III. The Purchasing of Goods and Services

Through the Procurement and Travel Services Department

The GW Procurement and Travel Services Department is the responsible oversight area for the purchase of goods and services for university purposes. The Procurement Department is established to secure goods and services in a manner that is cost effective and efficient, compliant with applicable law, and utilizes formal solicitation where required or appropriate. Procurement assists the university community in obtaining goods and services that meet requested specifications. They also:

  • Negotiate contracts with preferred contractors for items and services at cost-effective prices
  • Manage the university’s systems and tools for purchasing goods and services, including iBuy+ Goods & Services, Purchase Orders, and use of P-Cards
  • Assist in a Competitive Solicitation Process when required for a purchase
  • Review all necessary paperwork so that contractors are registered properly with the university in order for them to be paid in a timely fashion
  • Issue Purchase Orders
  • Manage the Expense reimbursement process

Table 1 Procurement Options at GW presents the four (4) methods of Procurement available to the university community. Checking to see whether a good or a service can be obtained through a preferred supplier should always be considered first. If the good or service is not available through a contracted supplier, a P-Card may be used for standard purchases that are less than $3,500, as well as for purchases in higher amounts with established/existing contracts. If the desired purchase is not available through a iBuy+ contracted supplier and not possible with a P-Card, the competitive solicitation process must be used. These methods, as well as sole-source selection, are further discussed on the following pages.

Contacting Procurement once a need is identified will help to ensure that a purchase is made in accordance with the university's policies and guidelines and will be defensible upon audit. Procurement can be reached at (202) 994-2500 or by e-mail, [email protected].

Check out the Glossary of Procurement Terms later in this section to learn more about the Procurement terminology.

Table 1: Procurement Options at GW

GW iBuy+ Contracted Suppliers: Is the product or service available through iBuy+ Goods and Services or iBuy Travel? Is it on Procurement’s group of university-wide suppliers
P-Card The Procurement Card (P-Card) can be used for approved purchases of goods and services under $3,500.  Any written contract related to a P-Card purchase must be properly reviewed and signed by an authorized signatory
 
Get a Quote! Competitive Solicitation: Competitive solicitation is required before a contractor can be selected for the majority of purchases over $25,000 using university or non-federal research funds.  Solicitations may be in the forms of a quote (formal or informal), bid, or request for proposal.  For Federal funds, the process is a bit more detailed and it is suggested that you contact Procurement for additional terms and requirements prior to engaging a supplier.
Appendix A: Competitive Exemption List Sole Source Selection: If a good or service is on the Competitive Exemption List (and is not federally funded), a responsible university office may select a contractor with no competition, and the purchase may be paid by P-Card or via Payment Request form. Sole source selection is also used in rare situations when restriction of competition can be adequately justified.
 

University-wide Contracts

Procurement manages the agreements for goods and services needed by many schools and divisions and monitors the utilization of those contracts. Many items needed by university offices can be acquired through these existing contracts. By using the university’s contracted suppliers, better prices can be obtained and less paperwork is required. The following is a list of systems and tools available to the university community for obtaining goods and services through Procurement’s University-wide contracts. iBuy+ for Goods and Services is the preferred purchasing method.

iBuy+ for Goods and Services provides an online marketplace for the acquisition of goods and services. Inside the i-Buy marketplace, shoppers will find punch-outs to contracted supplier websites where purchases can be made with a university p- card. iBuy+ facilitates the quick acquisition of the items faculty, staff and researchers need in their day-to-day work. The following are some of the items available through iBuy+ Goods and Services:

  • Office supplies, including stationery and business cards
  • Computer hardware and supplies
  • Lab and scientific supplies
  • Maintenance, repair, and operations supplies
  • Office furniture and more

iBuy+ Travel. Procurement also provides access to Travel and Expense systems through the GW iBuy+ Travel website. The Travel Services office as well as GW’s contract travel agents are available to help book travel and take advantage of the university’s negotiated travel agreements. More information on booking travel at GW can be found at the Travel Services website.

Other Contracted Suppliers. For some goods and services not available through iBuy+, Procurement has negotiated contracts and established an easy ordering process. Purchasing these products through these suppliers minimizes paperwork, improves service, and maximizes the university’s buying power.

Information and ordering instructions for the following products can be found with the university’s “Best Value” suppliers on the Procurement website.

  • Bottled and Filtered Water Services
  • Shipping services such as UPS and FedEx
  • Temporary Staffing Firms
  • Catering
  • Document Shredding Services and more

Central Cell Phone Program. Procurement also has agreements with mobile phone providers to obtain cell phone devices and service at a reduced cost. More information on purchasing mobile phones can be found at the GW Cell Phone Program on the Procurement website. The university’s discounts also extend to personal use of mobile phones and devices.

P-Card

The university’s procurement credit card (P-Card) may be used for standard purchases that are under $3,500. P-Cards are assigned by the university to specific individuals. They can be used for the payment of goods and services found in iBuy+ Goods and Services as well as anywhere credit cards are accepted. Please refer to the Procurement Card (P-Card) policy for basic guidance and information for the P- Card program. The policy identifies what can be purchased with a P-Card and who can use the P-Card.

More information on P-Card usage can be found at the Procurement website.

Competitive Solicitation Process

If a desired purchase is not available through a contract within iBuy+, not possible by use of a P-Card, and/or not on the competitive exemption list, the competitive solicitation process must be utilized. Oftentimes, the Procurement Department can be utilized to help with this process.  The following questions should be asked to help to determine the necessary process to follow.

The Competitive Exemption List is a list of goods or services that, due to their specialized nature, do not require following a competitive solicitation process. Examples of items on this list include: advertising, legal services, subscriptions, and memberships. A full list of exempted items is included in Appendix A of this Guide. FEDERAL FUNDED PURCHASES THAT APPEAR ON THIS LIST ARE NEVER EXEMPT FROM COMPETITION. 

Question 1: Is this purchase funded by federal contracts or grants?

  • Yes – For all purchases over $3,500 on federal contracts or in excess of $10,000 on federal grants or cooperative agreements, three (3) written quotes are required by requestor or Procurement.  Formal solicitations are required at $150,000 on federal contracts and at $250,000 for federal grants and cooperative agreements.  Because of the need for public advertisement of these opportunities, Procurement must handle the solicitation.
  • No – Proceed to Question 2  

Question 2: Is this purchase exempt from competitive solicitation?

  • Yes – Goods and services on the Competitive Exemptions List (Appendix A) are exempt from the Competitive Solicitation Process for all purchases made with University and non-Federal sponsored funds.  Proceed to Sole Source Selection section below.
  • No – Proceed to Question 3.

Question 3: What is the estimated dollar amount of the purchase?

Based on the estimated dollar amount of the purchase, the following procedures should be followed:

Table 2   - Purchases over $25,000 with University Funds or Non-Federal Sponsored Projects

PROCUREMENT GUIDELINES MATRIX

<$25,000

An informal single-quote process, although competition is encouraged.  You may initiate this process or contact Procurement to assist you.  Once a contractor is selected, send the following to Procurement via a Requisition:

  • Quote received or include a Scope of work (SOW) or Specifications in the absence of a quotation that will be incorporated as part of the PO to create a contract between GW and the company. If assistance is needed in drafting these documents, please contact Procurement for samples.
  • All documents received from the selected contractor (including any contract documents)
$25,000 -$249,999
A minimum of three (3) written quotes is required and may be initiated by you or Procurement.  Once quotes are received and once a contractor is selected, send the following to Procurement via a Requisition:   
  • all quotes obtained
  • all documents received from the selected contractor (including any contract documents
  • a Supplier Selection Memo for selection decision justification, if selected contractor is not the lowest bidder
$250,000 and above

A formal solicitation solicitation process is required, in the form of an invitation to bid or a request for proposal.  Procurement must either assist with or administer the process.  Once all bids/proposals are received and the contractor selected, send the following to Procurement via Requisition: 

  •  all bids/proposals obtained
  • all documents received from the selected contractor (including any contract documents)
  • a Supplier Selection Memo, if selected contractor is not the lowest bidder or if Procurement did not conduct the solicitation (not needed if Procurement has been involved in the solicitation).
 

