Finance Department

Procurement Policy

Policy Statement

Union College supports sustaining and promoting a procurement environment based on the understanding that departments are in the best position to determine what they need to run their programs. Policies, procedures, and processes are meant to support their need to get products and services in a timely and cost-effective manner, while also making sure appropriate business processes are followed.

Purchasing and Payment Services (PPS), which is a part of Financial Services, is the main point of contact for procurement and payment activities. Purchasing and Payment Services is considered the procurement expert at Union, managing the overall strategy regarding how purchases and payments should be made. Procurement and Payment Services consists of Vendor File Management, Purchasing, Accounts Payable, Contract Management and Procurement Card.

Reason for Policy / Purpose

Considerable authority has been delegated to departments to make purchasing decisions. This requires that employees involved at every step of the process take full responsibility for understanding Union’s policies and procedures regarding purchasing, payment, and vendor relations.

Purchasing decisions are business decisions made on behalf of Union, and therefore should be made with the utmost consideration for what is in the best interest of the college. Purchases also need to be made in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Following policy and procedures ensures that appropriate business processes occur when dealing with outside vendors. This policy is meant to provide guidance to end users making purchases on behalf of Union.

College personnel who will be responsible for making purchases are expected to have appropriate security for their role (i.e. requestor, approver, etc.) and attend training classes for those roles.

Who Need to Know this Policy

All employees involved in making purchasing decisions or approving purchases on behalf of their department or division.

Contacts

If you have any questions regarding Purchasing Policy and Procedures, you may contact Financial Services at (518) 388-6630 or Purchasing.

Definitions

  • AP – Accounts Payable
  • FM – Facilities Management
  • FS – Financial Services
  • ITB – Invitation to Bid
  • P-Card – Procurement Card
  • PO – Purchase Order
  • PR – Purchase Order Requisition

Union’s goal for every purchasing transaction is to obtain the best value possible. The College strives to procure most goods and services through the use of contracts that have appropriate terms and conditions to properly protect the department, College and vendor. When bids are required by policy, they are to be conducted on an open and competitive basis and without favoritism. Interested suppliers will receive fair and impartial consideration.

Union has implemented the Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards for purchases on sponsored programs, which will be applied to all sponsored programs, including cost share. This is in accordance with government regulations 2 CFR 200.317-326. The primary goals of these procurement standards are to increase reuse of existing equipment and supplies, increase competition when purchasing equipment and supplies, and to minimize sole sources. College departments will ensure that each transaction is classified or defined as an allowable expenditure. For sponsored programs, certain purchases may be unallowable.

Role of Financial Services

Financial Services is the point of contact for procurement activity guidance. Their role is to help departments make informed, best value purchasing decisions, and to make sure products and services are purchased and paid for in the most streamlined way, as well as assist departments with all other purchasing and payment related issues. The primary responsibilities are as follows:

Strategically source on behalf of the College by establishing contracts and agreements for use by all departments based on formal, structured, and consistent processes.

  • Actively review spend reports (including P-Card) to look for new contracting opportunities
  • Conduct formal bid process and/or handle negotiations
  • Develop contracts and secure appropriate signatures
  • Streamline the ordering and payment process from contracted vendors
  • Contract administration:
    • Promote contracts to the College community
    • Enforce requirements of the contract
    • Resolve disputes
    • Review and analyze prices and price increase requests
    • Discuss and document changes

Maintain, interpret, and enforce purchasing and payment policy

Assist with the bid process on behalf of departments, at their request

Manage the dispatching of all Purchase Orders to vendors

  • Monitor fax server and intervene when necessary
  • Manually send POs when necessary

Process changes to Purchase Orders, when requested by departments

Contract Management

  • Work with the General Counsel
  • Streamline the contract review process
  • Develop templates for use by departments
  • Make sure contracts, including terms and conditions, are reviewed and signed

Vendor File Management

  • Manage New Vendor Onboarding
  • Annually Review and Inactivate
  • Maintain Current W-9 and COI Information

Accounts Payable

  • Process Invoices and Payments to Vendors
  • Issue 1099 Tax Forms as necessary
  • Administer reissues and Abandoned Property

Procurement Card

  • Review transactions for proper documentation
  • Set up new users, provide training, and maintain approval structure
  • Process payment to the bank
  • Audit credit limits and spend profiles

Authority and Responsibility

As stated above, Union maintains a procurement environment that delegates considerable decision-making authority to departments. Employees involved in the purchasing process take full responsibility for understanding policies and procedures regarding purchasing and vendor relations. Purchasing decisions are business decisions made on behalf of Union and therefore should be made with the utmost consideration for what is in the best interest of the College.

Segregation of duties and responsibilities in the purchasing process provides proper controls. As the dollar value and complexity of a purchase increases, so does the level of authority and responsibility required to obligate Union for a purchase. (see Procedure SS)

If a department utilizes controlled substances, they are required to have all appropriate licenses from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Ethics

Ethical business standards shall govern all procurement transactions. Infractions of College policy are to be reported to the department chair, or account manager. Disciplinary action for those violating ethical business standards will be taken in accordance with applicable College policy, up to and including the termination of employment.

Union personnel shall not solicit or accept a significant gift from a supplier or prospective supplier. A ‘significant gift’ is defined as an item, service, favor, monies, credits, or discounts not available to others which could influence purchasing decisions, and also may include the payment of travel costs for personnel to visit a vendor’s location (airfare, hotel, etc.). Personnel may accept trivial items as a matter of courtesy, but may not solicit them. Acceptance of social invitations to occasional business meals, entertainment, and hospitality will be subject to prudent judgment as to whether the invitation places or appears to place the recipient under any obligation, the appropriateness of the occasion, frequency, and choice of facilities. Questions about the value of a gift or appropriateness of an invitation should be referred to your supervisor or the VPFA. For more information please see Standards of Business Conduct

It is also inappropriate for end users to make purchasing decisions based on marketing strategies by vendors that provide gifts or gift cards which could benefit them personally. Often the pricing offered, as well as future pricing, is much higher than pricing available from Preferred Vendors. If a gift or gift card is received, it is the property of Union.

  • Conflict of Interest (CI)

It is the policy of Union that its employees conduct the affairs of the College in accordance with the highest ethical, legal, and moral standards. An employee must not be in a position to make a decision for the College if his or her personal, professional, or economic interests (or those of his or her immediate and extended family member) may be directly influenced or affected by the outcome. Refer to the Union Conflict of Interest Policy (can’t find) for more information.

Determination of Need/Selecting a Vendor

When a department needs to purchase a product or service, there are numerous considerations that must be taken into account prior to selecting a vendor:

  • Preferred Vendors. Departments should first check to see if a Preferred Vendor exists that they could use. Preferred Vendor Contracts are established by Finance for products and services needed by College departments on a regular basis. (see Procedure MM)
  • Amazon Business. Union’s Amazon Business Account is a tool that was implemented to streamline and manage the entire procure-to-pay process and should be used when possible. It provides end-users with a web-based ordering platform to realize cost savings on shipping and better transparency into the items the college buys.
  • Collaboration Requirements. Departments must work with the following departments for the project types indicated below:
    • Facilities Management – construction and major renovations
    • ITS – technology and communications
    • EHS- lab chemicals, gases, and other hazardous materials
  • Purchases from Internal Service Units. Union has elected to provide for the purchase of certain commodities and services through internal departments. Departments should consider the use of such opportunities before looking for an outside vendor. Examples are Catering, Fleet Services, Printing, Mail services, etc. Advantages of using internal providers include eliminating POs and checks (costs are directly charged to accounts), as well as fast turnaround of products and services.
  • Freight Terms. F.O.B. Destination is the College standard delivery requirement, since it provides the most protection to the department. It should be negotiated into all purchases whenever possible. F.O.B. Destination means that legal ownership of the item transfers when it reaches the buyer. Therefore, the seller pays all shipping costs and is also responsible for the goods during transit. (see Procedure TT)
  • Insurance Requirements. Union has established minimum contractor liability insurance requirements. Risk Management must review and approve any exceptions to the standard insurance requirements. Finance will coordinate the assessment of insurance coverage. Departments with specific questions should contact Finance for guidance.
  • Service Provider Security Assessment. Union contracts with many Information Technology vendors or Service Providers to assist with its information processing needs. In those instances where College data is shared with a Service Provider, or captured by a Service Provider on behalf of Union, Union requires these potential Service Providers to complete a Security Assessment. Departments with specific questions should contact ITS
  • PCI Compliance. Contractors (TPSPs – Third Party Service Providers) are required to abide by the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS, Version 3.0). PCI DSS applies to all entities involved in payment card processing, including merchants, processors, financial institutions, and service providers, as well as all other entities that store, process, or transmit cardholder data and/or sensitive authentication data. Departments with specific questions should contact Financial Services.
  • Technology/Web Accessibility. Union is committed to purchasing products and solutions that meet the applicable standards. Departments with specific questions should contact ITS directly for guidance.
  • Supplier Diversity. Supplier diversity should be considered in purchasing decisions, when appropriate. This creates opportunities for vendors reflecting economic and cultural diversity to market their products to Union and to encourage College departments to offer opportunities to such vendors. This includes small business enterprises (SBE), minority-owned business enterprises (MBE), woman-owned business enterprises (WBE), and local business enterprises (LBE). (see Procedure BB)
  • Environmental Awareness. Environmental impact should be considered in purchasing decisions, when appropriate. Union encourages departments to consider the use of products and services that impact the environment less than competing products, when it is a best value decision to do so. Things to consider are total cost of ownership, energy efficiency (Energy Star equipment rating), shipping materials, landfill contribution, recycled content, waste prevention, waste reduction, pollution prevention, clean air and water programs, re-use of materials, minimization of scrap material, and any other green factory initiatives, etc. (see Procedure EE)
  • Buy versus Lease. Equipment should almost always be acquired by outright purchase. Circumstances may require the leasing of equipment to satisfy specific needs. The economic benefits of leasing versus buying must be determined and documented before entering into any lease agreement. Third Party leases are especially discouraged. (see Procedure CC)

Cooperative Agreements Cooperatives agreements are contracts where two or more named entities combine their requirements in order to realize a volume cost advantage. The College may use these contracts even if they are not named in the cooperative purchase.

Conducting a Formal Bid

If there is no Preferred Vendor for the product or service needed, formal bids must be solicited from at least two vendors for purchases of $25,000 or more, unless sponsored dollars are being used, a structured process should be utilized that involves formal definition of requirements, standard Union terms and conditions, description of the process and how the award decision will be made, etc. Award decisions should be made to the vendor representing the best overall value to Union. (see Procedure AA)

When bids need to be solicited, departments have the following options:

  • Department can perform a competitive bid, or RFP
  • Department can request that PPS facilitate a competitive bid/negotiation on their behalf.

Departments are strongly encouraged to involve PPS in the procurement process for significant purchases or when a strategic relationship needs to be established with a vendor for a particular product or service.

Please note that the total intended obligation (estimated total value of the contract or project) must be considered when determining whether a competitive bid needs to be performed.

Sponsored Programs Spending and Disbarment

Union College has implemented the Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards for purchases on sponsored programs, which will be applied to all sponsored programs, including cost share. This is in accordance with government regulations 2 CFR 200.317-326. The primary goals of these procurement standards are to increase reuse of existing equipment and supplies, increase competition when purchasing equipment and supplies, and to minimize sole sources. To assist departments with this guidance, please note the following:

  • Micro Purchases under $10,000 require no solicitation of bids.
  • Multiple bids must be solicited by departments for purchases of $10,000 or more,
  • Purchases must be reasonable, allocable, and allowable.

The Federal Government prohibits expending federal funds on goods and/or services from any entity Suspended or Debarred from doing business with the federal government. Procurement of goods and/or services with federal funds from a supplier or contractor should be checked for Debarment before purchasing and/or awarding a contract or subaward at the System for Award Management website (http://www.sam.gov/). A screenshot should be taken of the search and attach it to the PO, or invoice.

Purchases < $25,000: A written debarment certification from vendors is not required. However, if the school or unit does not check vendor debarment status for federal purchases under $25,000 prior to purchase, they will be solely responsible for the timely removal from federal awards of any charges from vendors identified as debarred during Union’s annual debarment review process.

Purchases => $25,000: Before Union makes a purchase commitment, the purchaser must obtain a signed Debarment Certification Form or make sure debarment attestation language is included in the PO or contract. The Debarment Form must be uploaded into OneSolution. Approvers should review the debarment form prior to approving requisitions or payments.

