Purchasing Methods, Policies, and Procedures

Things that must be taken into consideration when performing various purchasing activities.

All units across the University of Minnesota system are encouraged to adopt U Market as their primary method of supply purchasing. U Market has guaranteed contract pricing, electronic invoicing, and is the most cost effective purchasing process. U Market is a key component of the University of Minnesota’s strategic sourcing and an important part of the overall approach to Operational Excellence. Download a quick visual summary of how departments may purchase the most common goods and services.

Purchasing Methods:

  • Start with U Market. This is the least expensive overall process.
  • Use a standard purchase order with a reputable supplier.
  • Use the University’s PCard with a reputable supplier (this is one of the most expensive processes, overall).
  • For emergencies only, purchase with personal funds and seek reimbursement (this is the most expensive process when all costs are taken into account).
  • Do NOT sign or agree to the supplier’s Terms and Conditions. Because the University is a constitutional function of the State of Minnesota, certain laws and regulations apply to our contracts that do not apply to other customers, so insist on using the University’s Terms and Conditions. Additional information about contracts can be found in the University’s Policy on Entering into Contracts.

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Compliance

Accessibility

The University is committed to providing equitable access to information technology and all departments are responsible for implementing the University accessibility requirements. Purchasing hardware and software products or web site design services, are some examples of where you may need to work with the Accessibility Department to ensure your purchases are compliant.

accessibility.umn.edu

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) requires the University of Minnesota to implement safeguards to insure the security and confidentiality of certain non-public customer information. This imposes on the University the obligation to select only suppliers that can demonstrate their ability to safeguard non-public financial information to which suppliers might have access, or be granted access by the University. If you are drafting a Request for Proposal (RFP) and it deals with any of the financial services/products that may apply to GLBA and the supplier may have access, or be granted access by the University to non-public customer information identifiable to an individual (student, employee, customer, etc.) additional questions may need to be included.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act information is on the Controller's Office website.

Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is designed to protect an individual's protected health information (referred to as PHI) and to restrict how PHI may be used. If you are purchasing something that may involve PHI you may need to discuss this further with the Health Information Privacy & Compliance Officer and may need to include additional questions if drafting a Request for Proposal (RFP).

Health Insurance Portability & Accountability (HIPAA)

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)

University colleges and business units that accept credit cards as payment for goods and services are obligated to follow the Payment Card Industry Security Standards (PCI DSS). These standards protect cardholder data.

If you are considering the purchase of any solution that involves payment cards (even if your department is not accepting those cards) additional security related questions may need to be included in Request for Proposal (RFP) along with the University's Cardholder Data Security document. University's PCI Compliance Officer may also need to be included in these discussions.

Payment Cards/PCI DSS Standards Compliance information is on the Controller's Office website. The University may already own a solution that fits the needs of your unit, it is a good idea to check with the Controller's Office before getting too far into the process.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was enacted November 15, 2004 and is intended to deter abuses by accounting professionals. The law requires accountants to prepare corporate financial reports in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the commonly accepted standard of recording and reporting accounting data. All University purchases for auditing or financial services must be conducted with suppliers who are compliant with SOX and its requirements.

Contact [email protected] if you have questions about a specific purchase that may be covered by SOX.

Conflict of Interest

The Office of Institutional Compliance administers the University's individual and institutional conflict of interest review processes.

Conflict of Interest Policy

The University Conflict of Interest requirements are governed by Minnesota Statute MS15.43.

M.S. 15.43 ACCEPTANCE OF ADVANTAGE BY STATE EMPLOYEE; PENALTY.

