Normal College business requires certain College employees to engage in purchasing activities from time-to-time or on a regular basis. All College employees are expected to conduct work-related purchasing activities in a cost conscious manner with an awareness that all purchases should be in the best interests of the College. Any College employee who commits the College to a purchase, sale, lease or any other arrangement or transaction must do so while considering the following:
- Is the item or service necessary for College operations?
- Has the vendor been properly approved in advance?
- Is there a possible conflict of interest with the transaction?
- Have the required approvals been obtained and documented?
The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines and protocols for purchasing at the College. All College employees are expected to follow this policy.
This policy applies to the purchase of goods and services on behalf of the College as set forth herein and applies to any individual who commits College funds to be allocated to a purchase of any kind.
The Purchasing Department is responsible for administering the College’s purchasing system. This centralized structure ensures adequate and continuing sources of supply and consistent budgetary requirements. It also provides the College community with assistance acquiring supplies, goods and services in a timely and economical basis and to provide assistance, consultation, and advice regarding all procurement needs of the College.
General Purchasing Guidelines
A. Sourcing and Negotiating
- The Purchasing Department has the primary authority and responsibility to source and/or negotiate goods and services purchased by the College. This responsibility may be delegated to other individuals or departments, in advance and based on the specific nature of the situation.
- All members of the College community are required to follow this policy when purchasing a good or service.
- Any member of the College community can request to source a good or service by emailing the request to: email@example.com.
- Any member of the College community who needs help finding a vendor or goods and services can contact Purchasing Department staff at any time for assistance.
- An advisory team, comprised of department representatives, discusses and agrees on College-wide goods and service sources as needed.
- The College may utilize a competitive bid process and acquire multiple bids, when appropriate, for purchases over $10,000.00.
B. Vendor Management
- All purchases of goods or services by members of the College community are expected to be made from vendors who have been preapproved by the Purchasing Department (unless an exception has been approved in advance and in writing).
- The Purchasing Department is responsible for evaluating vendors and making recommendations to approve vendors. The Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, or designee has the authority to approve vendors recommended by the Purchasing Department.
- All employee requests to research and approve new vendors should be submitted in advance to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Vendor Information form to be completed by potential vendors can be found online. Businesses wanting to be approved as a vendor are strongly encouraged to complete this form.
- All approved vendors are required to complete the College's Approved Supplier Form along with an IRS Tax Form W-9. These records will remain on file with the Purchasing Department and shall be updated periodically as required.
- All vendors, as a condition of conducting business with the College, are required to accept the College's Standard Terms and Conditions of Purchase or have College approved deviations clearly listed within their vendor profile.
- Purchases that require the involvement of the Purchasing Department shall involve the Purchasing Department as early in the process as possible, in part, to help ensure the most favorable outcome with the purchasing process as possible.
- All day-to-day quality, supply or payment related issues should be managed through the Purchasing Department.
C. Acceptable Purchasing Method
- The College uses a purchasing system called the Columbia College Marketplace. This system is considered the primary method of ordering goods and services. All members of the College community are expected to make purchases through this system and not via other means. A link to the Columbia College Marketplace system along with associated instructions and training information can be found online.
- Using College-issued credit cards for purchases of goods or services is no longer the preferred method of paying for goods, services or travel. College-issued credit cards should only be used when an exception has been made, as detailed in Section D below.
- Employees are expected to plan appropriately in advance and place purchase requests in a timely manner to allow a reasonable amount of time for approvals, ordering and receipt of required goods or services.
- By virtue of their special needs and roles at the College, some departments may have activities that require special procurement authority using a method other than purchase orders through the Columbia College Marketplace system. In these instances, purchases using a College-issued credit card, check request or other means may be acceptable.
- Examples of activities for which purchasing exceptions may be acceptable include, but are not limited to:
- Travel (see Employee Travel Policy)
- Purchases for services made between departments. Examples are as follows:
- Forms, marketing materials and mailings from Mail & Print Services (MIPs)
- Promotional items from Public Relations
- Fleet vehicle usage
- Non-contract food
- Emergency purchases in which a purchase order is not feasible
- Student activities and clubs that require purchases in which the creation of a purchase order is unreasonable
- If you have questions as to which method of purchase and payment is applicable to your purchase, please contact the Purchasing Department at email@example.com.
E. Purchase Requests
- A purchase request for goods or services must be submitted through the Columbia College Marketplace system to initiate the process by the Purchasing Department.