 

Table 3   - Purchases over $10,000 on Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreements

PROCUREMENT GUIDELINES MATRIX

<$10,000

An informal single-quote process, although competition is encouraged.  You may initiate this process or contact Procurement to assist you.  Once a contractor is selected, send the following to Procurement via a Requisition:

  • Quote received or include a Scope of work (SOW) or Specifications in the absence of a quotation that will be incorporated as part of the PO to create a contract between GW and the company. If assistance is needed in drafting these documents, please contact Procurement for samples.
  • All documents received from the selected supplier (including any contract documents)
$10,000 -$249,999
An informal quote process with a minimum of three (3) quotes is required.  You may initiate this process or contact Procurement to assist you.  Once quotes are received and a contractor is selected, send the following to Procurement via a Requisition:  
  • all quotes obtained
  • all documents received from the selected contractor (including any contract documents
  • Disadvantaged business should be included to participate whenever possible
  • A Justification &  Approval Form if selected contractor is not the lowest bidder.

If Procurement is handling the solicitation, the requisition must give clear, precise direction and specifications to the Buyer – through a completed Requirements Document Form (PDF). Procurement is happy to facilitate the solicitation process on behalf of the requesting school/department.  If you have suppliers that you would like for us to contact, please include this list as part of the requisition attachments.

Sole-Source or non-competitive awards are procurements through the solicitation of a proposal from only one source.  If an award is to be made from a single quote or proposal at this dollar level, A Justification and Approval Form must be completed along with a requirements document and/or Scope of Work.

Under Uniform Guidance, non-competitive awards may be used when one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  1. The item is available only from a single source (this must be verifiable);
  2. The public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation;
  3. The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity; or
  4. After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined inadequate after solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined inadequate
 
$250,000 and above

A  publicly advertised formal solicitation process is required, in the form of an invitation to bid or a request for proposal.  Procurement administers the process.  For further details on the formal solicitation process, please consult GW’s Procurement Manual

Under Uniform Guidance, non-competitive awards may be used when one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  1. The item is available only from a single source (this must be verifiable);
  2. The public exigency or emergency for the requirement will not permit a delay resulting from competitive solicitation;
  3. The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity; or
  4. After solicitation of a number of sources, competition is determined inadequate

Requests for sole source approval must be made to the Sponsor's Grants Officer and not to the Program Officer:

  • Independent Cost estimates as well as Cost and Price analysis is required for all awards over $700,000 (base year and option years to a contract)
  • Inclusion of disadvantaged suppliers whenever possible

Contact Procurement for specific requirements tied to your purchase to make sure that the contract is in compliance with the Sponsor’s funding requirements.

 

Table 4   - Purchases over $3,500 on Federal Contracts

PROCUREMENT GUIDELINES MATRIX

<$3,500

An informal single-quote process, although competition is encouraged.  You may initiate this process or contact Procurement to assist you.  Once a contractor is selected, send the following to Procurement via a Requisition:  

  • Quote received or include a Scope of work (SOW) or Specifications in the absence of a quotation that will be incorporated as part of the PO to create a contract between GW and the company. If assistance is needed in drafting these documents, please contact Procurement for samples.
  • All documents received from the selected contractor (including any contract documents)
$3,500 -$149,999
Purchases for services, supplies, and equipment for any item or group of similar items between $3,500 and $149,999 from federal contracts follow the procedure below. Purchases must not be split to avoid this threshold.
Three quotes are required to demonstrate competition.  If the procurement process is handled by the requesting department, a Justification and Approval Form (PDF) must be attached to the requisition documenting the process followed leading to the award.
If Procurement is handling the solicitation, a requisition in the budgeted amount of the contract, along with a completed Requirements Document (PDF) and a list of suggested sources (if known) should be sent to Procurement via EAS.
Sole-Source or non-competitive awards are procurements through the solicitation of a proposal from only one source.
In accordance with the FAR, Section 6.1, Contracts may be awarded under Other than Full and Open Competition when one or more of the following circumstances apply:
  1. When the supplies or services required are available from only one responsible source, (6.302-1)
  2. Unusual and Compelling Urgency (6.302-2)
  3. Industrial Mobilization; Engineering, Developmental, or Research Capability; or Expert Services  (6.302-3)
  4. International Agreement (6.302-4)
  5. Authorized or Required by Statute (6.302-5)
  6. National Security (6.302-6)
  7. Public Interest (6.302-7)

If an award is to be made from a single quote or proposal at this dollar level, A Justification and Approval Form (PDF) must be completed along with a Requirements Document (PDF) and/or Scope of Work.

