Purchasing Guidelines

The purchase of goods and services from funds administered through the State of New York (including State Operations, DIFR, IFR, and Current Restricted Fund) are subject to the New York State Finance Law, State Agency Regulations, Executive Branch Directives, and State University Policy.

University policy requires that only authorized University representatives may make commitments for the purchase, lease, or rental of goods or services. Authorized representatives are defined as those Business Office employees specifically designated by the President and Vice President for Finance and Management and having signatures on file with the state of New York. Additionally, P-card holders are authorized to make purchases for the University within established guidelines for cardholders. Limited purpose authorizations may at times be further delegated as circumstances warrant.

It is necessary to receive prior approval from the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office for planned purchase of goods or services, including contractual obligations. The incurring of any liability without prior approval is unauthorized and becomes a personal liability. Unauthorized actions in rare cases of true emergency affecting the immediate health and safety of persons or property are justified and then only if the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office could not be reached. Standing Procedures for Physical Plant and Public Safety address emergency situations.

While nothing can replace good planning, and often a crisis results merely from the lack of it, the unanticipated will at times occur. In those circumstances the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office may, for expediency, give a verbal authorization to proceed.

Please call the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office (ext. 2305) to clarify the proper action and gain the guidance and assistance as needed.

New York State Ethics

SUNY Allowable Expenditure Summary

SUNY Allowable Expenditure Summary (PDF) - Contact Purchasing & Accounts Payable at 607-753-2305.

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. Unauthorized commitments are considered to have incurred a personal liability by the individual responsible. Departments are encouraged to contact the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office at ext. 2305 at this preliminary stage for advice and recommendations.

    Note: Check to see if the commodity/service is available through any of the Preferred Sources first before obtaining quotes elsewhere.
  2. The originating department completes a purchase requisition in Red Dragon Depot attaching any vendor quote information, reasonable of price checklist (for purchases $2,500 or more), and other detailed specifications if necessary.

    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. The Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office, upon receipt of requisition, performs a review and audit against all State, SUNY, and University regulations policies and procedures, including but not limited to, determinations on competitive pricing, M/WBE, procurement opportunities legislation, NYS contracts, and preferred sources.

  4. The purchase order is generated through Red Dragon Depot and sent to the vendor by the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office. 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 University.

  5. Goods are generally received at the Central Receiving facility located on Stratton Drive. Once the department has received the items from Central Receiving, the originating department must receive the items(s) within Red Dragon Depot. Receiving items in Red Dragon Depot is essential for timely vendor payment as required under prompt payment legislation. Partial shipments should be paid promptly rather than waiting for order completion. The Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office should be contacted for advice and instructions in cases of discovered damage or other unusual circumstances. In cases where a return must be made, contact the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office for proper procedures and documentation to accompany the return.

Purchase of Commodities and Services

1. Central Stores

Central Stores stocks most commonly needed office supply items.

  • Central Stores serves only University needs.
  • Supplies should be ordered through Red Dragon Depot (RDD) through your office's Administrative Assistant.  If you do not have access to Red Dragon Depot (RDD), please use the following catalog to view our product listing.

    Central Stores Catalog (PDF)

2. Preferred Sources

The State of New York has extended, to certain agencies, special access privileges to State purchasing activity. These preferred agencies include:

New York State Department of Correction (Corcraft)
New York State Preferred Source Program for People Who Are Blind (NYSPSP)
New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID)

The products and services these agencies sell must be purchased by State Agencies regardless of price or other considerations; State University, under flexibility, does have more discretion, but must clearly document the basis for not purchasing from preferred sources.

  • OSC and Attorney General (AG) review and approval required prior to award for $75,000 or more.

3. OGS State Contracts

The Office of General Services (OGS) is the central purchasing agency for New York State. Its bureau of standards and purchase develop product specifications and analyze product performance; its engineering units advise on physical facilities, computerization, telecommunications, etc. OGS also negotiates regional and state-wide term commodity contracts with vendors through a formal competitive process for a variety of consumable supplies and equipment.

  • State agencies are required to purchase from these contracts (except when Preferred Sources take precedence). If the contract has the "OGS or less" clause, SUNY, through its flexibility, may utilize term contracts or purchase the equivalent from the open market if lower prices can be obtained.

Besides the usual price advantage gained through the power of volume purchasing and formal competition that NYS term contracts offer, competitive bidding and procurement opportunities requirements can be avoided at the campus level, saving a great deal of time and effort.

  • OGS Information Technology (IT) Umbrella Contract may be used for any Software, Hardware, and related Implementation services based on a manufacturer's products.
    • A competitive Request for Quote (RFQ) process is used and solicited to the Manufacturer(s) and all of their Resellers.
    • OSC review and approval required prior to award for $200,000 or more.
  • For all other State Contracts with multiple resellers, a minimum of (3) quotes from resellers should be obtained.  These quotes should include any M/WBE and SDVOB resellers.
    • OSC review and approval required prior to award for $200,000 or more.

4. Open Market Purchasing

Open market purchases are defined as those which are not available from Preferred Sources or NYS Term Contracts. If the campus wishes to purchase a particular service or commodity from the open market which is available from a Preferred Source or NYS Term Contract, the campus must compile defensible documentation justifying why the Preferred Source or State Contract was not selected. Requirements set forth below (#6) must be strictly followed.

5. Specification Preparation

Every instance of smart buying involves utilization of specifications. The process is informal for simple purchases, but written specifications, including dimensions, materials, capacities, performance, warranties, etc. need to be established in order to accurately and objectively compare competing products and to ensure desired product acquisition. Best value does not necessarily mean only lowest price, and thorough comparative product analysis against established specifications ensures the correct purchasing decision. A selection not carrying the lowest cost must be fully justified by reference to its specifications.

Solicitation of competitive quotes or bids from vendors is possible only by supplying common specifications which are sufficiently generic to avoid exclusionary consequences, whether inadvertent or deliberate.

Purchasing staff, having the responsibility for coordinating the procurement of a wide variety of products and services, cannot have full expertise across the full purchasing spectrum and must, at times, seek the assistance of initiating departmental staff or others in specification development. Especially in the procurement of highly technical or complex materials, equipment, or services, the responsibility for specification development must fall to the initiating department with Purchasing maintaining its role of coordination and oversight to ensure sufficient detail and avoidance of exclusionary language. External expertise for specification development may also be sought, whether from OGS, SUNY, other colleges, or the private sector, all toward the goal of prudent and proper purchasing.

6. Open Market Purchases - Competition Price Ranges

The requirements for seeking competition set by the State of New York applies to all State Agencies and become stricter as dollar value increases. 

Discretionary Procurements:

  1. Prices must be certified as reasonable and representing best value; normally competition is the best technique.
  2. For purchases $2,500 or more, written documentation should be maintained by the campus to support the selection of the vendor.  A minimum of (3) informal quotes should be obtained along with a completed Reasonableness of Price Check List to be included with order documentation.
  3. Purchases from a NY Small Business, certified M/WBE, and recycled goods meeting NYS recycled content standards may be purchased without competition so long as prices are reasonable and represent good value.
  4. Post-audit by the Office of the State Comptroller.
  1. Minimum (3) informal quotes or proposals required from responsible vendors. (A formal process is optional.)
  2. Contract Reporter notice (minimum (15) business days advance notice prior to award)
  3. Purchases from a NYS Small Business, a NYS certified minority- or women-owned (M/WBE) business, or for recycled or remanufactured goods meeting NYS recycled content standards may be purchased without competition so long as prices are reasonable and represent good value.
  4. Post-audit by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC).

Formal Competitive Procurements:

$75,000 and above
  1. Formal process: minimum (5) sealed bids required from responsible vendors.
  2. Request For Proposal (RFP) or Invitation for Bid (IFB) required to fully describe the proposed purchase, especially if complex and/or involving systems, services, installation, etc.
  3. Contract Reporter notice (minimum (15) business days advance notice prior to bid opening)
  4. Request For Proposal (RFP) or Invitation for Bid (IFB) required to fully describe the proposed purchase, especially if complex and/or involving systems, services, installation, etc.
  5. OSC and Attorney General (AG) review and approval required prior to award.

Below is a chart that summarizes both procurement thresholds and AG/OSC approval thresholds under the new legislation (effective March 17, 2023).


New Legislation

(Effective 3/17/23)

Procurement/Contract Type

Procurement Dollar Threshold

AG Review

OSC Review

Preferred Source (approved products & services)

No threshold

Required if $75,000 or more

OGS Centralized Contract purchases

No threshold

Not required


Required if $200,000 or more

Consortium purchases or contracts

No threshold

Required if $75,000 or more

Discretionary Purchase

Less than $125,000

Required if $75,000 or more

NCAA Division I programs

(Service contracts except for contracts funded by personal service appropriations)

Less than $250,0000

Required if $75,000 or more

Discretionary Purchase with certain vendors or for certain products[1]

Less than $500,0000

Required if $75,000 or more



Required if $75,000 or more

Construction-Related Services


Required if $75,000 or more

Single/Sole Source procurements

No threshold

Required if $75,000 or more

Formal Procurements

(IFB or RFP)

No threshold

Required if $75,000 or more


[1] NYS Small Business Enterprises (SBEs), NYS certified Minority or Woman-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and Service Disabled-owned Business Enterprises (SDVOBEs), commodities or technology that  are  recycled  or  remanufactured products.