Sole Source

If there is no ability to solicit multiple bids, departments must demonstrate that the purchase from a particular vendor is sufficiently justified as a sole source. Sole source means that a single vendor is uniquely qualified to meet the department procurement objective. To be considered a sole source and therefore exempt from the bid process, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • The actual product or service needed is the only one that will meet the department's need/requirement and it can only be purchased from one source (manufacturer or distributor).
  • The product or service must match or be compatible with current equipment or services.
  • The product needed is specifically required for use in conjunction with a grant or contract.
  • The service needed is controlled/mandated by the local utility or government.
  • Artistic services.
  • An unusual or compelling urgency exists.

If the need meets one of the above criteria, the department can either negotiate with the vendor directly or engage PPS to make the determination.

Signature Authority

Upon selection of a vendor, a contract may be necessary. Please note that end users within departments typically do NOT have the authority to sign ANY contracts or agreements with outside parties in the name of Union or one of its departments. The department will coordinate the contract review and signature process with Finance.

  • Contracts and agreements that need to be signed by Union MUST be sent to Finance for review with the General Counsel.
  • Once the contract/agreement is reviewed and approved, it will be forwarded to the appropriate officer of Union for signature. Below are the officers authorized to sign contracts and agreements on behalf of Union:
    • President
    • Vice President for Finance and Administration
    • Official Designee
      • In some cases, the above officers may have expressly delegated limited signature authority in writing to another College employee or position.
  • Also, please note that hotel booking, restaurant reservations, and catering agreements do not need to be reviewed.

Purchasing

Upon conclusion of the bid process, determination of a sole source, and/or establishment of a contract, purchase and payment must be accomplished.

  • Requisition to PO. The purchase of most goods and services from outside vendors begins by initiating a Requisition in One Solution. This shall occur at the time the product or service needs to be ordered, not when it is time to pay for the product or service. (see Procedure RR)

Starting with a Requisition ensures that an approved and official PO is issued. An official PO includes Union’s Standard Terms and Conditions, specifying each party's rights and obligations, and is the legal document that governs the transaction and minimizes risk to the department and College. It is especially important when there is no formal contract governing the purchase. Vendors need to agree to these standard PO terms and conditions. If a vendor submits their standard terms and conditions with a quote, they must be reviewed and approved before a PO is issued.

  • Approvals/Workflow. All requisitions require at least one approval. A PO will not be issued until all applicable approvals have been applied.
    • Purchases $0-$4999- P card and/or PO with Dept Approval/Budget Manager
    • Purchases $5,000-$9,999-PO with Dept Approval and Finance Approval
    • Purchases between $10,000 - $24,999.99

Purchases equal to or over $10,000.00 but not exceeding $24,999.99 require at least two (2) informal quotations from suppliers if not utilizing a contracted/preferred supplier. 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. The Department Head or Budget Manager, along with Finance will approve

  • Purchases equal to or over $25,000

Purchases equal to or over $25,000 require the requestor to conduct a more formal written bidding process. All quotations must be written and attached to the requisition.

Additional Special Approvals

  • Restricted Commodities. The purchase of Radioactive Materials requires special steps and/or an additional electronic approval from the EHS before they can be ordered. When initiating the Requisition, the appropriate ACCOUNT CODE for Radioactive Materials must be used so all appropriate approvals can be obtained. EHS will also monitor purchases of Respirators and Select Agents (Toxins) in a post-audit fashion. Departments must select the correct ‘ship to’ code when ordering the above commodities:
  • Purchases Using Grant/Sponsored Project Funds. The purchase of products and services using grant funds are approved by the PI.
  • Information Technology. All IT related items should be purchased through the guidance of ITS.
  • Dispatching PO to Vendor. Once all approvals have been applied, the PO will be issued and sent to the vendor by Procurement via a method identified in their vendor profile in One Solution.
  • Receiving. A Receipt is the department's way of indicating that the product has been received or service has been provided and therefore the PO is approved for payment. (see Procedure PP)
  • Invoicing/Payment. A purchasing transaction is complete only after the goods or services have been received and the supplier has been paid. When a PO is issued, the department assumes responsibility to make sure the vendor is paid within an appropriate period of time. Vendors are instructed to send invoices directly to AP for proper processing. This is the best way to ensure invoices are paid in a timely manner. (see Procedure JJ)

Changes to Purchase Orders. Changes that need to be made to POs that have already been sent to the vendor can be initiated by departments by submitting a Purchase Order Change (POC) request through email. All change order requests will be routed to Financial Services for review and approval. PPS will route certain requests through the same workflow that new requisitions go through when appropriate. PO changes will be sent to the vendor when appropriate.

Tax Exemption Status

Union is a private, not-for-profit, educational institution, created by New York State. Union is exempt from Sales Tax, Use Tax. (see Procedure VV)

  • Union’s Tax-Exempt Status. This is to be used exclusively to make purchases for use by Union and is not for personal use by individuals, faculty, staff, or students. Union’s tax-exempt status is a very serious issue and the integrity of how it is utilized must be protected, due to the potential for abuse.
    • Please note that vendors are advised to primarily only accept official forms of payment from Union, such as a formal PO (check or electronic payment) or a Union P-Card. Vendors should rarely accept non-Union forms of payment (such as cash, personal check, or personal credit card).
  • Exceptions. Union College is NOT exempt from Food and Lodging Tax on hotel rooms and restaurant meals. Exceptions to this rule apply to catered type meetings and events, which fall under Sales and Use Tax. However, please note that Union is NOT exempt from other taxes associated with these types of events, such as City Tax, A/V Equipment Tax, Occupancy Tax, Entertainment Tax, etc.
  • Sales and Use Taxes in Other States. As a non-profit educational institution, Union may also realize Sales and Use tax exemptions in several other states. Qualifying states are listed on the Finance website.

Purchasing Items With College Name or Logo

Union has exclusive rights to its name, logos, trademarks, songs, mottos and mascots and prohibits their unauthorized use. Vendors who manufacture and/or sell items imprinted with Union indicia (to the public, departments, or student organizations) are required to be licensed by Union. Licensees operate under specific guidelines; all products and designs must be approved by Communications, the items must include an ‘officially licensed’ hang tag or label, and royalty reports must be submitted on a regular basis.

