Procurement Policies


Effective as of July 1, 2016

The purchase or lease of any goods or services payable or reimbursable by the College must be made in accordance with federal and state laws as well as this Purchasing Policy, the College’s Reimbursement Policy, and any other applicable College policies. Furthermore, goods and services purchased with sponsored funds must fully comply with the respective sponsor’s terms and conditions.


This policy outlines the procurement practices for purchasing goods and services at Lafayette College.  The policy addresses competition and prudent vendor selection, purchasing methods, authorizations, receipt of goods and services, required documentation, and ethical standards.  The Purchasing Policy and related procedures are intended to ensure the timely and cost-effective acquisition of goods and services while endeavoring to maximize the College’s purchasing power, streamline business practices, ensure compliance with College policies and reduce potential institutional risks associated with contracting and other procurement-related activities.  Unless waived in writing for a specific purchase by the President, the Vice President of Finance and Administration or the Assoc Vice President for Finance & Business Affairs, adherence with this Purchasing Policy is required for the College to fund the requested good or service.

Purchases excluded from this policy include investment management services, insurance, hotel and entertainment costs, legal services, employee benefit programs, construction-related contracts (including general contractors and architectural and engineering services among others), real estate, utilities, telecommunications services and equipment, banking (including loans, other credit facilities and commercial banking) and investment banking related services, financial custodial services (both investment and bond custodians), audit services, security services, student dining services, performing arts contracts, other art acquisition and certain other goods or services as may be determined by the Vice President of Finance and Administration.  Even in the case of items exempted from this Purchasing Policy, (1) the financial commitment of the College should be made by the President, the Vice President for Finance and Administration, an employee delegated in writing by the Vice President for Finance and Administration to have the authority to make a particular purchase or type of purchase, or the Vice President for Human Resources and General Counsel (as described in the “Authority” section below), (2) periodic comparative reviews among potential vendors are strongly recommended, and (3) purchase orders are required so that the College can appropriately reflect the commitment of funds.


The President and Vice President for Finance and Administration are each authorized to execute and deliver any and all written agreements and contracts to which the College may wish to become a party.

The President and Vice President for Human Resources and General Counsel are each authorized to execute and deliver any and all written agreements and contracts relating to human resources, organizational development, labor relations separation agreement or severance arrangements, and legal services within the purview of the Vice President for Human Resources and General Counsel.

The Vice President for Finance and Administration and the Vice President for Human Resources and General Counsel have the power to delegate their signature authority to one or more subordinate officials when appropriate to the duties and responsibilities of such individual, to another officer or to officials subordinate to another officer.  This delegation should be appropriately documented.

The Procurement Director is the official designee of the Vice President for Finance and Administration and are hereby authorized to execute Purchase Orders that obligate Lafayette College for the procurement of goods or services.

Except as outlined above and in the Policy chart, excluding the compliant use of (1) a College Purchasing Card (P-Card), (2) the online purchasing/reservation system of the College’s designated office supply provider, the College’s designated airline travel provider(s) and the College’s designated car rental company, no other Lafayette College employee, student, alumnus or affiliated individual may financially obligate the College in any form.  Commitments by unauthorized persons will not be honored by the College, and therefore the individual has created a personal obligation to the Supplier.  Violation of the authorities noted above may lead to disciplinary action.  Material or repeated violations will lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Ethical Standards

Employees involved in any aspect of the purchasing process have a responsibility to ensure that the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and fairness are maintained in all such activities.  Those responsibilities include fairly evaluating bids received, not sharing pricing and terms/conditions of one bidder with any other bidders or potential bidders and ensuring that competitive pricing, once attained, is realized. In addition, all personnel soliciting or accepting quotations or submitting Purchase Requisitions from Suppliers that employ members of their families, or when they or members of their families have a financial or other interest, must report this information in writing to the Assoc Vice President for Finance & Business Affairs or the Procurement Director prior to the order being placed or the quote being solicited.  The Procurement Director will include this documentation in the purchasing records.  The purchasing functions of Lafayette College are not to be used to purchase supplies, equipment or other merchandise for fraternity associations or for the personal use of employees of the College.

