Establish guidelines to insure that expenditure of funds for acquisition of equipment, supplies and contract services satisfy:

  • The needs of Principal Investigators/Project Directors for flexibility and minimum administrative burden.
  • Sponsor requirements regarding allowability, screening for availability, competitive bidding and documentation.
  • Sound purchasing practices and procedures, while providing for open & free competition to the maximum extent practicable and consistent with sponsor rules and regulations.


The provisions of this policy shall apply to all officially designated persons, Principal Investigators and their designees, authorized to commit and expend funds.

Note: Effective December 26, 2014, new federal grants and funding amendments to existing federal grants are subject to the Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations. To assist with transitioning to new federal regulations, the Office of Management and Budget has granted an extension to July 1, 2018 for implementation of Uniform Guidance procurement requirements. RFCUNY's current procurement policy will remain in effect through June 30, 2018. The updated procurement policy will be effective July 1, 2018.    


No employee shall engage in or permit illegal or improper purchasing practices, including but not limited to:

  • kickbacks (anti-kickback act and public law 99-6334)
  • conflict of interest
  • acceptance of gratuities
  • elimination of competition or restraint of trade
  • violation of minimum wage or payment schedule for construction contracts
  • submission of equal or complimentary bidding

Procurement Reference Table





RF/Agency Funds





Small orders 

PO not required unless vendor requests

PO not required unless vendor requests.

PO not required unless vendor requests.

PO not required unless vendor requests.

Varied agency rules apply. Consult with PA.

Requisition Required

= / >$5,000

= / > $5,000

= / > $5,000

= / >$5,000

Varied agency rules apply. Consult with PA.

3 Written Bids required

= / >$25,000

= / > $25,000

= / > $15,000

= / > $15,000

Varied agency rules apply. Consult with PA.

Orders using GSA/State/City Contract Pricing

No bids required

No bids required

No bids required

No bids required

No bids required. Consult with PA.

Equipment Screening Certificate





Varied agency rules apply. Consult with PA.

Equipment is defined in Section J. 16.a (1) of OMB Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions, as "an article of non-expendable tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year, and an acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the organization for financial statement purposes, or $5,000."

However, for most New York City and New York State sponsors, a threshold for capitalization of assets is maintained at levels as low as $250 and $1,000, respectively. Therefore, these sponsor groups may require inventorying of these lesser -valued items under the University's Property Management system.

Types of Bids

The two types of bids in the solicitation process are verbal and written:

  • A verbal bid is a supplier's oral statement of price and any other information requested, made in person or by telephone, in response to a solicitation.
  • A written bid or proposal is a supplier's written statement of price and any other information requested, in response to a solicitation.

When Bids Are Not Required

  • Purchase price of an item is established by a New York State, New York City or Federal GSA Contract.
  • Sole Source Purchase: A sole source purchase is one where there is only one vendor capable of providing an item or service, and therefore it is not possible to obtain competitive bids or where there are multiple sources of supply, but for specific reasons the item or service must be purchased from a specified vendor. This is done under exceptional and limited circumstances. In order to waive the competitive bidding requirement, the requisitioning PI will be required to complete the Sole Source Justification Form. An order may not be placed without proper documentation, including a specific technical requirements of the product or service and supportable evidence that due diligence has been performed in an objective market analysis. Examples of waiving the competitive bidding requirement include: 
    • Equipment for which there is no comparable competitive product (i.e. one-of-a-kind item).
    • A component or replacement part for which there is no commercially available substitute, and which can be obtained only from the manufacturer and/or a manufacturer's distributor. 
    • An item where compatibility is the overriding consideration, such as computer operating software enhancements for an existing system.
    • A supply, equipment, part, service or supplier that, due to technically constraining factors associated with scientific research, are needed to ensure the fairness and validity of the underlying research.
    • Continuation of an existing contract when work is so closely related to that of the uncompleted basic contract that it would not be feasible to consider another potential contractor. 

Effective June 1, 2014, for future awards and current active grant and cooperative agreement awards, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) requires prior approval for noncompetitive procurements (e.g., sole source) of $150,000 or greater.

A noncompetitive sole source procurement process may be used when a PI can document:

  • The item or service is available only from a single source; 
  • A true public exigency or emergency exists; or 
  • After a competitive solicitation, competition is considered inadequate.

Orders under $5,000 are the sole responsibility of Principal Investigators and/or their institutions.

Selection of Vendor

The primary basis is the most reasonable price quoted based on specifications supplied by the purchaser. In rare cases, circumstances may dictate selection of other than the lowest bidder, including: (a) completely unsatisfactory delivery date, (b) a substitute item offered is not a satisfactory equivalent. In this event, the Principal Investigator must submit a letter of justification.

Purchasing Authority

  • Under $5,000 - Orders less than $5,000 may be prepared using the Small Order Form (RF-201) and sent directly to the vendor by the Principal Investigator. PIs may want to have the RF encumber the funds to insure adequate budget to pay the vendor.
  • Equal to or over $5,000 - Purchase Requisitions for purchases $5,000 and greater must be sent to the Research Foundation for review and approval. Purchase Orders will be prepared and forwarded to the appropriate vendor by the Foundation.

Certification of Receipt of Order

Before the Foundation can pay a vendor invoice the Principal Investigator or his/her designee must certify receipt as to condition of equipment and adherence to specification, particularly quality and price.

Title of Equipment

Title is generally vested in the Research Foundation of CUNY until the termination of the project, at which time title is transferred to the respective college. Sponsor regulations vary from project to project and must be adhered to at all times.

General Purchasing Information

Ordering Services, Supplies & Equipment: Purchase Requisition

Not all purchases of services, supplies and equipment require completion of a Purchase Requisition form RF208. Please check the sponsor related dollar value guideline chart above. When required, the following information should be filled out.

  • PRSY number and budget category
  • Description of the item(s) or services desired
  • Delivery point (note: City College requires all equipment destined for that campus be sent to a Central Delivery Address)
  • Billing information for invoice delivery
  • Attach quotations when required

The form must be signed by the Project Director and sent to RF-CUNY for purchase order generation. The purchase order is sent directly to the vendor with copies to the Principal Investigator, the Property Manager if equipment is being purchased and your project administrator. Purchase requisitions are not to be sent directly to vendors. They do not constitute a purchase order and principal investigators may be liable for these costs in the event their projects cannot accept the cost.

Purchase Contracts

In some cases, a purchase order alone may not be sufficient for ordering goods or services, since the RF may be exposed to liability, sponsor requirements may not be met or the project's schedules and objectives may be impacted. Example, a purchase order for:

  • Complex or custom made items of equipment.
  • Long term equipment maintenance and lease agreements.
  • Use of hotel facilities for meetings, conferences and seminars.
  • Group transportation arrangements.

To ensure that all requirements are fulfilled, a formal written contract with the vendor is needed. The contract should include specific detailed information as it relates to performance, delivery dates, payments and all terms and conditions.

All Purchases Made Through RFCUNY

  • Must be made in accordance with RF Policy 501-D.
  • Must conform to approved award budget and sponsor requirements.
  • Are exempt from sales and use tax in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Tennessee; the RF is exempt from NYC Hotel Occupancy Taxes.

It is important to consider:

  • Funds must be committed before the termination date of the award.
  • Your college may have a role in the approval of expenditures.
  • The use of minority, disadvantaged, women-owned and small business vendors is encouraged (Minority and Women-Owned business in NYS).
  • Principal investigators will be held liable for all orders placed by their project staff directly to vendors.
  • Learn more about vendors who have contracts with the State of New York and provide goods and services at discounted rates.

RFCUNY Purchasing Card (P-Card)

The Research Foundation uses the RFCUNY Purchasing Card (P-Card) as an alternative to Small Order Forms, Payment Requests and out-of-pocket expenditures. The P-Card, which is a VISA Card issued by JPMorgan Chase, can be used for purchases at all VISA merchant locations. The P-Card is linked directly to a user’s project and allows more control in its administration. While the user of the P-card must still follow the Research Foundation's Accounts Payable and Purchasing Policies and Procedures, using the P-Card has several advantages:

  • It eliminates the need to prepare payment requests forms because all payments to the vendor are made at the point of sale. The Monthly Activity Statement that is sent to you by JP Morgan Chase documents all purchases made in each billing cycle. Instead of preparing payment requests for individual purchases, you will verify the accuracy of the transactions and forward the Statement, along with all the receipts and supporting documentation, to your Project Administrator, who will allocate the purchases to the appropriate expense account or category in your project.
  • It eliminates the need to use personal funds for travel or supplies, and the subsequent requests for reimbursement.
  • It facilitates the ease of merchandise returns/credits.
  • It reduces the need to keep excess petty cash for emergency purchases.
  • It enables cardholders to make purchases by telephone, fax or over the Internet.
  • In most cases, it eliminates the payment of sales tax, since most merchants will accept the tax-exempt number printed on the face of the P-card.

Apply for the P-Card by completing the JP Morgan Chase Purchasing Card Application and Card Holder Agreement form. The completed application and cardholder agreement should be sent to the Project Administrator for the account.

Purchases Under $5,000

For these types of purchases:

  • Prepare a Small Order Form if the vendor requires one.
  • Use the purchase card to purchase items over the phone or online.
  • Order the item(s) directly from the supplier over the phone or by sending them the vendor‘s copy of the Small Order Form.
  • After you receive the item, attach the vendor's original invoice and the receiving copy of the Small Order Form (if applicable) to an e-Payment Request and forward to RF-CUNY for processing.
  • Remind the vendor that RF-CUNY is exempt from sales tax in certain states.

