Purchasing FAQs and Tips
Purchasing Tips page is created to support the campus community in completing anESM Transaction and procuring goods and services.
- What is the Federal EIN Number (FEI) Number?
UTC Federal EIN Number (FEI) is 62-6001636.
- Where do I find the State of Tennessee Tax Exempt certificate?
- Who reviews Agreements over $250,000.00?
The Fiscal Review Board reviews agreements over $250,000.00.
- Who can make purchases for the University?
Procurement & Contract Services is responsible for the acquisition of all materials, supplies and services costing more than $10,000.00, as well as both purchased and rental equipment.
- What do I need to do to set up a vendor?
Always send the Vendor the department wants to do business with an invitation to register to create a Vendor number in PaymentWorks prior to creating an ESM Requisition. Here is the link: https://acctspayable.tennessee.edu/creating-a-vendor/
- How do I get approval to create a requisition?
Contact your Department Head to get set up with requisition access in ESM.
- I’ve never created a requisition before, how do I do it?
Contact Procurement Services to schedule a training session. We are happy to help!
- How do I know if I should create a requisition?
Refer to the flowchart: Purchasing Flowchart.
- What account codes do we use?
These can be found by clicking GL Account List
- What is considered acceptable purchase documentation?
Backup documentation should outline the terms of the purchase, date(s) if applicable, invoicing terms if applicable, and agreed upon price. The following list is not all-inclusive but should be considered a guideline.
Items being purchased
Vendors contact information
Scope of Services
Invoicing and Payment Terms
Date(s) and Time(s) of services
Vendors contact information
- Where do I attach my purchase documentation?
Please attach all supporting documentation to the purchase requisition in ESM.
Requisitions should always match the quotes. For example, if your quote has multiple lines for Goods and Services, your Requisition / Transaction should as well.
Requisitions should answer the 5W’s (who, what, when where and why) of the order.
Descriptions for Requisitions in the Internal Notes section should state a clear business purpose and should include Need By Dates and locations.
Orders requiring Deposits, or multiple payments must be added as separate lines on the requisition for Progress Payments. (Insert Example).
- How do I find a requisition once it’s been routed?
Order summary includes transaction #, create date, requestor, supplier, status, system note, and total value.
In upper left corner of Shop page, Click Menu → Order Summary → select fields by which you wish to search→ enter criteria → click “search”. Click “export” to receive an Excel copy of the report via email.
- How do I know where my requisition is?
There are several ways to find a requisition once it has been routed. You can search for transactions in two ways. You can click on go to: All Transactions and filter by a variety of options. You can filter by active, waiting, hold, archive, submitted, received, and all.
Or you can enter the transaction number or PO number into the search bar. The other way to search is by selecting “order summary” from the Menu.
- I just completed my requisition in ESM, but I made a mistake and I need to correct it. What do I do?
Contact Procurement Services to determine the status of the requisition and the correct course of action. In cases where a requisition has been completed, but not yet approved, you will be able to open it back up for changes. If the requisition has been approved, the Purchasing office can usually make the necessary changes on your behalf, or a new requisition may need to be created.
- May I email my requisition to the vendor?
No, the requisition is not to be used as a purchase order.
- How much can I buy before I have to get written quotes or how much before we have to advertise for bids?
Purchases from $10,000.00 to $49,999.99 require three written quotes and purchases $50,000.00 and greater must be formerly advertised and sealed bids received.
- Why can’t I split orders when it’s for two different items or jobs?
State law will not allow it. Do “not” split transactions or bids to stay below the formal bid limit. If you are not sure, please contact Purchasing to assist.
- We received invoice(s) during the time Framework PO was still valid that are aging. These invoices were received late. Can you advise us on best way to proceed?
If, the work was performed during the time the Framework order was current and open ok, to issue payment to accounts payable.
Purchasing Agreements, Coops and GSAs
In an effort to streamline our procurement process and help the university lower cost, we have established several campus and system-wide agreements covering many of the goods and services we use from charter bus services to print services to IT hardware and software, there is probably a campus or system agreement covering it. The University of Tennessee is also member of several purchasing coops that give us access to hundreds of additional contracts. See our website for more information.
Purchasing Agreements at the System Office. Here is the link: Purchasing Agreements
It’s a good idea to contact Purchasing if you plan to use one of the System agreements to advise if the departments projects will be big ones so Purchasing can contact the Buyer that is listed on the PO so they can determine if they need to up the value/money on the PO.
If the agreement is extended to all University of Tennessee campuses, Chattanooga would follow the instructions on the PO and contact the vendor and explain the details of your project and make sure the agreement is still current for Chattanooga to buy off.
Here's the rule with GSA: per state law, UT may use any GSA schedule, provided that the vendor agrees. Per GSA guidelines, vendors are only supposed to allow state agencies to use Schedules 70 and 84. So, most vendors do not allow state agencies to use schedules other than 70 or 84. However, if the vendor wants to allow UT to use a different schedule, then UT may use the schedule.
- How can I check to see if what I want is on a Cooperative (Coop) or a General Services Agreements (GSA)?