Subdivision 1. Financial Interest agents. No employee of the state or University of Minnesota in direct contact with suppliers or potential suppliers to the state or the university, or who may directly or indirectly influence a purchasing decision or contract by establishing specifications, testing purchased products, evaluating contracted services, or otherwise has official involvement in the purchase or contracting process may:

  1. Have any financial interest or have any personal beneficial interest directly or indirectly in contracts or purchase orders for goods or services used by, or purchased for sale or furnished to a department or agency of the state or the university; or
  2. Accept directly or indirectly from a person, firm, or corporation to which a contract or purchase order has been or may be awarded, a rebate, gift, money, or anything of value other than items of nominal value. No such employee may further accept any promise, obligation or contract for future reward...

    (Re: Subdivision 4. Penalties. A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.)

It is also the policy of the Purchasing Department to comply with the Anti-Kickback Act of 1986 which provides that no fees, gifts, gratuities, or compensation of any kind may be offered or accepted for the purpose of obtaining favorable treatment in the acquisitions of goods or services with federal funds. Possible violations of the Anti-Kickback Act of 1986 should be reported to the University of Minnesota, Director of Audits, (612) 625-1368.

Customs/imports/exports

Purchasing Services recommends that you use the University's contract customs broker, DB Schenker (U-Wide Agreement #U225.1). A fee is required for their service, but their expertise can save an inexperienced importer both time and money in the long run.

Our representative at DB Schenker is Charlie Christ at (651) 367-8810 or email at [email protected].

To ensure the smoothest process possible for any Department Purchase Orders issued to Foreign Suppliers, the following procedure is suggested:

In the text portion of your Purchase Order (PO), insert the following statement:

"When equipment is ready to ship, please contact our Import/Export Broker at (651)367-8810 or email at [email protected]."

For more information, contact DB Schenker Minneapolis:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (651) 367-2500

Exporting Goods and Services

When exporting equipment or goods, the following are items of discussion you will need to have with the supplier and/or export broker (DB Schenker):

  • Commercial invoice
  • Shipper's letter of instructions (SLI)
  • Inco terms
  • Value - the actual value to be reported to customs
  • Commodity
  • Harmonized codes (classification number for goods)
  • Dangerous goods
  • Research equipment
  • Temporary exports/goods being returned
  • Purchase Order number or billing number

Agent for Customs Clearance

The University of Minnesota has one main agent for customs clearance: Schenker International Forwarders. In general, Schenker International will handle large bulky shipments valued at over $1,250. Schenker can and will handle smaller shipments as well. Below is more detail information about Schenker International.

Contract Information

DB Schenker International
860 Blue Gentian Road, Suite 245
Eagan, MN 55121
Phone: (651) 367-8810
Fax: (651) 367-8811
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.dbschenkerusa.com

Services Provided

International Ocean Freight Forwarding
Export and import; consolidated or full containers; full or partial charters; roll on/roll off, barge and pontoon.

International Air Freight Forwarding
Export and import; direct flights with reserved cargo capacity; regular consolidated air cargo departures; full charter for special projects.

Customhouse Brokerage Operations
Licensed brokers in each USA office; ABI customs interface; formal/informal entries; dutiable/duty free/GPS entries; general term bond and term bond application; duty drawback.

Project service, logistics planning, warehousing and distribution
Export and import documentation, tracking, tracing and status reports, packing, staging and distribution, cargo insurance.

Import by Air Freight

All merchandise purchased from outside the United States is inspected by United States Customs officials upon its entry into the country. U.S. Customs procedures help assure that imports are processed as quickly and as accurately as possible. They also help protect American business in international trade.

What does Customs do?
The primary duties of U.S. Customs include the assessment and collection of all duties, taxes, and fees on imported merchandise, supervision of entry and unloading of vessels, and enforcement of customs laws. They also work to combat smuggling and fraud on customs revenue and enforce the regulations of several other Federal agencies at ports of entry in the United States.

Entry Process
When a shipment reaches the United States, the importer (specifically, purchaser, or licensed customs broker designated by the purchaser) must file entry documents with U.S. Customs officials for their merchandise at the port of entry, usually Minneapolis-St. Paul or Chicago. Imported goods are not legally entered until after the shipment has arrived within the port of entry, goods have been examined by customs, delivery of the merchandise has been authorized by customs, and estimated duties have been paid.

