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Saint Louis University Purchasing

The mission of Saint Louis University Department of Business Services is to effectively manage, administer and coordinate procurement processes throughout SLU. We are committed to employing a vendor contracting and management strategy that will maximize the value for each dollar expended in order to benefit the entire University community.

Our goal is to obtain the highest quality goods and services at the lowest reasonable costs while adding value. We strive to provide exceptional customer service to our internal customers.

Primary Responsibilities

The Department of Purchasing is responsible for:

  • Establishing exclusive and preferred vendors where applicable throughout the University.
  • Managing the procurement function to ensure compliance with University policies.
  • Maintaining a consistent and ethical policy toward the entire business community.
  • Applying principles of value analysis to the purchasing process in order to obtain the best quality for the price and delivery within the desired time frame.
  • Overseeing vendor relations, vendor negotiations, and archival of purchasing-related documentation.
  • Ensuring effective and cooperative relationships with our customers and suppliers to maximize customer satisfaction.

Purchasing Policies

Competitive Bidding Requirements

To ensure competitive pricing and cost-effective procurement of goods and services, competitive bids must be obtained on purchases with an anticipated cost of $10,000 or greater.  If a department anticipates spending over $10,000 on a single product or product category within one fiscal year, the entire order should be competitively bid as a whole, regardless of whether the order is received as a whole or in separate pieces over the year.  This $10,000 bid threshold applies to general expenses and federal grant-funded purchases. 

Price quotations from at least three vendors must be obtained by the requisitioning department or by Business Services for the purchase of items with an anticipated cost of $10,000 or greater. If the bids are obtained by the requesting department, a purchase requisition should be submitted to initiate the issuance of a purchase order. Copies of the bids should be attached to the purchase requisition in Billiken Buy for Business Services review. 

Departments may also request Business Services' help in obtaining required competitive bids. To initiate the bid process by Business Services, the requisitioning department should forward complete specifications for the needed goods or services to the appropriate contact in Business Services. Business Services, in conjunction with the requisitioning department, will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP), analyze the responses, and award the bid based on compliance with the specifications, expected product quality, delivery price and institutional purchasing objectives. After a vendor, has been selected, a purchase requisition must be submitted by the requisitioning department to initiate a purchase order.

Business Services continues to encourage departments to exercise cost consciousness and spend their fiscal resources responsibly by making educated purchasing decisions below the $10,000 purchasing threshold. Business Services may also request a competitive bid below the $10,000 threshold when it is deemed appropriate to do so. 

Purchases made from University contracts do not require additional bidding, as they have been awarded based on full University requirements. University contracts and standards should be used when possible.

Uniform Guidance from the OMB was effective July 1,2018.  

Bidding requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Individual capital equipment items including all features and related components which comprise a single functional unit but excluding optional attachments or external peripheral devices.
  • Annual service or maintenance contracts covering a single unit or a number of similar units.
  • Annual quantity purchases of a specific commodity or supply item (e.g., lab supplies, chemicals, and maintenance supplies).

If a product or service is available only from a single source making it impossible to obtain three competitive bids, a sole source justification form in lieu of bids should be included electronically when creating the purchase requisition in Billiken Buy. 

The requisitioning department is responsible for defining product specifications including model, characteristics, service level, and other details describing the product/service to be purchased.

The Bid threshold for capital projects has been revised to $25,000.

Reviewed: 11/15/18

Advertising Exemption Policy 

Due to the inherently proprietary nature of advertising media (print, billboard, broadcast, Web, movie theater screens, and signage), sole source forms are no longer required when submitting purchase requisitions with account code 743000. All University Advertising purchases must be coordinated with either the University Marketing and Communications department or SLUCare Marketing in order to ensure that due diligence has been done to determine the specific audience being addressed and the necessary media to reach that demographic. The University Marketing and Communications department, as well as SLUCare Marketing, negotiates optimal advertising rates for the University and purchase requisition approval is required by them before a purchase order is issued.


Multi-Year Contracts (Including Equipment Leases)

Business Services is currently working on implementing a new contract management system called Agiloft. The approval process will occur during the workflow in the new CMS. For any questions regarding the contract approval process, contact Ellen Borowiak at

Reviewed: 6/26/18

Office Supply Purchases

The Purchasing Department has negotiated an exclusive contract with Staples for office supplies. All requests for the purchase of office supplies should be submitted on a purchase requisition through Billiken Buy.

For general questions pertaining to the purchasing of office supplies, contact Andrew Chism at

Purchase Requisitions

Billiken Buy is the University's procurement system.  A purchase requisition through Billiken Buy is used to request procurement of materials, supplies, equipment and services provided by outside vendors and not covered by policies and procedures relating to eSeePay DPV, travel expenses, and business and entertainment expenses. See the Disbursement Guide for further information regarding the appropriate use of each disbursement form.

A purchase requisition must be completed in Billiken Buy in advance and in accordance with the policies and procedures included herein to initiate a commitment for goods and services for which the University will be financially responsible. Employees who purchase or order goods/services without an authorized purchase order will risk non-reimbursement.  Individuals making unauthorized commitments risk personal liability for any incurred expenses.