Additional Purchasing Information

Lodging Charges for Groups or Individuals Doing Business at SUNY Cortland

This establishes formal guidelines for securing group or individual local lodging to be paid from State funding. This procedure serves to expedite payments to lodging vendors, while designating the name(s) of those authorized to charge lodging to the University, as well as certify tax-exempt status.

NOTE: Attendees are expected to personally pay for all telephone calls, cable-movie rentals, and all other incidental charges at the time of check out.


  1. The campus departmental representative making the lodging arrangements for the attendee(s) determines the date(s) for which lodging is required and the lodging establishment to be used.
  2. The departmental representative then contacts the hotel/motel and makes the reservations for the conference attendee(s) for the date(s) needed, requesting the New York State Government rate (lodging rates cannot exceed the prevailing lodging per diem for Cortland County). Advise the hotel/motel that this charge is to be tax-exempt and verify campus will be billed for the charges advising them to send the invoice to accounts.payable@cortland.edu referencing the department reserving the room. 
  3. The campus individual then promptly completes a Purchase Requisition for the lodging charge, stating the name(s) of the attendee(s), the State rate quoted by the hotel/motel and the number of days of stay for each attendee.
  4. The department then completes a PO in Red Dragon Depot for the lodging charge total stating the name of the attendee(s) and the number of days of stay.  If the attendee(s) will be eating a meal at the hotel/motel, an amount for that meal (not to exceed the prevailing meal per diem for Cortland County and MUST NOT include charges for alcoholic beverages) may be listed on the PO and added to the lodging amount to arrive at the total.
  5. The completed PO is electronically forwarded through Red Dragon Depot for appropriate approvals.

Contract Administration

The various contracts for the purchase of services, including design/construction, executed and in force under the statutory regulations of New York State include those funded from State Purpose, DIFR, IFR, and other certain special funding. Those contracts funded independently such as by ASC, Alumni Association, are not governed by New York State regulations and are not covered by these guidelines (except for construction contracts). However, if any contract is funded partially from New York State funds or if a contract is expected to convert to New York State funding in some future year, full compliance with New York State regulations and these guidelines is required from the outset.

The following serves to clarify campus authority, responsibility and accountability in regard to contract administration, specifying the roles of each level of campus management (because construction contracts require a special expertise and extensive preparation, the Office of Facilities assumes many of the responsibilities of the Business Office-Purchasing and the operating departmental manager stated below).

General Responsibility

All levels of campus operating management, beginning with the President as the Chief Administrative Officer, through the Division of Finance and Management encompassing the Business Office and its Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office, and to the operating unit (department), share in the responsibility for full compliance with statutes and regulations. This shared responsibility is facilitated by the delegation of specific authority levels to ensure adequate review, control and the avoidance of violations. All levels are accountable for compliance within their delegated authority.

Business Office-Purchasing

Delegated the authority to ensure overall compliance, the Business Office-Purchasing coordinates and oversees the contract development and execution process, including acting as the sole office to obligate funds and finalize any kind of commitment by the University.

Specifically, the Business Office-Purchasing has as its responsibility:
  1. The sole authority for obligating (committing) the University to a vendor, documented in the form of a purchase order, AC-340 encumbrance, signed contract, letter of agreement, or letter of intent.
  2. Processing and documentation flow coordination and preaudit to ensure full compliance with New York State statutes and regulations.
  3. Review of draft contracts to determine proper incorporation of standard, usual, and required language, clauses, exhibits, and appendices to ensure, to the extent possible, adequate protection to the institution. Further, to determine whether external technical or legal review is advisable.
  4. Provide assistance to the operating manager in the development of contract specifications, limited by available time and specific technical expertise.

Operating Manager

The operating (departmental) manager having jurisdiction over the area or operation which the contract serves has the following responsibilities and authority:

  1. Development of specifications: The substance of the contract language which sets forth the specific services to be provided, the performance objectives, the reporting, documentation, procedural steps required of the provider (vendor), as well as the supportive responsibilities of the University, are to be developed in final draft form by the operating manager. It is the operating manager who has the best familiarity with technical and operational requirements and is, therefore, the person most capable.

