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Effective: 04/29/16 Approved By: Sr. Associate Vice President for Financial Affairs and Deputy CFO
Revised: 09/01/17
For Assistance Contact: Director of Purchasing


To provide an overview of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) purchasing process. This guideline applies to UTSA employees who participate in the purchase of goods and services for their departments. It is not intended to be a technical manual for Purchasing Department personnel.


UTS159 requires the primary procurement officer of each institution and System Administration to promulgate procedures to facilitate and expedite the purchasing function.

NOTE: UTSA has accepted the three-year grace period for the Uniform Guidance procurement requirements of t2CFR200.ecfr (2 CFR 200). Under this three-year grace period UTSA will adhere to the old standard (gov.omb.a110) for three full fiscal years after the effective date of the Uniform Guidance. For UTSA this grace period will end on August 31, 2018.

University Guidelines

Table of Contents
  1. Overview
  2. Purchasing Ethics
  3. Best Value Procurement
  4. Establishing Contractual Relationships
  5. Competitive Procurement Thresholds and Requirements
  6. Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program
  7. Preferences
  8. Purchases with Specific Requirements
  9. Use of Group Purchasing Organizations and Cooperatives
    1. State Contracts
    2. Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs)
  10. Exceptions to Requirement for Competitive Procurement Soliciations
    1. Exclusive Acquisition and Sole Brand Purchases
    2. Emergency Purchases
    3. Exempt Purchases
  11. Contracts
  12. Purchases from Employees
  13. Purchasing Process
  14. Receipt of Goods and Services
  15. Resources

A. Overview

UTSA administers the procurement (purchasing) process in accordance with:
  • best value principles
  • applicable laws and regulations
  • bor.home.ut
  • UTSA policies and procedures including Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) requirements
  • ethical standards of conduct
  • sound business practices

All procurements exceeding the competitive procurement threshold (see Competitive Procurement Thresholds and Requirements) must be handled by the official purchasing agents to whom this authority has been delegated by the President. Certain procurements, such as those listed in Section E, may require involvement or approval of the Purchasing Office regardless of value. For more information on delegation see bor.10501. Upon completion of training prescribed by the Purchasing Office, UTSA departments may be delegated the authority to complete procurements under the competitive procurement threshold. Procurements cannot be spit to avoid the threshold.

B. Purchasing Ethics

UTSA is committed to maintaining ethical business practices, both as an institution and as individual employees. Some examples of upholding high ethical standards in purchasing include (but are not limited to):
  • Serving the best interest of UTSA, UT System, and the State
  • Knowing and upholding laws, regulations, and policies governing purchasing
  • Not accepting personal gifts or gratuities that might in any way result in an obligation to individuals or firms seeking business
  • Obtaining maximum value for each dollar of expenditure
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Avoiding acts which are improper or give the appearance of impropriety
  • Not disclosing confidential information

For more information see UT Systemwide Policy UTS134; HOP4.31; and HOP4.01

C. Best Value Procurement

UTSA conducts all purchasing activities in a manner that ensures that each purchase of goods or services provides the “best value” to UTSA. “Best value” means the optimum combination of economy and quality that is the result of fair, efficient, and practical procurement decision making that achieves UTSA's purchasing objectives.

The following factors are considered when determining best value:
  • purchase price
  • reputation of the vendor and of the vendor's goods or services
  • quality of the vendor's goods or services
  • extent to which the goods or services meet UTSA's needs
  • vendor's past relationship with UTSA
  • impact on the ability of UTSA to comply with the laws and rules relating to the HUB program and to the procurement of goods and services from persons with disabilities
  • long-term total cost to UTSA of acquiring the vendor's goods or services
  • the purchase of sustainable products and services when applicable
  • any relevant factor that a private business entity would consider in selecting a vendor
  • the use of material in construction or repair to real property that is not proprietary to a single vendor unless written justification is provided in the request for bids for use of the unique material specified

For more information see TexEd.Ch51.9335.

D. Establishing Contractual Relationships

User departments should always establish a contractual relationship with a vendor prior to receiving any goods or services from the vendor. This contractual relationship can be established through the use of an approved purchase order (PO), an authorized Procard transaction, or a formal contract signed by a UTSA authorized signer and the vendor.

Payments to vendors will be made only with a properly completed PO, an authorized Procard transaction, or an authorized contract.