To be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses:

  • Attach original itemized receipt to a completed e-Payment Request. Note: There will be no reimbursement of sale taxes. Place your order using Research Foundation of CUNY as the purchaser and give the vendor a copy of our Tax Exempt Certificate.

Purchases Equal to or Greater than $5,000

Sponsor Regulations govern requirements for Bids. For Orders totaling $5,000 or more:

  • Prepare specifications of the items to be ordered
  • Sponsors require that you obtain the best value for all purchases.
  • Complete a Purchase Requisition Form (RF 208). Keep one copy for your records and send the original to the RF.
  • The RF will send out a Purchase Order to the vendor, forward a receiving copy and a file copy to you and a copy to the property manager for your institution when equipment is ordered.
  • When the item arrives, use the receiving copy of the P.O. to certify its receipt
  • Attach the receiving copy and the original invoice to a completed Payment Request and forward the documents to RF-CUNY for payment.

For Orders totaling $15,000 (State sponsor funds) or $25,000 (Federal sponsor and RF/Agency funds):

  • Follow the same steps outlined above.
  • One additional step: three written bids must be obtained for such purchases and submitted with the purchase requisition.
  • Principal Investigator must submit a Sole Source Justification form with requisition if the vendor with the lowest price is not chosen.

For Equipment costing $5,000 per unit or more:

  • Same steps as above and, in addition, complete an Equipment Screening Certificate (RF 209) that must be certified by the appropriate college official, and forwarded with the Purchase Requisition.

When the Research Foundation receives a requisition that indicates that equipment is being delivered to an off-campus address, the principal investigator will be sent a form that must be signed and returned to us by the PI The form certifies that the PI accepts responsibility for assuring that the equipment is entered into the equipment inventory system and that the college's property manager will be contacted by the PI upon delivery of the equipment.

Processing of the purchase order will be completed only when the Research Foundation has received the certification form.

Transfer and Disposal of Equipment

This step occurs at the end of the equipment's useful life or at the termination of the Project.

  • Disposition of the equipment requires the written approval of the Research Foundation, or of your college if the title has been transferred.
  • The RF will obtain title to equipment from the sponsor, where possible, and will transfer title to your college upon project termination. The college is committed to abide by any sponsor restrictions.

Equipment acquired through a PSC-CUNY award will be transferred to the college at project termination, or as otherwise determined by the University Committee on Research Awards.

Valuation of Equipment

The value or cost of all equipment must be established for accounting and reporting purposes. Value or cost is determined by including:

  • The invoice cost, less any discount if applicable.
  • Duty, excise and sales taxes (if any). The RF is exempt from sales tax in NY, NJ, FL, MO, TN.
  • In-transit, delivery and other freight costs, including insurance.
  • Installation charges.
  • Component and accessory costs, if they are part of the equipment.

Control of Non-Expendable Equipment

Control Records:

  • The University's CUNY First Property Management system tracks all equipment purchased on sponsored projects. Periodic reviews of physical inventories are required to verify the location of items of equipment that are recorded in CUNY First.
  • The RF and the college property manager keep a record of all non-expendable equipment.
  • The College Grants Office and the Property Manager receive a copy of the monthly Detail of Equipment report, which lists equipment charges under sponsored programs at the college.
  • The college Property Manager places a University tag on non-expendable equipment and, when provided by the sponsor, additional decals. You must provide access to the Property Manager for this purpose.
  • If required by the sponsor, the Research Foundation will prepare a final property inventory at project termination. The report is sent to the principal investigator and the college office of Sponsored Programs for verification. The principal investigator is responsible for sending the certified report to the Sponsor.

Vehicle Procurement Procedure

The Research Foundation of CUNY is responsible for the purchase and/or lease of motorized vehicles on project accounts.

  • If the purchase or lease of a vehicle is included in your project budget, the Principal Investigator requesting the purchase or lease is responsible for compiling the required information pertaining to the proposed purchase. The specific model, features, accessories and estimated cost must be determined and submitted with the purchase requisition. In addition, the requestor must also provide a business justification for the purchase.
  • The RF will secure insurance coverage through the RF's existing policy. Your account will be charged accordingly.

Telephone Installations

All off-campus and on-campus projects that require special utilities or telecommunication installation must have funds specified for this purpose in the award document. Contact Grants and Contracts for information on installations.

Leased Space

If a project is to be housed off-campus in leased space, contact the appropriate OTPS Team. RFCUNY’s Office of Legal Affairs will review the lease to ensure its terms do not conflict with those of the approved budget award that is paying for the lease.

A purchase order may not be used as a substitute for a lease.

A lease cannot be for a period greater than that which the sponsor has provided funding. A multi-year grant without all of the funding up front is not sufficient to enter into a multi-year lease obligation.