Purchasing FAQs

What is a purchase requisition?
A purchase requisition is used to initiate the purchase of goods or services. The preferred method to obtain goods and services is utilizing the electronic requisition system available through the eProcurement module available in PeopleSoft Financials. This will provide easy access to our preferred suppliers and contract pricing through the catalogs set up under the web tab. eProcurement special request requisitions have replaced the paper requisition process for all goods and services that require a purchase order.

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Paper requisition forms will still need to be used for some direct payment requests. The following paper requisitions with supporting invoices attached may be submitted directly to the Disbursements Processing Department for payment without a purchase order number assigned. In lieu of a purchase order, some direct payment requests may require the need for a fully executed contract.

  • Advertising services (Example: print, radio, TV, billboard, social media) (Employment advertising is referred to Human Resources.)
  • Charitable contributions: Refer to Syracuse University Gift Policy for more
  • Copyrights/permission to reprint/royalties
  • Dome vendor concession payments
  • Fees: Admission fees, CART and Interpreter fees, collection fees, entry fees, fee payments to research subjects, referee fees, legal Fees (approval to be obtained by General Counsel), insurance fees (approval to be obtained by Risk Management)
  • Food/liquors: Contact Food Services
  • Governmental fees: Local, state, and federal
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • NYS Commissioner of Labor
  • NYS Higher Education
  • NYS liquor license, permits, fees
  • NYS motor vehicle (for search, trace, and fines)
  • NYS motor vehicle registration
  • Membership dues (Greek life affiliations and professional organizations)
  • Performers and Performance contracts: Require a copy of a fully executed contract
  • Real estate/rentals: For office space with lease agreement refer to Real Estate Office for approval and contract review
  • Refunds/reimbursements for Bursar
  • Overpayment
  • Parking
  • Photography/Videography Services (Must be accompanied by an approved/signed Photography/Videography Services Agreement)
  • Audio Visual – providing services
  • Postage Meter Fund Replenishment (Does not includes USPS Postage)
  • Reservations/registrations: Conferences, Hotels, Luncheons, dinners, banquets require a copy of a fully executed contract
  • Subscriptions – periodicals, newspapers (non-software/data)
  • Utilities & Cable Service
  • Medical and Wellness Service Providers (massage, yoga, chiropractor, acupuncture)
  • University sponsored and paid for, off site events (with an authorized contract)


What is a purchase order?
The purchase order is the official and binding document issued to the supplier authorizing the expenditure of University funds for goods and services. The purchase order creates a “commitment” that will help you manage your budget. By using a purchase order, everyone involved in the purchase process can track the order by referring to the same purchase order number as a standard reference.

What is a standing order?
A standing or blanket order is used to purchase materials or services over an extended period of time, usually a minimum of one year, at set pricing. Your purchasing specialist is prepared to consult with you on deciding if this would be beneficial.

What is a maintenance agreement?
A maintenance agreement covers parts and labor on a single piece or multiple pieces of equipment for a specified period of time. Often, there will be an agreement or contract that the supplier will submit. If it’s a new maintenance agreement, you may receive a quote. If it’s a renewal maintenance agreement, you may receive an invoice. Please include all documentation with the requisition. Contact the purchasing specialist for the specified commodity for assistance if required.

What are the University’s Standard Terms?
The University’s standard terms are Net 30 days, others may be utilized based on business requirements.

What is an emergency order?
Purchasing has an emergency order system to be used when there is insufficient lead time to use normal procedures. Special handling for emergencies is evaluated by the purchasing specialist on a case-by-case basis. Contact the appropriate purchasing specialist to explain the circumstances and they will guide you to the best course of action.

