Procurement Standards



  1. This document establishes the procedures that support the University of Ottawa’s Procurement Policy (36). It applies to all purchases made in the scope of such policy. The content of this procedure is operational, whereas the policy focuses on global principles and approval parameters. This document also addresses frequently asked questions.



  1. The University of Ottawa understands the importance of sustainability and supports the Office of Campus Sustainability (Facilities) in promoting it on campus. Employees should consider environmental and social criteria when purchasing goods and services.
  2. Sample considerations include, but are not limited to:

a) Environmental. Does the vendor work with green products or have policies to reduce its footprint? To learn more about green criteria, refer to Policy 72.

b) Diversity. Does the vendor create opportunities for Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, or other underrepresented groups?

c) Community development. Does the vendor offer apprenticeships, skills training, or other opportunities to members of its community?

d) Small enterprises. Does the vendor promote business with small, not-for-profit, or social enterprises?


  1. Procurement Services is proud and committed to promoting accessibility within the University. Employees are required to incorporate accessibility design, criteria, and features when purchasing for University requirements. To learn more about how to incorporate accessibility into your procurement, please contact the Human Rights Office. If accessibility is not an option, you must document the reason why. For more information, please visit our website or Ontario’s accessibility rules for procurement.

Indigenous groups

  1. To purchase goods or services within Indigenous communities, employees may use PCards (for goods only), cash advances (up to a maximum of $1,000) or reimbursements. For purchases over $10k, if you are unable to obtain multiple quotes (for example, for certain field trips), you may request a derogation. Obtain the approvals from your faculty or service in advance and make sure you keep copies of all receipts.



  1. The following purchases are exemptions. They do not require multiple quotes or purchase orders:

a) Real estate (building or land) purchases or leases

b) Purchases with municipalities, ministries, government agencies, universities, hospitals or public institutions.

cIndividual travel and hospitality (as per Policy 21)

  • Flights and taxis
  • Hotel
  • Restaurants
  • Conference registration

Business meetings and group events are not considered individual travel and are subject to Policy 36.

d) Certain professional services:

  • Services from health professionals* (doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, etc.)
  • Social services (social welfare, public education, health and childcare, etc.)
  • Lawyers and notaries

*Note that professionals are only exempt when exercising their profession (as a doctor or lawyer), and not when offering services as a consultant, trainer, administrator, etc.

e) Specialized goods

  • Exhibits and art purchases
  • Gift cards (only allowed for volunteers, donors, or research study subjects, not for staff)
  • Library collections and materials administered by the Library
  • Magazines or journal subscriptions
  • Professional memberships
  • Publications

f) Fuel, gas, electricity and utilities

g) Certain financial services involved in:

  • Managing financial assets and liabilities (i.e., treasury operations), including ancillary advisory services (even if not delivered by a financial institution)
  • Fiscal agency or depository services
  • Services related to the sale, redemption, and distribution of public debt

h) Non-profit organizations

  1. You may request reimbursements (as permitted by Policy 21) or direct-invoice payments for these purchases. If you prefer, you can create POs for budget tracking and auditing purposes.
  2. While these purchases are exempt from competition, you can seek guidance from Procurement Services.

Restricted commodities

  1. The following commodities are subject to the procurement policy; however, they follow a special workflow. Below is the first step to take for each case.
Type Example First step
Accounting firms Accounting auditors or experts Contact the Director of Accounting
Alcoholic beverages Beer, wine

Send your request to Conventions and Reservations.

Audio/ visual  Touchscreens, projectors, cameras  Contact Teaching and Learning Support Services (TLSS) to ensure your equipment is compatible with current infrastructure.
CFI Purchases (Research) Purchase of the specific type of equipment for which the grant was awarded.

Contact the Office of Strategic Development Initiatives

Dangerous goods Chemicals, viruses, radioactive or flammable material, firearms Contact the Office of Risk Management.
Electronic or mechanical equipment Tools, laboratory equipment   Ensure the product is CSA certified (or equivalent).
External events Off-campus meetings or conferences organized by uOttawa Check Policy 21 for eligible expenses and allowances/guest. Policy 36 applies for the number of quotes.
Facilities Renovations, furniture, fixtures

Send your request to your facility manager or resource administrator. For more information, contact Facilities.

IT Hardware, software and IT services

Contact the information technology (IT) representative of your faculty or service: they may already have solutions or inventory to meet your needs, or they will guide you through the next steps for your purchase. If you do not have an IT team, please contact Information Technology.

Also check Policy 116 to learn more about IT asset use and security standards.
Staffing agencies Temporary staff, head-hunters Contact Human Resources.

International purchases

  1. International purchases are subject to different treaties and regulations than national purchases. Procurement Services will guide you through all necessary steps and logistics. 


