Getting Started

    Step 1- Planning
    Step 2- Buying Limits
    Step 3- Buying Methods
    Responsible Purchasing

    Step 1 - Planning

    Determine whether the goods or services you wish to purchase are available on a UW, Washington State or other contract. Another option is to check UW Surplus for previously used items that are available at considerable savings. If planning to make a catalog purchase, log onto ARIBA for a list of registered vendors, or visit the UW Contracts Search for a list of active contracts with suppliers. 

    Selecting a supplier for your purchase is already done if you are purchasing from an existing contract, but there are other methods for selecting a supplier.

    • Sole Source: when a highly specialized item is only available from one Supplier or research dictates that only the requested Supplier can provide the item for continuity. Sole source justifications must be approved by Procurement Services, for more information visit the Sole Source page.
    • Grant funded: if the purchase is funded by a grant (federal or non-federal) or a federal contract and your Supplier is specifically named in the grant.
    • Competitive Solicitation 

    UW Finance Asset Short Term (FAST) Program

    If you are considering a short-term financing option for acquisition of equipment, please go to the UW Treasury Financing Short Term Asset (“FAST”) program page for additional details.

    To be considered for a FAST loan, please complete the Borrower Information Form (“BIF”) and send your completed form to Annette Sommer, Associate Treasurer at  Potential Borrowers can contact Annette to check on the status of the review by email or at: 1-8982, five business days after the date of submittal.

    Step 2 - Buying Limits

    The required solicitation process is determined by the dollar amount of the purchase including shipping & handling, and excludes tax, and the commodity type.

    For goods and services:

    $9,999 and under

    Between $10,000 and $99,999

    Over $100,000

    Direct Buy Limit

    • Departments may place orders with third-party suppliers without prior approval of Procurement Services. 

     Informal Competition

    • Requires assistance from a Procurement Services buyer.

    Formal Competition

    • Requires a public, written solicitation (Request for Proposal) with a minimum of three separate bids.
    • Contact a Procurement Services buyer for assistance.

    See the exception items list for guidance on specific goods/services.

    Step 3 - Buying Methods

    To purchase goods and services with university budgets, it’s helpful to know the available buying methods and when it’s appropriate to use them.

    The available buying methods listed below are your options for a direct buy limit. For purchases that exceed the direct buy limit, please contact a Procurement Services buyer for assistance. 

    Goods and Services

    1. ARIBA Purchase Orders (Catalog, Non-Catalog, and Blanket Purchase)
    2. Procurement Card

    Travel Purchases

    1. Corporate Travel Card

    Types of Purchases

    1. Goods and Purchased Services
      • Goods -  materials, supplies and equipment offered for sale by a supplier(s) and required by the University to accomplish continuing and necessary functions and not otherwise statutorily exempted.
      • Purchased Services - are more repetitive, routine or mechanical in nature; following established or standardized procedures. Services contribute to the day-to-day business operations of the agency.
    2. IT Equipment 
      • The machines, devices, and transmission facilities used in information processing

    3. Personal Services and IT Personal Services
      • Professional or technical in nature and meets more specialized needs; 

      • Work is predominantly intellectual and varied

      • Work is independent from the day-to-day control of the agency; consultant maintains control of work methods.

      • Work requires regular exercise of judgment, discretion, and decision-making; involves providing advice, opinions, or recommendations; may have policy-implications for agency; often addresses management-level issues.

      • May require advanced or specialized knowledge, or expertise gained over an extensive period of time in a specialized field of experience.

      • Work may be original and creative in character in a recognized field of endeavor, the result of which may depend primarily on the individual's invention, imagination, or talent.

    Responsible Purchasing


    As employees of the state of Washington, faculty and staff of the UW must follow all of the state statutes and regulations regarding ethics and conflicts of interest.

    State law is found primarily in RCW 42.52, and sets out a strong statement of ethical principles and values for state officers and employees. In part, that statement provides:

    • State officers and employees of government hold a public trust which obligates them, in a special way, to honesty and integrity in fulfilling the responsibilities to which they are elected and appointed.
    • Paramount in that trust is the principle that public office--whether elected or appointed--may not be used for personal gain or private advantage. (RCW 42.52.900)
    Supplier Diversity

    Purchasing Services is committed to ensuring that minority-owned, women-owned, small, disadvantaged, HUB Zone, veteran-owned and service-disabled-veteran owned businesses have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in purchasing and contracting at the University of Washington. We strive to increase the depth and diversity of our supplier pool by promoting fair and open access to the business community. For more information visit our Supplier Diversity Page.

    Green Procurement

    Procurement Services promotes environmentally preferred purchasing (EPP) as defined by the National Associate of Educational Procurement-meaning that environmental and social considerations are “taken with equal weight to the price, availability and performance criteria that colleges and universities use to make purchasing decisions." The University’s buying staff leverage current supplier relationships to raise awareness of the purchasing considerations necessary to reduce our environmental impact and to maximize resource efficiency.

    Please contact the University’s Sustainable Sourcing Team ( if you become aware of new environmentally friendly products or have questions about our program.



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