Purchasing General Guidelines

Before you make any type of purchase on behalf of the university, there are several guidelines you should review and questions to ask. 

Is the Purchase Appropriate?

University credit, purchasing power and facilities have been granted to you to make purchases for official business use only (PPM 350-10). Always ask if the purchase is necessary, appropriate for the business need, and if there is existing equipment/supplies that would meet the need. The purchase of personal items with university funds is never appropriate.  The purchase must support one or more of the university tenets of:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Public Service
  • Patient Care (for UCD Hospital departments)

Are You Purchasing a Service?

Service purchases have specific requirements, including the requirement of ensuring the service being requested is not available from a campus service provider, also known as a covered serviceLearn more about service procurement.

Will the Purchase Support Sustainability?

When making a purchase, it is important to consider the effects on the environment. Can the purchase be avoided, by using existing items? Can an appropriate used item be purchased from AggieSurplus? When making a purchase, look for recycled content, energy-efficiency, and environmentally-sensitive packaging. Learn more.

Are There Funding Source Restrictions?

There may be restrictions on what can or cannot be purchased on certain types of accounts (i.e., federal, agency-funded). In general, if an account has more restrictive policies than the university, the more restrictive policy applies.

When in doubt about policy/process interpretation, contact the federal awarding agency; because if/when you are audited, approval of the chosen approach must be in writing from the federal granting agency.

In addition, some funding sources may require that purchases are made from certain types of suppliers; refer to the Selecting a Supplier page for more information.

Non-compliance with funding restrictions can result in:
  • Negative audit findings
  • Negative publicity – w/suppliers and larger community
  • Loss of funding

What is the Dollar Amount?  Small Business First for $10K to $250K Purchases

The UC Small Business First program requires formal consideration of a certified Small Business (SB) or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) for purchases from $10K to $250K, unless your purchase contains one or more identified exemptions. See the Purchasing Instructions for Small Business First web page.

Is The Item Available in AggieBuy?

AggieBuy features more than 45 supplier catalogs selling supplies AND capital assets at and above $5K at the lowest overall cost, utilizing university agreements. Lowest overall cost is more than just the price of the item - it includes the cost of time spent issuing the order, traveling to get the item, processing the invoice(s) for payment, etc.   Sometimes the sale price in AggieBuy may be higher than what you see elsewhere, but keep in mind that AggieBuy purchases often include free or reduced shipping costs, and more generous warranty and return terms than found elsewhere.

If using AggieBuy, the Small Business First requirements for purchases from $10K to $250K do not apply.

Is There an Agreement Available?

University agreements have been competitively bid with outside suppliers and generally offer favorable pricing and terms. Using AggieBuy ensures that you are getting the university agreement pricing.  Whenever possible, an existing purchase agreement should be used. Refer to this agreement guide for information on why agreements are beneficial and how to use them in AggieBuy, KFS, and with your Procurement Card.  Also, refer to the University of California agreement resource for more agreements available for your use.

There also may be situations where your department regularly purchases a particular good or service not covered under an existing university agreement, and a blanket order may be set up for your department for those purchases. Blanket orders are generally established for long-term procurement of goods and services for a period of a year or longer. The establishment of a blanket order can save departments money as it can protect against fluctuating prices.  Blanket orders are established on a KFS Requisition document.

If citing and using a university agreement, the Small Business First requirements for purchases from $10K to $250K do not apply.

Selecting a Supplier

If you can't find what you are looking for in AggieBuy, or from one of the suppliers with which we have an agreement, you may need to choose an alternate supplier.

For purchases from $10K to $250K, you may also be required to use a certified small business, as part of the UC Small Business First program

Learn more about selecting a supplier.

Are There Insurance Requirements?

Any service to be physically provided on the main Davis campus service requires that the supplier have appropriate insurance. If this applies to your transaction, it pays to be prepared. Learn more.

Accessibility Considerations

The university is committed to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, also referred to as the ADA. With every purchase it is important to consider options that can accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities, as well as those using assistive technologies (e.g., screen readers). This includes, but is not limited to, office equipment, computers, software, and video and multimedia products.

For example, visual aids for classroom instruction that provide closed captioning for the deaf or hearing impaired would be a more appropriate and accessible purchase than those that do not have this option.

Purchasing accessible equipment, supplies, and services is important for ensuring an inclusive environment, can increase your audience impact, is often legally-required, and is the right thing to do!

Refer to the UC Guidelines for Purchasing Accessible IT Products or Services guide for more information to consider when purchasing computers, software, and related products.

Is a Trade-In Involved?

A trade-in situation occurs when an outside supplier offers a discount to the university for the trade-in of an existing university supply item or capital asset. For example, a supplier may offer a discount to a department on a new centrifuge if they trade-in an existing centrifuge.

A trade-in must be cited and properly documented on a KFS Requisition, following the online instructionsA trade-in is not to occur in AggieBuy or on a Procurement Card transaction.

Any time a trade-in is cited on a KFS Requisition, it will require review and approval by Equipment Management and Procurement & Contracting Services.  Equipment Management will ensure that there is nothing prohibiting the trade-in, such as funding that requires the return of the item to the funding agency at the end of a contract or grant. 

The trade-in is NOT to occur with the outside supplier until the Requisition has been fully reviewed and approved, and the resulting Purchase Order issued. 

Is There a Reduced Tax Possibility?

Some purchases may be eligible for a reduced tax, including:

Before completing a purchase document for a purchase that you believe may be eligible for reduced tax, we recommend contacting UC Davis Tax Reporting & Compliance at afs-trcmail@ucdavis.edu for guidance.

Get the Best Price

For every purchase you want to ensure that you are paying the best overall price for the item.

  • In general, you will get the best overall price using AggieBuy or a university agreement.
  • If you cannot purchase from AggieBuy, or other agreement vendors, a price justification for the purchase should be documented.

Export Compliance 

Are you purchasing items to be used outside of the U.S.?  Purchase requests may involve items or equipment that are classified or controlled by the US Government.  Prior to acquisition, these requests will undergo further review by campus export control authorities to ensure compliance.  Among other things, these federal laws may prohibit the purchase/possession of these items and/or require a federal license for use and access by persons who are not citizens of the United States. In addition, federal licensing or other controls may be required when these items are shipped, transferred, or disposed of.  

How to Buy

Now that you have selected a supplier, and shopped for a good price, you have several options for how to make the purchase. Use our HOW TO: Buy page to guide you.