Purchasing FAQs

Q. What are the hours of operation for Purchasing?
A. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Q. Who do I contact in regard to questions about Purchase Orders?
A. If the Purchase Order is Departmental (DEP), you may call the Purchasing Help Desk at 409-747-8000.  If the Purchase Order is an Acquisition order (ACQ), please contact the buyer as shown on the PO.

Q. Is it true departmental administrators and authorized signers on accounts to have the authority to procure (purchase) goods and services?
A. No. The President of the University is authorized by the Board of Regents to execute the contracts and other written instruments on behalf of the Board. In addition, the President is authorized to delegate signature authority to other members of the University staff for limited purposes. Those delegated persons are in receipt of a presidential letter to that effect.
Specifically, the Director of Purchasing and the Purchasing Manager have the sole responsibility for the procurement of goods and services for the University. The buyers are delegated procurement authority by the Director of Purchasing. (Ref: UTMB Institutional Handbook of Operating Procedures; policy 4.5.6)  (http://www.utmb.edu/policy/ihop/)

Q. Whom do I call to determine if we have a contract for a specific commodity?
A. Please call Central Purchasing at 409-266-1102.

Q. At what dollar level of purchase are quotations or bids required?
A. Orders over $1,000 must be submitted to Purchasing for processing. Quotations estimated to be greater than $5,000 but less than $50,000 must be received from two H.U.B. vendors and the suggested source as a minimum. Three written bids are required for purchases of $50,000 or greater.

Q. What if the lowest bid is not acceptable?
A. A justification memo must be sent with your recommendation. It must state how and why the lowest bid does not meet the specifications.

Q. What if I have an emergency? How can I get what I need in a hurry?
A. Please call Central Purchasing at 409-266-1102.

Q. What if I've made a mistake in ordering something and need to change the order. How do I do it?
A. 1. Most orders can be updated online utilizing the PeopleSoft e-Procurement PO Change Request process. Detailed instructions regarding the PO Change Request process are available from the eProcurement Quick Reference User Guide. 

2. For changes that cannot be requested online or for any questions regarding PO changes, please email the Purchasing Help Desk.

Q. What if what I receive does not meet the specifications of my Purchase Order?
A. Please contact your buyer as shown on Purchase Order.

Q. Why do I have to buy from UTMB or Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) contracts when I can get items cheaper from other vendors?
A. Saving money is always a prime consideration when making a purchase. All Purchasing personnel is expected to secure maximum value for our dollars and conserve UTMB funds. UTMB Institutional and GPO contracts are developed and competitively bid with those same goals in mind and generally offer quality products and services at fair prices.
It's important to remember that these contracts are developed with much more than just the lowest cost in mind. They also include value-added services such as prompt delivery, extensive reports, and other services that benefit UTMB as a whole. The competitive bidding process affords all interested vendors an opportunity to participate in our business and the contracts that result from such processes are legally binding documents that UTMB and the vendor must adhere to. Purchasing off-contract without justifiable cause subverts the bidding process and lessens the volume and its related benefits to UTMB as an institution.

Q. What does Exclusive Acquisition Justification (EAJ) mean? How do I order these items?
A. An Exclusive Acquisition is defined as a product or service that is practicably available only from one source. A proprietary specification restricts the acceptable product(s) or service(s) to one manufacturer or vendor. A common example would be specification by a brand name that excludes consideration of approved "equals". Although all sole source specifications are proprietary, all proprietary specifications are not the sole source. Proprietary items may be available from several distributors.
A sole source item is described as an item with only a single supplier. Sole source items are exempt from the formal bidding process. Many times departments send requests for sole source purchases that describe an item made only by one manufacturer, however, the item is distributed and readily available from many different suppliers, so it does not qualify as a sole source. It has a sole manufacturer, but not a sole supplier. As long as there is more than one potential bidder for the item or service, there is no justification for a sole source determination.

Other classifications for Exclusive Acquisition procurement include ‘Best Value’ that is used when standardization or formulary is needed.

Emergency purchases are requested for which delay would create a hazard to life, health, safety, welfare, or property.

Professional Services include only services defined by the Government Code 2254.002 e.a. Architects, Engineers, RNs, CPAs, Physician, Optometrist, Land Surveyor or Real Estate Appraiser.

Q. Why does Purchasing need to get so many bids?
A. Competition is the central principle of public procurement. In its purest form, competition ensures a free, open, and fair process that should result in a fair & reasonable price paid for products and services. When competition is available but is artificially restricted, the principles of public procurement are defeated.

Q. Why does Purchasing spend extra time sending out quotes when the department has already gotten quotes?
A. The solicitation of bids and quotations is a Purchasing function. Quotations received by departments from suppliers usually contain legal terms and conditions contrary to those contained in UTMB's bid/quotation documents. Purchasing will ensure that the suppliers adhere to the appropriate terms and conditions. Note: It is our experience that, in many instances, the bidder will respond with a better price (bid) when the invitation or solicitation comes from the University's purchasing department.

Q. Can employees participate in or benefit from UTMB purchases or sales?
A. Purchase from or sale to any officer or employee of the UT System or one of its components of any supplies, materials, services, equipment, or property must have the prior approval of the institution President. Any such purchases may be made only if the cost is less than from any other known source. This does not apply to sales or purchases made at public auction or sales approved by the institutional president valued at $5,000 or less. (Ref: UT System Policy, UTS 159)

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