Once quotes are received and a contractor is selected, send the following to Procurement via a Requisition:

  • must be an open solicitation- not restricted to a limited list of invitees
  • forward all quotes obtained
  • all documents received from the selected contractor (including any contract documents)
  • Disadvantaged business should be included to participate as prime or sub-contractor to prime whenever possible
  • a Justification & Approval form, if selected contractor is not the lowest bidder

Irrespective of the process followed, the above required information should be attached to a requisition within EAS (Oracle R12) and be forwarded it to Procurement for further action.  Once received, a Procurement representative will contact you with a timeline for the procurement to occur.

$150,000 and above

A purchase for services, supplies, and equipment for any item or group of similar items over $150,000 should be processed as a formal solicitation in the form of an Invitation to Bid (Bid) or Request for Proposals (RFP). Public advertisement is required by the Federal /Acquisition Regulations (FAR), as such Procurement must handle the solicitation. In order to begin this process, a requisition in the budgeted amount of the contract, along with a completed Requirements Document and a list of suggested sources (if known) should be sent to Procurement.

FAR requires detailed specifications and evaluation criteria as part of the solicitation document.

  • Independent Cost estimates as well as Cost and Price analysis is required for all awards over $700,000 (base year and option years to a contract)
  • Inclusion of disadvantaged suppliers whenever possible
  • Contact Procurement for specific requirements tied to your purchase to make sure that the contract is in compliance with the Sponsor’s funding requirements.

Sole-Source or non-competitive awards are procurements through the solicitation of a proposal from only one source.

In accordance with the FAR, Section 6.1, Contracts may be awarded under Other than Full and Open Competition when one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  1. When the supplies or services required are available from only one responsible source, (6.302-1)
  2. Unusual and Compelling Urgency (6.302-2)
  3. Industrial Mobilization; Engineering, Developmental, or Research Capability; or Expert Services (6.302-3) 
  4. International Agreement (6.302-4)
  5. Authorized or Required by Statute (6.302-5)
  6. National Security (6.302-6)
  7. Public Interest (6.302-7)

If an award is to be made from a single quote or proposal at this dollar level, A Justification and Approval Form (PDF) must be completed along with a requirements document and/or Scope of Work.

 

Review of Contract Documents: All third-party contracts handled by Procurement must be reviewed by OGC and Risk Management and Insurance, as appropriate.

If the responsible university office has initiated these reviews prior to submitting the online requisition to Procurement, include evidence of review and approval from the respective offices. If the contract documents have not yet been reviewed, be sure to indicate that and Procurement will ensure the contract is appropriately reviewed and executed.

 

Sole Source Selection

For certain purchases over $3,500, a contractor can be selected without utilizing competition.

Goods and services on the Competitive Exemption List that are funded by university and/or non-federal sponsors (see Appendix A) are exempt from the Competitive Solicitation Process.  This means a responsible university office may choose a contractor and the purchase may be paid by P-Card, Purchase Order or via Payment Request Form (PDF) through University Payables.  Sponsored projects must always be placed on a Purchase Order per the Office of the Vice President of Research.  Furthermore, unless requested by the responsible university office, Procurement needs not be involved in these acquisitions (except to register contractors, via a new supplier registration or for contract review and execution as needed).  If the purchase involves a written contract, the Contract Review and Approval Process with the Office of General Counsel must be followed (see Section V. Contract Review and Approval Process with the Office of General Counsel).

In other rare situations when a contractor is identified without use of the competitive solicitation process, the responsible university office must complete a Supplier Selection Memo (PDF) for university and non-federal funds, and a Justification and Approval (J&A) form (PDF), for federally funded purchases.  These documents should be sent on a requisition within EAS (Oracle R12) for approval by Procurement prior to payment processing.