Buying and Paying Overview

Procurement and Payment Policies Chart

Comparative Review Requirements

The College requires and encourages effective competition among Suppliers in providing goods and services to the College.  Accordingly, those involved in vendor selection have the responsibility to search broadly and completely for viable Suppliers.  A competitive process among Suppliers is required for all purchases of $5,000 or more, and strongly encouraged even when purchases are less than $5,000.

It is the responsibility of the Procurement Office to originate, control and analyze Supplier bids, quotations, proposals and/or qualifications for any purchases expected to be over $100,000.  The requisitioning department is responsible for working with the Procurement Office to define the quantity, specifications, required delivery date and any other pertinent information essential to create an appropriate Request for Proposal or Bid Specification.  The requisitioning department should also suggest sources, especially for unusual or unique items.  The requisitioning department may be called upon to assist the Procurement Office in evaluating the bids received relative to a purchase for that department.  The requisitioning department should allow from one (1) to six (6) weeks for the competitive bid process to occur, depending upon the requirements.

If a purchase is less than $100,000, the requisitioning department may secure the quotes or bids without assistance from the Purchasing Department; however, the Purchasing Department retains the right to re-bid if they determine it would be beneficial to the College.  Written quotes/bids from the various Suppliers must accompany the Purchase Requisition submitted to the Purchasing Department for audit purposes.

Competitive quotes or bidding is not required when one or more of the following conditions exist:

  1. The purchase is less than $5,000.
  2. Bids have been recently received (within the previous 3 months) for the same items and the bids are still valid.
  3. Emergency purchases/contracts are necessary for the immediate preservation of the health, welfare, or safety, or the protection of College property and programs;
  4. Equipment maintenance contracts for which there is only one authorized or qualified source required by the equipment manufacturer for the preservation of equipment warranty;
  5. Proprietary software maintenance, annual license renewals, and/or upgrade contracts;
  6. Utilities contracts for which there is no competition because of sole authorization to provide service to the geographical area;
  7. Public entertainment contracts for campus-sponsored fairs, expositions, exhibitions, plays and concerts;
  8. Contracts for conference or meeting facilities, including room accommodations for conference attendees;
  9. Educational materials and information access resources related to the College’s library services;
  10. Contract amendments for time extensions, with no additional dollars being added; or Contract amendments to exercise options that were part of the original contract or that were part of a previously approved amendment to the contract; or contract amendments that are within the scope of or incidental to the original contract scope of work;
  11. The item is a College standard (e.g., furniture/file cabinets from Steelcase) as determined by the Procurement Director.
  12. The item to be purchased has already been bid either through the Educational and Institutional Cooperative (E&I), the LVAIC Purchasing Consortium, the Pennsylvania State Contracts or through any other purchasing consortia which the College is eligible to utilize.
  13. The item must be purchased from a sole-source distributor or manufacturer or it a sole brand. In this case written justification of the sole brand/source should be provided with the Purchase Requisition and that requisition must be approved by the Vice President for Finance and Administration. The written request must include:
  • The unique performance factors required that necessitate a particular brand or Supplier;
  • Why these factors are required;
  • What other source/brands have been considered or rejected and why.

Sole source or sole brand requests shall not be justified on the basis of:

  • A lack of advance planning;
  • Concerns related to the amount of funds available for the acquisition of the goods or services; or
  • A previously non-competitively bid contract for which the price to the College was zero or substantially below fair market price and the results of such contract caused the sole source or sole brand to be required on future contracts.

Depending on the goods or service required, the decision criteria may not be cost alone.  In addition to cost-effectiveness, compliance with mandatory requirements (e.g., insurance requirements), product quality, Supplier expertise and experience, timing of the delivery, staff and/or technical support availability/quality, the Supplier’s financial resources and facilities, and other criteria may be relevant in particular circumstances.

Bidding for multi-year contracts is acceptable.  With limited exceptions, all multi-year contracts should re-bid after a maximum of 5 years.  Exception may be granted with the written approval of the Assoc Vice President for Finance.

Issuance and Authorization of Purchasing Transactions

Department Heads must approve all purchases (via Purchase Requisitions, P-Card transactions, Payment Authorization form, Reimbursement form, etc.) within their department(s) with the exception of those purchases payable from grant-related funds.  Purchases with an aggregate value greater than $25,000 must be approved by the Division Head or his/her designee.  Purchases with an aggregate value greater than $100,000 must be approved by the Vice President for Finance and Administration.  The Director of Sponsored Programs must approve any purchases charged to a federal, state or other grant or any other sponsored project.

