Purchasing Process

Procurement Methods

Faculty and staff may use the following methods of procurement:

Payment Decision Matrix  
Purchase Orders    
eBuy Program
Purchasing Card
Standing Orders    
Limited Orders    


1.  A faculty/staff member identifies a buying need. The faculty/staff member may ask Purchasing to identify sources and develop procurement descriptions or specifications.

2.  The requirement is entered into eBuy.

3.  Any single/sole source justifications should also be submitted at this time.

4.  The purchasing requisition travels electronically through the requesting department’s specified approval path: the Financial Officer, the Budget Administrator, Accounting, and any other approvals the department chooses to establish.

5.  Purchasing processes the requisition in accordance with University guidelines and bidding thresholds (listed below).

  • The Purchasing Agent must justify the source. Source justification includes determining the validity of any sole source justification.
  • The Purchasing Agent must also justify the price.  This generally means soliciting competitive bids based on the established bidding thresholds.  Three supplier quotes, a PSU Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) may also be issued.

6. The Purchase Order is approved and released.

7. The product or service is delivered to the requester.

8.  An invoice is sent to Purchasing.

9.  Purchasing performs a match and enters the invoice for payment.

10. Accounting issues the payment.

Bidding Thresholds

Although bids are not required for orders with a total cost of less than $10,000, bids may be solicited by the Purchasing Agent, taking into consideration lead time, availability of substitutes, and knowledge of the general marketplace.

For purchases between $10,000 and $24,999.99, evidence of competition is required, and the Purchasing Agent may solicit written bids from at least three responsive and responsible suppliers.

Purchases equal to or greater than $25,000 require, whenever possible, written bids or proposals from at least three responsive and responsible suppliers solicited by Purchasing.

One bidding tool option for purchases of $25,000 or more is called a reverse auction, in which qualified and pre-selected Penn State suppliers are invited to bid their prices down (versus up in a traditional auction) during a live, real-time virtual event. Reverse auctions are ideal when a department needs a large quantity of standard items.

Learn more about reverse auctions and their benefits.

Other helpful information about procurement methods:


Construction and renovation work over $50,000 is generally handled by Physical Plant Contract Administration, and Purchasing does not become involved. All other work will flow through Purchasing and some special provisions do apply.


When an emergency occurs, an established process must be followed to request an emergency purchase order. Learn more about the Emergency Purchase Order process.


Purchasing has exclusive authority to change or cancel a Purchase Order for all non-catalog orders and catalog orders $5K-UP. If such need arises, Purchasing should be contacted immediately. A Purchase Order Change form must be submitted by the requesting department to Purchasing.  Please refer to the submission instructions box at the bottom of the form.


Consulting    GURU
Payment of Freight and Express Invoices    GURU
Payment of Vendor’s Invoices    GURU


Updated: 2/6/20