Procurement Environment

Northwestern University supports a procurement environment based on the understanding that departments and schools are in the best position to determine what they need to run their programs. Policies, procedures, and processes are meant to put them in the best possible position to get the products and services they need in a timely and cost-effective manner, while also making sure appropriate business processes are followed.

Purchasing Resource Services

Purchasing Resource Services (PRS) is considered the procurement expert at the University. PRS is the single point of contact for centralized procurement activities. The role of PRS is to help departments/schools make informed, best-value purchasing decisions. The primary responsibilities of PRS are as follows:

  • Strategically source on behalf of the University by establishing contracts and agreements for use by all departments/schools. Learn more about strategic sourcing.
  • Assist with the bid process on behalf of departments/schools (at their request)
  • Maintain, interpret, and enforce purchasing policy
  • Approve purchases when central approval is required by policy
  • Handle the dispatching of all Purchase Orders to vendors
  • Support and maintain the iBuyNU marketplace
  • Process changes to Purchase Orders, when requested by departments/schools
  • Manage the Supplier Diversity Program

Departments and Schools

Considerable authority has been delegated to departments and schools to make purchasing decisions. This requires that employees involved at every step of the process take full responsibility for understanding the University’s policies and procedures regarding purchasing and vendor relations. Purchasing decisions are business decisions made on behalf of the University and therefore should be made with the utmost consideration for what is in the best interest of the University. Purchases also need to be made in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. The primary purchasing responsibilities of departments and schools are as follows:

  • Determine which products/services are needed
  • Solicit bids for purchases of $25,000 or more, unless a Preferred Vendor is used
  • Initiate requisitions
  • Submit detailed BD-1 or SSJ-1 as an electronic attachment to the requisition for purchases of $25,000 or more
  • Retain copies of all documentation related to the bid process in accordance with University record retention guidelines (PRS may request copies, if necessary)