Policy and Procedure

(Also located in the Faculty Handbook - IV-24 )

Purchasing Procedures

Elon University is governed by its Board of Trustees in accordance with the provisions of applicable law, the Articles of Incorporation, and the university bylaws.  The Board of Trustees operates as the fiduciary for the university and thus has responsibility for the actions and directions of the university.  The Board of Trustees has delegated authority to the President, Senior Vice President for Business, Finance and Technology, and Director of Purchasing have been delegated authority to enter into agreements and commit university resources (funds). Additionally, the Director of Purchasing has been assigned the authority to commit the university for the purchase of goods and services based upon properly documented requests and available funds. The Purchasing department is further responsible for securing quality material and services at the best overall value utilizing vendors that manage their operations consistent with the university's values and mission.

Purchases, P-Cards & Contracts Presentation

Policies & Procedures for Purchase Requests/Purchase Orders

A.  Purchase Requests For Purchases Greater Than $1,000

1. The purchasing procedure is initiated by executing a purchase request. To facilitate the processing of requests and to give the best possible service, please fill out the purchase request form completely and attach a copy of the vendor quote.

2. Original must be sent to the Purchasing department.

3. A copy should be retained for files.

4. Separate requests should be provided when items are to be ordered from different supply sources (vendors).

5. Requests should be submitted with sufficient time to obtain price quotations and place orders without causing undue delay.  Please provide as much lead-time as possible.

6. To duplicate a purchase, the previous order (PO#) should be referenced.

7. Use of the downloadable purchase request document is encouraged. This method provides a clearer reference copy and reduces delays due to unrecognizable handwriting.

B. Competitive Buying

Whenever possible, competitive quotes from vendors handling the same or similar goods and services should be secured. Individual departments may obtain price quotes on items under purchase consideration. The requesting individual should indicate the company and price(s) on the request and attachment a copy of the quote. Sufficient time to obtain prices and to place the order should be provided so that the shipment arrives when needed. All orders above $1,000.00 require a Purchase Order number.

C. Small Orders

A purchase request is not required for an order that costs less than $1,000.00 unless required by the vendor. The budget manager's signature and account number must be indicated on the invoice and sent to Accounts Payable.  Orders of less than $1,000 can also be purchased using your P-Card.  If you do not have a P-Card and require one, please complete the P-Card Request Form, obtain all requires approvals and send the form to the Purchasing Office at 2950 Campus Box.

D. Office Supplies

The University office supply contract provides an efficient method of ordering without leaving your desk. Office supplies are available from Office Depot via online ordering. Program assistants and budget managers must be pre-approved and trained to take advantage of this service. Office Depot offers next day (Tuesday - Friday) desktop delivery on most items.  Please contact Purchasing for details.  Click here to access the Office Depot ordering site.  Please contact Paula Anderson with any questions (panderson@elon.edu), x-5580.

E. Emergency Orders

See:  Policies & Procedures for Purchase Requests/Purchase Orders

F. Receiving Shipments

Receiving – General
The University has a responsibility to our suppliers to pay promptly for any goods or services received. Deliveries of items weighing less than 150 pounds are made directly to the requisitioning department.  Deliveries of items weighing more than 150 pounds are made to the receiving department in the Physical Plant located at 803 W. Haggard Ave.  It is important that individuals accepting incoming shipments be certain that the materials have been ordered by their department and that items received are not damaged before signing the delivery slip.

Receiving Procedures
It is recommended that the following procedures be followed when materials are delivered to your department.
a. Properly identify the material and retrieve the departmental copy and receiving copy of the purchase order.
b. Check whether the package being delivered agrees with the delivery ticket and the bill of lading.
c. Inspect the package and contents for any obvious damage. Note any damage on the delivery ticket and ask the driver to verify it with his signature prior to your signing for the delivery. Any carton damage should be noted. Make a copy of the document for your files.
d. The department receiving the merchandise is responsible for promptly unpacking and carefully inspecting shipments. This should be done as soon as possible after delivery, but in no more than 10 days. Keep all containers, packing material, wrappers, etc. until the inspection is complete and you are satisfied the merchandise has been received as ordered.
e. After goods have been received and inspected, the receiving copy (green copy) of the purchase order should be signed and forwarded to the Accounting Department. Any discrepancies, shortages, or damages should be noted on the green copy. The receiving department should make the initial contact with the supplier to resolve any problems or discrepancies pertaining to the delivery. If the department cannot make a resolution with a supplier, the Purchasing Department will then attempt to resolve the situation in order to protect the University’s interest and to complete the transaction.

Multiple Receipts on a Single Order
Periodically, more than one delivery is required to complete an order. If you receive a partial shipment, sign the green copy of the purchase order (“green sheet”) and indicate which items were received and which were not.  Send the green copy to the Accounting Office.  Accounting will in turn send you a green “backorder” slip.  Once you receive the backordered items, sign the “backorder” slip and return it to the Accounting Department at Campus Box 2900.

G.  Claims for Damages or Shortages

In cases of damage or shortage to a shipment, it is important that the receiving information be provided promptly to the Purchasing Department along with all shipping papers. The extent of damage or shortage should be described in detail.

If the damage or shortage is not evident at the time of delivery, the carrier must be notified within fifteen (15) days of delivery. The carrier will then arrange for an inspection. This is why it is extremely important that all containers, packaging material, wrappers, etc. be retained for the carrier’s inspection. Failure to keep this material may void the chance of obtaining a claim.

Once the claim inspection report has been received, the Purchasing Department will determine responsibility for processing the final claim report, depending upon the conditions of the contract or purchase order.

H. Unauthorized Purchases

No one has the authority to enter into purchase contracts or in any way obligate Elon University for procurement indebtedness unless specifically authorized to do so by the President or Senior Vice President for Business, Finance and Technology. Any such negotiations are considered unauthorized purchases and the individual may encounter a personal obligation to the vendor. Firms ordinarily doing business with the University are aware of this policy and are advised that all purchases of $1,000 or more, chargeable to the University, must have a purchase order number assigned to it.

The University will not purchase, with its own funds, any goods or services for the personal use of the University faculty/staff nmor will arrangements be made by the Purchasing Department to create any buyer-seller arrangements between faculty/staff members and University suppliers.  Suppliers may however, at their own discretion, extend University discounts and/or contract rates to University facylty/staff on personal purchases.

Additional Information

Temporary Signature Authority

If you have been given temporary signature authority, such authority must be in writing and a copy must be attached to all documents you are signing (purchase requests, check requests, etc.).

Funds Responsibility

It is the responsibility of the requesting department to ensure that there are sufficient funds in place prior to submitting a purchase request for order placement.  Purchasing will verify funding prior to creating a purchase order.  If there are not sufficient funds in the account to cover the cost of the order, the purchase requisition will be returned to the originator.

Small Purchase Limits

As noted in the Procedures section, the small dollar purchase delegation is less than $1,000. Exceptions to this amount may occur for pre-determined contractual arrangements such as OfficeMax office supplies.


The University enters into contractual arrangements to provide overall value for the entire campus. Generally, contracts ensure a clear understanding of the arrangement between the parties as well as favorable pricing. By establishing clear guidelines, we realize further savings through streamlined efforts.  Please refer to the Contract Management section of the Purchasing website for the policies and procedures governing the contracting process.

Overnight Shipping

Contact Mail Services for additional information regarding mailing at x-5433.