How do I place a rush order?
Notify your department’s business office right away and provide as much information as possible. Explain the circumstances, e.g., what is needed, delivery date needed, if direct delivery, the delivery address, supplier name, address, phone and fax numbers, and contact person. The eProcurement requisition will be the fastest means for processing your order. All paper requisitions require pre-audit approval secured before an order is placed. The business office will coordinate with the purchasing specialist to expedite the order. Rush orders are given top priority, however, we ask your help by planning purchases to keep rush orders to a minimum.

What orders can be picked up?
When immediate delivery is required for items and available locally, contact the appropriate purchasing specialist for authorization to pick up item(s) at the supplier location.

What vendors participate in the Annual Vendor Conflict of Interest process?

  • Vendors who do business with the University valued at $150,000 or greater.
  • These vendors must participate in the annual survey in each year they are engaged for services or products valued at $150,000 or more.
  • The Purchasing office proactively reaches out these vendors annually.
  • Any unresponsive vendor will be placed on credit hold by 12/31 of the respective year.  They will remain on credit hold until they complete the necessary COI form.

How do I return an item?
Contact the purchasing specialist who handled your order if you need to return an item. Following are the steps taken to return merchandise:

  • Department notifies purchasing specialist
  • Purchasing specialist contacts supplier for return information
  • Purchasing specialist requests stop payment from Disbursements, if necessary
  • Purchasing specialist advises department of return information
  • Department packages the return and calls Materials Distribution at 315-443-2446 for pickup
  • Item is returned
  • Supplier ships new item, if required

What is an unauthorized purchase?
Any commitment of University funds not authorized by a person with specific delegated procurement authority is unauthorized. This means that the actual commitment for goods or services must be placed only by the Purchasing Department. Unauthorized purchases invariably result in delay of payment to the supplier, no matter how well-intentioned.

Most unauthorized purchases result from the following misconceptions:

  1. “I thought I could make the commitment myself.” We all work for Syracuse University. Just as elsewhere in the public and private sector, we are not authorized to make financial commitments for this institution by virtue of our employment alone. Unless you have specific written procurement delegation, you do not have the authority to commit. See the purchasing, procurement agreements policy.
  2. “There wasn’t time to get authorization.” Using the procedures for rush orders or emergency purchases, we can provide immediate authorization when justified by the need. Contact your department’s business office. They will work with us. If the need is there and you contact us, we guarantee an unauthorized order will not be necessary.
  3. “Is it necessary to work out arrangements with this supplier in advance?” Purchasing recognizes that understanding for future services must be clarified early on. You are often in the best position to do this. This is not a problem unless in signing such letters of understanding you purposely, or inadvertently, give notice to proceed and/or commit Syracuse University. Here again, the solution is simple. Contact your department’s business office and Purchasing. For complex purchases it is even possible to execute formal contracts approved by Purchasing contingent upon funding and issuance of a purchase order. We have procedures in place to meet your need. See the contracts with external parties policy.
  4. “I submitted a purchase requisition and I thought it had been approved by now, so I called the supplier.” Purchase requisitions can be held up in your department’s business office or in Purchasing for a variety of legitimate reasons, e.g., budget problems, incomplete information, required competition, normal processing delays, etc. Unless you have secured a purchase order number (not a purchase requisition number), the order is not authorized. When in doubt, contact your department’s business office. Syracuse University has no legal obligation to pay for unauthorized purchases.

What is the bidding process?
The Purchasing Department’s mission is to ensure that all supplies, materials, equipment, and services are procured at the optimum combination of quality, availability, service, and price. Purchasing operates in accordance with accepted purchasing practices while promoting and developing the highest level of professionalism.

Syracuse University’s procurement policies and federal rules for grants and contracts require that purchases be competitively bid. Competitive bidding is obtained according to established University procedures as codified in the Purchasing Department procedures manual. A request to waive competitive bidding procedures requires documented justification, and any waiver requires approval by the Director of Purchasing or assignee.

Can the bidding process begin even if I don’t have funding yet?
YES. As funding approval and the bid process both take time, please contact Purchasing to expedite your request. Include all the specifications, etc. and Purchasing will carry out the bid process “contingent upon funding.” If funding is further delayed, Purchasing can extend the bid or even cancel it if the project is not approved.

