Purchasing Guidelines

  1. Overview

Purchasing & Contracts is responsible for the procurement of goods and services, and making sure that the college complies with the relevant laws and guidelines.

The 4 most important things you have to know at the outset are:

  1. For any purchase you must get a PO before you receive the goods or services. A requisition in CUNYfirst must be created first before a PO can be sourced.
  2. NY State rules generally do not allow us simply to buy what we want from any supplier. Instead we have to look for a supplier via these methods in this order:
    1. NYS Preferred Sources-CorCraft
    2. Existing government supplier relationships (such as NYS, GSA Contracts NYC Requirements (DCAS) or CUNY contracts)
    3. Seek the lowest quote/bid (or best response to a request for proposals) If your requirements for form, function or cost cannot be met by one of these, or if there are special circumstances that make it impractical or impossible to do some sort of competitive procurement, it may be necessary to pursue a “sole source” or “single source” procurement. However these are both complex and must be carefully managed by the Purchasing department.
  3. CUNYfirst does not allow Confirming Purchases. For ALL purchases, there must be a requisition put into the CUNYfirst system. If you receive goods and services without a PO, you will be asked to justify your actions as well as input a requisition. There are no “Confirming” procedures in CUNYfirst.
  4. There are times when it may be necessary to exercise discretion with the way these guidelines are applied. Under the university’s rules, only the Purchasing Department is authorized to do that. If you feel what you are trying to do cannot be accomplished within the guidelines, you should talk to someone in the Purchasing department about how to proceed. You should not just go ahead and place an order for goods or service
  • These guidelines are needed to support transparency and ethics, provide a level playing field for suppliers, and maximize value and quality.
  • The following sections are listed below:
  1. Selecting a Supplier

You should try to find a supplier that meets your requirements for form, function, and cost from these sources in this order:

Existing Procurement Process:

  1. New York State Preferred Source Vendors: These are vendors who have received legislative approval to the right of first refusal. Preferred Sources are:
    1. Industries for the Blind of New York State www.ibnys.org (specializing in cleaning and safety supplies)
    2. New York State Industries for the Disabled www.nysid.org (specializing in cleaning and safety supplies)
  2. New York State Contracts: The Office of General Services (OGS) http://www.ogs.state.ny.us/ website lists a large number of existing state contracts for goods and services which Purchasing can use without further investigation. However, departments are advised to closely read through the specifications of these contracts to determine whether their need(s) can be met.
  3. Other Government Contracts: Here are a few sources that we can use without having to proceed to a competitive process:
    1. NYC Requirements Contracts www.nyc.gov ,  
    2. certain contracts issued by other state or city agencies, 
    3. certain Federal GSA Contracts (especially IT, Facilities, and disaster recovery) www.gsaadvantage.gov.

Only after the college has determined that these suppliers cannot meet your requirements for form, function, quality, and value can we go to the “Open Market.” Once this determination has been made dependent on the details, costs, and requirements for your project we would proceed with one of the processes below:

Open Market Process:

  1. Informal solicitation of bids - you can do it (up to 44999.00)
  2. Your department can obtain 3 or more quotes in any of these forms:
    1. Link to vendor website;
    2. Email from vendor Fax or letter on vendor letterhead.
    3. Quotes need to be clearly from the vendor, quote on like items e.g., same description and part numbers, and should be valid for at least 30 days.

These quotes should be uploaded into the CUNYfirst module as an attachment.

  1. Formal bids – we’ll do it
  2. Purchasing will usually intervene especially if cost is anticipated to go beyond a certain threshold (usually $5,000) dependent on the requested goods and services. Purchasing can choose either of the following options:
Since the level of quality is a key determinant while price may be less so, judgment is required to select the best proposal. A committee is selected to review proposals and weighted criteria are used to rate proposals.
  1. Invitation To Bid (ITB)
  2. Purchasing will contact several vendors either by email, mail, or downloadable file and request that they fill out our attached form with the following:
    1. Complete and full answers to all our questions
    2. Complete and clear specs especially for services
    3. Signature (and in some cases a notarized signature)
    4. By our stated deadline
    5. Via our stated method of transmission (email or mail)
Any questions vendors may have must be sent to Purchasing in writing. For fairness, Purchasing would also distribute the questions and answers (Q&A) to all vendors.
  1. Request For Proposals (RFP)
  2. This options is used when
    • the specifications are not sufficiently specific;
    • when seeking a solution or method of services not readily known;
    • when seeking proposals to solve and/or suggest a solution
Non Competitive

The following involve situations where the opportunity to obtain better pricing may be limited due to the restricted number of vendors on the Open Market.

