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Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards

Northwestern University has implemented the Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards for purchases on sponsored programs, which will be applied to all sponsored programs, including cost share.  This is in accordance with government regulations 2 CFR 200.317-326.

The primary goals of these procurement standards are to increase reuse of existing equipment and supplies, increase competition when purchasing equipment and supplies, and to minimize sole sources.

To assist departments with the transition to the new standards, please note the following:

To learn more about Uniform Guidance and to review additional resources, visit Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Program (ASRSP) – Uniform Guidance.

Bid Request

Departments/schools must engage Procurement and Payment Services (PPS) when using sponsored funds for purchases of $250,000 or more.  The bid process must be conducted by Procurement and Payment Services to be compliant with the Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards.

To request assistance with your bid, please complete the Bid Request Form and submit to bidsupport@northwestern.edu.   Once your form is received, you will be contacted by someone from PPS confirming receipt of your request.   The bidding process could take up to 30 calendar days from receipt of your request unless there are any additional details that need to be confirmed prior to the bid being published.  The bid process will be facilitated as follows: 

Please note, Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards require a Sealed Bid or Competitive Proposal for purchases of $250,000 or more.  In very specific situations, your purchase may be considered an approved Sole Source Purchase.  You can learn more about each by reviewing the Uniform Guidance Procurement Guide.

After the bid has been awarded, the department/school will create a requisition and attach the awarded vendor’s quote, as well as either a Bid Documentation Form or Sole Source Justification Form, and NUFinancials will route it for approval.  When sponsored funds are being used, attach all quotes to the requisition, as well as either a Bid Documentation Form or Sole Source Justification Form. Requisitions will be routed through departmental approval and if not a Grant Subcontract, PPS will be the final approver.

Purchasing Decision Documentation - Quick Tips

In order to successfully complete and submit the Purchasing Decision Documentation, make sure to have knowledge of the following information:

For further assistance in completing the form, view the Purchasing Decision Documentation job-aid.

Access the Purchasing Decision Documentation form (URL).

Uniform Guidance – Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Link to the instructions for the Purchasing Decision Documentation Form?

The job aid is located on the Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards Webpage under 'Purchasing Decision Document Quick-Tips' or click here.

Who is considered a Northwestern University Preferred Vendor?

Northwestern University Preferred Vendors are vendors that have been awarded a contract by the Purchasing Unit within Procurement and Payment Services for products and services needed by University department/schools on a regular basis.  These contracts are established based on the results of a formal competitive bid/negotiation process facilitated by Purchasing.

Is the best way to determine if a vendor is Northwestern Preferred Vendor (when reviewing a transaction for approval) by looking at Northwestern’s Preferred Vendor website?

Yes, the website is updated with the listing of all Northwestern University Preferred Vendors, so that may be the most efficient way for departments to check.

When using sponsored funds to make a purchase from a Northwestern University Preferred Vendor, do we need to attach a Sole Source Justification Form (SSJ) or Bid Documentation Form (BD) to the Requisition?

No.

For confirmation, when completing the Purchasing Decision Documentation form, does the email get sent to the submitter only? Then the submitter attaches the form when entering the transaction?

When completing the Purchasing Decision Justification Form, the person who completes the form will automatically receive an email including a pdf copy of the form.  The completed form can also be emailed to another person by entering their email address in the field titled ‘(Optional) Additional Recipient Email’.

If the purchase is on a Cost Share chartstring (fund 191 and 193), do we follow the same process as sponsored projects?

Yes. The same regulations for sponsored projects are applicable to cost share chartstrings with the same projects.

Does the new Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards apply to all sponsored projects, including foundations and industry sponsored clinical trials?

Yes. This applies to ALL sponsored projects, including state, industry sponsored clinical trials and foundations (fund 630 and 650).

Do I have to request multiple bids for transactions that are $10,000?

Yes, multiple bids must be solicited for purchases of $10,000 or more when sponsored funds are being used.  You must attach all bids to your requisition as well as a Bid Documentation Form if not using a Northwestern Preferred Vendor.

Please note that the total intended obligation (estimated total value of the contract, project, or purchase) must be considered when determining whether a competitive bid needs to be performed.

Does Purchasing need to be engaged for all purchases $10,000 or more when sponsored dollars are being used?

No.  Purchasing only needs to be engaged for purchases of $250,000 or more when multiple bids need to be solicited and sponsored dollars are being used.

What does “multiple bids” mean?

Multiple bids means more than one.

Do I need to complete and attach an SSJ or BD for a Sponsored Subcontract?

If sponsored subcontract transaction is $10,000 or more, attach a Sole Source Justification Form to your requisition or PO Change Request.  The Bid Documentation Form is not applicable for sub-recipient selection.

Do I need to attach a new SSJ for a subcontract amendment if I previously attached one to the purchase order?

If an SSJ was previously attached to the PO, it does not need to be reattached when processing a PO Change Request.  When a new Requisition is created, a new SSJ Form needs to be attached.

Does the new Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards apply to consultants?

Yes, competitive bids should be solicited whenever possible.  However, the Sole Source Justification Form can be used when a particular consultant is truly uniquely qualified.

Do I need to complete and attach an SSJ or BD for a Sponsored Subcontract?

If sponsored subcontract transaction is $10,000 or more, attach a Sole Source Justification Form to your requisition or PO Change Request. The Bid Documentation Form is not applicable for sub-recipient selection.

Is it appropriate to split a transaction into two Purchase Orders to avoid bid requirements or required approvals?

No, it is improper use of purchasing authority to split a large purchase into two or more smaller orders in order to avoid bid requirements or required approvals.

Can you clarify what the following statement means? ’Bids for purchases over $250,000 will need to be formally conducted by Procurement and Payment Services when sponsored funds are being used.’

The Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards require a much more structured bid process for purchases of $250,000 or more.  The Purchasing Unit within Procurement and Payment Services will need to facilitate the bid process for these large purchases that don’t qualify as a Sole Source.  Departments will continue to work on development of scope and specifications as well as identification of suitable vendors.  Those details will be submitted to Purchasing and used to create bid documents.  Purchasing will formally send the bid to several vendors as well as post the opportunity on their web site. Bids will be submitted directly to Purchasing by the bidders. After the due date, Purchasing will work with the lab personnel to make the award decision. Pease be assured that Purchasing will not be inserting judgement into these decisions without consulting with the experts in the labs.

Contact

If you have additional questions, please contact Procurement at procurement@northwestern.edu or 847.491.8120