How to Buy

Getting Started


Buying Limits           


Responsible Purchasing


Added 11/19/2020: News Regarding Covered Telecommunications Equipment or Services:

FAR 52.204.24-26 prohibits suppliers from providing or using covered telecommunications equipment and restricts the purchase and use of telecommunications equipment from specific restricted companies on federally funded orders. Visit Exceptions Items List for more information... 

Important News about Home Deliveries: Procurement Services has received numerous questions regarding residential deliveries of supplies for staff working remotely at home. Under normal circumstances, we do not advise home delivery for several reasons, including tax implications, appropriate use of UW owned materials, tracking and tagging equipment, returned goods issues etc. However, we have modified our guidance for ProCard purchases to allow home delivery provided the appropriate person in the ordering department authorizes it. Departments should work with their administrative staff and human resources representatives regarding telework policies, responsibility for telework equipment and supplies, and tracking UW owned equipment and the plan for its return to the department (more information is available on the university's telework policy and process web page).

PROCUREMENT QUICK GUIDE:  We hope you find the information in this guide useful as you plan your procurement activities.  The guide consolidates information about sourcing, sole source procurement, unauthorized purchases, contracts and much more. 

Before You Buy

Review quotes and proposals from suppliers providing products and/or services to ensure you understand the the terms of the quote. Things to look out for include payment in advance requirements (not allowed by state procurement law), the cancelation process, and any restock or cancelation fees.  This information should be included with the quote or proposal, and if not, please ask before agreeing to make the purchase.


Buying Limits

State of Washington and Federal purchasing rules require that purchases over the Direct Buy Limit be competitively solicited in the absence of a contract, funding source mandate, or a sole source justification. Procurement Services contracting professionals are responsible for issuing competitive solicitations. Departments do not have the authority to issue solicitations, and if the proposed purchase is expected to exceed $10,000 (direct buy limit) and not available from a UW Contract supplier, Procurement Services should be consulted and will manage the solicitation process.

The direct buy limit Purchasing review does not apply to catalog orders only. 

The 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 - MUST BE MANAGED BY PROCUREMENT


Direct Buy Limit

Departments may place orders with third-party suppliers without prior approval of Procurement Services Contracting Team, with certain exceptions (Review Exceptions List).

Documents or agreements requiring a signature and or review by Procurement Services.

 Informal Competition

Procurement Services Contracting Team will work with departments to issue an informal solicitation to qualified suppliers. Responses may be provided by telephone or in writing (email, fax, or US mail), depending on instructions from the UW buyer. If the solicitation is not advertised via Washington Electronic Business Solutions (WEBS), UW Procurement Services Contracting Team must include at least one minority and one woman owned business certified by the State Office of Minority and Woman Business Enterprise (OMWBE) in the solicitation process. (RCW 28B.10.029(c)(iii)

Formal Competition

The Procurement Services Contracting Team will issue a written solicitation and advertise via Washington State Electronic Business Solutions (WEBS). Formal receipt process is required.

Contact a Procurement Services buyer for assistance.


→See the exception items list for guidance on specific goods/services that require additional review/approvals.



Preferred Methods of Purchasing:

  1. Search the Catalogs. Benefits of catalog purchases include:
    1. Not subject to the Direct Buy Limit
    2. An efficient way to make purchases
    3. No additional central office approval 
    4. Using master contracts negotiated by the Procurement Services Contracting Team
  2. Visit the UW Contracts Search for other Contract options. 
    1. Watch the Buying from Contracts eLearning tutorial to learn more about using Contracts and how to use the UW Contracts Search
  3. Contact a Procurement Services Contracting team member for other contracts that may be used.

Other Purchasing Options:

  • Competitive Solicitation: the process of seeking proposals, quotations or information from suppliers that bid competitively. Procurement Service is responsible for managing the competitive solicitation process.
  • Sole Source: Requires justification. Justifications must be approved by Procurement Service when the order is placed in Workday:
  • Non-Catalog Order (Requisition Types including Blanket Requests, Capital Asset, Goods and Services etc)
  • ProCard: Small dollar purchases, one time purchases
  • Grant funded supplier selection: If the purchase is funded by a grant (federal or non-federal) or a federal contract and your supplier is specifically named in that grant.
  • Check UW Surplus for previously used items that are available at considerable savings.

Important: If you have questions or need assistance regarding an upcoming purchase, contact the Procurement Services Contracting team and get them involved early. To find a team member, use the link below and search for the “Strategic Sourcing and Contracts” section.


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.

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.


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