Initiating Procurement Transactions

There are a variety of methods available to a principal investigator (PI) to initiate a procurement transaction through RFCUNY. Among these methods include Purchase Orders and Purchase Contracts (e.g., lease agreements, custom equipment, hotel facilities for meetings, etc.).

Prior to initiating a procurement transaction, a PI must consider the following:

  • Each PI is liable for all orders placed directly to vendors by them or their staff.
  • Funds must be available and committed to the transaction before the end date of the sponsored project/award.
  • The use of minority, disadvantaged, women-owned, veteran-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned small business vendors is encouraged and required for certain federal and state contracts.

Purchase Orders

Orders Totaling Under $5,000

Each PI must ensure that funding is in place prior to initiating a purchase order transaction with a vendor. An order may be placed and processed with a vendor by submitting: a) the vendor’s quote for goods and services and; b) a completed Small Order form (RF-201). When the quote and completed Small Order form are accepted by the vendor, a legally binding contractual obligation is then fully established. This type of order is the sole responsibility of the PI and/or their affiliated CUNY institution.

Orders Totaling $5,000 or Above

Orders totaling $5,000 or above must be placed by RFCUNY on behalf of a PI. Bidding requirements may be applicable depending on the amount of the order and source of funding.

Orders Totaling between $5,000 and $10,000 on Federal or Federal Pass-Through Sponsored Projects (Micro-Purchase)

This type of transaction requires the submission of a quote from the vendor along with a completed Purchase Requisition Form and any other applicable supporting documentation (e.g., the Equipment Screening Certificate) to RFCUNY for review and processing. 

  • Competition (bidding) is not required; however, the price must be reasonable.
  • Purchases should be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers to the extent possible.

Orders Totaling between $10,000.01 and $250,000 on Federal or Federal Pass-Through Sponsored Projects (Small Purchase Procedure)

This type of transaction requires the submission of quotes from at least two (2) qualified sources along with a completed Purchase Requisition Form and any other applicable supporting documentation to RFCUNY for review and processing. 

  • Informal procurement method used to purchase services, supplies, or other property.
  • Price or cost analysis is not required.
  • Price or rate quotation must be obtained from at least two (2) qualified sources.
  • Purchases should be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers to the extent possible.

Orders Totaling over $250,000 on Federal or Federal Pass-Through Sponsored Projects (Sealed Bids)

This type of transaction requires the submission of at least two (2) written bids from qualified sources for procuring construction and three (3) written bids for non-construction procurement. Please forward to us a completed Purchase Requisition Form, the bids, and associated supporting documentation.

  • Bids are publicly solicited (advertised).
  • A firm fixed price contract (lump sum or unit price) is awarded to the responsible bidder whose bid conforms with all the material terms and conditions of the invitation for bid, and is the lowest in price.
  • If sealed bids are used, the following apply:
    • Bids must be solicited from an adequate number of known suppliers, providing them sufficient response time prior to the date set for opening the bids.
    • The invitation for bids must include any specification and pertinent attachments, and must define the items or services in order for the bidder to properly respond.
    • All bids will be opened at the time and place prescribed in the invitation for bids.
    • A firm fixed price contract award will be made in writing to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.
    • Any or all bids may be rejected if there is a sound documented reason.
  • We require three (3) written bids from qualified suppliers.
  • The sealed bid method is the preferred method for procuring construction if the following apply:
    • A complete, adequate, and realistic specification or purchase description is available;
    • Two or more responsible bidders are willing and able to compete effectively for the business; and
    • The procurement lends itself to a firm fixed price contract and the selection of the successful bidder can be made principally on the basis of price.
  • A price or cost analysis is required.
  • Purchases should be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers to the extent possible.

Orders Totaling over $250,000 on Federal or Federal Pass-Through Sponsored Projects (Competitive Proposals)

This type of transaction requires the submission of three (3) written bids from qualified sources.  Please a completed Purchase Requisition Form with the associated bids. Please forward to us a completed Purchase Requisition Form, the bids, and associated supporting documentation.

  • Formal procurement method used when Seal Bidding is not applicable.
  • A fixed price or cost-reimbursement type contract is awarded.
  • Requests for proposals must be publicized and identify all evaluation factors and their relative importance. Any response to publicized requests for proposals must be considered to the maximum extent practical.
  • There must be a written method for conducting technical evaluations of the proposals received and for selecting recipients.
  • Contracts must be awarded to the responsible firm whose proposal is most advantageous to the program, with price and other factors considered.
  • When procuring architectural/engineering (A/E) professional services, qualifications are evaluated and the most qualified competitor is selected, subject to negotiation of fair and reasonable compensation.
  • A price or cost analysis is required.
  • Purchases should be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers to the extent possible.

Non-competitive proposals on Federal or Federal Pass-Through Sponsored Projects (Above $10,000)

This type of transaction is allowable only if any of the following occurs:

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

Forward to us a Completed Purchase Requisition Form, the vendor’s quote, and documentation to justify the purchase.   A cost analysis must be provided.

