Federal Purchasing Policy Frequently Asked Questions

Is this just for purchases or does it include honorarium payments as well?  What about rentals?

This policy pertains to all purchases of goods and services including honorarium and rentals.  In the case of honorarium, someone is usually asked to come and speak because they have specialized knowledge or experience.  Therefore, the Sole Source Justification Form could be submitted for approval.

Does the $3,000 threshold pertain to ONE item or to everything in the PO totaling more than $3,000?

The Federal guidelines are not very specific on this.  They use the terminology "the aggregate dollar amount".  Our interpretation is this:  If you have several DIFFERENT items in the PO which are all less than $3,000 each, then that would fall under the micro-purchase method and would not require the bids to be obtained.  If you have several items in the PO which are all the SAME but each cost less than $3,000 individually, we would ask that you attach the 3 price quotes.

For example, if your PO includes $1,000 of test tubes, $1,500 of beakers and $1,000 of lightbulbs for a total of $3,500, this would be a micro purchase.  If your PO includes 4 mouse houses at $1,000 each, this would be a small purchase and you would need to attach documentation showing you got 3 different quotes.

I thought the threshold for needing a purchase order was $5,000.  Why are we now hearing it is $3,000?

The $5,000 threshold for requiring purchase orders is a University policy to be followed regardless of the source of funds.  The $3,000 threshold is a FEDERAL policy that overrides our University policy when the purchase is being made using Federal funds.

How does this apply to p-card purchases?

The policy is the same for all purchases regardless of your method of payment.  If you intend to pay for goods or services using your p-card, you will still need to submit a PO with appropriate backup before making the purchase if the dollar amount will exceed $3,000 and you will be charging a Federal grant.

Why can't we use the Sole Source Justification Form if the vendor is someone we have a contract with?

While the contracted companies are ensuring us that they are giving us their best pricing, we need to ensure that we meet government standards for prudent spending when the amount is over $3,000.  We would use the contracted company's prices as part of our quote comparison but we need to make sure we've done all that we can to document that we've researched the best price.

Going with the lowest price could compromise quality.  Why would we want to do this?

The Federal requirement does not state that we need to go with the lowest price.  It states that you should obtain quotes from an adequate number of qualified sources.  So you should only obtain quotes from vendors that exhibit the level of quality Wesleyan would require (qualified source).