Vehicle Usage

Use of motor vehicles by departments for business purposes is to be accomplished through the Transportation Department, which is part of Campus Safety. Your adherence to this policy will assure that PPS and the Motor Pool can coordinate bidding, record-keeping, and communication for all vehicles.

Internet Orders

Ordering via the Internet presents increased risk and responsibility to those who transact College business with vendors over the Internet who accept only credit cards. Purchases over the internet should be done with caution. (see Procedure HH)

Advanced Personal Funds

Departments should select vendors who accept College POs or P-Card. Individuals, as a general rule, should not advance their own funds to purchase supplies and services on behalf of Union. Purchases should be made through established purchasing policy and procedures. In limited instances the department or individual may need to pay for an item and be reimbursed. If it is necessary that an employee advance funds to purchase supplies or services for college business, the immediate supervisor must first authorize the purchase. The employee should request reimbursement by completing a Reimbursement request in WORKS, or through a check request (hourly employees). (see Procedure LL)

Reimbursement for Taxes

Since Union is exempt from paying Sales and Use Tax, these taxes are generally not reimbursable when an employee has extended personal funds for the purchase. A special exemption may be requested from the employee’s Supervisor or Department Head, in cases where it can be clearly demonstrated that the purchase and payment of tax was unavoidable or an emergency. This should be rare.

Non-Purchase Order Transactions

As indicated earlier, the purchase of most goods and services from outside vendors is to be preceded by the issuance of an official PO generated by the College that is then sent to the vendor. However, Union has identified some exceptions for certain transaction types that are considered low dollar and low risk, where a formal PO may not be as necessary. If you do not see the product or service listed that you are planning to purchase, then a requisition needs to be initiated so an official PO can be sent to the vendor (as described above). Below is more detail on the alternative procurement and payment methods available:

  • Procurement Card

The P-Card is a very important component of the overall procurement strategy at Union. P-Cards are to be used on a limited basis, for a portion of your spend. It is not to be used for all appropriate purchases. It is not to be used as a way to avoid following proper guidelines. Departments are encouraged to use the P-Card for applicable, low risk transactions. Visit the Procurement Card Program website for more information.

  • Payment Requests

A payment request form should be used to request payment for services when the transaction does not warrant the issuance of an official PO to a vendor, for direct- billed services, services for which it is the normal practice to pay in advance, and for certain special payments such as recurring or international. It is primarily a way to request a check.

Record Retention

Finance must maintain copies of all documentation related to purchases and payments in accordance with Union’s Record Retention Policy. Our current schedule is 7 years.

Property Ownership and Proper Disposal

All merchandise purchased with College funds is the property of Union, and as such may be disposed of only in accordance with College policy. Questions concerning disposal of capital equipment should be directed to the Financial Services. Any sales of college equipment require a bill of sale to be completed and collection of appropriate sales tax.

House Accounts, Credit Cards, and Direct Billing

Departments are not authorized to establish house accounts or credit cards in the name of Union. Departments are not authorized to accept offers for credit cards, charge accounts, or house accounts from vendors who increasingly send such advertisements. If a department has house accounts or open lines of credit with any vendors, they must take steps to close these accounts immediately. Direct Billing arrangements should be rare.

Confidentiality

ALL information exchanged between a Vendor and Union throughout the procurement to payment process is CONFIDENTIAL and shall remain the property of the College. No information (copies of bids, correspondence, contracts, etc.) is to be released to individuals or organizations outside of the College without the expressed permission of the College.

Post Audit

Financial Services is responsible for policy enforcement. Periodically, Financial Services will review reports of POs and Vouchers below $25,000, as well as P-Card transactions to look for new contracting opportunities, verify that policy is being followed, and to better assess when Preferred Vendors are not being utilized and why.

Policy Enforcement / Consequences

Employees must be authorized to commit Union’s resources to a purchase. College faculty and staff are responsible for adherence to all sections of policy. Examples of improper use of purchasing authority include:

  • Stringing or splitting a large purchase into two or more smaller orders in order to avoid bid requirements and required approvals.
  • Using an inappropriate account code.
  • Conflict of interest and/or poor ethical conduct.
  • Not processing a purchase utilizing One Solution (Requisition to PO process).
  • Improper, misleading, or deceptive use of the Sole Source Justification or Bid Documentation.

Departments, as well as individuals, will be subject to disciplinary action for failing to handle purchases according to policy and procedures. This may include:

  • Elimination of delegated purchasing authority for the individual or department
  • Employee may be recommended for discipline through Human Resources
  • Suspension of purchasing card privileges, or reduction in qualifying limits

History/Revision Dates

Origination Date 3/29/2021

  • Revised 1/12/22

Procedures

  • AA. Bid Process

    When a department needs to purchase a product or service, they should first check to see if PPS has established a Preferred Vendor contract that they could use. If there is no Preferred Vendor for the product or service needed, bids must be solicited from at least two vendors for purchases of $25,000 or more (unless sponsored dollars are being used).

    The best way to determine which vendor to do business with is to make that decision based on a competitive solicitation among potential suppliers. It is a good business practice to make award decisions based on a best value assessment of their quote or proposal (taking into account a variety of factors in addition to price, such as delivery capabilities, quality, past performance, training, reporting capabilities, compliance with specifications/requirements, financial stability, etc.). The award should be made to the responsive and responsible bidder that offers the best combination of all of these factors.

    Departments must consider the total intended obligation (estimated total value of the contract or project) for products or services needed on a regular or repetitive basis to determine whether a bid needs to be performed (i.e. just because the monthly spend on a particular category of product or service may be less than $25,000 does not exempt the need to solicit competitive bids and establish a Contract).

    In addition, Contracts should generally be re-bid at least every three to five years. Some contracts can be longer, primarily those that require a significant on campus investment by the vendor, or there is an RFP done at the consortium level.

    For bid solicitations, departments have the following options:

    • Department can perform a competitive bid

    The following standard documents have been developed to assist departments with the bid process and can be accessed from the Purchasing website

    • Request for Quotation Bid Price Sheet Template
    • PO Terms and Conditions

    Once bids have been received, the Bid Form, which can be accessed from the Purchasing website, must be completed for purchases of $25,000 or more and attached to the Requisition (unless sponsored dollars are being used). This form is to be used to summarize the process used, the primary factors considered in the award decision, how each vendor responded to those factors, and how the awarded vendor was selected and why.


