Approved by: The President
History: Issued              -- March 14, 2001
Revised            -- February 2, 2022
Last Reviewed -- February 2, 2022
Related Policies: Procurement Card Policy; Prohibited Transactions PolicyContract Approval and Signature Authority; Indemnification Policy; Record Retention Policy
Additional References: Contract Review Information for Faculty and Staff
Responsible Official: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer tel. (202) 319-5606


I. Policy Statement

The Catholic University of America supports sustaining and promoting a procurement environment based on the understanding that departments and schools are best positioned to determine what they need to run their programs and offer services. The purpose of this policy is to maintain strong business practices, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and promote the best possible value in the sourcing of products and services at the University.  

II. Definitions


Authorized Purchaser


An Authorized Purchaser is defined based on roles assigned within the Cardinal Financial system (Org. Staff, Org. Manager, or Org. Owner). These roles serve to grant access to staff and faculty who have been identified and assigned the responsibility or delegated authority for the oversight and overall financial budget integrity of an academic or administrative unit budget, including but not limited to monitoring and approving requisitions, University card charges, e-contract requests, and payments. In addition to being granted appropriate security for their roles (i.e., requestor, approver, etc.), they must attend all associated training for those roles as noted on Catholic University’s Website. Authorized purchasers are integral to the procurement process and are fully responsible for understanding Catholic University’s purchasing, payment, and vendor relations policies and procedures.  

Procurement Department

Under the direction of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, the Procurement department will establish, maintain, and interpret policies and procedures to be followed by all individuals purchasing goods on behalf of the University to provide for the efficient and responsible conduct of all procurement and disbursement activities of the University. That includes compliance with competitive bid policy, awarding contracts, distributing purchase orders, and maintaining related procurement records. All University procurement policies shall comply with federal regulations for procurement standards, as stated in 2 CFR 200, Uniform Guidance. Procurement Services consists of Procurement, Procurement Card, Vendor Management, Supplier Relationship Management, and E-Contracting.

III. Competitive Sourcing and Bidding

Competition between suppliers is one of the most effective ways to ensure that a product or service is secured at the most favorable price and terms. Additionally, the University is the recipient of federal funds and therefore must comply with Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) that mandate competitive bidding and require supplier diversification. Based on audit requirements, the University must certify that all transactions comply with the University’s policies - not just those that are federally funded. 

Procurement Services reviews all vendors for potential regulatory deficiencies, including suspension and debarment listings maintained by the System of Award Management (SAM) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The University may not enter into agreements if a vendor is debarred, suspended, or declared ineligible by a statutory or regulatory authority. 

A. Minimum Bidding Requirements

A form of competitive bidding is required for products or services with an aggregate total value of $10,000 or more. In these instances, a minimum of three bids is required and must be included with the contract request and/or requisition as evidence. Please note, the splitting of purchases through contractual obligations to meet the micro dollar purchase limit is a violation of this policy. The bid amounts include the total term of the contract (example: a blanket contract of $8000 for five years is a $40,000 contract). Bids should be solicited whenever the items can be purchased from multiple sources. Upon request, Procurement Services will assist in locating potential suppliers and obtaining pricing and product availability information. In certain circumstances, competitive bids are not appropriate, and the requirement may be waived as outlined in the “Non-Competitive Proposal - Single & Sole Source Justification Form Required” section below. The minimum bid requirements have been established based on dollar thresholds to promote competitive bidding as summarized below and detailed in corresponding sections:

Purchase Type

Contract Value

Bidding Required

Documentation Requirement

Micro Dollar

Under $10,000


Sole bid/quote

Small Dollar

$10,000 - $100,000


Minimum of 3

Request for Quote

Greater than $100,000


Minimum of 3

Request for Proposal (RFP)

Greater than $100,000


Please contact Procurement Office for assistance

Single/Sole Source

Greater than $10,000


Single/Sole Source Form and relevant supporting documents

Preferred Vendor



Sole bid/quote

Consortium Partner



Documentation from sourced contract through consortium to include bids, RFP, final contract, amended contracts

B. Micro Dollar Purchases (Purchases under $10,000) - No Bidding Required

Multiple quotes are not required to purchase goods or services whose aggregate dollar total is less than $10,000. The requester should still seek to ensure that the price is fair and reasonable. Fair and reasonable pricing is based on supply and demand, market indices, and general market conditions. Therefore, departments should utilize knowledge of the industry sector and its pricing, and available resources such as commercial prices, previously proposed prices, contract prices, government pricing, consortium pricing, and pricings found in published journals, advertisements, internet sites, and auctions. The splitting of purchases through contractual obligations to meet the micro dollar purchase limit is a violation of this policy.

