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You are here:  UL Procurement / Policies & Procedures / Procurement Procedure

Procurement Procedure

This page provides information on 1) purchase orders; 2) verbal orders; 3) user groups; 4) authorisation of orders; 5) financial regulations; 6) approved suppliers; 7) fair competition; 8) EU law; 9) EU thresholds; 10) EU tendering procedures; 11) public sector collaboration; 12) evaluation of offers; 13) conditions of purchase; 14) code of ethics; 15) travel and subsistence; 16) departmental stocks and shares; 17) division of responsibility; 18) competition; 19) definition of quotations and tenders; 20) receiving tenders; 21) relationships with suppliers; 22) invoices.

1. Purchase orders: Official purchase orders shall be issued for all goods and services. 

  • Where a procurement competition has been completed under the UL procurement policy, approved by the procurement office and a valid contract for supply has been approved and signed.
  • In the case of approved subscriptions/memberships of professional and corporate bodies.
  • Where an authorised purchasing card can be utilised.
  • where items can be ordered through the web with suppliers approved by the University for this purpose.

2. Verbal orders: Where verbal orders are necessarily raised as a matter of urgency, at the time of placement of requirement the supplier shall also be given the official order number, the name of the person raising the order and, the name and address of the section to which the goods should be addressed. The official order must be issued within twenty-four hours and the order should be marked "confirmation of verbal/telephone order - do not duplicate".

3. User groups: The co-ordinated approach will be facilitated via the creation of a number of user groups, consisting of staff involved in purchasing significant expenditures of a particular commodity. User groups will be involved in initiating and completing competitive tendering activities for a particular commodity, and this process will be co-ordinated through the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager.

  • All staff involved in user groups and procurement activities shall be offered appropriate training in procurement best practices.
  • The importance of effective management information relating to procurement cannot be over-emphasised. Staff and user groups should obtain the following information (which will be available from the new University financial management package):
              o list of expenditure by commodity group
              o list of expenditure by commodity group by department
              o list of expenditure by suppliers by commodity group
              o list of expenditure by suppliers by department

This will enable staff and user groups to obtain appropriate information, which will provide the basis for identification of targets by supplier or by commodity group. In addition the analysis by department will provide the basis for the identification of common purchases between departments and provide for the selection of the appropriate staff to participate in the user groups.

The University Procurement and Supply Chain Manager shall work with the user group to identify those instances where aggregation could result in cost savings. If appropriate, the relevant user group shall nominate a Project Leader to work with the University Procurement and Supply Chain Manager to implement a University wide contract in respect of that commodity or supplier.

4. Authorisation of orders: All purchase orders shall be authorised in accordance with the Finance Regulations. 

5. Financial regulations: The Scheme of Delegation reflects the requirements detailed by Financial Regulations and must include the following parameters:

  • All purchase orders must be authorised by the Budget Holder and Head of Department
  • All purchases must be authorised by the Head of Department, or his delegated manager as defined in the Scheme of Delegation.

 For other purchases the Head of Department should formally approve a list of delegated authority bearing in mind both the operational requirements of the department and the need to safeguard good financial management.

6. Approved suppliers: Purchases must be made from Contracted or Approved suppliers unless there are compelling reasons approved by the Head of Department, or his nominated manager. Staff must retain the approval on the record for inspection for twelve years. Contracted and Approved Suppliers are defined in the University's Supplier Management Policy.

7. Fair competition: In order to ensure that all purchases are made at the most advantageous cost consistent with required quality, fair competition shall prevail, and purchasers shall further ensure that value for money is obtained by one of the following :