  1. Below are the steps and roles/responsibilities commonly involved in a procurement workflow. Each step is explained in the following pages.
Responsibility Details Lead Support
Planning Document your planned purchases for the year. User Purchasing Specialist <100k
Needs Define the good or service to purchase (technical requirements or statement of work) User Purchasing Specialist <100k
Quote Obtain and evaluate quotes or proposals from vendor(s) User <100k
Services >100k
Purchasing Specialist <100k
Contract Negotiate the terms and conditions of a purchase Purchasing Specialist <100k
Procurement Services >100k
Technical Subject Matter Experts (as required)
Requisition Enter request for purchase in the system User or Purchasing Specialist Purchasing Specialist <100k
Procurement Services>100k
Approval Authorize the purchase Business Approver AND Procurement Approver Purchasing Specialist
Purchase Send the purchase order to the vendor, or buy on PCard Purchasing Specialist <100k 
Procurement Services >100k (if not automatically done by Workday)
Procurement Services or Expense and PCard Services
Receipt and acceptance Confirm that the good or service was correctly received User or Shipping and Receiving Officer Purchasing Specialist
Invoice Receive a vendor invoice and enter it in system (not applicable for catalog purchases as the process is automatic) AP Specialist (if not automatically done by Workday) Accounting and Procurement Systems Support
Settlement Authorize release of a payment to a supplier (not applicable for catalog purchases up to 5k as the process is automatic) Central Accounting NA
Changes Modify an on-going mandate with a vendor Purchasing Specialist <100k
Central Procurement >100k
Vendor management Monitor performance of vendor User Purchasing Specialist <100k
Central Procurement >100k

Litigations and settlements

Settle with a vendor on a dispute Central Procurement Legal

Purchasing specialists

  1. To find out who is the purchasing specialist for your unit, please visit the Procurement website. If you are a purchasing specialist and wish to be identified on our website, please ask your Head of Unit to contact Procurement ServicesCentral Procurement.


Campus-wide contracts

  1. Before you start getting quotes, check with your purchasing specialist to see whether the University already has a contract that could meet your needs. Campus-wide contracts are arrangements made by Procurement Services with specific vendors for the benefit of many faculties and services. These include, but are not limited to, items like lab supplies, office supplies, furniture, and IT equipment.

Procurement plans

  1. The University of Ottawa uses procurement plans to have a long-term view on its global purchasing requirements and to establish a strategy around the how, where, and when to procure. Ultimately, they help lighten processes, improve lead times, and maximize savings.
  1. Towards the end of each fiscal year, users must discuss with their budget manager what they plan to purchase in the coming months. This will allow the budget manager to formulate a comprehensive procurement plan and submit it to Procurement Services for visibility and planning purposes.


  1. Although it is difficult to predict how long your purchasing request may take, as a guideline, a catalog purchase usually takes a few days, purchases with a pre-qualified vendor take 2-3 weeks, new contracts under 100k take 1-2 months, and public tenders over 100k can take 3-4 months. Sensitive purchases that involve privacy, security, or risk management can take even longer. Please plan ahead and contact Procurement Services early.


  1. Ensure that you establish what you need in terms of technical or performance requirements and not based on a specific brand. Public procurement directives require brand neutrality to ensure the fair treatment of qualified vendors.


Required quotes

  1. Policy 36 establishes the number of quotations to request for a purchase based on its dollar value. In brief, these are:
Purchase value (CAD$) Required quotes(or recent comparable)
<10k 1
10k - <50k 2
50k - <100k 3
100k and + Open tender (done by Procurement Services)

19.    For purchases under $100k, the purchasing specialist must ensure all vendors receive the same information from the University to obtain apples-to-apples quotes.

Quoting with consultants

  1. The Government of Ontario has two special rules for the engagement of consultants:

a) You must engage consultants via a competitive procurement process, irrespective of the contract’s value. If you want to sole-source, you must obtain the President’s approval.

b) Consultants cannot be paid for hospitality, food, or incidental expenses (like parking or printing fees).

  1. Therefore, even though the University requires one quote for purchases under $10k, this is different for consultants. You must get at least two proposals before awarding a contract under $10k to a consultant.
  2. Note that the Government defines consultants and service providers differently (even if we use the terms interchangeably). The former is strategic and provides expert advice that impacts decision-making. The latter is tactical and helps us execute work. To learn more, visit the Government of Ontario website. In case of doubt, Procurement Services will determine whether the person meets the definition of a consultant or service provider.

Non-competitive procurement

  1. The University of Ottawa requires multiple quotes on purchases over $10k (and for all consulting agreements), as competitive procurement gives the best value for money. However, in exceptional circumstances, Procurement Services may authorize non-competitive procurement (like in cases of monopolies).
  2. A derogation occurs when a user asks permission in advance to deviate from the procurement policy. Before engaging a vendor without competition, you must request an exception in Workday by creating a requisition, selecting the requisition type “Derogation” and by attaching all supporting documentation to your requisition. You will be prompted to fill out a questionnaire to justify your request.
  1. A transgression happens when a user deviates from the policy without asking permission. This is a serious offense that violates public directives and can be subject to disciplinary sanctions. If you find yourself in this situation, a questionnaire to support a supplier invoice or expense claim will be prompted once you submit your request in Workday. Transgressions offer no payment guarantee.
  1. Derogations and transgressions are reviewed in Workday on the basis of the approval authority (by the business approver and procurement approver). Each year, Procurement Services must flag all derogation and transgression activity over $100k and report it to the Government. The report is signed by the University’s President.  