    PPS can also help train departments how to appropriately conduct and manage the process of requesting quotes. Departments are strongly encouraged to include PPS in the procurement process for significant purchases or when a strategic relationship needs to be established with a vendor for a particular product or service.

  • BB. Supplier Diversity Program

    Union has created a Supplier Diversity Program, which is managed by PPS, to support the College’s Policy Statement on Supplier Diversity. Union is committed to developing mutually beneficial relationships with small, minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned and local business enterprises. The Program is Union’s initiative to create opportunities for vendors to market their products to Union and encourage College departments to offer opportunities to such vendors.

    The diversity classification of Union Preferred Vendors is included on the Preferred Vendor matrix on the Purchasing website. Please contact PPS for more information.

    • Program Objectives

      • Present ITB and contracting opportunities to diverse vendors

      • Develop partnerships between diverse vendors and College departments that result in lasting business relationships​​​​​

      • Promote diversification of Union’s contractor base

      • Maintain a high standard of quality in all products and services provided

      • Comply with Sponsored Program requirements regarding goals of small business subcontract

  • CC. Buy Versus Lease Process

    Equipment should almost always be acquired by outright purchase. If leasing is determined to be appropriate, departments should consult with the Budget Office to determine if equipment should be leased or could be financed internally at a lower cost.

    Leasing may be advantageous if the total cost of a lease for the period of the equipment's life or the technological life is less than the purchase price. The total cost of the lease must be compared to the total cost of the purchase, taking into account such factors as equipment costs, maintenance costs, interest, and insurance.

  • DD. Capital Equipment/Asset Tracking

    Capital Equipment is defined as property having a useful life of one year or more and a minimum acquisition cost of $2,000 per unit. See Capital Equipment Policy for more information.

  • EE. Environmental Awareness

    Environmental impact should be considered in purchasing decisions, when appropriate. Union encourages departments/schools to consider the use of products and services that impact the environment less than competing products, when it is a best value decision to do so. A best value decision based on a thorough total cost of ownership analysis considers the initial cost of the item as well as factors such as:

    • Energy Efficiency. Purchase equipment that is Energy Star-rated (or, if there is no Energy Star rating, equipment that is highly energy efficient). Energy Star is a program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
    • Shipping Materials. Purchase products that are shipped in containers that are returnable or reusable and made from recycled content (i.e. cardboard boxes). Also request bulk packaging when multiple items are ordered for delivery at the same time.
    • Recycled Content. Purchase products made with recycled content suitable for the intended use. Look for a high percentage of post-consumer content. ‘Post-Consumer’ content is material that has served its intended purpose and has been discarded for disposal or recovery by a business or consumer. Other recycled content includes post-industrial wastes which are by-products of a manufacturing process that would normally not be reused in the process.

    Other. Environmental performance of the supplier and/or producer should also be considered, such as waste prevention, waste reduction, pollution prevention, clean air and water programs, re- use of materials, minimization of scrap material, and any other green factory initiatives, etc. Union strongly desires to minimize the amount of waste sent to landfills. Both the product purchased and the packaging materials associated with it should be minimized to prevent waste as much as possible.

  • GG. Incorrect of Damaged Shipments

    If a shipment is received with incorrect or damaged goods, the packing material, packing slip, and/or shipping ticket should be saved. These may be needed if the items have to be returned or exchanged with the vendor. Adhere to the following to ensure incorrect shipments are handled appropriately:

    • The vendor's process should be followed to obtain proper authorization and shipping instructions.
    • The department shall notify the vendor immediately in writing so that appropriate action may be taken such as issuing credit or providing a replacement.
    • If the order has to be shipped back to the vendor, it should be packed in the original cartons.
    • PPS may be contacted to help settle any disputes or to negotiate a settlement.
  • HH. Internet Ordering Process

    Ordering via the Internet presents convenience, as well as increased risk and responsibility to those who transact College business with vendors over the Internet who accept only credit cards. Please abide by the following:

    • Deal only with established, reputable vendors. Do not buy from unincorporated individuals or groups offering products or services.
    • Departments should use a P-Card.
    • If the P-Card is not used, see if the vendor will accept an official College PO, which they can then reference on the invoice that is sent directly to AP.
    • Departments choosing to order via the Internet should ensure that the vendor provides a secure Website for transmission of information.
    • Ensure when saving CC information on websites, that is user id and password protected by the cardholder.

    Some of the same risks identified in Procedure KK, Membership Clubs apply to ordering on the internet.

  • II. Installment Purchases

    Equipment may be purchased on an installment basis over a period of time generally not to exceed five years. Requisitions for installment purchases must include a description of the item to be purchased and the number and dates of periodic payments. As with leases, care should be taken to provide contract protection for Union regarding guarantees, assignments, buy-out clauses, taxes, interest rate, and other items.

  • JJ. Invoicing / Payment

    A purchasing transaction is complete only after the goods or services have been received and the supplier has been paid. When a PO is issued, the department assumes responsibility to make sure the vendor is paid within an appropriate period of time. By issuing a PO through OneSolution in advance of the purchase, funds are properly encumbered and set-aside to pay these obligations. The encumbrance is not a contract, but ensures that the required funding is available. Accounts Payable (AP) pays invoices for Union, including those for external vendor purchases, employee reimbursements, and payments to independent contractors.

    • Payment Processing.

      • Vendors are instructed to send invoices directly to AP for proper processing. This is the best way to ensure invoices are paid in a timely manner. Accounts Payable will reach out to the department for any necessary approval.

    • Standard Checks

      • Invoices are sent to and entered into OneSolution by AP.
      • The department can view a scanned copy of the invoice in OneSolution.
      • If after review of the invoice the receipt will not be entered (due to a dispute with the vendor, etc.), the department shall notify AP.
      • If the department needs assistance in resolving a dispute, please contact Accounts Payable.

    Invoices can be sent to AP via email at accountspayable@union.edu. This is the recommended method of communication. Invoices can also be mailed or faxed.

    In order to maintain a good payment record and to encourage the proper use of POs, AP will give the highest payment priority to original invoices supported by properly issued and approved POs, and confirmation of receipt of goods and services. The goal for processing payments is within five (5) days of receipt and confirmation of properly completed paperwork in AP.