Duty-Free Entry
The U.S. Custom's regulations provide that scientific and apparatus intended exclusively for educational purposes or pure scientific research used by qualified non-profit institutions shall enjoy duty-free entry if instruments or apparatus of equivalent scientific value are not being manufactured in the country of importation.

You must make application for Duty-Free Status and your application must be approved by the Department of Commerce for the Duty-Free Status to be effective. You must make application yourself, the University of Minnesota's Import/Export Broker cannot perform this task for you.

U.S. Custom's regulations state that an applicant for duty-free entry for an instrument must be a public or private non-profit institution which is established for educational or scientific purposes and which has placed a bona fide order or has a firm intention to place a bona fide order for a foreign instrument within 60 days following a favorable decision on the institution's application.

Applications must be made on form ITA-338P. Five copies of the application form must be submitted, one of which must be signed in the original by the person in the applicant institution under whose direction and control the foreign instrument will be used and who is familiar with the intended uses of the instrument.

Form ITA-338P (pdf)

Form ITA 338P Detailed Instructions

If you need other assistance with this form, contact Jan Kopczeski at (612) 624-1696.

Who Imports Goods?
Merchandise arriving in the United States by commercial carrier must be entered by the purchaser or by the licensed customs broker designated by the purchaser.

Customs brokers (Schenker or otherwise designated) are authorized by the tariff laws of the United States to act as agents for importers in the transaction of their Customs business (the U of M is the importer). They are private individuals or firms licensed by the Customs Service. Customs brokers represent their clients in customs matters which include but are not limited to document preparation and delivery of goods from airport to the end-user. The fees charged for customs broker services may vary according to the extent of services performed.

  • The importers or Licensed Customs Brokers for the University is Schenker International unless the selling supplier has designated their own importer as part of the purchase.
  • U.S. Customs employees are not authorized to act as agents for importers.

Import by Ocean Freight

As the owner of the goods, the department may enter merchandise through U.S. Customs. For a complete list of all customs requirements visit the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection homepage.

On January 26, 2009, the new rule titled Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements (commonly known as "10+2" or "ISF") went into effect. The new rule applies to import cargo arriving to the United States by ocean vessel. Failure to comply with the new rule could result in substantial fines, increased inspections and delay of cargo.

ISF importers, or their agent (the agent for the University is DB Schenker), must provide the following data, no later than 24 hours before the cargo is laden aboard a vessel destined to the United States. Data must include:

  • Seller
  • Buyer (The "Legal" name of the University is "Regents of the University of Minnesota")
  • Importer of record number/FTZ applicant identification number (Tax ID Number)
  • Consignee number(s) (Tax ID number filled out)
  • Manufacturer (or supplier)
  • Ship to Party (Regents of the University of Minnesota)
  • Country of Origin (Regents of the University of Minnesota, Department Name)
  • Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS number)
  • Container stuffing location
  • Consolidator

There are two data sets that are required from carriers:

  • Vessel stow plan (includes vessel name, operator, container position, stow position, etc.)
  • Container status messages for all of the events of that shipment (AMS Bill of Lading)

Statutes/laws/regulations

Minnesota Statutes, Session Laws, and Rules

Compiled by the Office of Revisor of Statutes. The most current compilation of Minnesota Statutes and Minnesota Rules can be found on the site listed below.

Minnesota Statutes, Laws, and Regulations

Uniform Guidance

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has combined many federal circulars, including A21 and A110, into a single guidance document that can be used by all agencies. This combined document is know as "Uniform Guidance."

Read the full Uniform Guidance: 2 CFR 200. Uniform Guidance (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards)

Tax Exempt Status

Tax Certificate of Exemption and W-9 Tax ID

The University of Minnesota is exempt from MOST, not all, Minnesota Sales Tax. Please read the following for more information on State Tax Exemption laws.

