Policies and Procedures

Bid policy

Statement of Policy

The bid policy outlines the limits set by the University at which purchasing decisions can be made and executed within the department and when the purchasing department is engaged.

Summary of Contents and Major Changes

This policy has been revised to fit the proscribed University Policy format and to update the lower bid limit to reflect the current economy, increase efficiency and be more in line with the University's peer institutions.


Purchases up to $5,000

  • Departments may make purchasing decisions up to $5000 without the involvement of the purchasing department. No purchase order is required.
  • Departments may purchase through use of the University Procurement card. See Procurement Card policy for details.  For non-Procurement card purchases (e.g. vendor charges a fee to use a credit card, will not accept credit cards), invoices may be submitted directly to Accounts Payable with a completed voucher.

Purchases from $5,000 to $9,999

  • Departments are to obtain, and provide the purchasing department, at least three supplier quotations.  Purchasing department assistance with quotes is available, if needed.
  • Written, competitive bids may be obtained, if deemed necessary by the purchasing department.
  • In the event that the good or service is only available through one supplier, a Sole Source Justification Form must be completed and approved by the Purchasing Department.

Purchases from $10,000 to $249,999

  • Written, competitive bids must be obtained with the assistance of the purchasing department.
  • In the event that the good or service is only available through one supplier, a Sole Source Justification Form must be completed and approved by the Purchasing Department.
  • Compliance with the University’s Affirmative Action policy will be required for purchases above $50,000.

Purchases of $250,000 and over

  • All procedures required at $10,000 to $249,999 apply.
  • Sealed bids are required.

Independent Contracts

Business conducted as an independent contract, versus a vendor contract or purchase order, still must follow the bid policy as outlined above.  Once purchasing policy and procedures are followed, the independent contract may be established through the Business Services office.  

Bid Policy Exceptions

The bid policy must be followed on all purchases with the exception of the following circumstances.

Time and Material (T&M) Contracts

T&M contracts are utilized for labor and material for various Facilities Management projects. Contracts are established following a competitive bid process for the purpose of utilizing services on an as needed basis throughout the life of the contract.  T&M contracts may be used for projects less than $25,000.  All T&M projects estimated to be more than 50% in material costs will be evaluated by purchasing to determine the appropriate acquisition of materials.

Consortium / Cooperative Contracts

Western Michigan University is a member of several purchasing cooperatives.  All University departments may utilize cooperative contracts in lieu of following the University’s competitive bid process, with approval from Purchasing.  Information on Cooperative Contracts can be found on the University Contracts website. To utilize a contract, follow standard procedures and submit a Purchase Requisition through Purchasing to initiate a purchase order or vendor contract.    

General Exception Categories

In an effort to focus purchasing efforts on goods and services that most benefit from the procurement process, the University has approved a list of specific goods and services that receive an exception to the bid policy.  These exceptions are not required to follow the University’s bid policy and are limited to items procured through a bid process by other areas of campus and those that do not benefit from following the bid policy.  The Purchasing Department is not responsible for purchases made in relation to these exceptions, but may assist with the procurement process if requested.    

Note:  The exception policy does not apply to purchases made with Federal funding.  All Federal purchases must follow University procurement procedures.  For more information, see the Federal Procurement Standards.


Be aware that these purchases may require a contractual agreement or Independent Contract even though it is not required to follow the bid policy.


Sole Source (only known source or a proprietary source) or single source (only one qualified supplier or acceptable product/service) must be qualified and approved by the University Purchasing Department.  The requesting department is responsible for providing documentation, using the Sole Source Justification Form, that there is clearly and legitimately only one source of supply.  Certain purchases, such as those federally funded, have specific requirements that must be verified.  

  • Sole source requests will be considered when no alternative exists for the product or services requested, such as proprietary offerings with no equivalents or alternates available. 
  • Single source requests will be considered when only one source meets the needs of the department, despite the existence of other sources.

Reference the Purchase Process for additional information and process for the review and approval of sole source or single source purchases. 

Computer purchase policy

Computer purchases must be made through Auxiliary Services. Please review the Computer Purchase policy for more information.

Conflict of interest policy

University employees shall act in a manner consistent with their duties to the University and to the public and shall ensure that they have no conflicts between their duties to the University and their outside employment, personal duties or relationships.  Visit the Policies website for the complete Conflict of Interest, Anti-nepotism, Gifts-Employee policy.

Western Michigan University has also established a Conflict of Interest Policy specific to research.  This policy addresses conflicts of interest and commitment that can arise when the interests of a commercial venture differ from the interests and primary obligations of the University and its employees, or when the commercial enterprise consumes and undue share of employee time.    

Employees of the Purchasing Department aware of a situation that places them in a potential or actual conflict will disclose it fully and according to the above mentioned policy.  Purchasing employees will abide fully by the required plan for avoiding, managing, or investigating this type of conflict.

 Energy star requirement

Western Michigan University has been an Energy Star partner since October of 2000, and instituted the Energy Star purchasing requirements starting June of 2005. This requirement applies to purchases of appliances and electronics, which must meet Energy Star requirements when at all possible, for purchases using University funds.  The parties responsible for enforcing this policy are the Associate Vice President of Facilities Management, and the Director of Logistical Services.

The following is a list of common items covered by Energy Star.  For a complete list, please visit www.energystar.gov.

  • Clothes Washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators and Freezers
  • Computers and Printers
  • Lighting
  • Hot Water Heaters
  • Air Conditioners

Ethics policy

The Purchasing Department and those individuals designated to the Purchasing function are charged with the responsibility of conducting business in a manner which results in the greatest benefit for the University, and which will be accomplished in accordance with ethical practices of the purchasing profession. The Western Michigan University Purchasing Department acts in accordance with the Code of Ethics set forth by the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP). This code governs the relationships the Purchasing Department should have with individuals and departments within the institution, and with suppliers and friends of the institution.

NAEP Code of Ethics

  • To give first consideration to the objectives and policies of the University.
  • To strive to obtain the maximum ultimate value of each dollar of expenditure.
  • To cooperate with trade and industrial associations, governmental and private agencies engaged in the promotion and development of sound business methods.
  • To demand honesty in sales representation whether offered through the medium of an oral or written statement, an advertisement, or a sample of the product.
  • To decline personal gifts or gratuities which might in any way influence the purchase of materials.
  • To grant all competitive bidders equal consideration, to regard each transaction on its own merits, to foster and promote fair, ethical and legal trade practices.
  • To be willing to submit to arbitration over any major controversies.
  • To accord a prompt and courteous reception insofar as conditions permit to all who call on legitimate business missions.
  • To counsel and cooperate with NAEP members and to promote a spirit of unity among them.

gift policy

Reference the gift policy in the employee handbook.

Leasing policy

No University employee or staff member may enter into leasing agreements unless reviewed and approved in writing by the Director of Business Services or Associate Vice President Business and Finance, depending on the value of the agreement.  Proof must be provided that leasing is the most economical approach for the situation.

Personal purchases

The University will not purchase any supplies or equipment for the personal use of University staff. The Purchasing Department will not arrange or create any buyer-seller arrangements between staff members and University suppliers. The exception to this policy would be instances where the University staff has been specifically included in a contract with the vendor, such as computer purchases.

No personal purchases are permitted to be made via the purchase order system, a payment request, the University’s Procurement card, or other institutional purchasing methodology.

In addition, no employee may use the University’s name or present him/herself as an agent of the University when making personal purchases.