  • For purchases above 200,000 Euro an EU tender is required. The Procurement and Supply Chain Manager must be consulted and full details of the tender process recorded centrally, on behalf of the University.
  • For purchases between 25,000 Euro and 200,000 Euro : By inviting formal tenders within the procedure laid down in EU Directives for Tendering Procedures.
  • For purchases between 5,000 Euro and 25,000 Euro : By inviting written quotations within the procedure laid down in UL Procurement Policy and Procedures.
  • For other purchases under 5,000 Euro written quotations are not required.
  • The thresholds are mandatory and represent minimum requirements. For particular purchases it may be appropriate to use stricter limits where this could lead to improved value for money. (For example, to seek tenders, rather than quotations, for high specification equipment costing less than 25,000 Euro.) Under no circumstances should requirements be split to bring purchases under a particular threshold.
  • On rare occasions there may be only one supplier of a particular item and no alternative is available ("sole source"). Sometimes an item has to be purchased from a particular supplier, usually to ensure compatibility with existing goods or servicing arrangements ("single source"). In absolute emergencies there may not be time to seek competitive bids (see Supplier Selection Justification Form). If any of the forgoing occurs, staff should make a full, written justification for approval by the Head of Department for the decision not to seek competitive bids. Such approvals must be retained on the record for twelve years after the end of the financial year in which they occurred. The User and/or the Head of Department may find it advisable to consult with the Procurement and Supply Chain Office on such occasions.

8. EU Law: Universities are subject to requirements arising from EU Law with regard to Public Procurement and hence the EU Directives. Non-adherence to EU directives can result in serious legal and financial sanctions for the University.

There are three different types of contracts identified in the EU Directives:

  • Supply Contract - Purchase or hire of goods (including installation services where appropriate)
  • Services Contract - Provision of services, including maintenance.
  • Works Contract - Building and civil engineering work, demolition, installation of plumbing, heating or electrical equipment and building completion work (e.g. plastering, papering and tiling).

All types of procurement fall within one of these three categories above and EU directives are in place for all three categories. Any contract placed by the University, if it exceeds the relevant financial threshold in the Directive, must be processed and awarded in accordance with the procedures of the Directive, unless it is covered by a clearly defined exception.

The EU Public Procurement Directives must be followed where a project is wholly or partly (more than 50%) financed by EU institutions.

9. EU thresholds: The financial thresholds in the Directives are given in Euros. The European Commission, under the terms of the Directives, usually at two yearly intervals, revises the equivalent values in national currencies.

The Department of Finance informs all public authorities of changes to the thresholds as they occur.

The thresholds exclude VAT .

The thresholds apply to the total value or quantity of an individual contract and include:

1.           Overall cost (including residual value).

2.           The 'adjusted' value of previous 12 months.

3.           The value estimated over the full term if greater than 12 months.

The thresholds for bodies governed by public law (Universities) in Euro's are as follows:

Services 207,000 Euro
Supply 207,000 Euro
Works 5,000,000 Euro

The EU directives are based on the principle that, if the total value of a contract exceeds the financial threshold in the relevant EU directive, the contract must be open for competition across the European Union and must be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).

10. EU tendering procedures overview: The EU directives have legal force in Ireland and compliance is essential. The EU Directives recognise four types of tendering procedures:


Tender Procedure



All interested suppliers are invited to express an interest and may submit a tender


Only suppliers invited by the contract authority may submit tenders


Designed to provide more flexibility in the tendering process for more complex contracts, for example public private partnerships (PPPs). Contracting authorities must advertise their requirements and enter dialogue with interested parties, (pre - qualified on the same basis as for restricted procedure, described above). Through the process of dialogue with a range of candidates, a contracting authority may identify arrangements or solutions which meet its requirements.


The contract authority consults suppliers of their choice and negotiates the contract terms with one or more of them. Used in very limited circumstances and as a rule not permitted to be used routinely. The Procurement & Supply Chain Manager can provide more detail regarding this procedure.

The European Commission has a strong preference that the open tendering procedure is used to ensure the greatest possible competition, transparency and objectivity.

11. Public sector collaboration: Whenever possible, procurement contracts made available by public sector collaboration should be supported, provided always that a value for money can be demonstrated. These include arrangements made by the Irish University collaboration group, government department or agency contracts. Individual department purchasing arrangements should be made available for the use of all other departments.

12. Evaluation of offers: Evaluation of offers shall take account of all relevant costs relating to operational needs, acquisition, servicing, performance and disposal.