- Instructions on how to initiate a purchase request can be found online.
- All purchase requests must contain, at a minimum, the following critical information:
- Vendor name
- Item detail
- Item cost
- Number of items
- Required receipt date
- Purchase requests for goods or services identified as specialized, may be routed to a specific department for review. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- technology, software, computers and printers, etc. will be reviewed by Technology Services to ensure product is compatible
- promotional items and branded items will be reviewed by Public Relations
F. Approvals and Budget Validation
- The following College employees are authorized to approve purchases and to enter into contracts on the College's behalf (so long as it is consistent with the terms of the Contracting and Purchasing Policy): College President, Administrative Council members, Director level employees, Academic Deans and Department Chairs.
- Funds in the correct budget line item are required in order to initiate a purchase request. Purchase requests will be validated against available budgets. Any purchase request in which budget funds are not available must be directed to the Finance Department for review and reallocation of budget funds.
- Approving any part of a transaction is a significant responsibility that should be taken seriously. Every individual in the approval chain is responsible for the transaction that he or she approves.
- An approver is a College employee assigned to ensure fiscal responsibility and compliance with this policy. The approver plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of the purchasing process at the department level. Approvers are responsible for the following:
- Maintaining a high level of understanding with the purchasing policy and processes
- Monitoring transactions for appropriateness of purchase
- Monitoring purchase request totals against available budget balances
- Identifying possible violations and taking appropriate action(s)
- Under no circumstances should an approver delegate their approval authority to another employee without prior written approval. An exception may be permitted in the event of absences from work.
G. Purchase Orders
- Upon receipt of an approved purchase request, the Purchasing Department shall review the request for accuracy and compliance with this policy. If the approved request meets all requirements, a purchase order will be created and forwarded to the appropriate vendor.
- The Purchasing Department is responsible for submitting purchase orders to the approved vendors and releasing the data into Colleague.
H. Shipping & Receiving
- The Purchasing Department shall establish and monitor the Colleges shipper's routing guide. This routing guide will provide instructions to vendors on how to ship goods to the College.
- The receipt of goods and services shall be the responsibility of the original purchaser.
- All invoices shall be sent from the vendor directly to the Accounts Payable Department. Any deviation from this policy may result in significant delay in payment.
- All invoices must be submitted to Accounts Payable via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All invoices must clearly state the following information:
- College purchase order number
- Line item detail
- Line item value
- Payment terms
- College business may require staff or faculty to travel. Individuals should conduct their travel with an awareness that they are using College funds. The College will pay for normal, reasonable and prudent business related expenses that are incurred by individuals traveling on official and preapproved College business.
- All travel requests must be submitted and approved through the Columbia College Marketplace before any commitments are made. Employees may initiate a travel request by one of the following processes:
- Submit travel details to the Purchasing Department/Travel Manager to initiate a travel requisition through Columbia College Marketplace.
- Complete the request themselves.
K. Conflict of Interest
- The College maintains a Conflict of Interest Policy.
- The policy requires, in part, that College employees must perform their duties with the best interests of the College in mind and put the best interests of the College first. To that end, College employees must not allow any personal interest to interfere with any decisions they may make, or have influence over, regarding the purchases, business and operations of the College or decisions made on behalf of the College.
- College employees are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and adhering to this policy.
- All College employees must adhere to the Columbia College Contracting Policy.
- The College maintains a Contracting Policy.
- College employees are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and adhering to this policy.
M. Accounts Payable
- All vendors who submit invoices for payment must supply the College with a completed IRS Tax Form W-9.
- All invoices should be sent directly from the vendor to the Accounts Payable Manager (see Section I above).
- The Accounts Payable Manager will review invoice and associated purchase order to confirm invoice accuracy.
- The Accounts Payable Manager will schedule payments based on the negotiated payment terms established within the Columbia College Standard Terms and Conditions of Purchase or as otherwise agreed upon with vendor.
N. Failure to Follow this Policy
All College employees are expected and required to follow this policy. Failure to do so may result in the following actions: the employee's supervisor will be informed; the employee may be retrained; legal action may be initiated to hold the employee financially liable for the cost incurred by the College; and disciplinary action may be taken against the employee including, for example, termination of employment, depending on the nature and circumstances of each situation. For more information on the progressive disciplinary process, see the Employee Disciplinary Action Policy.
Questions about this policy or anything set forth herein should be directed to the Purchasing Department.