Procedures for Purchasing

Title: Purchasing Procedures
Effective Date: 04-07-2008
Issuing Authority: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Contact: Accounts Payable: Deb Juenke at or 507-786-3792
Last Updated: 09-21-2021

Purpose of Procedures

All College funds should be handled in a manner to insure the greatest ultimate value per dollar expended.

Department heads are authorized to spend up to the amount in their budget for business items as specified in their budget. Department heads can delegate spending authority, but are ultimately responsible for monitoring their budgets and making sure that all purchases hitting their budgets are reasonable, authorized business purchases.

No individual has the authority to enter into contracts for the purchase of goods or services, or to otherwise obligate St. Olaf College in any way for a financial indebtedness unless specifically authorized to do so by the Board of Regents, the President, or the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. This is specified in the Procedures for Pledging of College Assets.

Special care must be taken to avoid conflict, or the appearance of conflict, between one’s own and the College’s interests. All purchases must comply with state laws, federal laws and guidance, and all St. Olaf College policies. Please see the Policy on Conflict of Financial Interest for Employees for more information.

Who needs to know these Procedures

These procedures apply to all St. Olaf faculty and staff who purchase goods or services using College funds.


Approval of Invoices:

When individuals order goods and/or services, they should direct companies to send the corresponding invoices directly to their attention. Invoices must be signed to approve for payment and be coded with the unit and account to be charged. Shipments of over $1,000 require a secondary signature on the invoice, unless the purchase was made on the Purchase Card that is ultimately approved by a second individual. Travel purchases over $5,000 (e.g., group travel purchases) require two signatures for approval for payment, unless made on the Purchase Card that is ultimately approved by a second individual. After required signatures and coding with the unit and account to be charged, the invoice should then be submitted to the Accounts Payable Office for payment.

  1. All invoices must be turned into the Accounts Payable Office within 1 week of receiving the invoice if the product has already been received.
  2. If the product is over $1,000 and the invoice is received before the product, have two individuals sign off and note that the product is a valid business expense, but has not yet been received.
  3. If the product or service was received prior to May 31, and no invoice has been received, the person who placed the order should notify the Accounts Payable Office by June 15 to record the expenditure in the proper fiscal year.
  4. If the product has been received, but no invoice has been received, it is the responsibility of the person who placed the order to follow up on the invoice.

Required Substantiation:

An itemized receipt or substitute documentation must support each purchase. The preferred documentation is listed below in order of preference:

  1. An original receipt or invoice from the vendor including: vendor name, transaction amount, and date
  2. Itemized description of the item(s) purchased
  3. For meals, include the names of individuals at the meal or the name of the group and the business purpose or reason for the meal
  4. Alcohol is only allowed for rare instances specified in the Travel Policy. If alcohol is allowed, list the names of individuals or the group to whom the alcohol was served and the business purpose.
  5. Sales tax should not be paid, except for prepared meals, lodging, airline tickets, rental cars, and gas
  6. Copies or facsimiles of the original receipt or invoice
  7. Packing slip, statement, or other documentation received from the vendor
  8. Screen-print or order confirmation e-mail, when making Internet purchases, or a copy of an order form that was mailed to a vendor to request an item
  9. If the cardholder is unable to obtain the above listed preferred documentation, a completed Receipt Template Form shall be completed documenting the transaction and verifying it was for official business.

Preferred Vendors:

Departments are highly encouraged to consider vendors and purchasing consortiums mentioned on the Purchasing website.

The College also has a long-standing practice of inviting local businesses to bid on product specs. Vendors are selected for their ability to serve the needs of the College in the areas of product price and quality. When price and quality of the locally stocked product have been competitive with the same product from elsewhere, the College’s practice has been to buy locally.

Other Notes:

Some equipment is covered by service contracts, negotiated by the Office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (e.g. convenience copiers, beverage & convenience vending, document shredding, etc.).

All furniture purchases must be processed through Facilities to insure a uniform standard and quality.

Departments may not use their departmental operating funds for technology purchases.

Property and equipment purchased with College funds, including grants and gifts, are College property. Please see the Procedures for Fixed Asset Management for more information.

Any rebates earned from business purchases should be used to offset future purchases by the department. Rebates earned from business purchases cannot be used for personal use.

Related Policies and Procedures: