What and How Universities Buy

What Universities Buy

Illinois public universities purchase goods and services to support academic, research, and public service programs. They also purchase goods and services to support activities such as operations and maintenance, student housing, food services, and bookstore operations. Items purchased include scientific equipment and medical equipment, classroom and office furniture and supplies, chemicals, building construction and repair, maintenance services, and professional services.

For descriptions of commodities and services purchased, see the NIGP Codes.

How Universities Buy

All Illinois public universities must follow the regulations set forth by the Illinois Procurement Code. Each university board of trustees has approved established purchasing procedures in conformance with the Illinois Procurement Code. Purchasing departments are accountable to their boards of trustees and the taxpayers of Illinois. The university award process may be delayed up to thirty days as awards go through the state approval process. Expenditures must pass numerous audits (local state, and federal), and be conducted in an efficient and professional manner.

Purchasing Mission & Function

Illinois public university purchasing departments obtain commodities, equipment, and services to support the educational mission of their university. They follow sound business methods consistent with the Higher Education Procurement Rules, the Illinois Procurement Code, and other applicable state and federal regulations.

Purchasing departments perform these functions:

  • Pre-requisition service - Obtain specification and market information about commodities, equipment, and services for campus units. This information helps campus units to budget funds for purchases, and to plan acquisitions so necessary goods and services are acquired in a timely manner. Purchasing departments locate sources of supply, conduct preliminary negotiations with suppliers, obtain price quotations, and recommend vendors.
  • Buying - Identify vendors, bid (when necessary or desirable), and place orders. Purchasing departments purchase the amounts of commodities, equipment, and services requested by campus units at the lowest price consistent with requisite quality from suppliers who can and will deliver purchased items at the specified time and place.
  • Expediting - Maintain requisition and purchase order files and insure delivery of proper items at the proper times. Purchasing departments follow up on purchases to ensure that the vendor fulfills the purchase agreement on delivery and that the carrier delivers the shipment promptly and in good condition.
  • Transportation - Insure efficient and economic routing of goods from the vendor to the university. Purchasing divisions arrange for the return of defective or incorrect materials, assure that additional shipments are made to fill any shortages, and to present claims for damages which may arise in transporting goods to the university.

Fiscal Year

All Illinois public universities have a fiscal year from July 1 through June 30 of the following year. Accounting is done on this fiscal basis.

Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative (IPHEC)

The Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative (IPHEC) was formed in 1975 to consolidate common requirements for various state universities on one bid with subsequent orders being placed by each individual university for the contract period.

The thirteen campuses of the nine Illinois public universities participate in the Cooperative. One university initiates and receives bids on the consolidated requirement of a particular commodity. Upon determination of the lowest bid IPHEC member universities each establish individual contracts with the selected vendor for the commodity and orders are issued accordingly.

At the present time, commodities, such as furniture, janitorial supplies, lab supplies, and office supplies, are bid by the Cooperative as they are identified as common requirements for all the participating universities. These consolidated purchases enable vendors to pass their savings on to the member schools. IPHEC contracts saved the member schools approximately $19.2 million in FY09.

For information about IPHEC bids, contact the sponsoring university.