C. Small Dollar Purchases (Purchases $10,000 - 100,000.00) - Bidding Required - Quotes and Proposals

The University requires a minimum of three bids for purchases with an aggregate dollar total of at least $10,000 and less than $100,000. Copies of those bids must be included with either the contract request or requisition submission. Ultimately, the goal is to enlist those suppliers with the products, capabilities, deliverability, service levels, expertise, resources, and knowledge of the University environment to afford a successful outcome for the University stakeholders(s). Supplier bids/quotes/proposals should be reviewed to determine if the most competitive pricing has been offered. If the supplier with the lowest price is not selected, justification may be required. 

D. Request for Proposal/Quote (RFP/RFQ) (Purchases Greater than $100,000) - Formal Bidding Required

When the total cost for goods and certain services is greater than $100,000 and the buyer knows exactly what product or service is wanted or needed and the buyer only needs to know the price, a Request for Quote (RFQ) is required.

When the cost of goods and certain services is $100,000 or greater and the goods or services to be procured may be complex and/or not have standardized specifications, the Request for Proposal (RFP) process is required. An RFP may be needed if the following conditions exist:

  • multiple solutions are available that will fit the need
  • numerous suppliers can provide the exact solution
  • there is a requirement to determine the “best value” of the supplier’s available solutions
  • products/services for the project cannot be specified
  • different skills, expertise, and technical capabilities are required from the suppliers
  • the lowest price is not the only determining criterion for awarding the contract

The RFP process brings structure to the procurement decision by outlining requirements, articulating evaluation criteria including relative importance, and communicating formal activities such as a pre-bid meeting/conference in a single document. An RFP should include standard University requirements maintained by Procurement as well as requirements specific to the product/service being sought. Specifications must be precise and describe the technical specifications for the product or service. The description should include the range of acceptable characteristics or minimum acceptable standards and not contain parameters that unduly restrict competition. Potential suppliers should not participate in requirement development of the RFP. Suppliers that participate in the requirement development of the RFP will be disqualified from the bidding process for the RFP. For all transactions requiring formalized bids, the department is encouraged to consult with Procurement Services once an RFQ/RFP has been drafted. Procurement will work with the department to ensure the process is completed following University policy and applicable Federal guidance and regulations. If you are unsure if a RFP or RFQ is required for your purchase, please contact the Procurement Services office.  

E. Non Competitive Proposal - Single & Sole Source Justification Form Required

As part of the requirement for maintaining a maximally practicable competitive sourcing requirement, departments must provide ample justification for exemption from the competitive sourcing process. Requests for exemptions from the small-dollar purchase and RFP/RFQ criteria should only occur in select circumstances, such as:

  • Products or services that can be obtained from only one person or firm (i.e. competition is precluded because of the existence of patents, copyrights, confidential processes, proprietary information, or other such conditions).
  • The product or service must match or be compatible with current equipment, services, inventory, systems, and/or active warranty, or be an upgrade to existing software or the continuation of an ongoing service.
  • The product needed is specifically required for use in conjunction with a grant or contract. A Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity expressly authorizes noncompetitive proposals in response to a written request from the non-Federal entity.
  • The product or service requested is controlled or mandated by the local utility or government.
  • The supplier is the only one who can meet the required timeline.
  • Competitive bids are solicited, and no responsive bid is received (inadequate competition)
  • An unusual or compelling urgency exists; emergency conditions will not permit a delay resulting from the competitive bid process.
  • The sole source  is unique in nature such as artistic services.
  • The vendor provides a significant cost savings and ROI to the University.

In these circumstances the department seeking to purchase the goods or services must justify the Sole or Single Source procurement decision by completing the Single/Sole Source Justification Form.

Approved Sole Source requests that are attached to a contract will be good for the initial term of that contract only. Amendments or extensions to the contract may need to be supported by a new Sole Source request.

The following examples of bid exemptions selected in a previous Sole Source request would require a New Sole Source for the same vendor:

  • An amendment in the original contract for a change in product or service.
  • The supplier is the only one who can meet the required timeline.
  • Competitive bids are solicited, and no responsive bid is received (inadequate competition)
  • An unusual or compelling urgency exists; emergency conditions will not permit a delay resulting from the competitive bid process.
  • The vendor provides a significant cost savings and ROI to the University.