    • Electronic Payments. Union is moving away from making payments via paper check and we are strongly encouraging vendors and suppliers to accept electronic payments. Below are the two options:
      • ACH payments. Union has chosen the Paymode X service through Bank of America for an efficient form of payment. There is no cost or fee to the vendor of any kind resulting from the acceptance of an ACH payment from Union via Paymode X. This allows Union to directly deposit invoice payments into the vendor’s bank account along with complete remittance information that can be accessed at any time.
      • Wires. For some large critical vendors and international payments, Union utilizes necessary wire information to ensure that these vendors are paid in a timely manner.

    • Payment Terms & Penalties. Every vendor's invoice is due for payment within some period of time after it is generated. This is normally computed as the number of days after the invoice is received. Union’s standard for payment of vendor invoices is within thirty (30) days after receipt of the invoice. This is referred to as payment terms of ‘NET 30.’ Union must pay its obligations in a timely manner. Failure to comply with payment terms often leads to:
      • Credit hold, where a vendor refuses to fill any subsequent orders until the outstanding obligation has been paid.
      • Less favorable terms, where a vendor charges a late payment penalty or even demands payment in advance.
      • Higher prices on future purchases.

    A vendor may impose one or more of the above actions on the entire College even if the dispute involves only one department within Union. The AP department does what is necessary to prevent any of the above from happening while acting within sound financial controls.

    Departments must ensure that purchases are properly accounted for in One Solution, invoices are sent to Account Payable, and receipts are entered to facilitate the invoice being paid in a timely manner.

    • Tolerance. Requisitions should be initiated based on actual prices. However, the system does allow a reasonable tolerance, so payment can still be made when the PO and invoice don’t match exactly. The tolerance allowed in One Solution is 10%.
    • Credits. Credits occur due to the receipt of defective merchandise, returned goods, discounts, or incorrect invoice payments. One Solution allows Union to apply credits from its vendors to accounts in much the same way invoice payments are made.

    Unlike invoices, the application of credits is not simply a matter of verifying the facts on the credit memo and confirming that the subject goods or services have been rejected. Specific business and accounting questions may need to be resolved with the vendor before the credit is applied.

    Improperly applied credits are difficult to correct.

    If a department believes it is entitled to a credit from a vendor or receives a credit memo that is deemed to be valid, the department should contact AP for assistance. All credit memos shall be sent to AP for processing.

  • KK. Membership Clubs

    Use of membership clubs (such as Sam’s and Costco) is discouraged for the following reasons:

    • Potential for abuse. Often the membership is held in the individual’s name. When vendors allow someone to make a purchase on behalf of Union using our tax-exempt certificate, it exposes Union to considerable risk because of the possibility for individuals to make tax exempt personal purchases. This type of abuse could affect our tax-exempt status in New York. Our tax-exempt status is worth millions of dollars annually to Union and simply cannot be put at risk in order to save a few dollars on snacks, etc. Retailers are instructed to only accept our tax-exempt certificate if a PO is issued or a P-Card is used.
    • Taxes. If the membership card is registered to Union, sometimes these entities allow purchases to be made tax free, other times they do not. When the entity does not allow the purchase to be tax exempt, the individual often expects to be reimbursed for the taxes, which is against College policy. We are a tax-exempt organization and appropriate College purchases need to be made tax-free.
    • Perceived savings. Departments indicate cost savings as their reason for buying from these entities. However, they never take into account lost productivity associated with the time it takes to actually go to the store. If they spend two hours out of their work day shopping at these stores, that is obviously time that could have been spent doing other work, and it is therefore a real cost that needs to be considered. Also, often this is handled as a reimbursement, which takes time and effort on behalf of others at Union, and the reimbursement often includes mileage.
    • Risk. Union is exposed to a considerable amount of risk when an employee travels to one of these stores during their normal workday.
    • Products available. The wide variety of products available at these entities is problematic. Going to the store to buy snacks for a meeting is one thing. However, there will always be the temptation to buy other items as well. Office supplies, computers, furniture, etc. that may not comply with College policy or department standards could be purchased.

    All of the above are why Preferred Vendor contracts are established based on the results of a formal competitive bid process/negotiation, which minimizes all of the above risks. Only on rare occasions is using a club membership acceptable.

  • LL. Non-Travel Reimbursement

    Advancing Personal Funds

    Individuals, as a general rule, should not advance their own funds to purchase supplies and services on behalf of Union College. If it is necessary that an employee advance funds to purchase supplies or services for College business, the immediate supervisor must first authorize the purchase. An hourly employee should request reimbursement directly through AP, while Administrators are done by completing a Reimbursement in WORKS.

    Refer to the Travel, and Entertainment Policies for instructions on reimbursement for travel related expenditures. All requests must be submitted within 30 days of the event, or will become ineligible for reimbursement.

    • Documentation Required

    Proof of payment and signatures of the purchaser and direct supervisor are required on documentation accompanying all requests for reimbursements. AP will not provide reimbursement for any purchase until complete documentation is provided:

    • The reimbursement request must be supported by the business purpose of the transaction.
    • For all reimbursements except internet purchases, an itemized receipt issued by the vendor is required:
      • If no receipt is available, and for payments made by check, also include the cancelled check (use checks only if the bank will provide copies of front and back).
      • Other clearly validated proof of payment, including written approval from the immediate supervisor verifying receipt of goods or services may be accepted.
    • For all reimbursements of internet purchases, an original packing slip for goods is required. The vendor must provide the following information on the packing slip:
      • Name and ship-to address of the purchaser
      • Itemized listing of goods purchased and received
      • Indication that the amount being reimbursed has been charged/paid by credit card
      • If any of this information is not provided by the vendor on the packing slip, additional documentation must be provided along with the reimbursement request:
        • A credit card statement showing the purchaser’s name and the purchase amount for which reimbursement is requested. The purchaser must sign the credit card statement.
        • Other clearly validated proof of payment, including written approval from the immediate supervisor verifying receipt of goods or services may be accepted.
        • Internet order forms completed online and printed from the internet do not constitute proof of payment. They represent the order form for the purchase and lack proof of receipt of goods and charging the recipient’s credit card.
  • MM. Preferred Vendors

    Preferred Vendors are established by Finance for products and services needed by Union departments on a regular basis. These relationships are generally established one of two ways:

    • A bid contract is established based on the results of a formal competitive bid process managed by Finance or the Department. Current providers of these products/services on campus are among those invited to submit a proposal. The vendor(s) that are awarded contracts are determined to represent the best overall value to Union. Department representatives (some of your peers) are involved in the evaluation and decision-making process.
    • A pricing agreement is established based on a negotiation between Finance and the vendor. Typically, these agreements are established because it has been determined to be in the best interest of Union to establish a relationship with these vendors. Some of the reasons are that there is a strong College preference for the product or service offered by a particular vendor, the product or service needed is proprietary, unique, or exclusive in nature, the individual amount per transaction may be very low, etc.

