University of Utah – Purchasing Goods and Services
Complying with the Utah Procurement Code
October 10, 2017
The University of Utah is required to follow the Utah Procurement Code. The procurement code requires competitive bidding / requests for proposals before purchasing goods or services, unless a specific exception applies. (Even spending grant money – the procurement code applies).
General exceptions include:
- Purchases below designated dollar thresholds set forth in Rule 3-100D ($5000 is a good threshold to keep in mind – if over $5000, call Purchasing 1-7241)
- Sole Source procurements as set forth in Rule 3-100B (e.g. the Purchasing Department has determined that there is only one source that can provide the needed item or service)
- Emergency procurement as defined in Policy 3-100
In addition, there are specific circumstances in which the University has concluded that a standard procurement process (bids/RFP’s) would be impractical. The most common situations are outlined below. In these circumstances in which your unit is not obtaining a bid or RFP, it is especially important to ensure you are following the University’s conflict of interest policies. This is an important area of legislative focus – and the University is committed to following the procurement code and ensuring that we are good stewards of resources.
Note on conflicts of interest: your participation in a proposal or transaction related to a company in which you have a financial interest requires a specific process under the COI policy.
Purchases for which a standard procurement process is not required:
- Instructional materials or curriculum items - academic freedom of instructors;
- Membership fees, conference venues and registrations, seminars;
- Guest lecturers, performers, convocations;
- Travel, including commercial airfare and hotels;
- Sub-recipients of sponsored projects when the sub-recipient will act as a collaborator (must use extra care to follow COI policies);
- Suppliers identified by name in an application submitted for sponsored research grant or award (must use extra care to follow COI policies);
- Other circumstances approved by the director of purchasing or designee
Even when these exceptions apply, check with the Purchasing Department before spending more than $5000 on goods or services to ensure you follow state law. And never split purchases to keep an amount under $5000 – splitting purchases to avoid procurement rules is a criminal offense in Utah.
Note on donations: in very limited circumstances, when a donor is paying the entire cost of a service, the donor can require use of a particular vendor. (The vendor cannot be related to the donor, and Purchasing and Development must approve of such an arrangement in advance).