Click on the appropriate link below to access the proper form/document.

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University Purchasing Methods

The University uses the following methods for departmental purchasing:

  1. U Market
  2. Purchase Order (PO)
  3. Procurement Card (PCard)
  4. Internal Sales Purchases
  5. Non-PO Related Payment

While faculty and staff are expected to use the U Market purchasing method whenever possible, there may be situations where another purchasing method is more appropriate. Regardless of method, do NOT sign or agree to the supplier’s Terms and Conditions. Because the University is a constitutional function of the State of Minnesota, certain laws and regulations apply to our contracts that do not apply to other customers, so insist on using the University’s Terms and Conditions. Additional information about contracts can be found in the University’s Policy on Entering into Contracts.

University Purchasing Methods Matrix

Purchasing Thresholds

Refer to the following tables for information about the purchasing thresholds from any of these commodities. For additional information on each commodity or the procurements requirements involved within each commodity/dollar threshold, refer to the drop down menus below.

Standard Goods and Services

$0 to $9,999$10,000 to $49,999$50,000 to $249,999$250,000+$1,000,000+
Departments may purchase from a reputable supplier.If not being purchased from U Market, Pre-Paid Debit Card, or ISO, a Price & Supplier Justification Form must be completed to document the basis for supplier selection and proof of reasonable price.For purchases not from U Market or on a U-Wide Agreement, departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select a supplier.Departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select a supplier.Board of Regents policy requires that individual purchases and contracts valued at $1,000,000 and over be presented to the Regents for approval after the bid/proposal process has been completed and prior to making the purchase or contract.

Professional Services (CPS)

$0 to $2,999$3,000 to $49,999$50,000 to $249,999$250,000+$1,000,000+
Create a non PO-related voucher (preferred); OR a Quick Contract for Professional Services or a Performance Contract for Professional Services (PCPS).Department must create a Quick Contract for Professional Services (QCPS) or a Performance Contract for Professional Services (PCPS).For purchases not from U Market or on a U-Wide Agreement, departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select a supplier.Departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select a supplier.Board of Regents policy requires that individual purchases and contracts valued at $1,000,000 and over be presented to the Regents for approval after the bid/proposal process has been completed and prior to making the purchase or contract.

Construction Services

$0 to $249,999$250,000+$1,000,000+
Departments must use Capital Project Management or U Construction to begin the contract phase.Departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select a contractor.Board of Regents policy requires that individual purchases and contracts valued at $1,000,000 and over be presented to the Regents for approval after the bid/proposal process has been completed and prior to making the purchase or contract.

Architecture & Engineering (A&E) Services

$0 to $99,999$100,000 to $199,999$200,000+$1,000,000+
Departments must use Capital Project Management or U Construction to begin the contract phase.Departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select an A&E firm.Departments must use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select an A&E firm. For state-funded project, departments must use the State Designer Selection Board procurement process.Board of Regents policy requires that individual purchases and contracts valued at $1,000,000 and over be presented to the Regents for approval after the bid/proposal process has been completed and prior to making the purchase or contract.

Standard Goods and Services

Entering Into Contracts

Departments can sign/execute contracts if the term is for "time frame and/or dollar amount".

Departments should contact the Office of General Counsel (OGC).

Administrative Policy: Entering Into Contracts

Administrative Procedure: Administering Contract for the Purchase of Goods and Services

Professional Services

Obtaining professional services requires a contractual relationship with an individual, partnership or corporation. Professional services typically contain at least one of the following criteria:

  • Specific skillset or expertise is needed
  • Service is customized to meet your department's needs
  • The services are NOT routinely available to the public at a standard rate or price
  • Rate or price is negotiated with the supplier

To ensure both parties agree to the price, expected deliverables, and timeframe to complete the work, all professional services totaling $3,000 or greater require a contract/Purchase Order (PO). Per policy, work cannot begin until the contract is fully approved in the Enterprise Financial System (EFS) and the contract’s start date has occurred.