Reviewed: 5/23/18

Purchase Orders

A purchase order is the official document which authorizes the procurement of goods and services from a vendor for which the University will be financially liable.

To initiate a purchase order, the requisitioning department must complete a purchase requisition which will be electronically routed to pre-determined individuals for approval. After reviewing approved purchase requisitions, Financial Commitment will issue a purchase order to the vendor. A copy of the purchase order will be forwarded to the requisitioning department via email.

Purchase orders in Billiken Buy begin with an EP and purchase order numbers in Banner are a seven-digit number preceded by an alpha character as identified below.

  • K: Utilities purchase order
  • E: Emergency purchase order
  • C: Check enclosed order
  • W: Work order for construction/renovation project (Facilities Services)

Orders which require an enclosed check will be forwarded to Accounts Payable with supporting documentation (e.g. invoice) for processing by the Central Processing Center (CPC).

Blanket Purchase Order

To reduce time, paperwork, and administrative expense, departments may request a blanket purchase order which allows multiple orders to be placed against a single purchase order for repetitive or small dollar orders and bulk supplies and materials. Blanket orders allow departments to order items and services on an as-needed basis from the specified vendor by referencing the previously assigned standing purchase order number.

To establish a blanket purchase order, a purchase requisition should be submitted at the beginning of the fiscal year. The amount of the requisition should be the total amount expected to be purchased from the vendor during the fiscal year. Blanket orders can also be issued during the fiscal year as needed. 

Note that blanket purchase orders will follow the same competitive bid requirements as standard purchase orders. If the original  blanket purchase order exceeds $10,000, regardless of the value of each individual delivery against that order, competitive bids or a sole source document will be required.

Blanket order balances should be closely monitored by the requesting department to ensure that sufficient funds remain in the purchase order to cover all outstanding invoices and future orders. Blanket order increases should be processed immediately in Billiken Buy whenever it is determined that the blanket order will require additional funds. Alerts can be established when a user sets up their blanket order. These alerts will notify users when their blanket order dips below a specified dollar amount. 


Cancel or Change a Purchase Order

Cancel a Purchase Order

A purchase order should be closed or cancelled to release encumbered budget funds if all invoices against the order have been received and no additional expenditures are anticipated. Buyers can close their blanket orders using the "close" function in Billiken Buy. The option to cancel is only available to certain suppliers. If a buyer cancels their PO, they should always confirm with the vendor first that their order can be cancelled. 

Change a Purchase Order


The ability to edit a purchase order in Billiken Buy is limited to vendors that allow that function. If the "Edit" option is available to a Buyer in Billiken Buy, changes can be made to a purchase order. These changes will result in the purchase order routing for approval again and a new purchase order number will be issued to the vendor after it's approved.

Invoice Payments

Invoices submitted by vendors for the payment of goods and services authorized by purchase orders are processed by the accounts payable department.

Prior to payment, departments must approve all invoices that are $250 or greater. This approval is made by receiving the item/order in Billiken Buy. 

All invoices under $250 which match the items identified on the purchase order and do not require departmental approval will be paid without departmental approval.

All invoices with the purchase order noted thereon, must be forwarded directly to Accounts Payable by the vendor. Non-compliance with this policy may result in a delay in the payment of invoices which may adversely affect vendor relations.

Payment is made according to the terms of the vendor. Invoices processed against a purchase order that does not have enough funds available will be held until the department increases the available funds on the purchase order in Billiken Buy. 

Personal Purchases

Use of the University's purchasing system for personal purchases is prohibited.

Reviewed: 6/20/2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can I contact in Business Services about a vendor? 
  • Medical vendors: Mary Lynn Thompson at or 314-977-5815
  • Research vendors: Ellen Borowiak at or 314-977-7045
  • University vendors: Andrew Chism at or 314-977-3725
Why do I need approval and a PO issued before I obtain an item for my department?

Primarily to maximize cost savings and ensure budgetary control on each purchase. New vendors must always be reviewed by Purchasing first prior to the department placing an order to determine vendor legitimacy and whether the vendor adds redundancy in the system.

In addition, Financial Services needs to determine whether there is proper funding for the transaction prior to the purchase.

How do I find out about the latest changes and updates that have taken place with Purchasing?

There are several methods used to communicate information:

  • Business managers are encouraged to attend semi annual meetings sponsored by Business and Finance. Updates and announcements are provided during the meeting. Business managers and administrative assistants are strongly encouraged to share this information with faculty and staff members.
  • The Business Services web page contains up-to-date information and the latest vendor listings.
  • Newslink communications and announcements
  • Contacting Business Services 
Who in administration is authorized to sign a contractual agreement?

All contractual agreements pertaining to a transactional purchase or commitment on behalf of the University needs to be first reviewed by Purchasing and, in some cases, by General Counsel, before being signed by an authorized signor.

University policy designates that one of the following persons are allowed to sign a contractual agreement:

  • President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.
  • Vice President and CFO David Heimburger
  • Those with presidential delegated permission

By utilizing this procedure, the University avoids personal liability risk and allows the university to maximize cost savings and minimize dollar spend.