    A Preferred Vendor matrix is maintained on the Purchasing website. Departments are strongly encouraged to utilize Preferred Vendors for the following reasons:

    • It is much easier to order from, process invoices, and pay Preferred Vendors. Departments are not required to solicit other bids when choosing to utilize a Preferred Vendor because this activity has already been performed by PPS. The terms and conditions have also already been established.
    • It has been determined that Preferred Vendors deliver the best overall value to Union based on price, delivery capabilities, quality, past performance, training, financial stability, ease of ordering, etc.
    • Consolidation of usage allows us to leverage Union’s total spend, which is what provides incentive for vendors to offer the best possible price to Union.
    • The price on contract is the actual price departments will pay (all savings are realized by the ordering departments). If pricing is ever improved, everyone benefits.
    • Service levels are higher because these vendors have more of a commitment to Union. The contract fosters a positive business relationship between Union and the vendor. PPS monitors their performance to make sure they comply with the requirements of the contract. PPS has considerable leverage and is able to hold these vendors more accountable in order to make sure the products and services being provided meet the expectations of departments/schools and to resolve disputes.
    • Occasionally, PPS may choose to establish a Preferred Vendor contract based on an agreement established by a consortium of which Union is a member.
    • Please note that determination of Preferred Vendors by PPS is not vendor-name-driven. PPS identifies products and services that Union needs by analyzing spend and soliciting feedback from departments. A thorough bid process/negotiation is conducted, proposals are solicited from numerous vendors (including those that are currently doing business with Union), and bidders determined to represent the best value to Union become Preferred Vendors. There is an expectation that departments take advantage of using Preferred Vendors.
  • NN. Prepaid and Partial Payment Purchase Orders

    The use of pre-paid ‘check-enclosed’ POs is discouraged and should be utilized very rarely. Such payments in advance of receipt of goods places the department and Union at risk of loss if these goods are not received as ordered, or in unsatisfactory condition.

    However, occasionally a vendor refuses to accept a College PO without full or partial payment in advance. In order for a pre-payment to be considered, contact AP or PPS. The Requisition must be accompanied by documentation explaining the reason for pre-payment. The dollar amounts must be correct and include any handling or shipping charges. Documentation verifying the prices, such as a quotation from the vendor, price list, vendor order form, or pro-forma invoice, must be provided. This documentation must also include evidence of the vendor's demand for pre-payment.

  • OO. Procurement Related Programs Managed by Purchasing

    Personal Purchases from Preferred Vendors. When conducting a bid or negotiating with a vendor, once an award decision is made, PPS will discuss the possibility of the Preferred Vendor extending special pricing for faculty, staff, and students for personal use. Understand that vendors are not obligated to do so. In addition, purchases from Preferred Vendors for personal use are also subject to sales tax. Personal purchase programs from Preferred Vendors are included on the Purchasing website.

  • PP. Receiving

    An approval email is the department's way of indicating to AP that the product has been received or the service has been provided and therefore the PO is approved for payment. Union College performs two-way matching.

    • A two way match (PO, invoice) is required for processing payment.
  • QQ. Requesting New Vendors

    If a vendor needs to be added to OneSolution prior to requisition or payment, Financial Services will create that vendor in OneSolution. They will verify whether the vendor already exists in the system and check several sources to make sure the vendor is in good standing with various Government agencies (Federal ‘do not use’, debarred, excluded parties lists, etc.) before adding a vendor

    Vendors disqualified by Union

    Vendors may also be prevented from doing business with Union when evidence of improper conduct exists. This includes, but is not limited to fraud, collusion, attempts to improperly influence a bid, indictment of the bidder/contractor, previous performance issues, etc.

  • RR. Requisitions

    A Requisition ID begins with the prefix PR. A fully approved and budget checked Requisition is then automatically sourced into a PO that begins with the prefix PO during normal batch processing (no manual intervention by PPS is necessary in most cases). The official PO is then automatically sent to the vendor. This process occurs multiple times daily and eliminates the need and perceived benefits associated with phone orders and blanket orders. The system provides an appropriate audit trail since all transactions are captured in the system specific to each individual purchase, putting Union in the best position to pay for purchases in a timely manner.

    • The following information must be used when entering a requisition:
    • Accounting/Financial Information. Departments are expected to utilize the correct account code for each line of the Requisition. This is extremely important in that work flow/approvals are in many cases determined by the account code utilized.
    • Commodity Category. Departments/schools are expected to select the most appropriate commodity category for each line included on a Requisition. This allows Union to properly analyze spending to look for future contracting and negotiating opportunities. If you are not sure which commodity category to utilize, contact PPS for assistance.
    • Ship to Location. Departments are expected to select the appropriate ‘ship to’ code on each Requisition.
  • SS. Segregation of Duties

    Segregation of duties and responsibilities in the purchasing process provides proper controls. An example of segregation of duties within a department is as follows:

    • Requester/end user (PI, lab assistant, department assistant, financial assistant, etc.):
      • Determine what is needed
      • Determine whether the need can be fulfilled by a Preferred Vendor
      • If there is no Preferred Vendor, research vendors
      • Solicit prices
      • Analyze costs and assess other important factors (i.e. delivery, customer service, etc.)
      • Select a vendor
      • Initiate a Requisition, or communicate needs to authorized requester
      • Obtain, prepare, and track necessary documents and paperwork flow
      • Ensure the proper receipt of ordered goods or services
    • Approver (supervisor, business manager, lab manager, PI, etc.):
      • Validate the legitimate business purpose of the transaction
      • Determine whether the need can be fulfilled by a Preferred Vendor
      • Validate that adequate funding is available
      • Ensure compliance with College policy and applicable regulations regarding Cost Accounting Standards related to the use of restricted funds and the acquisition of regulated or controlled goods
      • Approve requisitions
      • Negotiate and resolve disputes with vendors (Financial Services can assist)
      • Monitor and reconcile purchase transactions using the provided financial system and associated financial statements and reports
    • Department chair, Dean, faculty supervisor, administrative department head, etc.:
      • Review and approve reimbursement requests for individuals they supervise
      • Approve requisitions and special purchasing transactions, when necessary
      • Monitor budgets
      • Ensure compliance with College policy and applicable regulations regarding Cost Accounting Standards related to the use of restricted funds and acquisition of regulated or controlled goods
    • Purchasing and AP Function
      • Review and Send PO’s
      • Create New Vendors
      • Enter invoices and payment requests for processing
      • Review documentation provided by departments for allowability and accuracy
  • TT. Shipping / Freight Terms