  1. Sole source – as the name describes the vendor is the only one that can provide the good or service and if this vendor were to disappear tomorrow no one else could provide the unique good or service.
    Example: patent
  2. Vendor has obtained patent rights and/or copyrights for a product or service and to date has not licensed the product to other manufacturers or service providers thereby making the vendor the only source.
  3. Single source – there may be more than one vendor in the market that may have a solution to fulfill a particular need but it has been determined that this particular vendor meets complying reasons such as our organization’s standardization goals or vendor is the only authorized reseller for our region.
    Examples: standardization:
  4. You need a software program for typing and storing documents. In the marketplace, there are several software programs that can type and store documents such as Microsoft Word or Corel’s WordPerfect; but, for overall efficiency Hunter College has decided to standardize on Microsoft Word.
  5. A small manufacturer in California may be the sole source for whatever good or service that you need but due to its small size it may not have the marketing resources to handle all sales and customer service issues. Therefore, the manufacturer may partner with certain re-sellers to sell their product within a specified region.
  1. CUNYfirst Purchase Requisition

Purchasing Department uses a requisition as the basis for procuring goods & services and generating a PO or contracts. All purchase requisitions must be inputted by a requestor or creator.
  • The supervisor must approve the online/systems requisition 
  • The Approval Level 1- will approve 
  • The Approval Level 2 will approve 
  • If the Item requires inspection (Hazmat, Furniture, IT, Legal etc). 
  • The requisition will get routed to the appropriate approvers.

CUNYfirst does not allow self approvals

After the all the required approvals are completed then the requisition will get routed to the buyer (Purchasing). Purchasing will then Source that requisition into a PO.

As a general rule the purchase requisition exists merely as a request to purchase. Only the Purchasing Department is authorized to transform that purchase requisition into a legally binding Purchase Order; therefore, departments should not be ordering goods and services without a contract. If this is done, then your department will have to either use another source of funds or the INDIVIDUAL may be personally liable for payment.

As much of the following information as possible should be included on all purchase requisitions: (Which can be inputted in the comments section of CUNYfirst). It is also suggested you put your department Name and room number in the requisition title.

  • itemized description of the item(s) or service(s) (model #, serial #, color, dimensions, etc.) 
  • reasonable justification that such good or service is needed in the conduct of college business. 
  • date that goods or services are needed 
  • vendor and department contact information and delivery specifications or instructions 
  • department name, number 
  • estimated (or actual) cost of goods or service(s)
  • shipping/delivery charges

Documentation requirements are based upon the total dollar amount of the request as follows:

(All quotes are to be uploaded into the CUNYfirst system as an attachment to the requisition).

$499.00 or Less

One (1) price quote is required. Quotes may be in any of these forms

  • Link to vendor website; 
  • Email from vendor; 
  • Fax or letter on vendor letterhead.

$500 to $4999.00

If the goods/services are available from a preferred source or existing government contract, please mention the contract number in the comments section and provide an uploaded quote.

If the goods/services are being procured on the open market, evidence of  reasonableness of price must be provided. The usual way to show this is by getting and attaching at least 3 quotes from different vendors in any of these forms:

  • Link to vendor website; 
  • Email from vendor; 
  • Fax or letter on vendor letterhead.

If you have trouble or are unable to find suppliers to bid or would prefer Purchasing to do the legwork, please contact us.

If the goods/services are available from a preferred source or existing government contract, please mention the contract number and provide a quote as an attachment. If the goods/services must be procured on the open market, it may be necessary to proceed via a more formal bidding process. Purchasing will make this determination, so you should contact Purchasing before contacting any vendors.

Over $50,000 and Less than $100,000

If the goods/services are available from a preferred source or existing government contract, we’ll mention the contract number and attach a quote. If the goods/services must be procured competitively on the open market, NYS and CUNY rules require us to go through a more formal bidding process, which includes placing advertisements in the New York State Contract Reporter and the New York City Record. These advertisements must run for three weeks, so it is important that departments anticipate this extra time.

If the goods/services must be procured via the sole source or single source process, NYS rules require that we seek special approvals from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), which OSC does not always grant. This is a very difficult and time consuming process (often taking several months), and it is very important that departments contact Purchasing well in advance of when the goods/services are needed.

Over $100,000

If the goods/services are available from a preferred source or existing government contract, we’ll mention the contract number and attach a quote. In all other cases, the College must go through a lengthy formal contracting process involving:

  • CUNY Central Legal and Procurement Offices 
  • OSC 
  • The New York State Attorney General 

Departments should anticipate this taking a year or longer.

Over $500,000

In addition to all of the above rules, no matter what procurement method is used, CUNY Board of Trustees Resolution authorizing the procurement is required.

