Procurement Policy

Mission Statement

The mission of Procurement Services is to be the leader in higher education procurement by delivering the highest quality customer service to the Brandeis community through an efficient and collaborative best-in-class sourcing and procurement process.

Who Should Know this Policy

Any University employee, staff, or faculty member responsible for requisitioning, procuring or paying for products or services

Procurement Services Department: Roles & Responsibilities

The goal of the Procurement Department is to support all departments in the acquisition of products and services for Brandeis University at the lowest total cost of ownership. University departments may work independently to source their requirements and select vendors in accordance with University policy and procedure. Procurement staff is readily available to assist departments with questions and work collaboratively in an effort to communicate with vendors, facilitate the vendor relationship, and execute final contract and agreements. The Procurement Department maintains ownership and has the responsibility for making the final determination of all purchases, negotiations, and contracts.

Specifically, the Procurement Department

  • Works in a proactive manner with campus staff to ensure the successful administration of expert procurement services and methodologies.
  • Conducts training for campus staff on effective procurement processes and procedures.
  • Establishes and facilitates a competitive vendor marketplace wherever applicable through the development of best-in-class sourcing methodologies and procurement specifications, soliciting and processing requests for proposals, and directing and managing negotiations for pricing, terms and conditions, and contracts, and where necessary, conferring with General Counsel for advice and resolution of specific matters.
  • Administers and maintains purchase records for federal, state and internal procurement audit requirements.


The Procurement Department is the central purchasing authority for the University and is responsible for facilitating and managing the purchasing process on a University-wide level. In conjunction with the Office of Financial Affairs, the Procurement Department is responsible for ensuring compliance with University procurement policy.
Authorization to a vendor or supplier for the purchase of products or services must be completed through an approved University Purchase Order or a Procurement Card (P-Card). 
The University requires competitive bidding in order to appropriately safeguard University assets. As a condition for receiving federal funding for research, the University maintains a purchasing system that is routinely audited to confirm compliance with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). These regulations mandate competitive bidding. When audited, the University must certify that the University’s policies are in compliance for all transactions - not just those that are federally funded.
In some circumstances, competitive bids are not appropriate and the requirement for obtaining them is waived. These circumstances include those outlined on the Sole Source Policy section below.
To ensure objectivity and eliminate unfair competitive advantage, vendors, supplier and/or contractors who participate in the development or drafting of specifications, requirements, requests for quotes or proposals must be excluded from competing for such purposes.
Unless an invoice received is substantiated in advance of the initial order by an official Brandeis Purchase Order Number, the University is under no obligation to pay for goods or services.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest, no employee, officer, or agent of the College should participate in the selection, award, or administration of purchases or contracts in which, to his or her knowledge, the employee, immediate family, or partner has a financial interest in the supplier's organization.


Competitive bidding is required for products or services with an aggregate total value of $5,000 or more.
Purchases shall be made on the basis of competitive prices, considering quality, suitability, delivery and service. Brandeis policy requires acceptance of the best bid.  When determining best bid, consideration may be given, but is not necessarily limited to, the following: price, bidder’s previous record of performance and service, ability of bidder to render satisfactory service, quality and conformance to specifications, delivery schedule, life expectancy, warranty and end of term.
The following minimum guidelines have been established to promote competitive bidding.  Upon request, the Procurement Department will assist in locating potential suppliers and obtaining pricing and product availability information.

Purchases less than $5,000

The Procurement card should be used for non-repetitive purchases under $5000.  Requestors should follow their own judgment in identifying potential suppliers. If the goods or services can be obtained from a contracted/preferred supplier, it is required that the requestor purchase from this source.

Purchases between $5,000 - $24,999

All purchases over $5,000.00 but not exceeding $24,999 require a minimum of two (2) quotations be obtained from suppliers if not utilizing a contracted/preferred supplier. All quotations must be in written form so they can be attached to the requisition. If there are limited sources of supply or the low bid is found unacceptable because of some factual circumstance, the department head or principal investigator should write a clear, concise, and factual justification for not accepting the lowest bid. If the requestor is unable to identify three suppliers, Procurement Services should be contacted to assist in identifying additional suppliers.

Purchases over $25,000

All purchases over $25,000 require the requestor to contact Procurement Services to conduct more formal bid process. Procurement Services will work collaboratively with the requestor to facilitate this process for the requestor's review and evaluation.

Exceptions to Competitive Bid Policy            

There are a few circumstances and items excluded - in all or part from the competitive bid policy. Failing to anticipate needs resulting from poor planning is not an exception to this policy.

For an exception to be valid, a clear statement of justification for waiving the competitive bidding process must be submitted in writing and authorized by a department director. 

Certain situations which may justify purchases without following the competitive bid procedures are as follows:

  • Items purchased from current University, State, Federal, or other cooperative contract or pricing agreement.
  • Emergency purchases when:
    • Human life, health or University property is in jeopardy.
    • Repairs of equipment involve hidden dangers.
    • Repairs are immediately needed for equipment where delay would lead to higher expense.
  • Library acquisitions (books, periodicals and films).
  • Subcontracts
  • Legal Fees
  • Audit Fees
  • Recruitment costs and expenses
  • Items which are proprietary (software, etc.)
  • OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) requirements for equipment under lease, rental, warranty or maintenance.
  • Design compatibility with existing equipment.

Sole Source

A sole source purchase is one where a good or service can only be purchased from a single source. This situation makes it impossible to obtain competitive bids. The requisitioning department must furnish documentation to justify why the technical characteristics inherent in the item make it essential to purchase the particular good or service.

Written documentation of price or cost analysis is required on all sole source purchases with an aggregate expenditure in excess of $5,000. Appropriate documentation may include copies of published price lists, advertised pricing in established magazines, journals, and newspapers, and similar indices.

The Sole Source Justification Form must be completed for goods or services purchased from a single source or when the supplier offering the lowest bid is not accepted.

Final responsibility in determining whether an item is a proprietary item and may be purchased from a sole source rests with the Director of Procurement.

Purchase Approval & Signature Authorization

All purchase contracts, vendor agreements, and transactions for the purchase of goods and services must receive approval for both contract signature and payment approval. The Procurement Department is authorized to execute contracts and place orders for goods and services, subject to the receipt of an approved purchase requisition from the initiating department.

Requisition & Purchase Approval Authorization

In order for Requisitions and transactions for the purchase of goods and services to be approved, they must (1) be processed through the Office of Procurement, and (2) must be approved by individuals with the proper approval authorization concurrent to the threshold listed in the Purchase Approval Authorization. (Approval and authorization list is maintained by the Office of Financial Affairs).

Signature Authority to Bind the University for Contracts

Brandeis University’s bylaws provide that only appointed delegates may bind the University in contracts, leases, and other legal agreements. Specifically, the Signature Authority Policy clarifies the delegation of authority to individuals to make legally binding obligations on the University. (Signature Authority Policy list is maintained by the Office of Financial Affairs).

Purchasing Card (P-Card)

The P-Card Program is intended to provide a simple, efficient, cost-effective means of purchasing non-repetitive low dollar items.

The P-Card is a University-liability credit card issued to individual Brandeis staff which allows departments to charge University related purchases and expenses less than $5,000 per purchase.

Cardholders are prohibited from "splitting" purchases that exceed $4,999 into multiple P-Card charges.