Purchasing Guide

The Purchasing Guide helps university faculty and staff determine the best method to procure goods or services. Purchase guidelines for unique categories such as employee household relocations, food, and construction services are also included.

How Do I Purchase at the University?

There are 4 ways to purchase goods and services at the university:

Purchase Order

  • Purchase Orders can be created in eSHOP or SAP. Use the interactive Purchasing Decision Tree to help you decide which method to use to create a Purchase Order.
  • Prime suppliers should receive first consideration for purchase.

Dollar Thresholds

Dollar AmountWho Can Make the Purchase
$0 - $4,999
  • Departments can make purchases
  • Competitive quotes are not required
$5,000 - $24,999
  • Departments can make purchases but are encouraged to obtain competitive quotes
  • Quotes should be attached to purchase order in eSHOP/SAP
  • A PO in this dollar range will route through Procurement for approval
$25,000 - $149,999
  • Departments contact Procurement Services with purchase need
  • Procurement Services obtains quotes
  • Procurement Services determines the best method for procurement:
    • Purchase Order (or);
    • Formal Bid
  • A PO in this dollar range will route through Procurement for approval
$150,000 and greater A PO in this dollar range is the result of a formal bidding process

Purchase Order Restrictions

The following items should not be purchased with university funds:

  • Alcoholic beverages or controlled substances
  • Flowers, holiday decorations, or personal objects (such as facial tissue, greeting cards, invitations, paper cups or plates, pictures, radios, coffee pots, heaters, refrigerators, microwave ovens, art objects, etc.)
  • Food items, except for laboratory research or teaching projects
  • Gifts, donations, or contributions to individuals or organizations

Formal Bid

A formal bid is required for all purchases $150,000 or greater per Board of Regents Policy (Section RP-6.2.6 (a)). Formal bidding, subject to Board of Regents Policy (Section RP-6.2.6 (e)) shall not be required for the following types of purchases which include, but are not limited to:

  • Unique or non-competitive articles or services
    • public utility services
    • telephone services
    • books
    • pamphlets
    • periodicals
    • specially designed business, research or scientific equipment and related software
  • Contracts for professional services
  • Purchases necessary in emergency situations
  • Maintenance or servicing of equipment with the manufacturer or manufacturer's authorized service agent
  • Purchases from:
    • any purchasing cooperative
    • U.S. government or any agency thereof
    • State of Nebraska or any political subdivision
    • any governmental or public entity created by an inter-local agreement
    • any private or public postsecondary educational institution

Please allow additional approval time for formal bids over $400,000. Purchases over $400,000 will require the Board of Regents approval.

Contact the Sourcing Specialist assigned to the commodity you are considering for purchase by referencing Commodities & Prime Suppliers.


Purchases requiring the use of a contract is covered under Contracts.


The purchasing card program is administered by the P-Card Office in Accounting. For more information regarding purchasing using the P-Card and other card programs, please contact:

P-Card Office

mail icon pcard@unl.edu

phone icon 402-472-5613

Unique Purchase Guidelines

Emergency Purchases

Contact the Director of Procurement Services for emergency P-card purchases over $5,000.

Outside regular university working hours the department should:

  • Fully document the purchase
  • Present documentation to Procurement Services as soon as possible

Household Moves

In general:

  • The university will only reimburse employees for moving expenses if approved by an appropriate administrative officer.
  • Special authorization is required to reimburse new professional staff and current employees.
  • For approved moves, this constitutes the general policy for the reimbursement of moving expenses for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reimbursable expenses include:
    • The cost of transportation of the employee and members of his or her household from old to new residence.
    • The cost of transporting household goods and personal effects. However, the university will only pay or reimburse expenses for the shipment of an automobile, boat, mobile home, camper, and/or trailer with the pre-approval of the hiring department.
    • The cost of meals and lodging en route.
    • Temporary living expenses for up to 30 days at a new location.
    • Expenses of traveling (including meals and lodging) from the former residence to the new place of employment for the principal purpose of searching for a new residence.
    • Reimbursement for the cost of relocating personal vehicles from one's former home to the new residence is limited to one trip, one way, for one vehicle only. Travel Services Current Mileage Rate.
  • Effective January 1, 1994, the distance between the employee's old residence and the new job site must increase at least 50 miles over the distance between the old residence and old job site.
  • Payment will be made to the moving company by state warrant.
  • If the employee elects for a "do it yourself" move, the employee may submit an Employee Expense Voucher with receipts for reimbursement only if the expenses are within the department's guidelines.
    • The following expenses are reimbursable:
      • air, bus or train tickets or mileage for one automobile
      • rental of trucks, trailers and moving carts
      • packing crates
      • loading and unloading help
      • parking and toll fees
    • The university will reimburse the employee on the Employee Expense Voucher. However, payments for moving made to an employee will be reported on the employee's W-2.
    • The IRS also requires the university to withhold income tax and FICA taxes on reimbursements of meals for the employee and family, pre-move house hunting trips, and temporary living expenses.
    • The amount of any reimbursement will be reported to the payroll office and an adjustment will be made against the employee's wages in the next payroll cycle for the taxable portions of any reimbursements. Due to the tax requirement, reimbursements will not be processed until the employee is on the university payroll.

