The University of Iowa

Purchasing Equipment; Professional Services; and Supplies, Goods, and Materials

  1. Purchasing-Related Monetary Thresholds
  2. Ensuring a Reasonable Price for Purchases
  3. Encumbering Funds for Purchases
  4. Procedures, Policy, and Process for Purchasing Professional Services
  5. Procedures, Policy, and Process for Purchasing Supplies, Goods, and Materials
  6. Purchasing-Card Program
  7. Purchasing Animals

a. Purchasing-Related Monetary Thresholds

  • Goods and services costing between $0 and $5,000 may be purchased using a Procurement Card (P-Card), Procurement Requisition (PReq), or an e-Voucher.
  • Goods and services costing between $5,001 and $10,000 must be purchased by PReq, submitted through the Purchasing Department Workflow System.
  • PReqs for supplies and equipment over $10,000 are entered by the department and sent through Workflow. They must be competitively bid unless existing contracts are in existence or the user can provide justification for directing the order to a sole source.
  • Capital equipment requests of $25,000 and above are entered by the department and sent through Workflow.
  • Capital equipment acquisitions ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000 must be sent to the Board of Regents Executive Director for review and approval.
  • Capital equipment acquisitions greater than $1,000,000 require placement on the Board of Regents docket for review and approval.

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b. Ensuring a Rea​sonable Price for Purchases

Purchase prices must be considered reasonable. This can be accomplished and documented in several ways, such as:  

  • A comparison to the catalog price.
  • A comparison to the previous order price.
  • A competitive bidding process with other suppliers.
  • A comparison to prices offered to other institutions.

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c. Encumbering Fund​s for Purchases

Encumbering funds to purchase services, supplies, and equipment can be accomplished only by submitting an approved requisition to the Purchasing Department. When a decision concerning the price and vendor has been made, the Purchasing Agent will approve an electronic purchase order, and the purchase order will be written. The total amount of the order is then encumbered according to its distribution on corresponding Master File Keys (MFKs, or accounts).  

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d. Procedures, Policy, and Process for Purchasing Professional Services

When a department has determined the need for professional or consultant services, the general process for acquiring such services is as follows:  

  • Determine the necessary vendor requirements/qualifications.
  • Determine the scope of services to be provided and time-frame.
  • Identify selected vendors providing this service, conducting an initial screening.
  • Request proposals from qualified vendors.
  • Review the proposals received in response, comparing cost, ability to meet the requirements, timing, qualifications, experience, additional value-added services, etc. to identify the vendor of choice.
  • Once the professional or consulting service has been rendered, evaluate the vendor's performance.

All fees for professional or consultant costs are reviewed and paid through University of Iowa Accounts Payable.

To accommodate emergency procurements requiring a sole source, the above-described process is modified with appropriate supporting documentation.

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e. Procedures, Policy, and Process for Purchasing Supplies, Goods, and Materials

Please refer to the detailed Purchasing Department information and guidelines, available through the Purchasing Department or by contacting the Department at 335-0115.

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f. Purchasing-Card Program

The University of Iowa Procurement Card is a primary vehicle for low-dollar transactions of up to $5,000. Procurement cards are issued to a department under an individual staff member’s name, with the agreement to observe specific rules and procedures. When those rules and procedures are followed, the University shares the P-Card financial responsibility and risk with departments.

For additional information, please refer to the Procurement Card web page.

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g. Purchasing Animals

All animals used in research, teaching, and training are purchased through the University of Iowa's Office of Animal Resources. In order to purchase animals, the project's Principal Investigator must submit an Animal Protocol (AP) form for review and approval through the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Once approved, the PI may order those species, and only those species, approved under the specific AP. The University also notes the number of animals approved under each AP, and monitors for adherence to that number. Unless the PI amends the AP, the investigator may order only the approved number of animals during the approval period -- i.e., over a maximum of three years.

For additional information, please e-mail

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