Click here: Purchasing Cooperatives and General Services Administration (GSA) Agreements
- How can I check to see if what I want is on a State of Tennessee Contract?
Click here for the State of Tennessee Contract Information.
Informal Bids and Specifications
Informal Procurement Method – 3 informal quotes and buy information Requires the use of a solicitation (verbal but need physical document for audit purposes).
Competition (i.e., minimum of 3 price quotes) Procurement process must be documented.
When contacting vendors to start the solicitation for quotes it is strongly suggested that departments provide them with written product/service specifications.
The goal is to provide the exact language to each vendor. If when contacting vendors for quotes, specifications vary just a little bit, this can cause vendors to provide “price quotes too high or too low.” Campus departments should always use caution when verbally communicating specifications and details of the quote solicitation.
Regarding the Procurement process please keep in mind the UT System office requires that any department making $10,000.00 or more of purchases from “one” Bidder, require either an “Informal” or “Formal” bid process. The informal process would be used for $10,000.00 to $49,999.99 and the formal process would be used for $50,000.00 and higher. The Policy link as follows outlines each of these processes: Guidelines
Below is an example of the information that should be provided for each item.
LOW BID: INCOR DESIGNS & PROMOTIONS $5,633.68 (FREE SHIPPING)
PINNACLE PROMOTIONS - $4,077.86 (PENS - NO BID), (DELIVERY INCLUDED); 4IMPRINT - $3,925.81 (PENS - NO BID);
4ALL PROMOS $2869.00 (CUBE - NO BID) AND EPROMOS - $2,427.56 (CUBE - NO BID) (DELIVERY NOT INCLUDED)
When developing specifications from brochure sources, select the most important features required for your needs. Leave out any brochure language that cannot be objectively evaluated.
When requisitioning technical equipment, the specifications are to contain enough detail to differentiate the level of quality or performance required.
When sizes or measurements are part of your specifications for an item, indicate maximums or minimums or approximates. If the item must fit into a given space, indicate the available space.
When weight is an important factor, indicate the acceptable range or minimum or maximum acceptable weight.
Delivery, warranty, or training requirements are to be clearly defined.
When compatibility with an existing piece of equipment is a factor, describe the equipment, connectors, interfaces, and brand and model of the existing equipment.
When award on an all-or-none basis is to be made either by group of components or on the total order, this must be stated in the specification with a brief explanation for the reason for this requirement.
Specifications are to clearly state packaging requirements, size, types of finishes, etc.
Verify that models are still available before submitting specifications. Valuable time is often lost by requesting models that have been discontinued.
When installation is required, provide details on what is expected of the contractor. If a site visit is required, indicate a contact name and telephone number.
When maintenance is requested, define the extent of service, parts, labor, travel, service hours required, number of preventative maintenance inspections, and any other inclusions or exclusions.
When the specifications include options, it is important to point out in the specifications that prices for those options are to be included in the vendor's bid price.
When upgrade capabilities are requested, clearly state if these are desired at the time of purchase or in the future.
When the specifications state the desired brand and model number, invite competitive brands by indication "or equal."
Avoid using restrictive language such as "vendor must be located within a 20-mileradius of UTC." Request a reasonable response time instead.
Be careful with the use of the following words: "should" means it is a desired feature butis not mandatory. "must" means it is mandatory. "and" means it must have both, or multiples. "or" means either is acceptable.
NCJ – Non-Competitive Justification/Sole Source Tips
The University of Tennessee is using a new Non-Competitive Justification (NCJ) form started on April 18, 2022. A sole source exists when there is a need for a specific item or service that is only available from one source. Go to the Shop tab on the Market Place website. The NCJ Form is Available under Training Materials.
The purpose of the new NCJ form is to provide users with more guidance on what types of information the user needs to provide. Importantly, please note that you will fill out and attach this new form in both the non-catalog (requisition) system and the contract management system. If you have any questions, please contact your campus purchasing office.
- How do I change the vendor’s name on a purchase order?
You cannot change the supplier on a purchase order (PO) after it has been dispatched. You should email Purchasing to cancel the PO with the wrong supplier’s name, and then create a new requisition with the correct name of the supplier.
- How are purchase orders sent to the vendor?
Typically, Purchasing emails vendors POs. Orders can also be faxed.
- How can I make a change to a purchase order? I need to change a Purchase Order that has already been completed and issued. How do I make those changes?
First contact the Purchasing department so they can verify a change is possible. If a change is acceptable email the purchasing department.
Changes to a released Purchase Order (PO) must be made by the university purchasing department. There are occasions when Purchase Order (PO) requirements should be canceled or modified to ensure accurate funds balance and to maintain accurate purchasing records.
To make changes to a released PO, email Purchasing to request the PO be changed. The e-mail to Purchasing requesting the change must be sent by (or forwarded by) the Approver for the Applicable Account and must contain the following:
Note: Receipt of the e-mail from the Approver constitutes approval of the requested change.
Purchase Order Number
Details of Requested Change (i.e., the quantity, the unit price, the total price)
Detailed Reason for the Requested Change