Depending upon the type of professional service and total dollar amount, there are four possible types of professional services transactions that will be created in EFS. Since each situation is unique and the University must be in compliance with various state and federal regulations, most professional services require forms to be attached with their EFS requisition or purchase order.

Below is a grid that describes which type of transaction and forms are required when purchasing a professional service. Regardless of whichever transaction type you use, do NOT sign or agree to the supplier’s Terms and Conditions. Because the University is a constitutional function of the State of Minnesota, certain laws and regulations apply to our contracts that do not apply to other customers, so insist on using the University’s Terms and Conditions. Additional information about contracts can be found in the University’s Policy on Entering into Contracts.

You can also access our at-a-glance reference guide that identifies the required supporting documentation needed when purchasing professional services.

Transaction TypeTransaction TotalContract InformationRequired Forms or Documents
Non PO-related voucherLess than $3,000This transaction generates a payment to the supplier. It is NOT a legally binding contract.
Quick Contract for Professional Services (QCPS)$0 - $49,999.99The QCPS is a binding contract between the supplier and University.
Contract for Professional Services (CPS)$50,000 and greaterThe CPS is a binding contract between the supplier and University.
Quick Performance Contract for Professional Services (QPCPS)$0 - $49,999.99 (and uses a performer-related category)The QPCPS is a binding contract between the supplier and University. Departments must include the Performance Agreement (also a legal contract) as an attachment.
Performance Contract for Professional Services (PCPS)$50,000 and greater (and uses a performer-related category)The PCPS is a binding contract between the supplier and University. Departments must include the Performance Agreement, which is the actual legal contract, as an attachment.

Architect and Engineering (A&E)/Construction Services

University departments interested in purchasing A&E and construction services from an outside supplier should do the following:

  1. Complete the Project Request Form to document and assign a University team (from UServices or Capital Project Management) to the Project.
  2. Work with the assigned University team to procure a supplier to complete the work. The procurement method will vary based on the value of the contract. Refer to the Purchasing Thresholds table above to get a better idea of the various procurement options available. If the dollar threshold requires the department to use Purchasing Services to complete a competitive process to select a supplier, the requester should first complete an RFP Planning Document prior to contacting Purchasing.
  3. Once a supplier has been selected, submit a Purchase Order (PO) request to Purchasing. Your PO request must include the following attachment:
    1. For A&E Services: A fully executed AIA Contract that has been issued by Capital Project Management
    2. For Construction Services: Construction Contract Award Memo
  4. Once the PO request is approved, Purchasing will issue the PO to the supplier.

Competitive Bid Requirements and Process

Purchasing goods and services with a total value of $50,000 or more is subject to University polices which require an open and competitive bid process (see "RFx" below). Purchasing Services will collaborate with end users and provide guidance to ensure the University’s needs are met at the lowest possible cost under the most advantageous terms and conditions available.