If a user department receives goods or services without first using the methods described above, the department will be required to complete the Service Agreement process or another similar contracting process, to include securing all necessary approvals and supporting documentation. The template Service Agreement and routing instructions for completing the Service Agreement are located on the Business Contracts Office website. The Vice President for Business Affairs (VPBA) office will document these Service Agreements and other contracts for goods or services received prior to the date of the agreement for possible reporting to appropriate executive offices.

Contact the Business Contracts Office if your department requires assistance with the contracting process or the Service Agreement.

NOTE: User departments are not authorized to use a Procard for any purchase exceeding $5,000, or to issue a PO equal to or greater than $15,000, neither are they authorized to issue a contract other than a PO in any amount. All requests for goods and services equal to or greater than $15,000 must be submitted to Purchasing to comply with competitive procurement requirements. Orders may not be split into smaller purchases in an effort to avoid the competitive procurement threshold.

E. Competitive Procurement Thresholds and Requirements

Orders of less than $15,000 may be processed by the user department, and should not be sent to Purchasing unless the order involves:
  • Controlled substances
  • Hazardous substances
  • Radioactive materials
  • Real estate leases (space)
  • Anything requiring a signature (other than the cardholder's signature for Procard purchases).

Contact a Procurement Specialist for guidance on purchasing these items. For specific limits and restrictions regarding the use of Procards see fmog.0703.utsa.

Below is a summary of procedures based on purchase amounts:
Dollar Range Procedure
$0 to $14,999.99 Processed by user department via requisition or Procard purchase (certain purchases up to $5,000 are eligible for Procard: see fmog.0703.utsa for requirements and restrictions). Bids not required but a firm quote must be obtained from the vendor. Use HUBs when available.
$15,000.00 to $50,000.00
(Informal Bids, Quotes)
Purchasing must oversee the procurement process and complete the Purchase Order. Purchasing selects the appropriate procurement method to include (i) a competitive solicitation requesting quotes from a minimum of three possible providers, with at least two requests solicited to HUBs if available; (ii) Exclusive Acquisition; or (iii) Group Purchase.
$50,000.01 +
(Formal Procurement Solicitations)
Purchasing must oversee the procurement process and complete the Purchase Order. Purchasing selects the appropriate procurement method to include (i) a competitive solicitation requesting formal written responses from a minimum of three possible providers, with at least two requests solicited to HUBs if available; (ii) Exclusive Acquisition; or (iii) Group Purchase.

NOTE: Orders may not be split into smaller purchases in an effort to avoid the competitive procurement threshold.

F. Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program

UTSA is committed to a good faith effort to increase purchases from and contract awards to HUB firms consistent with the State of Texas goals for HUB participation and overall economic development.

The HUB.ut.web defines Historically Underutilized Business as a corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership or a joint venture formed for the purpose of making a profit in which at least 51 percent ownership of the business is by a woman, minority and/or service-disabled veteran. To be designated as a HUB through the Texas Statewide HUB Program, vendors must complete the HUB Certification Application located at TexComp.web website.

All UTSA employees who make purchases using UTSA funds or influence such purchases must be aware of the program and participate in UTSA's good faith effort to provide opportunities for HUB participation.

With limited exceptions, purchases to a vendor for goods or services with an expected value of $100,000 or more require the vendor to provide a HUB Subcontracting Plan documenting that the vendor (1) has utilized its best efforts to select HUBs as subcontractors and will use the documented subcontractors in completion of the purchase; or (2) will perform all services under the purchase without subcontracting.

For more information on HUB requirements see HOP9.26, the UTSA HUB website, the brochure Doing Business with UTSA, and Section 2.20 of the TexComp.PCMG.

G. Preferences

As an agency of the State of Texas and as a public institution of higher education, UTSA has a responsibility to support matters of public policy. Following are some examples of products and suppliers that should be considered when selecting a vendor/product.

Recycled/Remanufactured Products

Whenever possible, Purchasing will specify recycled/remanufactured products or their use.

Texas Institute for the Blind and Handicapped (TIBH)

User departments are encouraged to check the TIBH.web for available products. TIBH products and services should be purchased except when delivery time, price, failure to meet specifications, or other factors do not support best value. 

For more examples of preferences see TexComp.GenPrefs website.

