely reporting of your surplus property is extremely important so that the removal of the surplus items may be scheduled. Remember, even though an item may no longer be of any use to you, someone else in the institution may have a need for it. Surplus property should be considered as a source of supply. Keep in mind that the University’s surplus warehouse is a service to the University and items requested from our surplus warehouse are provided at no charge to your department. Contact VCU Facilities Management for information regarding Surplus Property: http://www.fmd.vcu.edu/fmdsurplus/fmdsurplus.htm.

  10. Order Lead Time Guidelines

    Please keep in mind that the “estimated order lead times” are approximate and are to be used as a guide to assist you in planning. Procurements of goods or services through the use of Request for Proposals (RFP) may add significantly to the order lead time. In addition, it is important to note that insufficient specifications provided by the requestor and evaluation team delays may also add to the order lead time.

    Estimated Cost Procurement Requirements Estimated Order Lead Time (Business Days)
    $0 – $10,000 Departments may place purchase order up to $10,000. University Purchasing or University Department must obtain and document a minimum of one written or telephone quotation. University Purchasing encourages departments to solicit small, minority –owned and/or woman-owned (SWAM) businesses. 5 Days
    $ > 10,000 – $50,000 University Purchasing solicits a minimum of four written or telephone quotations or written proposals. SWAM firms must be solicited if there is sufficient registration. 10 Days(quotes)
    20 Days(offers)
    $50,000 + University Purchasing solicits a minimum of six written, sealed bids or proposals. SWAM firms must be solicited if there is sufficient registration. Public advertising is required. 30 Days(IFB)
    50-75 Days(RFP)
    Sole Source Sole Source Documentation Form 10-15 days