Orders Totaling $5,000 or above, but Under $15,000 on City, State, or Private Sponsored Projects

A PI should obtain a quote from the vendor of their choice based on the goods or services they intend to purchase. The quote and a completed Purchase Requisition Form (RF-208) must be sent to RFCUNY’s purchase order email box for processing (PO@rfcuny.org). If equipment is purchased, a completed Equipment Screening Certificate must be submitted.

It is important that a PI not submit a purchase requisition form directly to a vendor. RFCUNY will generate the purchase order document and email the document and quote to the vendor for processing.

Orders totaling $15,000 or above on City, State or Private Sponsored Projects

This type of transaction requires the submission of three bids, a completed Purchase Requisition Form, and any other applicable supporting documentation (e.g., Equipment Screening Certificate, Sole Source Justification, justification for not selecting the lowest bid) to RFCUNY for review and processing.

Bidding is not required if:

  • The purchase price of the good/service is established by a New York State, New York City, or Federal GSA Contract.
  • The good or service is available from a single source (sole source).
  • It is an emergency purchase.
  • If the lowest bid is not selected, a justification letter must be provided.

Orders Totaling $25,000 or Above on Agency Funded Projects

This type of transaction requires the submission of three bids, the completed Purchase Requisition Form and any other applicable supporting documentation (e.g., Equipment Screening Certificate, Sole Source Justification, justification for not selecting the lowest bid) to RFCUNY for review and processing.

Bidding is not required if:

  • The purchase price of the good/service is established by a New York State, New York City, or Federal GSA Contract.
  • The good or service is available from a single source (sole source).
  • It is an emergency purchase.
  • If the lowest bid is not selected, a justification letter must be provided.

Purchase Contracts

Certain classes of procurement transactions require the review and processing of purchase contracts including:

  • Complex or custom made equipment
  • Lease transactions (space, equipment, or vehicles)
  • Use of hotel facilities for meetings, conferences, and seminars
  • Group transportation arrangements (ex. buses for trips)
  • Construction Contracts

In these instances, a formal written contract with the vendor is required. The contract should include specific detailed information as it relates to performance, delivery dates, cost, payment, insurance, and all other applicable terms and conditions. If the vendor provides a PI with a contract, submit the contract to RFCUNY for review and signature by email (P&P@rfcuny.org). If applicable, include a completed Purchase Requisition Form.

RFCUNY will negotiate the contract on behalf of a PI. Upon fully execution by the vendor and RFCUNY, the PI will receive a copy for their records.

Confirmatory Purchases (transactions outside of RFCUNY)

PIs and staff who make purchasing commitments directly with vendors without following RFCUNY’s purchasing policy and guidelines may violate sponsor regulations or requirements. Situations may arise due to emergencies when purchase transactions are initiated outside of RFCUNY. In those cases, persons may obtain goods out of pocket or submit the vendor invoice to RFCUNY for payment. PIs and staff should, under no circumstance, pay for services out of pocket.

It is important to consider that when a commitment against sponsored funds is made on a confirming basis, a PI risks assuming personal liability for the charge if RFCUNY determines the charge is not an approved project-related cost.

Obtaining Reimbursements for Confirmatory Purchases

Reimbursement to Individuals

If an individual uses personal (out-of-pocket) funds to pay for directly purchased goods or places an order for goods without following RFCUNY purchasing guidelines, they must submit an invoice and written justification documenting why the purchasing process was circumvented to RFCUNY via the Payment Request system. 

RFCUNY then determines if the transaction is a reasonable, allocable and allowable project expense based on the approved budget and OMB Uniform Guidance guidelines.

To be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenditures, the purpose of the purchase must be documented and detailed receipts and proof of payment must be provided. For business meals and other group arrangements, a list of attendees and their project positions must be provided.

Sales taxes incurred because purchasing policies and guidelines were not used are not reimbursed.

Reimbursement of alcoholic beverages is not allowed.

Reimbursement for Personal Services

Reimbursement for the personal services of others is not permitted. This action would circumvent IRS requirements with respect to 1099-reporting for payments made to individuals and business entities and is not allowable. Examples of such payments are:

  • Payments to consultants (independent contractors)
  • Real estate and facility rental payments
  • Payments for repairs and construction-related work
  • Payments for honoraria and participation fees
  • Payments for subject fees
  • Payments for personal services such as transcriptions, translations, cleaning, etc.

Reimbursements to CUNY Colleges

Requests to reimburse colleges for expenses incurred on behalf of RFCUNY-administered projects should be submitted in the form of an invoice from the college’s business office, indicating the tax-levy or other account to be credited with the reimbursement payment, and accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation and proof of payment, if required. RFCUNY will not issue payment to a third party as a means of reimbursing the college.

Essential Forms

Contractor & Agreement and Purchasing Forms

KEY CONTACTS

Purchasing and Payables
Purchasing and Payables
212-417-8480

Legal Affairs
Office of Legal Affairs
(212) 417-8300

Return to top