Doing research? 10 procurement actions to start, continue and stop

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Procurement has revised the guidelines for procuring goods and services that support research.

Revised procurement guidelines

Both revised Policy 36 – Procurement and Procedure 4-3 – Procurement Standards provide instructions on how to buy from, and how to interact with, current or potential vendors. They offer more user-friendly terminology, set much-needed standards and revise the reimbursement limits. You will notice that many of these changes clearly improve your day-to-day activities; in other cases, you will only come to appreciate some of these changes in a few months.

Here are 10 actions you should start, continue and stop doing because of new procurement guidelines.

  1. Start involving Procurement when signing new contracts or changing existing ones.
    At uOttawa, two representatives must give the green light on new contracts or contract modifications: one representative is accountable for the budget (see Policy 36 for more details) and one for Procurement. This may look like extra work initially, but you will benefit from a smoother process in the end. Note that any contract containing terms and conditions constitutes an agreement. Also, your procurement representative under $100k is your designated buyer and over, it is central Procurement.
  2. Start bumping up your reimbursement limit from $300 to $1k.
    Concur, the expense management system, is a fast, reliable way to submit claims for reimbursement. You can now request reimbursement for non-standard purchases up to $1k. Standard purchases, which are common items such as office supplies, lab supplies, or computer equipment, will continue to be purchased through the University’s procurement systems and not through reimbursement. (We do this to provide better prices and automate procurement administration).
  3. Start checking with your designated buyer before agreeing to loan, lease, or test equipment.
    If you accept demo equipment, you may be making a real or implied commitment on behalf of the University. Always check with your designated buyer before entering into any pre-purchase arrangements.
  4. Continue contacting us early.
    Purchasing lead times can sometimes get long. Involving your designated buyer (under $100k) or central procurement (over $100k) early will allow us to meet your timelines.
  5. Continue getting the required number of quotes.
    As a reminder, purchases under $10k require one quote (except for consulting services, which require two), purchases between $10k and $50k require two quotes, and purchases between $50k and $100K require three quotes. Central Procurement will run a public tender for purchases over $100k. It is crucial that you get the right number of quotes and submit them to your designated buyer so they can raise a purchase order BEFORE work is performed. 
  6. Continue submitting complete purchase requests to your designated buyer.
    To save time and avoid back-and-forth with your designated buyer, be sure to send them all the information below right away:
    • Scope of work – Describe what you need (the more detailed the better)
    • Amount – Indicate the funds available for your purchase
    • Quotes – Provide one-to-three quotes, as described above
    • FOAP – Specify the account to use for the purchase
    • Supplier information – Indicate if you have purchased from this supplier before and if you plan to buy from them again
  7. Stop requiring contracts on all services over $5k.
    To determine if you need a contract for your upcoming purchases, Procurement will move from dollar-value criteria to complexity-based criteria. This will reduce the administrative burden. So, if your purchase is straightforward (mostly price-driven), a contract may not be needed (even if your purchase is over $5k). However, if your purchase is complex (involving intellectual property, warranties, multiple deliverables, or staggered payments), then a contract is your best option. A contract provides clear obligations and expectations to everyone involved. When in doubt, check with your designated buyer. They will determine if a contract is required or not. Note that a purchase order (PO) is still required when signing a contract.
  8. Stop accepting gifts or tickets to events from vendors (even if you do not work in Procurement).
    You can occasionally accept a pen or notepad, but everything else is off the table. If you go to a restaurant with a vendor, you must pay for your own meal. This measure aims to prevent companies from questioning the integrity of uOttawa's procurement processes or decisions. 
  9. Stop submitting an invoice for payment without an associated purchase order (PO).
    Always talk to your designated buyer before making a purchase. Doing so in advance (instead of once the work is done and the invoice is ready to be paid) can unlock benefits you may not know about (such as discounts from current vendors) and ensures that your purchasing complies with University policies. If you submit an invoice for payment without an associated PO, you will need to complete a transgression form (unless the purchase is an approved exemption under Procedure 4-3).
  10. Stop buying new or used equipment through Kijiji or eBay.
    Classified advertising services and auction sites are generally unregulated, do not have quality control mechanisms in place, and lack robust payment methods. For these reasons, you cannot buy goods and services for uOttawa from such services. That said, under specific circumstances, you may buy from e-commerce sites (like Amazon) that offer better protections. Please talk to your designated buyer to learn more.

Remember: Your designated buyer is your go-to person for any procurement questions in your sector.

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