    F.O.B. Destination is the Union standard, since it provides the most protection to the department and Union. It should be negotiated into all purchases whenever possible. Below are all of the various ways in which shipping/freight may be handled by a particular vendor. If a vendor requires F.O.B. Origin, the department should arrange for appropriate insurance coverage for the purchased goods through the shipping company that will be transporting and delivering the goods prior to shipment. PPS can provide assistance when necessary. All freight term methods are listed below in order of preference to Union:

    Freight Terms

    Customer Takes Title of Goods

    Customer Responsibilities

    Vendor Responsibilities

    F.O.B. Destination (or delivered)

    At point of delivery

    • Pays freight
    • Owns goods in transit
    • Files claims (loss, damage)

    F.O.B. Destination (or delivered), Freight Pre-paid and Added

    At point of delivery

    • Freight added to invoice
    • Pays freight
    • Owns goods in transit
    • Files claims (loss, damage)

    F.O.B. Destination (or delivered), Freight Collect

    At point of delivery

    • Pays freight
    • Owns goods in transit
    • Files claims (loss, damage)

    F.O.B. Origin, Freight Pre- paid and Allowed

    At shipping point or factory

    • Owns goods in transit
    • Files claims (loss, damage)
    • Pays freight

    F.O.B. Origin, Freight Pre- paid and Added

    At shipping point or factory

    • Freight added to invoice
    • Owns goods in transit
    • Files claims (loss, damage)
    • Pays freight

    F.O.B. Origin

    At shipping point or factory

    • Pays freight
    • Owns goods in transit
    • Files claims (loss, damage)
  • UU. Special Requisition Types

    There are also Special Requisition types. The appropriate box should be checked of the Requisition process ONLY when one of the following conditions is met:

    Blanket Order

    Blanket orders are to be used primarily to make payments for services that are provided on a regular and consistent basis, and in some cases for the regular delivery of a consistent quantity of product. The underlying theme behind most blanket orders is that they are used to pay for on-going services or delivery of product when no individual ordering takes place.

    • Equipment preventative maintenance (monthly payments)
    • Bottled water service (same quantity each month)
    • Rent, utilities

    Blanket orders are not to be used as an open line of credit or to facilitate informal or phone orders (open account with no detail regarding each individual transaction). Blanket orders should also not be used as a way to simply manage your budget.

    The blanket order number should be communicated to the vendor, so they know the PO number to include on all invoices.

    Approval

    ALL blanket POs will be reviewed and must be approved by PPS, regardless of value. PPS has the right to question multiple blanket orders to the same vendor or blanket orders whose value is frequently increased.

    Annual Review

    Each year during July-August or thirty (30) days prior to issuing a new blanket order for the upcoming fiscal year, the ordering department should review the requisitioned blanket order for changes.

    Grant Subcontracts

    A Grant Subcontract is an agreement written under the authority of, and consistent with, the terms and conditions of a prime award, and authorizes a portion of the research or substantive effort to be performed by another organization. This specifically refers to sponsored programs. These requisitions do NOT require PPS approval.

    • Subcontracts are negotiated through the College Grants and Sponsored Programs Office.
    • After the agreement is drawn up and signed by both parties, the Office will send the department a copy of the contract.
  • VV. Tax Exempt Credentials

    Financial Services keeps information related to Union’s tax-exempt status in New York, as well as several other states, on file. If a department needs proof of tax-exempt status, please adhere to the following:

    • An official PO should be issued to vendors for College purchases. It includes the standard PO terms and includes tax-exempt information.
    • An NYS Tax Exempt One Time Use Letter is available on the Finance website for individual purchases that many vendors will accept, which includes appropriate approval information.
  • WW. Vendor Code of Conduct

    It is important that vendors doing business with Union adhere to policy as well, which is why we are making departments/schools aware of the Code of Conduct to which vendors are expected to adhere to:

    • All purchases of goods and services from outside vendors are to be preceded by the issuance of an official PO generated by Financial Services that is then provided to the vendor. An official PO begins with the prefix PUR and includes the signature of the Director.
    • All invoices should be sent directly to AP. Invoices should not be sent until after the product has been shipped or the service has been performed and must reference the appropriate PO number. AP will make sure departments receive a copy of invoices whenever their approval is required prior to payment.
    • The term ‘Preferred Vendor’ at Union is reserved only for those vendors that have an established contract or agreement on behalf of the College, or through a Consortium.
    • Vendor credit applications should not be filled out. If general information is needed by a vendor, please contact PPS.
    • Union values its suppliers and assumes that vendors, in turn, value Union’s business. No token or display of appreciation is necessary or encouraged. All vendors are asked to comply with College standards by not offering incentives, gifts, or services to individual personnel. It is also inappropriate for a vendor to make a donation of any sort to a department or individual that may influence a future purchasing decision.
    • PPS strongly discourages significant marketing efforts directed at departments by non- preferred vendors where a Preferred Vendor contract already exists.
    • As a private, not-for-profit, coeducational institution, Union is exempt from Sales Tax, but not Use Tax, Retailers Occupation Tax, Service Occupation Tax (both state and local), and Service Use Tax in the State of New York.
    • Vendors shall only accept official forms of payment from Union for purchases, such as a check, electronic payment, or a P-Card. Vendors should not accept a non-Union form of payment (such as cash, personal check, or personal credit card).
    • PPS reserves the right to utilize third party benchmarking services when analyzing proposals and quotes submitted by vendors.
    • PPS reserves the right to request a detailed spend report from any vendor registered in the Union financial system. Requested reports must be provided in a timely manner.

    Union reserves the right to withhold payment, inactivate the vendor in, and debar a vendor from doing business with the College in the future if they do not abide by the policies.