RFx Phase Overview

Define
  • Contact Purchasing Services for assistance before you begin.
  • Determine the type of RFx needed.
    • Request for Bid (RFB): Defined requirements and specifications; award to bidder with lowest cost.
    • Request for Proposal (RFP): General idea with some specifications and/or it's a large, complex project with potential for multiple solicitations; award based on evaluation criteria. Note: it is especially important to carefully define evaluation criteria. Changing or adding to them after the RFP is published is difficult. We recommend you complete the RFP Planning Document to help in the creation of the RFP.
  • Create evaluation committee (for RFP).
    • This committee will help gather requirements and define specifications, draft the RFP and evaluate RFP responses.
  • Gather requirements/specifications for goods and/or services.
    • What do you need?
  • Create requisition in EFS.
    • The requisition is need to create the RFx number used to issue the RFx in the University's electronic bidding tool - MBid.
  • Draft RFx.
    • Category Manager in Purchasing Services creates a draft in MBid; Department reviews final draft.
Publish & Invite
  • RFx is issued electronically through MBid by Category Manager.
  • Pre-bid meeting for suppliers (if needed).
    • If a walk-through is needed or the request is particularly complex, a bidder's conference is sometimes useful to provide information to and answer questions from suppliers.
  • Prospective suppliers submit questions based on information in the RFx.
    • Questions are received by the Category Manager and answered by Department/Evaluation Team.
  • Interested suppliers submit RFx in MBid by closing date.
    • Category Manager collates responses and sends to Evaluation Team for review.
Analyze & Select
  • Evaluation.
    • Based solely on Evaluation Criteria you have previously established and included in the RFP, the Evaluation Team evaluates and scores responses.
  • Recommendations for award from committee.
    • Evaluation Team makes recommendation based on scoring and submits to Category Manager for review.
  • Contract negotiations.
    • Category Manger works with Business Owner and, if necessary, Office of General Counsel to negotiate the best contract for the University.
  • Allow additional time to obtain Board of Regents approval if the contract is $1,000,000 or greater.
  • Purchase Order is issued.

Exception to Bypass the Competitive Purchasing Process

Requests for exception to the competitive process, such as sole source (only known source or a proprietary source) or single source (only one qualified supplier or acceptable product/service) purchases must be requested in writing from the initiating department. All requests for sole source and single source purchases must include detailed, objective and technical justification outlining the rationale for exception to the competitive bid process. 

NOTEAll single and sole source requests must be submitted and approved by the Purchasing Department before goods or services are acquired.

The Purchasing Department will evaluate all requests for exception to the competitive bid process and will make the final determination as to whether or not a sole/single source purchase is acceptable. Once a sole source or single source purchase request is approved, a supplier quotation/proposal will be solicited by the Purchasing Department to establish contract pricing with mutually agreeable terms and conditions.

Form: Department Request for Exception to Board of Regents Policy (UM 1721)

Regents Approval of Goods and Services $1M and Over

Regents Docket Information

Regents Policy requires that individual purchases and contracts valued at $1,000,000 and over be presented to the Regents for approval after the bid/proposal process has been completed and prior to making the purchase or contract.

Board of Regents Purchasing Policy

The policies of the Board of Regents are umbrella policies that provide the framework under which the administration is responsible for implementation of and compliance with the intent of the board policy.

Board of Regents Policies

Board of Regents Purchasing Policy

Required Documents

The following documents are required to be reviewed by Purchasing Services before they are signed and the originals are delivered to Purchasing Services according to the Monthly Docket Schedule.

Regents Summary

A Regents Summary is a one-page document that explains what is being purchased and why. This documents contains the following information:

  • Supplier
  • Dollar amount of award
  • Items or services being purchased
  • Department requesting the purchase
  • Any contractual time frame
  • Background and support information
  • Process for selecting supplier
  • Source of funds for the purchase

Form: Regents Summary Example

Form: Regents Summary Template

Purchase Consent Record (PCR)

To get Regents approval, departments must submit a Purchase Consent Record to Purchasing Services. This document provides documentation of what is being purchased and that appropriate reviews and approvals have been received prior to the President’s requesting approval from the Board. Deans, Directors, and Department Heads are responsible for ensuring that the Purchase Consent Records is completed in a timely manner and that appropriate signature approvals are obtained.

Form: Purchase Consent Record

Monthly Docket Schedule

View the time table below for draft and final deadlines for submitting Purchase Consent Records to Purchasing Services. Missing the deadline may delay the Regents’ approval to the next monthly meeting. The Regents do not meet every month.

Monthly Docket Schedule

Board of Regents Website

 

 

Purchasing New Equipment for a Laboratory

When buying equipment for laboratories, there are additional things you need to think about. U Services/Facilities Management has a special web page with facilities-related considerations for these purchases. Additional planning may be needed because specialized research equipment is often not formally tested and validated to meet American safety standards, and installation may require unplanned infrastructure improvements like improved electrical service, HVAC capacity, etc.