Official orders and internal requisitions shall indicate clearly the nature and quality of the goods or services required, the University's credit period and any contract, conditions of use, quotation or agreed price relating thereto. Purchasing Card transactions shall be recorded as laid down in the appropriate procedure.

13. Conditions of purchase: Unless other arrangements are approved by the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, all purchase orders shall be placed on the basis of the University's Standard Conditions of Purchase, which are detailed in Appendix A. Staff purchasing must advise suppliers that the University's Standard Conditions of Purchase will always take precedence. Purchasers are required to examine a supplier's Conditions of Sale carefully and where these are in conflict with the University's Standard Conditions of Purchase, advice must be sought from the University Procurement and Supply Chain Manager.

The University's Standard Conditions of Purchase stipulate that payment should not be made prior to the receipt of goods or services. Should prior payment exceeding 25,000 Euro be requested by a supplier special conditions of contract, designed to safeguard the University's interests, must be approved by the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager.

Wherever possible purchasers should liase with the University Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management and other users to achieve standardisation of those products which among other things will produce benefits in negotiating the most competitive terms, achieve value for money and simplify arrangements for repairs/services. Fragmentation of ordering amongst a wide range of suppliers for similar goods/supplies will usually reduce the scope for competitive tendering and for improving product quality and availability.

Quotation and Tender documents must be kept for at least twelve years after the end of the financial year in which the contract is finally completed. All action taken during the course of competitive tendering activities must be recorded and documented by the responsible person. It should be noted that the Statute of Limitations requires that documents relating to purchase orders and contracts must be retained for not less than twelve years.

Where goods or services are used by more than one department, but the supply is not organised via a University central stores, the key user(s) or the person with relevant expertise should be involved in any competitive tendering activities on behalf of the University in consultation with the University Procurement and Contracts Manager and other users. The University Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management will keep a list of the major users and persons with relevant expertise.

Where goods and services are available from only a limited number of suppliers or from appointed agents where a manufacturer controls the price structure, competition should be encouraged by actively inviting potential competitors to enter the market, adjusting specifications where possible to assist this goal.

The Executive Committee of the University has delegated to the University Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management the responsibility of ensuring that the procedures outlined in this document have been carried out throughout the University. All procedures will be monitored on an ongoing basis. The Procurement and Supply Chain Manager shall continuously review all procurement procedures and will prepare a regular report for the Director of Finance.

Orders shall not be raised for part requirements in such a manner as to avoid the provisions of  this procurement policy.

All purchase orders must include an exact price or unit cost. If exact pricing is not possible then estimated costs must be indicated unless there are good reasons for not doing so (the reasons for which must be recorded and made available for inspection on request). The purchaser must record details of the source of the price quoted as a brief note.

14. Code of ethics

  • Any personal interest which may impinge or might reasonably be deemed by others to impinge upon impartiality in any matter relevant to procurement duties should be declared to the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager for recording and approval before conducting the business.
  • The confidentiality of information received in the course of duty should be respected and specific details of suppliers' offers must not be divulged to competitors. Information given in the course of duty should be true and fair and never designed to mislead and should never be used for personal gain.
  • While bearing in mind the advantages to the University of maintaining a continuing relationship with a supplier, any arrangement that might in the long term, prevent the effective operation of fair competition should be avoided.
  • Gifts, other than items of very small intrinsic value such as business diaries, calendars, telephone pads etc, should not be accepted. Items for personal use should be declined. Modest hospitality is an accepted courtesy of a business relationship. However, the recipients should not allow a position to be reached whereby they might be or might be deemed by others to have been influenced in making a business decision as a consequence of accepting such hospitality. The frequency and scale of hospitality should not be significantly greater than the University would be likely to provide in return.
  • When it is not easy to decide between what is and is not acceptable in terms of gifts or hospitality, the offer should be declined or advice sought from the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager.
  • Personal inducements in any form from suppliers of goods and services to employees are forbidden. Any instances of such inducements being offered must be advised immediately to the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager.