Supplier Registration

Once a contractor is identified – through competitive solicitation or sole source selection, the contractor must register with the university in order to receive payment for goods or services.

Instructions related to registering a contractor can be found at the new supplier registration site on the Procurement website. 

Glossary of Procurement Terms

For additional information on the procurement process please refer to the Procurement Department’s website.

  • Competitive Solicitation Process: A formal process providing an equal and open opportunity to qualified parties and culminating in a selection based on submitted documentation and established criteria.  At GW, the Competitive Solicitation Process may be achieved through the issuance of an invitation to bid or a request for proposals. 
  • Formal Solicitation: A formal invitation (publicly advertised if federally funded) to receive pricing or proposals, in the form of a request for proposal or an invitation to bid.
  • Invitation to Bid: A formal bid solicitation document that is used when (1) the estimated value of the requirement exceeds the threshold for formal bidding (See Table 2 & 3 above depending on funding source); (2) two or more sources are considered able of supplying the requirement; (3) the requirement is adequately defined in all respects to permit the evaluation of bid against clearly stated criteria; and (4) bids can be submitted on a common pricing basis. An Invitation to Bid is intended to accept the lowest-priced responsive bid without negotiations.
  • Justification and Approval (J&A): A federal form required to justify the selection of a contractor when using federal funds in an amount greater than $3,500 from a federal contract or in excess of $10,000 if funded by federal grants and cooperative agreements, where the responsible university office does not utilize an informal or formal solicitation process (i.e., obtaining quotes or sending out an invitation for bid or request for proposals), when the selected contractor is not the lowest bidder or when contractor/award was explicitly approved by the sponsoring agency.  The form requires a rationale for omitting the solicitation process.  It is submitted to the Procurement Department through the online requisition for approval.
  • Purchase Order (PO): A document issued by GW (the buyer) to a contractor, authorizing a purchase.  It includes the terms and conditions that will govern the purchase and describes the purchase quantity and price. After a Requisition is approved by Procurement, Procurement issues a PO to the contractor. 
  • Quote: An offer by a contractor for the sale of a good or service. An informal quote can be verbal (received by phone and documented in the requisition) or written.  A formal quote must be received in writing from the contractor.  Quotes are requested so that the university can get the best price and quality.
  • Request for Proposal: A request for proposal (sometimes known as a “RFP”) is used to solicit proposals from potential contractors for goods and services. Unlike the invitation to bid, price is usually not a primary evaluation factor when a RFP is used.  A RFP provides for the negotiation of all terms, including price, prior to contract award.  It may include a provision for the negotiation of best and final offers.  Use of RFPs can be a single-step or multi-step process.
  • Requisition: A written request for an authorized purchase. GW requires submission of a Requisition for the purchase of most goods and services.  If not generated automatically (i.e., through iBuy Goods and Services), Requisitions are created using Enterprise Accounting Services (EAS).   Procurement reviews the choice of contractor to ensure it is not in conflict with an existing contract with a preferred contractor. Instructions are available on how to create a Requisition using EAS, both for alias based (PDF) and PTA based (PDF) requisitions.
  • Requirements Document:  Documentation relating to a procurement – such as a specification or scope of work – that describes the good or service to be procured.  The requirements document is used to solicit responses (bids or proposals) from contractors.
  • Scope of Work (SOW): This is a written description of the contractual requirements for the materials and services contained within a Request for Proposal.  The SOW can be compared to the specifications required for an invitation to bid.  A scope of work should not be confused with a “statement of work” (defined in this Guide under Section IX “Common Types of Contract Documents”), which is a formal document that details the work, deliverables, locations, timelines, pricing, and other requirements of a contractor in performing specific work. 
  • Specifications: A precise description of the physical or functional characteristics of a product, good or construction item.  A description of goods as opposed to a description of services.  A description of what the purchaser seeks to buy and what a bidder must be responsive to in order to be considered for an award of a contract. 
  • Supplier Selection Memo (SSM): A form required to justify the selection of a contractor when spending university or non-federal sponsored funds when the expenditure is $25,000 or more, where the responsible university office does not utilize an informal or formal solicitation process (i.e., obtaining quotes or sending out an invitation for bid or request for proposals) or when the selected contractor is not the lowest bidder.