H. Purchases with Specific Requirements

  • State funds: No food, drink, entertainment, or floral arrangements.
  • Memberships: Memberships paid with state funds require approval of the VPBA.
  • Federal funds: Purchase requests for goods and services using federal funds (Funds 5100 – 5499) must be routed for approval through the Office of Sponsored Project Administration or the applicable Research Service Center to ensure compliance with federal requirements.
  • Animals: Live animal orders must have prior approval by the Laboratory Animals Resources Center.
  • Vehicles: Vehicle purchases must have the prior approval of the UTSA Fleet Manager.
  • Advertisements for faculty/staff positions: These advertisements require approval by Human Resources.
  • Temporaries: require approval by Human Resources.
  • Laser equipment: Requires oversight by Environmental, Health, Safety, and Risk Management.
  • Purchases of $100,000 or more: Requires HUB Subcontracting Plan.
  • Information technology purchases: Must be routed through the Office of Information Technology.
  • Professional services (e.g., accounting, architecture, engineering): Contact Purchasing.
  • Construction services: See Contracts.
  • Purchases from foreign suppliers: Contact Purchasing.
  • Purchases from employees: See Purchases from Employees.


I.  Use of Group Purchasing Organizations and Cooperatives

Group Purchasing Cooperatives and Organizations (GPOs) are entities that establish procurement contracts on behalf of and for use by the Cooperative members. GPOs typically establish these contracts by using various levels of competitive procurement processes. GPOs typically secure significant volume discounts by taking advantage of the consolidated purchasing power of the GPO's members. Use of GPOs will generally expedite the procurement review process, and (depending upon the GPO) may eliminate the requirement to secure formal written bids when ordering through them. However, with the exception of contracts procured by the University of Texas System Supply Chain Alliance (see below), group purchases equal to or greater than $15,000 require valid quotations from contracted suppliers in order to identify “best value.” The number of quotations required varies according to the state agency or GPO; the purchase amount; and the number of contracted suppliers in each category. Contact a Procurement Specialist for assistance.
1. State Contracts

State contracts should be used if they represent the best value. A purchase request should be sent to Purchasing and a state contract PO will be issued if required. A typical contract term lasts one year. During that time the price of the item is expected to remain firm. The contract price is available to all Texas state agencies.

Examples of state contract sources include, but are not limited to:
  • TxSmartBuy.web
    Index of competitively awarded term contracts with related terms and conditions, items, pricing and awarded vendors – purchased through the TxSmartBuy Ordering System.
  • TxMAS.web
    TXMAS is maintained by the Texas Statewide Procurement Division (SPD). These contracts have been developed from contracts awarded competitively by the federal government or any other governmental entity of any state.
  • TxDIR.web
    DIR is an agency of the State of Texas responsible for negotiating volume purchase agreements for products and services related to information technology.
  • Managed Term Contracts
    Index of competitively awarded managed term contracts established for unique items for specific entities or distinct ordering processes. Includes several Strategic Sourcing and CCG contracts.
2. Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs)
Following are some examples of GPOs:
  • The SCA.ut
    The Alliance was established to leverage the collective size and strength of the UT System institutions through cooperative purchasing.
  • Premier, Inc.
    Premier focuses primarily on items required by healthcare organizations.
  • Educational & Institutional Cooperative (E&I)

E&I is a not-for-profit buying cooperative which provides goods and services to its members at the best possible value. The Cooperative is owned by its membership of more than 1,500 tax-exempt colleges, universities, prep schools, hospitals, medical research institutions and hospital purchasing organizations located throughout the United States.

J. Exceptions to Requirements for Competitive Procurement Solicitations

1. Exclusive Acquisition and Sole Brand Purchases
An exclusive acquisition purchase is a purchase of goods or services that are available from only one source, such as:
  • items that are available from only one source because of patents, copyrights, secret processes, or natural monopolies
  • films, manuscripts, or books published and available from only one source
  • electricity, gas, water and other utility services
  • captive replacement parts (equipment-specific parts)
  • maintenance services required to maintain warranty coverage

A sole brand purchase is a purchase of goods or services of a particular brand that may be available from multiple sources.  A sole brand is the result of a competitive solicitation of equipment or competing brands to determine the best brand. Usually a brand is selected to standardize purchases over a period of time when an investment (such as specialized training) must be made.

If the cost of a product or service is equal to or greater than $15,000 and the purchase is limited to one manufacturer or service provider, a written justification must be provided which includes an explanation as to why competing vendors cannot satisfy the requirement for the product or service (see Exclusive Acquisition Justification Form).