When a supplier wants you to use their contract

Insist on using a standard University Contract for whatever good or service you are buying. The Office of the General Counsel has created Standard Contracts for the University's most common purchases. A Purchase Order is the most frequently used standard contract. These are some other frequently used standard contracts:

Additional Standard Contracts can be found in the University’s Contract Library.

Negotiating contracts with a supplier

When purchasing from a supplier that will not accept a Purchase Order, a Standard University Contract, or is not currently listed on our University-Wide Pricing Agreement page, then a negotiated contract may be used. A negotiated contract must be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel or Purchasing Services before making your purchase. To prepare for this review, complete a Contract Review Worksheet.

Learn more about contracts at the University:

PO was closed at fiscal year-end

What do I do if my EFS Purchase Order was inadvertently closed at fiscal year-end?

If your EFS Purchase Order (PO) was unexpectedly closed during the year-old closure process, please note the following reference documents to help resolve the issue:

  1. Decision Matrix on Potential Next Steps
  2. Creation of Replacement Requisition/PO Instructions (for totals of $50,000 or more)

Should I sign forms from suppliers

I need to purchase something from a supplier and they have sent me the order form to sign. Can I sign it?

If a supplier has requested you sign something as a result of your purchase, please note the following to help resolve the issue:

  1. Do not sign the supplier’s form as that may mean you are agreeing to their Terms and Conditions. The University’s standard Purchase Order (PO) Terms and Conditions must be used in all but unusual circumstances. The University is a constitutional function of the State of Minnesota, so certain laws and regulations apply to our contracts that do not apply to other purchasers.
  2. If the supplier’s form contains “business” terms, such as specifying the goods or services, price, delivery information, etc., you can attach it to our PO without signing it.
  3. Additional information about contracts can be found in the University’s Policy on Entering into Contracts.

If the item(s) needed are not available via another supplier in U Market, Amazon Business might be appropriate.

The University has established a master business account with Amazon.com to allow departments to eliminate additional (and unallowable) costs for Amazon Prime or separate Amazon Business memberships, and departments still save on shipping. (The University pays a fee centrally to cover most shipping costs associated with Amazon Business purchases.)

The other suppliers in U Market remain the preferred source for all goods catalogued in U Market.

The University does not typically allow goods to be shipped to home addresses for various reasons (people who live within commuting distance of their home campus are expected to come to campus to pick up needed supplies or equipment that they are authorized to use at home).

Beginning March 27, 2023, Amazon Business must be accessed via U Market. "P Location" codes will be used by requisition preparers to provide Amazon with shipping instructions. Job aids and more information about the Amazon Business account are available from U Market Services. There is a list of existing "P Locations" (ship-to addresses) available at z.umn.edu/ShipToLocationCodes and your requisition preparer or procurement specialist, or other finance support person, should be able to help get a new one set up if the location isn't already set up. 

None of the Purchasing policies have changed. Those making purchases using the Amazon Business account are still required to follow policy. 

Temporary Process for Amazon Gift Cards

There are specific situations where Amazon gift card purchases may be appropriate and allowable. Amazon gift card purchases are blocked when shopping the University's Amazon Business account through U Market. Do not purchase gift cards out of pocket. If a project requires use of Amazon gift cards to provide incentives to research participants, contact Purchasing Services via [email protected] with some details (describe the need/justification, total number of cards, dollar amount per card, time frame in which the cards are needed, ChartField String information) and Purchasing Services will work with you to purchase appropriate cards on your behalf.

Departmental Amazon Accounts are Not Allowed

Individual faculty and staff, programs, projects, departments, colleges, or administrative units are not allowed to establish their own separate Amazon Business accounts to purchase goods for the University. University shared IDs/departmental accounts cannot be used on Amazon Business. If you are aware of a departmental Amazon account, please contact Amazon to deregister the separate account and transition to using the University's Amazon Business account through U Market.

