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Policies and Procedures

NIU Business Procedures Manual

Business Procedures of the University

All purchasing activities for the University community are governed by the Illinois State Procurement Code, effective July 1, 1998, and the Procurement Rules of the Chief Procurement Officer, effective November 20, 1998 as well as University policies and regulations. See Illinois Laws Governing Procurement.

While there are many larger purchases that require the use of the Sealed Bid or Request for Proposal procedures, there are also many other orders for items which local vendors may be able to provide. Smaller dollar purchases may use some other competitive selection process. The type of purchase establishes the dollar threshold for an order requiring the use of the formal bidding process, as follows:

  • For professional and artistic services:
    $100,000 as of August 9, 2017
  • For purchases of commodities, equipment and supplies:
    Greater than $100,000 as of August 9, 2017
  • For construction-type work:
    Greater than $100,000 as of September 01, 2016 (no change)
  • For architect/engineering work:
    $25,000 (no change)
  • For real property and capital improvement leases:
    $100,000 or more (or 10,000 Sq. ft. or greater) (no change)
  • Other exceptions granted to universities: Contact Procurement Services

Orders for products and services totaling $50,000 and up, to the approved bid limit, for the current fiscal year require three quotes. When preparing a purchase requisition in the dollar range noted, requesting departments must attach three quotes for review by Procurement Services staff. The quotes are the result of the following actions:

  • developing requirements or specifications;
  • contacting the vendors with the needs and requirements.  

Small businesses and businesses qualified under the Illinois Business Enterprise Program (BEP) should be included in the quoting effort, whenever practical. 

If requesters are not familiar with potential suppliers or the competitive market for the products or services they are ordering, please contact Procurement Services staff for assistance.

This new policy is approved and effective September 1, 2016, and until further notice, according to the Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education. This approval is required under section 4.2020 of the procurement rules (44 Ill. Admin. Code 4.2020).  All purchasing activities for the University community are governed by the Illinois State Procurement Code, effective July 1, 1998, and the Procurement Rules of the Chief Procurement Officer, effective November 1, 1998, as well as University policies and regulations.

Stringing is a prohibited practice used to avoid the bidding or Request for Proposal process for those products or services that cost more than the bid threshold amount. Stringing is not allowed per the Illinois Procurement Code. The Illinois Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education’s website provides the following description:

Dividing or planning procurements to avoid use of competitive procedures (stringing) is prohibited. Periodic purchases of similar supplies from several different vendors to maintain inventory is not stringing unless the purchases are planned to avoid use of competitive procedures. When the university or SPO identifies three or more purchases of the same item or similar items with a total value exceeding the small purchase limit during any12 month period, the university purchasing director and the SPO shall jointly determine whether the circumstances, including, but not limited to, frequency of purchases, cost of individual purchases and future needs, warrant issuing a competitive or other consolidated procurement.

All bids, as well as all awards and special notices, are advertised in the Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin. This is a web-based Internet site available without charge to all potential bidders. Notices for upcoming bids and Requests for Proposal appear in the Procurement Bulletin for a minimum of 14 days. The University uploads bids and Request for Proposals on this website, available for direct downloading by vendors. The website is available 24 hours a day and also carries bid notices for the other 12 campuses of Illinois Public Education.

The Procurement Services Department at NIU is the only department that is authorized to prepare and issue purchase order obligations for the university.

The university's purchasing system requires a formal written purchase authorization in order to initiate a business transaction between a vendor and the university except as noted. Purchases may be made under the P-CARD program or under a small expenditure pre-approved procurement authorization. See Procurement And Payment To Suppliers Without A Purchase Order. Without a written purchase order prepared by the Procurement Services Department, or an order with a required contract document prepared by the Office of General Counsel Contracts Administrator, the university may not initiate payments on invoices submitted. The university may also not honor invoices dated prior to the issue date of the related university purchase order.

Where a two-party signed agreement is required, no work on any such procurement should begin until all authorized parties to the contract have signed a formal written document.

If a vendor ships goods or provides services to the university without having a valid purchase order, the university is not obligated to pay the invoice - only a valid Purchase Order provides that obligation. This is true even if a university employee requests of a potential vendor that items be shipped or services provided.

True emergency situations do occur from time to time that may require goods to be shipped or services performed before a purchase order can be issued. Should that occur, written authorization from the Office of Procurement Services will be required to authorize payment.

Questions or concerns about this policy may be addressed to the Director of Procurement Services or any Buyer in the department.

Businesses interested in becoming vendors are urged to make contact with the Office of Procurement Services. The university is always looking for qualified vendors who can provide quality goods and services required to operate the university. An important first step for any business desiring significant work with the university is to register as a vendor on the State of Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin. See the information as follows and be sure to follow all requirements.

Our address is Lowden Hall 107, DeKalb, IL 60115. The main office phone number is 815-753-1671, and hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.