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:
- Multiple bids must be solicited by departments and schools for purchases of $10,000 or more, which is the micro-purchase threshold currently set at $10,000 per the Federal FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), whenever possible when sponsored funds are being used, unless the product/service is purchased from a Northwestern Preferred Vendor. The Purchasing Decision Documentation must be completed, which will result in the creation of one of the following forms:
- Bid Summary Form
- Sole Source Justification Form
- The appropriate form and all quotes must be attached to the requisition or payment request in NUFinancials.
- Purchases must be reasonable, allocable, and allowable.
- Bids for purchases of $250,000 or more (currently set per the FY2018 NDAA) using sponsored funds will be formally conducted by PPS.
- Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP) approves transactions of $5,000 or more for sponsored programs. The Charging Sponsored Projects Cost Allowability Guide illustrates the criteria for charging expenses under Uniform Guidance.
- Procurement and Payment Services (PPS) will continue to be the final approver for all requisitions of $25,000 or more.
- A cost transfer for equipment and purchases of $10,000 or more from non-sponsored to sponsored chart strings must also have documentation that multiple bids were received or it is an approved sole source to be eligible for transfer. Documentation will need to be attached.
To learn more about Uniform Guidance and to review additional resources, visit Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Program (ASRSP) – Uniform Guidance.
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 email@example.com. 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:
- PPS will prepare the Request for Quote (RFQ) after receipt of the Bid Request Form.
- RFQ bid opportunities will be posted on the PPS website for a minimum of seven (7) calendar days with a published bid due date and time. This ensures compliance with the bid advertisement requirement per Uniform Guidance.
- Bids will be submitted directly to PPS from the supplier, and kept sealed in a central folder until after the formal bid due date. This ensures compliance with the sealed bid requirement per Uniform Guidance.
- Bid results will be summarized; PPS and department will partner in making an award decision.
- Purchasing is the sole point of contact during the entire bid process.
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:
- Name of supplier awarded the bid and the amount
- Names of all other suppliers and quotes received (Quotes should be requested from multiple vendors)
- Service and product description with reason of selecting supplier
- For conflict of interest, name of the individual who selected the vendor and knowledge if the individual:
- Has a personal or financial interest in the vendor.
- Received any gifts or hospitality from the vendor within the last 12 months.
- Given a gift or provided more than incidental hospitality to the vendor within the last 12 months.
- If the form format or color looks unusual (i.e., an all white background), clear your web browsers cache, or try using a different browser
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 are the instructions for the Purchasing Decision Documentation Form?
Who is considered a Northwestern University Preferred Vendor?
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?
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?
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?
If the purchase is on a Cost Share chartstring (fund 191 and 193), do we follow the same process as sponsored projects?
Does the new Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards apply to all sponsored projects, including foundations and industry sponsored clinical trials?
Do I have to request multiple bids for transactions that are $10,000?
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.