Amazon Business account cannot be used for personal use

This account may not be (cannot be) used for personal purchases. Amazon automatically applies our sales tax exemption to eligible purchases and University employees (faculty, staff, or student workers) must not use the sales tax exemption for personal purchases--this is Minnesota state sales tax law requirement. Don't use the Amazon Business account for personal purchases.

Federal flow down accounts, special risks using Amazon

Amazon Business provides an easy shopping experience but please note that in the Amazon Business Accounts Terms and Conditions, it states that they are currently not able to accept federal flow downs terms and conditions. Based on that, we advise departments to keep purchases with Amazon Business under the current direct buy limit.


Personal Amazon Accounts (student workers, faculty, staff)

Do you have a personal Amazon account, and is that account tied to your University of Minnesota email address?

If yes, and you make purchases for the University:

  • If you make purchases for the University and need to use the University's Amazon Business account through U Market, your email account ending in umn.edu will be associated with the University's Amazon Business account.
  • Please switch the email account associated with your home Amazon account to a personal (non-University) email address before trying to make a purchase on Amazon Business through U Market. (Amazon allows people to switch email addresses on personal accounts.)
  • Do not use your personal Amazon account to make purchases for the University. Use the Amazon Business account through U Market instead.

If you do not make purchases for the University, you don't need to do anything. Consider associating a personal email address with the account instead of a umn.edu email address though, in case you do need to make a purchase for the University. Ensure you do not have the U's sales tax exemption associated with your personal account, and ensure there are no University PCards or Travel Cards associated with your personal Amazon account. Amazon has instructions available on their website to remove sales tax exemptions, change email accounts, and remove payment methods/cards from accounts.


 

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Accounts Payable

Purchasing Services oversees the accounts payable business processes, which involve making non-payroll payments to suppliers and employees, vendor maintenance for non-payroll payments, travel advances, emergency checks and foreign payments, payments for withholding to the State, 1099 Miscellaneous Income reporting and payments to the IRS, data entry of payment and financial transactions, and payment corrections.

Accounts payable overview / AP 101 information.

Cash Advances

In certain situations a cash advance may be available for an employee. See the Cash Advances policy for more information.

Vendor/Supplier Information

In general, any supplier (vendor) who works with the University should have an ID set up in the financial system to expedite requisitions/purchase orders and payments, and to ensure we comply with any state/federal tax reporting guidelines or laws. More information about vendor setup is below and on the policy website. The terms "vendor" and "supplier" are used interchangeably. In PeopleSoft, fields and functions use the word "supplier".

Supplier Authorization Form (formerly known as the Vendor Authorization Form, or VAF)

  • This form and other finance-related forms can be found in the UWide Forms Library. This form must be completed and sent to Disbursement Services before a vendor can be set up in the financial system.
  • The goal is to process vendor forms within three to five days of receipt. Almost one-third of the forms submitted require additional time due to the information not being legible or required documents not being submitted with the form.
  • Best practice when requesting a vendor set up is to obtain the information directly from a representative of the vendor (don't get it from the vendor's website). 
  • The Description of Services/Reason for Payment is a required field.
  • For new vendors, vendors must complete a W9 (pdf), the completed and signed W9 should be submitted along with the form. The department working with the vendor should send them a W9 form to complete.
  • If the new vendor is a Sole Proprietor or Individual, departments are required to complete and submit the Independent Contractor Authorization Form (pdf) along with the other forms.
  • For changes to existing vendors, unless there is a vendor name change or tax ID change, a W9 is not required. The Independent Contractor Authorization form is not needed for changes.
  • Don't forget to complete the "University Department Contact" section at the bottom of the page. This section is critical for a vendor set up because it contains the contact information of the requester. If the information is not completed, Vendor Maintenance does not know who to contact if there is a question regarding the form but most importantly we do not know to whom to send the vendor number if this information is missing.

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