Office of Academic Affairs

Purchasing Guidelines

(updated 9/14/2012)



Department chairs are responsible for making purchases within the approved budgets and in accordance with College policies.  Whenever practical, please take the time to secure competitive bids/quotes and to explore multiple options for best pricing in relation to quality and service. 


Department chairs are responsible for staying within the College approved budget.  To this end, faculty should be communicating purchase needs with the department chair prior to making purchases.  Communicating with the department chair prior to ordering ensures that funds are available for the purchase and that the purchase is in accordance with College policies and is reimbursable or can/will be ordered.  If there are any questions concerning a purchase, including how a purchase should be made or whether the purchase follows College policies, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs.


Purchasing Methods

It is recommended that purchases be made using a college-issued credit card.  Departments can also submit payment voucher requests to request a check be issued and sent to a vendor.  If a vendor requires a purchase order, this is also an acceptable method.  Purchases can be made using personal funds or a personal credit card; however, using a college-issued credit card is preferred.  


College Credit Cards


We are in the process of transitioning to greater use of College credit cards during the 2012-13 year.  College credit cards have been issued to individuals who have authority to make purchases on behalf of the College.  Please check with your department chair if you are unsure of who has a College credit card in your department/division.  Department chairs should be in contact with the Assistant Dean if they would like to acquire a credit card for departmental purchases.  


Purchase Order System


To place an order using the purchase order system, a requisition form must be completed, sent to the department chair/division head for approval, and then forwarded to the Purchasing Office for processing.  The Purchasing Office can place the order if requested, otherwise the PO number will be issued to the requester and the requester will make the purchase.   Upon receipt of an invoice from the vendor, Business Services will forward the invoice to the department.  The department chair is responsible for certifying that the purchased items have been received by signing the invoice and noting the appropriate account to be charged.  Invoices must be returned to Business Services within five working days to ensure timely payment to the vendor and to avoid any additional late fees a vendor might have.


Personal Funds


Those who use personal funds, or a personal credit card, to make purchases must request reimbursement using a voucher form (available on the Business Services webpage).  The voucher must be submitted to the department chair/division head along with an original itemized receipt (credit card statements and credit card receipts are not sufficient documentation) within 30 days of the purchase. 


Office Supplies

Office supplies, including printer and toner cartridges, must be ordered through the online purchasing system.  The College has a consortial agreement with other Iowa colleges to purchase office supplies through Staples.  Online ordering is efficient and convenient, with next day delivery for most orders placed by 2 p.m.  Departments are billed directly, eliminating the need for invoices, vouchers, and receipts; also, purchases are not subject to sales tax, which results in a savings to the department and the College.  Whenever possible, purchase items tagged with the blue “on contract” label, as the College has negotiated special pricing on these items.  Whenever possible, please try to wait to place an order until the total order is more than $50.  Generally departments shouldn’t be placing orders more often than once a week. 


Office supplies can also be purchased through the College’s Bookstore.


Copy paper for desk-top printers must be ordered through the Mail and Service Center, where it is sold by the ream.  Building supervisors are responsible for ordering paper for printer/copiers.


Academic Programs Assistants can help place orders, or department chairs may place orders using this website:  https://www.StaplesLink.com.  (This is a corporate website; do not order through Staples.com.)  Department chairs will need a user name and password to place an order; contact Business Services to set up an account and help in using the website.


Office supplies, printer paper, and printer cartridges purchased for home offices are not reimbursable.


Computers and Technology-Related Equipment

The College has developed a policy regarding the purchase of computer hardware and software which ensures that all new hardware and software is compatible with the campus network. This policy also ensures that the College maintains licensing documentation.


All hardware and software purchases for campus use and supported by institutional funds, including faculty development and restricted funds, must be made through the Information Technology Office, which will find the lowest prices and best service arrangements. 


Those who purchase personal technology-related items for campus use should consult with Information Technology in advance regarding such matters as network compatibility.  Additionally, any personally-purchased software installed on a college-owned computer must adhere to the licensing regulations stipulated by the software manufacturer.


Capital Purchases

Each year, in conjunction with the regular operating budget planning for the following year, the Dean’s Office will solicit a list of priority capital needs from department chairs.  Items in this category can include equipment, non-expendable items, furniture, and renovation projects valued at $1,000 or more.  The Dean’s Office will compile a master list of needs for Academic Affairs to be considered in connection with needs from other divisions of the College.  Generally items/projects valued at less than $1,000 should be built into regular operating budget planning.  If your department is unsure where a particular item/project should be requested during the planning process, please be in contact with the Dean or Assistant Dean.


Extraordinary Needs

Extraordinary needs that arise throughout the year for new equipment or equipment repair should be brought to the attention of the dean.  In particular, extraordinary needs that arise making it challenging to stay within the approved budget need to be discussed with the Dean when they occur.



If you have questions about these guidelines or procedures, please be in touch with the Office of Academic Affairs. 


As a reminder, expenses incurred that have failed to follow College guidelines/policies and/or that are made without prior approval from the department chair (ensuring sufficient funds) can be denied reimbursement.