Who do I call about a problem with an order?
Contact the purchasing specialist who handled your order when you have a problem such as defective material or the wrong item was received. The purchasing specialist will make sure payment is not made, take care of reordering, if required, and make arrangements for the return of item, if required.

Who do I call about warranty repairs?
When purchasing an item with a warranty, be sure to keep a copy of the item packing slip for proof of purchase. Warranty repair is not always performed by the original supplier. If you are unsure about who to call for service, call the purchasing specialist responsible for the original purchase.

Are federal grant or contract projects subject to the bidding process?
Yes. Recipients of grants or federal funds must follow Syracuse University’s procurement policies and procedures as outlined in the Syracuse University Administrative Policy Manual. Moreover, there are often additional procedures governing federal funds which are more restrictive than our own policies. Contact Sponsored Accounting and/or Sponsored Programs about these additional requirements.

What is a sole source justification?
A sole source procurement occurs when restriction to a vendor is justified and the Purchasing Department has determined that the item(s) is only available from a single source. This may occur when a manufacturer only sells direct or when a manufacturer has documented only one dealer for the locality. Sole source procurement of non-personal or professional services may be justified when there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the individual’s or firm’s expertise is not available from anyone else. Purchasing is still required to determine that the price is fair and reasonable. We do this by negotiating price and securing published price lists.

What is a brand name justification?
A justification restriction to certain brand(s) does not eliminate the bid process. Indeed, the named brand(s) may be available from many suppliers. It simply means that in carrying out the bidding process no substitute brand(s) will be considered. All other Purchasing procedures still apply. Acceptable reasons for brand name justifications may include:

  • Component parts for exact replacement
  • Repair or service of equipment by manufacturer
  • Compatibility with existing equipment
  • Unique specifications or features or items specifically required by grant for comparison, and/or comparing the price of similar purchases

How do I order…

Books (one or two copies) and membership fees: Purchase by using a Syracuse University Credit Card (preferred method if order is less than $1,000) or submit to Disbursements Processing a Purchase Requisition with completed order form attached. (There is no dollar limit on purchase requisition orders.) Direct questions to: Purchasing, ext. 2281 or Disbursements Processing, x2484.

Books (three or more copies): Submit to SU Bookstore on Interdepartmental Order. Direct questions to: Special Order Department, ext. 9907.

Subscriptions (non-software)/Conference Registrations/Newspapers/Reprints/Pamphlets: Purchase by using a Syracuse University Credit Card (preferred method if order is less than $1,000) or submit to Disbursements Processing a Purchase Requisition with completed order form attached. (There is no dollar limit on purchase requisition orders.) Direct questions to: Purchasing, ext. 2281 or Disbursements Processing, ext. 2484. Departments requesting these items must complete the supplier’s order form, attach it to a completed purchase requisition form, and send both to Disbursements Processing, 108 Skytop Office Building. Orders of this type are not processed by the Purchasing Department.

Flowers: Flowers, not to exceed $75, may be ordered directly from the florist of your choice by using a University credit card or purchase requisition. Syracuse University receives a discount from Westcott Florist on orders. When calling in your order and using a purchase requisition, give the florist your requisition number. Forward the original requisition to Pre-Audit.

Food and Beverages: Syracuse University Food Services is the only authorized catering service for Syracuse University, providing food and beverages in compliance with New York State law, the Onondaga County Health Department, and the Syracuse University Policy on Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Tobacco. Requests for exceptions to the catering policy may be directed to the Catering Manager. Exceptions may be granted for religious events as recognized by the Office of the Dean of Hendricks Chapel, events where food is unique to the sponsor’s ethnicity and cannot be prepared by the Catering Office, or events where small quantities ($50 or less) of food and/or non-alcoholic beverages are provided.