Equipment demos and leases

  1. If you are interested in loaning, leasing or testing equipment before buying, please first speak to your purchasing specialist. Accepting items on trial or at no charge can lead to a real or implied commitment on behalf of the University. Procurement Services will fit the process of obtaining demos into the procurement strategy. If the equipment is linked to a CFI grant, it must be pre-approved by Procurement Services (Research sector).

Third-party marketplaces

  1. Purchasing from trusted e-commerce sites like Amazon or Best Buy is permitted for small transactions that cannot be fulfilled by our campus-wide contracts. However, be cautious as independent, third-party sellers also sell on these sites and may offer attractive pricing that could entail risks (e.g., low customer service, inaccurate item descriptions, difficulty handling returns or warranties, etc.).
  2. Buying new or used equipment through classified advertising services like Kijiji or eBay is not permitted due to a lack of regulations, quality controls, and limited payment methods.


Requirement for a contract

  1. Regardless of dollar value, a contract should be used when dealing with a complex purchase. As a guideline, service agreements above $5k and complex product purchases (involving warranties, penalties, etc.) should have a contract. Simple product or service purchases only require a purchase order. When a contract applies, Procurement Services may seek legal advice from the University’s legal counsel. Users should refrain from contacting Legal Counsel Services directly. Procurement Services will also seek the contract signatures from the business approver and procurement approver as per the Approval Authority Schedule.

Digital signatures

  1. The University of Ottawa recognizes digital signatures as a valid way to execute an agreement with a vendor. Digital signatures are like electronic “fingerprints”: thanks to encrypted technology, they securely associate a signer with a document in a recorded transaction. Contact Information Technology if you would like a license for the University’s digital signature solution.


  1. A requisition is an electronic document that initiates a purchasing process. When approved it becomes a Purchase Order, which is the document that is sent to a vendor. To start a requisition, the user and their purchasing specialist must collect the following information and enter it into Workday’s procurement module.

a) Description of the item or service to purchase, its price, and terms of purchase

b) The FDM, ship to address, and point of contact

c) Copies of the quotes obtained

d) The approved derogation (if applicable)

e) The draft contract (if applicable)

fThe approval of the budget owner (attached, in cases where the system does not automatically get the approval for you)


  1. All purchases require the authorization of both a business approver and a procurement approver. Please refer to the Approval Authority Schedule for more details. An individual cannot be both business approver and procurement approver for the same transaction.
  2. Note that even if your purchase was approved during a budgeting process, you still require business and procurement approval before buying something. Remember, budgeting is a financial exercise that plans the expenses in a specific calendar year or project. Purchasing approvals are different. They confirm that both the business and procurement approvers agree to engage vendor X, at price Y, under Z terms and conditions, and that the purchase complies with internal policies.


Procurement methods

  1. The University offers four purchasing vehicles: purchase orders, PCards, reimbursements, and requests for payment. For purchases under $5k, you must follow the priorities outlined below:

a) Purchase orders (POs) – Good for purchases covered by campus-wide agreements (such as VORs or catalogs).

b) PCards – Good for purchases not covered by campus-wide agreements (i.e., not VORs or catalogs).

c) Requests for payment – For circumstances where it is not practical or possible to use a PO or PCard (the purchasing specialist establishes when a request for payment is appropriate).

d) Reimbursement – For circumstances where it is not practical or possible to purchase under $1k on a PO or PCard.

  1. Note that purchases over $5k require a PO unless otherwise authorized via a derogation.

PCard purchases

  1. Generally, PCards are reserved for purchasing specialists. However, a budget manager may request PCards for other employees that support special purchases in their sectors. Approval will be at the discretion of Procurement Services. For more information, please refer to Procedure 4-9 – PCards.

Professional expense reimbursements (PER)

  1. Purchases made with PER funds are reimbursed according to the APUO collective agreement or can be made on Workday’s procurement module (to benefit from negotiated rates). If you wish to mix and match funds (for example, to purchase a computer with PER funds and research funds), you must let your purchasing specialist know in advance.


Matching process

  1. Before paying a vendor, the University must confirm that a purchase meets quality and financial expectations. This is done via a three-way or two-way matching process. A three-way match compares information across three documents: the invoice, the purchase order, and the system reception. If everything is consistent across the board, then a payment is made. In low-risk purchases (less than $5,000), Procurement Services may also authorize two-way matches. 


  1. If you are buying (or returning) goods internationally, these must be cleared by customs and are subject to duties and taxes. The University has an agreement with a licensed customs broker to help with the related paperwork and payments. However, only a few representatives at the University may contact the broker directly. Kindly work with your purchasing specialist, who will liaise with such representatives.


  1. To change a mandate with a vendor, contact your purchasing specialist so that they can complete a change order request. The modified scope must be related to the original mandate. Otherwise, you must obtain new quotes, as the additional work is considered a separate project that must be presented to the market.
  2. If you would like to work with a same vendor across many projects, let Procurement Services know in advance. They will bundle your projects together and tender everything as one large contract.


  1. If you have questions or comments, send an email to Procurement Services.