Instructions for Obtaining Household Moving Estimates

  1. Begin the process as soon as possible.
  2. Complete the Relocation Order Form:
    • Provide origination location and contact information of the person moving.
    • Provide the department name, contact person, address, email, and phone number.
    • This form serves as a not-to-exceed estimate. Estimate should be returned to the person moving and to the department for approval.
  3. Email the completed Relocation Order Form to the company. The company will contact the person moving, usually within 48 hours.
  4. Once approved, the department will create a PO in eSHOP which will automatically be sent to the moving company to formalize the move.
  5. Once the move is complete, process the invoice for payment against the PO. If storage or multiple deliveries were necessary, multiple invoices may need to be submitted.
  6. University departments are to use these contracts when the estimated costs are less than $25,000.
  7. University P-card cannot be used to pay for household moving services.
  8. Visit the Travel Services Employee Moving Expense page for additional information regarding qualifying expenses for relocations.

For assistance with household relocation, contact these Sourcing Specialists.

Household Moving Services Prime Suppliers

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has established agreements with the following moving service companies which provide discounts to the university.

Interstate Household Moves Supplier Contracts (one state to another)
Armstrong Transfer & Storage / Armstrong Relocation                                                              *NOTE: You must use this ID to ensure order will be placed properly.
  • UNL Supplier ID # 217140
  • Do NOT select “United Van Lines LLC” when creating a PO
  • Email the Relocation Order Form to rhurt@goarmstrong.com

Armstrong Representative: Rob Hurt

Intrastate Household Moves Supplier Contracts (within Nebraska)
Chieftain Van Lines

Chieftain Representative: Cyndy Boone

Firearms & Ammunitions

The purchase of weapons and ammunition are guided by the University Police Weapons Policy. Procurement of firearms and ammunition must be processed with a purchase order issued by Procurement Services with prior approval of the UNL Police Department.

For assistance with firearms & ammunitions, contact these Sourcing Specialists.


Contracts are established for use by University Dining Service for the following products: groceries, produce, dairy, and breads. If needed other categories of food where volume would indicate usage adequate to establish a prime vendor contract can be pursued. Departments can purchase food and related items by contacting the appropriate Sourcing Specialist. These uses are as follows:

  • Laboratory research and teaching projects
    • Documentation of research projects to be provided with purchase order
  • Resale
    • This includes all food purchased for resale to students or the general public
    • General ledger codes 571210 & 571211 must be used when processing these purchases
  • Non-Travel Related Meals (This includes receptions when approved as official functions and conferences.)
    • Visiting faculty, guest speakers, or consultants – meals and receptions
    • Faculty and staff retreats or training sessions with external presenter(s)
    • Recruiting new faculty and staff members – meals and receptions
    • Advisory board meetings
    • Student orientation or other student recognition events
    • Student organizations – meals and receptions
    • Meals and receptions with students in attendance
    • Site or accreditation visits
    • 4-H camps
  • Grocery store purchases
  • Purchases may be made from university approved vendors using a P-card or store charge card where available
  • Non-Valid University Food Purchases – The following may NOT be purchased by staff and faculty using university funds:
    • Catering from a grocery store or supermarket
    • Food at a restaurant, coffee house, gas station, donut or bagel shop
    • Alcohol
    • Tobacco
    • Non-Pepsi products
  • Food purchases prohibited for the following university events:
    • Employee recognitions
    • Retirement receptions
    • Department receptions and meetings with no external speaker
    • Faculty or staff meeting with no external speaker
    • Research grant receptions

For assistance with food purchases, contact these Sourcing Specialists.

Construction Services

Facilities Planning & Construction handles construction-related matters such as:

  • New construction
  • Renovations
  • Remodeling

For assistance with construction and remodeling projects, contact these Sourcing Specialists.

Laboratory Animals

The Purchase of Laboratory Animals policy covers the procedures for ordering laboratory animals for teaching or research projects at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For assistance with laboratory animal purchases, contact these Sourcing Specialists.

Sole Source

The purchase of goods and services from a sole source requires additional procedures and documentation. Please refer to the Sole Source Policy for further details.