Guidelines for Purchasing Food and Beverage Items:

  • Catered events: Contact Campus Catering at 315.443.3605. For more information please refer to the University’s catering policies.
  • Grocery items: This option allows departments to use a University credit card or an Interdepartmental Order form to buy grocery items for their offices. Departments can order larger amounts of items for their office, such as candies, cookies, bottled water, etc. For more information, please refer to the Food Services website.
  • Other special food and beverage requests: Can be obtained by contacting Food Services’ purchasing agents Robert Clark or Rick McCormack. Special requests, one-time purchases, and unique items for events can be arranged with enough notice.

Foreign Currency: Request for purchases from foreign vendors using foreign currency as payment will be processed as follows:

  1. The department will complete a paper requisition and obtain all necessary approval signatures for your department and the chart string that you will be using.
  2. Then complete an E-pro requisition and attach, individually, all of the paper documents. (Ex. Paper requisition with approval signatures, quotes or proforma invoice, bid tabs, W-8/W-9, New vendor application form, any additional paperwork)
  3. The buyer will then process the e-pro requisition to a purchase order working through all of the necessary steps for it to become a PO (setting up a new vendor, getting additional information, or such)
  4. After the PO has been created the buyer will send it to the department and the vendor for fulfillment. They will also place the PO on hold at this time.
  5. After you have confirmed you received your goods and you have a copy of the invoice you will sign the invoice.
  6. Then send an email to disburse@syr.edu with a copy to the buyer listed on the PO requesting payment of the invoice. Please make sure that you attached the invoice and all of the paperwork that you attached to the E-Pro requisition to ensure timely payment to the vendor.
  7. Upon receipt of the email requesting payment and all of the necessary paperwork displaying all of the appropriate signatures
    1. Purchasing will cancel the purchase order allowing for payment in the foreign currency
    2. disbursements will review with payroll and other necessary areas to ensure ready for payment and will then forward the package to the treasurer’s office for processing.

Travel: Bus charters are to be requested on a purchase requisition. A purchase order is issued to the supplier in advance. For all information, please refer to the Travel website http://purchasing.syr.edu/university-travel/

How do I receive an order?
The individual accepting responsibility for receipt of the material is normally expected to sign his or her name on a form provided by the shipping company. Before signing, the outside of the shipping package should be visually inspected for damage. If the package or container appears ripped, dented, or tampered with, sign for the package as “received as damaged goods.” This will allow the University to recover the cost of replacing the material if any damage has occurred to the contents of the package.

To complete the receiving process, the contents of the package should be cross-checked with the packing list inside. The packing list will give an itemized list of what is in the package. If there is a discrepancy between the packing list and the actual contents, contact your purchasing specialist immediately for instructions on how to proceed. If the packing list and contents match, contact Warehouse Services at 315.443.2446 so the order can be received in the University database and file the “packing list” with the original requisition.

What does “direct ship” mean?
Some suppliers/commodities are set up to have the orders delivered directly to the end user. If there is a discrepancy between the packing list and the actual contents, contact your purchasing specialist immediately for instructions on how to proceed.

Can I pick up a check?
For your protection, the University does not pay for goods or services prior to receipt unless absolutely necessary. When necessary, checks are mailed to suppliers with the original purchase order. For circumstances where a check must be picked up, the requisitioning department must obtain approval from Disbursements Processing prior to submitting the purchase requisition to Purchasing. Checks are then picked up at the Comptroller’s Office by the person designated by the purchasing specialist. Syracuse University ID is required and the person must sign for the check. You will be contacted when the check is available. Suppliers are not allowed to pick up checks.

What is Warehouse Services?
This operation is located in the Hawkins Building, 1600 Jamesville Ave. and is the primary delivery location for materials shipped to the University. Warehouse Services is responsible for receiving incoming shipments to the University ordered through the Purchasing Department and recording and distributing these shipments to University departments in a timely manner.