Dalhousie University has developed procedures to assist employees with purchasing activities. Staff members must have approval from the appropriate authority within their respective areas for initiating any purchasing transaction.

Purchasing options

  • Purchase Credit Card (P-Card): Shall be used for all purchases under $3,000 unless the vendor cannot accept credit card transactions.
  • Procurement endorsed vendor websites: May be used with a maximum value of $3,000 where the supplier has agreed to receive orders directly from employees and submit a consolidated invoice.  
  • Purchase requisition/purchase order (PO): Where direct purchase options are not available, and for all purchases over $3,000 a purchase requisition is required to initiate the process of acquiring goods and services.

Procurement procedures

Acquiring goods and services

1. Purchasing thresholds

High value procurement

Requirements with a total value over the following thresholds are considered high value purchases:

  • goods over $25,000
  • services over $50,000
  • construction over $100,000

  • These purchases must follow a public bidding process that is managed by the Procurement Department. 
  • The public bidding process must meet the requirements identified in applicable legislation and trade agreements.  
  • Communications with vendors will be conducted by the Procurement Department while preparing for and during the bidding process. All inquiries should be directed to the Procurement Department.
  • This process takes several weeks to complete. Project schedules should be developed to allow for procurement processes.
  • Commitment to a vendor will be made by the Procurement Department after evaluation of the bid submissions and making a recommendation to award the purchase.
  • The agreement form to govern high value purchases will be a PO or approved contract.

Moderate value purchases

Requirements with a total value between $10,000 and the thresholds for high value purchases are considered moderate value purchases.

  • Purchase requirements for goods and services in this category can be initiated by contacting the Procurement Department.
  • These purchases require three quotations from capable vendors, but in some cases may require a public bidding process.
  • Supply and or service contracts should be considered for ongoing requirements.
  • The Procurement Department will obtain quotations from vendors based on identified requirements.
  • Commitments to vendors are made by the Procurement Department with a PO or approved contract.  

Low value purchases

Requirements with a total valuation below $10,000 are considered low value purchases.

  • The procurement card (P-Card) is the purchasing method for purchases below $3,000unless the vendor cannot accept credit card transactions. 
  • Approved vendors' online ordering websites are an approved method of purchases below $3,000.
  • Purchase requisitions are required when not using a P-Card or approved vendor's online ordering website. These purchases require at least one quote to ensure pricing is established prior to making the purchase, however, competitive quotes are preferable.
  • Employees are authorized to make a commitment to purchase when using a P-Card and approved online ordering websites. Other commitments to purchase will be made with an approved PO.
  • Dal Cards are not authorized for purchasing goods or services.

2. Public bidding process

  • Contact the Procurement Department as soon as requirements are identified.
  • Project approval and funding is required prior to initiating a public bidding process.
  • The requesting employee is required to provide functional requirements and specifications for preparation of the public bid document. The list of procurement consideration is helpful in determining bid requirements. 
  • Sustainability considerations should be incorporated in specifications and requirements.
  • The Procurement Department will select the appropriate procurement process. 
  • Exemptions from public bidding may be considered in exceptional circumstances.  In all cases, a request to exempt a purchase from the public bidding process must be presented to the procurement director for consideration and approval.
    • Requests for exemption must be made early enough in the process to allow time to complete a public bid process in the event that the exemption request is not approved.
  • The Procurement Department will prepare the public bid document for issuing to potential bidders. 
  • All public bids will be advertised on a web based notice board.
  • All communications with potential bidders in a public bidding process while preparing a public bid document and during the bidding process will be completed through the Procurement Department.
  • All bids from vendors will be submitted to the Procurement Department for opening.
  • Bids that are compliant with submission requirements will be forwarded to the requesting department for evaluation and recommendation. 
    • Bids that are noncompliant with bid submission requirements will be rejected and not considered for award.
  • Evaluation of the bids must be based on requirements and specifications identified in the bid document.
  • Recommendation to purchase along with a summary of the evaluation must be sent to the Procurement Department for review and vendor notification. 
    The Procurement Departmentis the only department authorized to notify bidders of the results of a public bidding process.

3. PO process

  • Employees will be required to initiate a purchase requisition with appropriate departmental approval.
  • The Procurement Department will obtain quotes based on the requested information.
  • Employees are permitted to obtain quotes from vendors if they;
    • Have approval from the Procurement Department to obtain the quotes.
    • Follow the university’s procurement policy and code of conduct when completing any procurement activity.
    • Prepare documents for records purpose that includes the quote request, copies of the submitted quotes and a summary of the quote responses. 
    • Submit a purchase recommendation along with an approved purchase requisition with the above documents to the Procurement Department for review and creation of a PO.
    • Do not advise or indicate the outcome of the quote process or a purchase commitment to any vendor.
  • The list of procurement consideration is helpful in determining purchase requirements. 
  • Agreements with vendors will be in the form of a PO or a contract. The nature of the purchase will determine which is used. 
  • The Procurement Department will create a PO and forward it to the successful vendor.
  • POs and contracts must be approved before work can commence.    
  • The successful vendor is required to confirm the accuracy of the PO with the Procurement Department.
  • Contract approval must be completed as per the document execution/contract signing authority policy.
  • A receiving copy of the PO will be forwarded to the requesting employee to confirm the details of the order and to send to the university Accounts Payable Department after satisfactory delivery of the goods or services.  

4. Contract compliance

Preparation and approval of contracts must comply with the document execution/contract signing authority policy.

The university will work towards increased utilization of established contracts for the supply of goods and services. 

5. Leases or rental of equipment

Requests for lease or rental agreements must be initiated by contacting the Procurement Department. These agreements are negotiated by the Procurement Department.