NOTE : When the Alliance, DIR, E&I, Premier or TXMAS is used for a purchase, and an award has been made to only a single supplier in a given category, it is not necessary to justify the purchase as an exclusive acquisition purchase, because it is presumed that the state agency/GPO conducted a competitive procurement. If any other state agency or GPO is used, UTSA must confirm that the agency/GPO did in fact engage in a competitive procurement prior to making the award. In addition, all state agency or GPO guidelines for establishing Best Value must be followed.

2. Emergency Purchases

Conditions for an emergency purchase occur when the situation requires the agency to make a procurement more quickly in an effort to prevent hazard to life, health, safety, welfare, or property. An emergency situation is one in which normal purchasing procedures cannot be followed, but does not necessarily negate the use of competition. Competition is encouraged when possible.

When the purchase of a product or service needs to be processed on an emergency basis, the user department must provide a written justification that includes the following information:
  • The reason for the emergency purchase (describe the emergency situation and what caused it),
  • The financial or operational damage/risk to UTSA if the need is not satisfied immediately,
  • Why the need was not or could not be anticipated so that products/services could have been purchased following standard procedures, and
  • The reason and process for selecting the vendor.

Prior to the issuance of a PO for the product or service, the Emergency Purchase Justification Form must also be completed and approved.

3. Exempt Purchases
  • Purchases of publications directly from the publisher
  • Subscriptions; allowable membership fees; training conference registration fees; allowable accreditation and professional license fees and renewal fees
  • Goods purchased by UTSA for subsequent retail sale by UTSA auxiliary enterprises (e.g., items for the Institute of Texan Cultures gift shop)
  • Travel expenses reimbursed under the TexComp.TxTravel
  • Interagency cooperation agreements
  • Original existing artwork
  • Artists commissioned to complete art projects for UTSA
  • Performances by theater groups or entertainers where UTSA pays the fee for the performance
  • Museum exhibits where UTSA pays the exhibit fee
  • Demonstration and speaking fees
  • Hotels and venues for UTSA sponsored events, including development activities, when a state venue is not available
  • Allowable U.S. Postal Service postage (excluding courier and overnight delivery services)
  • Water and electric services provided by a regulated public utility, so long as those services are not deregulated
  • Allowable advertisements, including advertisements related to UTSA marketing initiatives, that are placed in written publications, on billboards, in radio or television broadcasts, and in other multimedia venues
  • Catering Services selected from UTSA's approved list of catering providers in accordance with UTSA procedures for selection of catering services
  • Library books, periodicals, subscriptions, educational databases, and other related library materials purchased by the library or on behalf of the library
  • Any other purchase expressly exempted from competitive purchasing requirements by state law, regulation, or code

K. Contracts

There are times when a PO is not sufficient, and a mutually signed contract is required to complete the purchasing process. A formal contract can only be executed by an individual who has received express written delegation from the President to sign contracts. The Business Contracts Office facilitates UTSA's business contracts processes, and provides the expertise necessary to draft, negotiate, and finalize business contracts. The Purchasing Office and Business Contracts Office will collaborate to finalize procurement contracts.

NOTE: A contract is the final phase of a purchase and must never precede the appropriate purchasing procedures.

Construction, Renovation and Facilities Contracts
All requests for physical and structural changes must be routed through the AVPFacilities.utsa (Office of Facilities) via a work order. If it is deemed necessary to contract out for these services, Facilities will issue a purchase request to Purchasing. Purchasing will then follow appropriate purchasing procedures as well as the requirements outlined by the OGC.ut.web.

L. Purchases from Employees

UTS159 states that purchase from, or sale to, any employee of UT System Administration or institutions must have the prior approval of the chief administrative officer of the institution, and such purchases may be made only if the cost is less than from any other known source.

M. Purchasing Process

All purchases

To begin the purchasing process, user departments:
  • Determine functional specifications, requirements and specific quantities for goods and/or services needed.
  • Calculate the estimated total dollar amount of the purchase for budgeting purposes. (UTSA purchases are exempt from state sales tax).
  • Determine the source of funds (local, gift, grant, etc.) and assign a chartfield string for the purchase transaction (see fmog.0301.utsa).
  • For local funds and Procard purchases over $500, verify the vendor's hold status by using TxVendor.HoldSearch. Vendors whose status is on hold with the State are ineligible to sell goods or services to state agencies.
  • NOTE: Vendor status is automatically verified for purchases made with state funds.