If you are unsure of your Sole Source requirements, please contact

F. Consortium Partners

The University is a member of various procurement consortium partnerships that allow the University to take advantage of favorable negotiated contracts with suppliers. Since these contracts have already been through the competitive bidding process, vendors through consortium partners can serve as a source for procuring goods and services or for researching and comparing pricing for bids.

G. Preferred Vendor Listing

The University has established set pricing and terms for certain vendors who provide goods and services frequently purchased within the University. The use of these vendors is preferred and can be identified through a preferred vendor listing. No bidding or sole source documentation is required if a preferred vendor is used. The preferred vendor listing will be reviewed at least bi-annually by Procurement to ensure that the University obtains the most competitive and favorable rates.

IV. Confidentiality of Formal Bids, Quotations, and Proposals

In general, bids, quotations, and proposals are considered proprietary information and may be governed by a non-disclosure agreement. As such, this information must be held in strict confidence by the employee(s) evaluating, approving, or reviewing the bid, quote, or proposal and should not be shared directly with any other vendor or persons that are directly or indirectly involved in the bid. Upholding the confidentiality of bids, quotations, and proposals ensures that no vendor is given an unfair advantage or negatively impacted by the disclosure of information.

V. Purchase Order and Contract Signature Authority

Upon selection of a vendor, a contract may be necessary. Contracts and agreements for the procurement of goods and services must be inputted and matriculated through Cardinal Contract for formal review and approval.

A. Contract Signature Authority

End-users within departments do not have the authority to sign contracts or agreements with outside parties on behalf of the University unless identified explicitly in the Contract Approval and Signature Authority policy. Per this policy, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer is responsible for contracts for the procurement of goods and services except as designated in the policy. Individuals inappropriately acting as an agent on behalf of the University without the proper delegation of authority as referenced in the aforementioned policy may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination under the applicable University Policy.

B. Purchase Order Authority

In general, a purchase order will be issued in conjunction with the executed contract. A purchase order may be issued instead of an executed contract in certain instances. The following individuals are granted the sole authority to execute a purchase order on behalf of the University:

Purchase Order Authority Limits

Delegate Title 

Unlimited Authority

University President

Unlimited Authority

Executive Vice President/

Chief Operating Officer

Purchases up to $75,000*

Director of Procurement

Assistant Controller - Finance Operations

* Purchase orders above $75,000 for short-term contracts (12 mos. or less) signed by the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer may be executed by Director of Procurement or Assistant Controller of Finance Operations

VI. Unauthorized Purchases

Purchases made without timely or appropriate departmental approval or university-approved purchase order are deemed unauthorized. Timely is defined as having the required approval before the order is placed, the service rendered, or the invoice received. Any person, regardless of their purchasing authority who makes an unauthorized purchase of goods and services may be responsible for paying the total charges or cancellation fees associated with that transaction and/or returning the product. Additionally, abuse of this policy could lead to the revocation of the individual’s procurement authority, removal of access to procurement systems, and additional disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

VII. Ethics and Conflict of Interest 

The procurement of goods and services should comply with all applicable federal laws, and the University’s policies and procedures, including the Conflict of Interest Policy for Faculty and Staff. Procurement Services and the Director of Compliance, Ethics, and Privacy will review all conflicts of interest with vendors.

The University subscribes to the intent of the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP) Code of Ethics. In addition to the University’s Conflict of Interest policy and NAEP Code of Ethics, the following ethical business standards shall govern all procurement transactions:

  • Gifts from Vendors:  In general, employees may not accept gifts from vendors with whom the University does business currently, has done business, or could reasonably anticipate doing business in the future except as outlined in the Gifts from Contractors Vendors Policy.
  • Anti-Kickback Clause:  The Anti-Kickback Act of 1986 prohibits any person from providing, attempting to provide, or offering to provide any kickback; soliciting, accepting, or attempting to accept any kickback; or including, directly or indirectly, the amount of any kickback in the contract price. 
  • Procurement Activities Related to Students: Staff and faculty are responsible for ensuring any student assigned purchasing responsibilities adheres to this policy.
  • Use of University Assets:  Members of the University are required to act with fiduciary care and follow applicable university procedures regarding the use and control of tangible and intangible university assets, including confidential and privileged information. Unauthorized use of university assets in connection with any external activity is prohibited.

Failure to comply with applicable federal laws, the University’s policies and procedures, including the Conflict of Interest policy, or violate ethical business standards may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination per applicable University policy. Violations and infractions of this policy should be reported to Procurement Services and the Ethics and Compliance office.