  1. Purchase Order

A Purchase Order (PO) is a contract between the college and vendor. It indicates types, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services the seller will provide to the buyer. Since sending a PO to a supplier constitutes a legal offer to buy products or services, only the Purchasing Department is authorized to issue PO’s on behalf of the college.

  1. Special Notes

  • Computers and Computer - Related Items:
  • Furniture -
  • Hazardous Material
  • Legal Services

Requests for desktop computers, servers, software, printers, cabling, furniture, Hazardous Material, Legal Services etc. must be reviewed and approved in CUNYfirst by ICIT before proceeding with completion of the requisition. The requisition will not go forward to Purchasing for processing. Requisitions received without approval will not proceed into workflow.

  1. Student Text Books:

Some special educational programs receive OTPS funds to be used towards the purchase of textbooks for students. Texts like any other item should be ordered following Purchasing guidelines to assure the best price. Medgar Evers College

Bookstore operated by Barnes and Noble is the college’s official bookstore and is the sole authorized vendor allowed on campus to sell texts and related college items to students. If there is a need to purchase textbooks, those authorized to purchase texts must follow these guidelines.

  1. Travel Reimbursement:

Staff with plans to travel to a conference or to conduct college business should seek the approval of the Provost or Vice President beforehand to determine what percentage of the expense will be reimbursed. (Contact Accounts Payable for requirements.)

If you need a particular item not available from those vendors, the competitive guidelines apply.

The Purchasing Department must be notified as soon as possible of cases that require emergency purchases. The Purchase Requisition in cases of emergency must provide supportive documentation. Purchasing will work with the department to ensure that the goods or services are obtained by a requisition and then a Purchase Order. In such instances the departments must provide Purchasing and Accounts Payable with the supporting documentation as soon as it is available in order to ensure prompt payment to the vendor. Unforeseen needs in the form of goods or services still require adherence to the appropriate procurement requirements (the receipt of bids, justification of need statement, etc.).


  1. Vendor Payment

Accounts Payable is responsible for issuing payment for valid invoices that have been reviewed by the department and forwarded to Accounts Payable with the appropriate back - up documentation. The following is required to initiate payment:

  • Goods: An original packing slip is required as proof of delivery along 
  • a CUNYfirst receipt that will be uploaded and inputted into the system for both complete and partial deliveries. 
  • Services: Payment for services performed or maintenance contracts that are charged against a purchase order or contract require a memo stating      that the services were performed satisfactorily. The memo is required for 
  • each payment in addition to the approved invoice for a recurring monthly charge or partial payment. A copy must be scanned as an attachment and a hard copy to be sent to Accounts Payable.
  1. Fiscal Year End Cut-off

All requisitions for the fiscal year should be inputted and a notice to the Purchasing Dept. via email/phone should be received by early May. Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles (GAAP) require that all goods and services be received and/or completed by the end of the fiscal year (June 30th).

  1. CUNYfirst (Procurement)

CUNY has developed a new system within CUNYfirst to accommodate procurement of goods and services for Senior and Community Colleges. This will take the place of our manual process. The system includes: creation of all tax - levy purchase requisitions and direct payment/reimbursements (e.g. travel, honoraria, subscriptions, consultant)

  • Processing of the requisitions 
  • Sourcing purchase orders. 
  • Inputting receipts 
  • Administration of the entire payment process

In order to facilitate the processing of your invoice(s) by this agency, please insure that your invoice and any supporting documentation contains sufficient data to identify the goods or services rendered and that the invoice number, purchase order number, and your Federal Identification Number (FID) are indicated on each invoice submitted for payment.


  • No change may be made to the Purchase Order without the prior approval of the Director of Purchasing and Contracts.
  • Invoices for repairs must include the number of hours of labor, rate per hour and cost of materials.
  • For Service contracts Certified Payroll and Prevailing wages must be adhered to as per the NYS Department of Labor.
  • The F.O.B. is destination (inside delivery) unless otherwise specified on the Purchase Order, in which case delivery charges shall be prepaid and added to the invoice as a separate item.
  • Invoices and vouchers with a freight charge in excess of $100.00 must be accompanied by a Bill of Landing.
  • Invoices must be sent in triplicate as per instructions on the Purchase Order
  • Inquiries pertaining to Purchase Orders should be directed to the Purchasing Department at (718) 270-6122.
  • Inquiries pertaining to Payment should be directed to Accounts Payable at (718) 270-6114
  1. Procurement Support:

Industries for the Blind of New York State www.ibnys.org, specializing in New York State Industries for the Disabled www.nysid.org specializing in “Informal” solicitation of bids – you can do it (up to $4999.00)

$5,000 to $49,999
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