    • Initiate the purchase process (requisition, Procard or other appropriate method).

    For more information on the purchasing process see the Rowdy Exchange training website.

    Purchases less than $15,000

    Purchases of a small dollar amount (less than $15,000) are generally made by the user department using one of these methods:
    • Entering a requisition in Rowdy Exchange. Small dollar requisitions entered in Rowdy Exchange are electronically routed for approval, and upon approval they are automatically converted to POs. Bids are not required, however competition is encouraged and the department must have a firm quote from the vendor before entering the requisition. For orders over $500 a written quotation from the vendor is highly recommended.

      See Competitive Procurement Thresholds and Requirements for exceptions that may require Purchasing involvement. For assistance with these types of purchases contact a Procurement Specialist.
    • Using a Procard (purchases up to $5,000 that are eligible for Procard). For guidance on eligible purchases and other information on using Procards, see fmog.0703.utsa.

    Purchases equal to or greater than $15,000

    Purchases equal to or greater than $15,000 require specialized knowledge and training and must be processed by Purchasing (See Competitive Procurement Thresholds and Requirements). For assistance with these purchases contact a Procurement Specialist.

    N. Receipt of Goods and Services

    When goods or services are received, a receiving report is generally created. The report is created by Central Receiving or the user department, depending on the delivery location. Unless included in the exceptions below, a receiving report must be issued in order to pay for goods or services received under a PO, as it serves as verification that the goods or services were received as ordered.

    The following types of purchases do not require a receiving report, regardless of whether the delivery is made directly to the user department or through Central Receiving:
    • POs setup as "Amount Only," indicating a service which cannot be tangilby received;
    • Procard purchases
    • Purchases through Rowdy Exchange that meet all of the following criteria:
      • Less than $5,000
      • Not purchased with state or federal funds
      • Not a purchase for the following items:
        • Capital assets
        • Controlled property
        • Chemicals and gases
        • Animals
        • Firearms

    Shipments Delivered to Central Receiving

    Upon receiving a shipment, when required - Central Receiving creates a receiving report and delivers the shipment to the user department within two business days of receipt unless the items require special handling.

    If a return is necessary, the user department must return the merchandise to Central Receiving in its original packaging.

    If Central Receiving receives a shipment with no information associating the shipment with a PO, Central Receiving will generally assume that the delivery is based on a Procard order, and will not issue a receiving report. If the shipment is related to a purchase order, the user department must notify Central Receiving and request a receiving report. The request must include:
    • PO number,
    • date received,
    • what was received, and
    • name of the individual who received the shipment.

    Because the requested receiving report serves as documentation for payment to the vendor, a department's failure to promptly send this request to Central Receiving may delay payment to the vendor and result in interest being charged to the department.

    Shipments Delivered Directly to User Department

    When goods or services are received directly by the user department, the department must verify the accuracy of the delivery. If the delivery is accurate and a receipt is required, the department creates a receiving report in Rowdy Exchange. For more information see the Rowdy Exchange training website.

    Because the receiving report serves as documentation for payment to the vendor, a department's failure to promptly create the report may delay payment to the vendor and result in interest being charged to the department.

    If a department believes payment should be withheld based on an incorrect delivery or invoice, the department should not issue a receiving report. In this case the department should submit a Vendor Dispute Form to Disbursements and Travel Services.

    Departments should attempt to have all Procard purchases delivered directly to the department. For more information on Procards see fmog.0703.utsa.

    See the Central Receiving website for more information on receiving procedures.

    O. Resources

    UTSA employees are encouraged to take advantage of the following resources for assistance with the purchasing process:
    1. Training
    2. Other Rowdy Exchange Resources
    3. UTSA Contracts Management Handbook
    4. UTSA Preferred Suppliers
      This is centralized resource for faculty and staff with direct links to goods and services that support UTSA's best value purchasing policy.
    5. Procurement Specialists
      Procurement Specialists are available for assistance with the purchasing process. The Purchasing website includes a listing of Procurement Specialist assignments that can be used to find the specialist assigned to your department or division.

    Related Forms

    1. Emergency Purchase Justification
    2. Exclusive Acquisition Justification
    3. Removal of Equipment

    Revision History

    None at this time.