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Purchasing Sequence

The following describes the chronological flow of documents, their review, and transactions of the purchasing process.

  1. Informal exploration of the commodity or service at the originating departmental level which may include vendor contact regarding specifications, prices, delivery, warranty, set-up, utilities, service, and competitive prices for equivalents. There is to be no commitment to a vendor by the originating department. The only commitment of funds, that is, the incurring of a liability, is to be by Purchasing; please refer to No. 3, below. Unauthorized commitments are considered to have incurred a personal liability by the individual responsible. Departments are encouraged to contact Purchasing (ext. 2305) at this preliminary stage for advice and recommendations.
  2. The originating department completes a College purchase requisition with full vendor information, description, terms, pricing (as applicable), coding, and signature approvals, attaching any informal vendor quote information, detailed specifications if necessary (especially for large or complex commodities), and forwards to Purchasing through its organizational structure, retaining the departmental file copy.


    If a service is to be purchased, there may be need for a formal contract with performance specifications. If the service involves any kind of construction or alteration to the Physical Plant, including consulting services, the campus Facilities Office becomes involved and a complex contractual process is required. External approvals may be necessary prior to any commitment to a provider of services.

  3. Purchasing, upon receipt, logs in the purchase requisition and performs a review and audit against all State, SUNY, and College regulations policies and procedures, including but not limited to determinations on competitive pricing, M/WBE, procurement opportunities legislation, N.Y.S. contracts, and preferred sources. This review and audit stage may involve discussions with the originating department to ensure fulfillment of needs and may request specification development by the originating department.
  4. The purchase order is generated through the on-line purchasing module of the SUNY Accounting system, automatically posting the encumbrance against the account charged. In some cases external approvals may be necessary prior to issuance of the purchase order to the vendor. It is this purchase order issuance which establishes the only authorized and binding commitment to the vendor; any other vendor contact is considered informal and non-binding to the College. Vendors of long-standing are fully aware of this policy. A copy of the purchase requisition with the assigned purchase order number written in the upper right-hand corner is returned to the originating department for reference, reconciliation with Accounting reports, and file.
  5. As noted in some detail in the following section, purchasing may make a telephone commitment to a vendor by assignment of a purchase order number. Such a verbal commitment recognizes the sole authority of Purchasing to commit funds by virtue of the purchase order number assignment. A hard-copy purchase order immediately follows.
  6. Goods are usually received at the Central Receiving facility located on West Road. Central Receiving inspects goods for visible damage and immediately forwards to the originating department for full inspection. Prompt signature and date certification of satisfactory condition on the Purchase Order receiving copy (forwarded to Accounts Payable) is essential for timely vendor payment as required under prompt payment legislation. Partial shipments should be paid promptly rather than waiting for order completion. Purchasing should be contacted for advice and instructions in cases of discovered damage or other unusual circumstances; Purchasing must coordinate vendor contact.
In cases where a return must be made, Purchasing should be contacted for proper procedures and documentation to accompany the return.

In order to process a vendor payment both a valid invoice and a departmentally certified receiving copy are required. Vendor invoices, packing slips, etc. should accompany the receiving copy forwarded to Accounts Payable to thoroughly document the transaction. If more than 30 days elapse from satisfactory receipt of goods to vendor payment, penalty interest will automatically be imposed on the College in accordance with N.Y.S. Prompt Payment Legislation.