6. Quotations

  • Quotations obtained as part of a purchasing process must reflect the method of calculation most appropriate for the estimated cost and/or nature of the goods and services under consideration. Estimated costs must include the price of the goods or services, all taxes, freight charges, insurance, custom and other related costs. Quotations should include applicable sustainability considerations.
  • Operational and other non-financial information should be part of a quote request when applicable

7. Approved online ordering

  • A simplified material ordering and discounted pricing program is available for low dollar valued purchases with the selected approved vendors.
  • Access to these systems and control of allowable purchase items is managed through the Procurement Department.
  • Employees are not required to process individual purchases through their P-Card or a purchase requisition.
    • Vendors are paid centrally based on a consolidation of several purchases.
    • Charges to departments are made through financial upload.
  •  Purchase value is limited to $3,000.
    • Splitting purchases over multiple transactions is not permitted to circumvent the allowable maximum value for a single purchase transaction.
  • Complete program details are available.

8. Personal funds

Employees are not permitted to use personal credit cards or other personal funds to purchase goods or services for university requirements.

The implications of using personal funds include:

  • lost opportunity to take advantage of supply agreements
  • inability to manage compliance with the requirements of university policy and procedures
  • creates inaccurate reporting of university spending for goods and services

9. Receiving goods and services

It is the responsibility of the employee making the purchase to complete the receipt of goods and services according to the terms and conditions identified on the PO or agreed upon when the P-Card transaction was initiated.

  • The employee must inspect the shipment for completeness and condition. If there is visible damage or problems with the delivery, complete the following activities:
    • Note the problems on the delivery slip and have the delivery person sign the delivery receipt to acknowledge the discrepancies.  
    • Contact the vendor to resolve the problem.
    • Notify the Procurement Department immediately if resolution cannot be reached with the vendor. 
    • The shipment must be kept in the delivered state if possible and all cartons and packaging retained.  
    • Do not open any of the packages or use any of the products until authorized by the Procurement Department.  
    • When all problems with the delivery receipt have been resolved, you can complete the product receipt.
  • If there is no apparent damage or other problems with the delivery, the employee will open the cartons and packages and compare the contents to the accompanying packing slip and the PO or P-Card request.  
  • When the delivered product matches the delivery documentation and the PO or P-Card request please proceed to vendor payment.

Personal shipments are not to be addressed to the university and will not be processed by the Procurement Department.

10. Vendor payment

The final step in receiving a delivery is to consolidate delivery paperwork in preparation for vendor payment. Please note that vendors cannot be paid until you have received the goods or services.

Purchases made by P-Card

Purchases made by PO

  • Sign the packing slip and the receiving copy of the PO and forward both to the Accounts Payable (AP) Office Room 44, Henry Hicks Academic Building. This will allow the supplier to be paid when the invoice is submitted.  
  • If the shipment is not the complete order, make a copy of the above documentation for your records before you send it to AP.   

Purchases not made with P-Card or PO

  • Purchases of goods and services made using personal credit cards or other funds may not be reimbursed. Please contact the Accounts Payable Department for additional details.
  • Vendor invoices not associated with a PO will not be prioritized and may not be paid.

11. Movement of goods across international borders

There are legislated requirements for purchasing from foreign vendors and moving any material across international borders. Dalhousie’s procedures provide valuable information that will minimize delays and costs that result from improper or incomplete documentation for cross border shipments.

  • Purchasing goods from Canadian sources whenever possible will eliminate the challenges of cross border shipments.
  • Missing or incomplete shipping documents will result in delays and possibly higher costs.
  • Contact the Procurement Department when you plan to move any types of goods across international borders to ensure that requirements are met.
  • The requirements for movement of goods across international borders are strictly enforced by government officials. The level of compliance with individual shipments has an overall impact on the university as a whole.

12. Sustainable procurement

Sustainable procurement involves the utilization of procurement criteria that includes environmental, social and ethical considerations along with generally understood commercial factors. Procurement decisions will consider the total cost of ownership of an item based on analysis of vendor’s response to the above criteria. 

The following principles should form the foundation of sustainable procurement initiatives;

  • Reuse, share, rent or lease items to eliminate the requirement to purchase.
  • Purchasing used equipment will eliminate the environmental impact associated with manufacturing and the ultimate disposal of new items.
  • If purchasing new is required, purchase items that;
    • are able to be shared with other potential users.
    • minimize resources and energy and water consumption during manufacturing, operation, and end-of-life.
    • shorten the transportation of raw materials and finished goods.
    • are durable, long lasting, reusable, or refillable.
    • minimize the requirement for packing material and use packing material that is reused and recyclable.
    • are non-toxic or minimally toxic, and preferably biodegradable when applicable
    • are produced locally for economical and environmental benefits.
    • minimize health and safety impacts for people involved in manufacturing, operation and disposal of items.
    • are from businesses that consistently demonstrate sustainable and socially conscious practices
    • where possible, meet environment and sustainability third party certification such as Energy Star® and Ecologo.

Please contact the Procurement Department for more details concerning sustainability in procurement. 

13. Protection of personal information

Employees who purchase goods or services that use or contain personal information should be aware of the policy for Protection of Personal Information From Access Outside Canada. 

Documentation to confirm compliance with the requirements of the policy must be communicated to the Procurement Department when initiating a purchase request.

14. Disposal of surplus materials

Surplus and obsolete materials are the property of Dalhousie University, and as such, should be disposed of in a manner that maximizes the value that the university receives for the materials. The complete policy statement for the disposal of surplus equipment can be viewed on the surplus section of Procurement Department’s website. 

15. Returns for Credit

Employees must notify the Procurement Department when items are to be returned for credit. The Procurement Department will obtain instructions from the supplier concerning how, where, and when items should be returned. These instructions will be communicated back to the employee who shall be responsible for returning the goods in accordance with the instructions and for any related costs or charges.