In addition to the above, certain other goods and services are restricted and require additional approvals.  These items are described in Table 1:

Table 1

Good or Service Additional Required Approvals
Any good/service negotiated with a non-cash component Vice President for Finance and Administration
Any good/service requested as a sole brand or from a sole source Vice President for Finance and Administration
Hazardous materials, including radioisotopes Public Safety Office
Furniture Office of Facilities
Computer hardware and software Information Technology Services (ITS)
Grant-funded goods or services Office of Sponsored Research within the Provost’s Division or the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations within the College Relations and Development Division, as applicable

Purchasing Delegations

The departments listed in Table 2 below are authorized to create Purchase Orders for the specific goods and services approved for them.  These departments (1) must not make purchases in excess of their budgetary allotment of funds, (2) must maintain all records of purchase orders and receiving acknowledgements in accordance with the College’s document retention standards (or if none exist, the legally-required or otherwise appropriate industry standards), and (3) must submit a copy of any purchase orders generated to the Procurement Office within one week of being issued. 

Delegated Purchaser Allowable Goods and Services
Lafayette College Library Books and other items for College collections
Lafayette College Store Books, clothing items, school supplies and other items that will be sold at the Store

Deposits and Prepayments

Due to the inherent risks associated with deposits or pre-payments, the College’s policy is to avoid pre-paying any orders, in part or in full, in advance of the receipt of the goods or services.  If the only Supplier of goods or service requires a prepayment or deposit or if the nature of the goods or service requires pre-payment (e.g., a maintenance agreement or software licensing fee), the payment must be requested using the procedures designated by the Procurement Office and approved by the Procurement Director, the Controller, the Vice President of Finance and Administration.  The requisitioning department is required to conduct significant due diligence on the bidders or potential providers in order to ascertain the Supplier’s ability to perform under the contract and particularly so if pre-payment is involved. Deposits or payment made to Suppliers that fail to perform are the risk of the requisitioning department.

Receipt of Goods Acknowledgment

Departments are responsible for verifying the actual receipt of goods and services in the manner designated by the Procurement Office.  Individuals acknowledging the receipt of goods are confirming that the purchased goods and services have been received in the nature, quality and quantity ordered.  In addition to the original requestor, the Department Head is responsible for assuring that receipt verification occurs and is documented according to the Procurement Department’s procedures.  Receipt must be verified by a representative of the department benefiting from the goods or service and responsible for the budget before any payment will be issued to the Supplier.

Disposal of Surplus Material and Equipment

Only the Procurement Director is authorized to arrange for disposal of surplus material and equipment by internal transfer, trade-in, auction (online or otherwise), negotiated sale, a donation to a not-for-profit entity recognized under IRS Code section 501(c)(3) or trash.  No other employee should remove any property of the College from its designated spot on campus, without written consent from the Procurement Director.  The Procurement Office is responsible for ensuring (1) the most appropriate and cost-effective disposition method is used, (2) Federally- or other grant-funded items are dealt with in accordance with the grant’s requirements, (3) the disposition of all computers and other equipment that may store proprietary or sensitive information is appropriately managed by the Information Technology Services department, and (4) the College’s list of capital assets is current and accurate.

When there are items (e.g., furniture pieces, equipment, etc.) a department wishes to remove from their area or are being under-utilized, the Procurement Office should be called to manage the process.  If an item is still usable, it will be stored for use by other departments on campus.  Items placed in surplus storage are not kept for a specific department but can be given to any department in need.  The only cost to the receiving department is for any labor cost/transfer charged by Plant Operations.  The proceeds from the sale of any surplus goods are only credited to the department surrendering the item when specifically authorized in writing by the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Other Policies

This Purchasing Policy is intended to work in conjunction with other policies of the College such as the Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages Policy, the Alcohol Service Policy or any other current or future policy.  Nothing in this policy should be interpreted as negating or overriding these other policies.  Any situations arising where there may seem to be a conflict among policies, the Vice President of Finance and Administration should be consulted for clarification.

Modifications to Policies and Procedures

Future modifications to this Purchasing Policy may be made by the Vice President of Finance and Administration.  Modifications to any purchasing-related procedure, forms or online tools may be made by the Procurement Director.