15. Travel and subsistence: see the UL Travel and Subsistence Policy for details.

16. Departmental stocks and shares: Departmental stocks held at or near the point of use are to be identified and kept to a practical minimum. Shelf life, stock level, rate of consumption and ordering lead-time should be monitored to reduce wastage and stock holding. Account should also be taken of the interest lost on investments in stocks.

Stores providing a service throughout the University. Stores should hold stock complying with the following criteria:

  • Bulk Purchased Supplies
    Items of sufficient demand in common use which offer a reduction in cost over direct supply taking account of all stock holding costs.
  • Instant Access
    Only those items whose immediate availability is considered important to maintain a University Service.

Stores are located in departments, which are normally the major users of the commodities held in the stores. Nevertheless department stores offering to supply the whole University must be able to deliver to requisitions within a reasonable period of receiving a requisition for the item in stock. Goods should be re-charged at a published price, which may include a margin to recover overheads. The allowance should be declared and agreed by the Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management . Charges may include an element for labour.

All Stores offering a service to other departments must maintain stock records. Information on the items held and the issue price must be made available to all departments.

Each store shall provide an annual written report to the Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, which shall include information relating to:

  • total value of annual issues
  • usage by departments
  • average stock holding
  • pricing structure
  • expenditure by commodity group
  • expenditure by supplier
  • performance targets for next financial year
  • assessment against performance targets

17. Division of responsibility: To ensure that responsibilities relating to purchases are divided, at least two people shall be involved in authorising the three stages of purchasing goods and services. The three stages are the requisition, the purchase order and the goods receipt note. Authorising shall be undertaken either by signature or by electronic means within the University Financial System.

18. Competition: Without competition the University has less purchasing power. Competition may secure better value even where one supplier's equipment is strongly preferred on technical or compatibility grounds.

19. Definition of quotations and tenders: For the purposes of this procurement policy a quotation is a procedure for seeking a price and delivery time for goods which are easily specified. A tender is the more formal and detailed exercise of obtaining sealed bids for goods where the value is high and/or the specification is detailed or complex and/or special terms and conditions may apply.

20. Receiving tenders: The procedures for dealing with quotations and tenders are available from the Procurement and Supply Chain Office with guidelines for use. National procedures for opening tenders are also outlined in the Green Book.

21. Relationships with suppliers

General: The selection of suppliers will be based on sound business principles which recognises, amongst others factors, the quality of the goods and services offered, relevant experience and reputation, financial stability and the ability to perform the contract in a timely manner.

Sourcing: As a general procurement policy, the University does not seek to unduly restrict its sources of supply. Where economic, strategic or technological benefits may accrue, the Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management will endeavour to approve three sources of supply.

In cases of strategically important goods and services where sources are limited and security of supply is critical, the Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management will actively work to develop alternate sources and/or achieve 'most favoured customer' status.

Nationality: The Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management will consider any source regardless of origin.

Fairness : All dealings with suppliers should be handled in a prompt and courteous manner. Every effort should be made to treat suppliers fairly and equally, and in bid situations to furnish all with the same adequate information. Reasonable efforts should be made to ensure that bid lists only comprise of those suppliers who are financially sound and who have a realistic chance of winning the business.

Confidentiality: Bids and offers should be solicited on the basis that they will remain confidential both before and after the business is placed. Equally, suppliers are obliged to ensure that any privileged information regarding the operations of the University is kept strictly confidential and divulged only on a need-to-know basis. Suppliers and their employees, agents and sub-contractors, should sign a confidentiality agreement.

22. Invoices: All suppliers must be instructed to submit invoices addressed to the Accounts Department. Invoices will be passed for payment in accordance with the University Financial Procedures.

Invoices must quote a UL-generated purchase order number. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, namely:

  • Subscriptions
  • Hospitality
  • Conference and course fees
  • Water cooler supplies
  • Off-site storage

 If you are in any doubt, please contact the Accounts Payable Department for clarification.




UL Procurement Office    

Contact Information: The Office of Procurement and Supply Chain Management,
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.
Telephone: +353-61-233715, Facsimile: +353-61-233642,

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