    The operating manager is responsible for calling any pre-bid meetings and site inspections, evaluating RFP responses and making recommendations for award to the successful vendor; this may involve utilization of a project evaluation team.

    In the course of contract development or modification, it is appropriate to make direct consultative contacts with experts or potential providers so long as no possibility or implication of conflict of interest exists (Purchasing can give advice in this regard). Under no circumstances, however, may any kind of explicit or implicit commitment be made to any potential provider. Consultants or designers retained with or without pay should not be permitted to bid on the commodity or service unless there is a compelling reason. However, if all viable vendors are invited to participate on a co-equal basis in the development of a design or specifications, all may bid.
    The primary and fundamental responsibility for contract development/modification rests with the operating manager.
  2. Monitoring contract expiration/renewal dates: The operating manager is expected to monitor dates and initiate renewal or other action in a timely manner sufficient to maintain continuity and/or avoid service interruptions (discussion with Purchasing in this regard is appropriate).
  3. Managing the contract: It is the responsibility of the operating manager to ensure compliance with the contract by both the provider and the University. This would include inspections, certifications, monitoring, documentation, and any other actions necessary to comply and to protect the interests of the University. Identification of unsatisfactory performance by the provider is within the responsibility of the operating manager.

In summary, direct contract administration rests with the manager, with legal and administrative coordination resting with the Business Office-Purchasing.

Contract Approval and Signature Authority Policy

Approved by:



October 1, 2014

Related Policies:

SUNY 7553 Purchasing and Contracting; 7558 Procurement Card Policy and Guidelines; Public Officers Law §74

Additional References:

  • NYS State Finance Law Article 11 (§§160 -168) State Purchasing; NYS 
  • Public Officers Law: Article 4 - (§§60 - 79) Powers and Duties of Public Officers

Responsible Official:

Vice President for Finance & Management

Policy Overview

To conduct the University's functions of teaching, research, and service, it is sometimes necessary to enter into legally binding agreements (“contracts”) with other entities. The University will only be bound by written contracts to which the University or a subunit is formally a party, that have been reviewed and approved in accordance with this policy, and that have been executed by University officials who have specific contract signature authority. No officer or member of the University community has the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the University, or any program, department or division of the University, in the absence of a formal written delegation of authority. This policy describes the University’s contract review and approval requirements and the protocols for the delegation of signature authority. This policy applies to all members of the University community. This policy does not pertain to Employment Contracts, Appointments and SUNY Research Foundation Contracts.


A. Contract means any agreement between two or more persons that creates a legally binding obligation to do or not to do a particular thing. A contract may or may not involve the payment of money. This policy applies to any document that obligates the University, irrespective of the terminology used to describe that document. Types of documents that constitute contracts include, but are not limited to: academic agreements; affiliation agreements; assignments; business agreements; material transfer agreements (MTA’s); memoranda of understanding (MOU’s); memoranda of agreement; non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s); promises to pay; promissory notes; purchase orders; riders or addenda to existing contracts; separation agreements; settlement agreements; and waivers.

B. Business Contract includes the following types of contracts: deeds; leases; construction agreements; agreements with software consultants, for computer hardware, or for telecommunication services; contracts with vendors for purchase of materials, equipment or services; procurement agreements; financing agreements; independent contractor/consultant agreements (except when part of a research contract); and agreements with temporary employment agencies.

C. Academic Affiliation Agreements: For memoranda of understanding or agreements regarding academic operations (for example, affiliation agreements between University schools and external agencies such as hospitals, social agencies, or school systems; or collaboration agreements with other universities) approval is required by the President, Vice President of Finance and Management or their designees. Such agreements may also require review by the SUNY Office of General Counsel. If an Academic Affiliation Agreement involves a commitment of University funds, it also is a Business Agreement and follows the applicable process for such agreements.

D. Contract Initiator means the individual who proposes to enter into contract negotiations with a non-University individual or entity. Contract Initiators must be University employees who have undergone procurement training, and may not be students or student employees.

E. Renewals, extensions, amendments and modifications to previously approved contracts should be approved and signed in the same manner as the original contracts.

Policy Requirements

Except where a specific, written exception applies, the following requirements apply to all contracts. If, after reviewing this policy, you are uncertain about the review and approval process or requirements for a particular type of contract, contact the Purchasing Office.

A. Preliminary Review by Contract Initiator

Contract Initiators are responsible for conducting a preliminary review of proposed contracts. Prior to submitting a contract for required review and approval as described below, the Contract Initiator must read the entire contract to confirm that the contract:

  1. is clear and consistent;
  2. is complete and accurately reflects the intentions of the parties;
  3. is consistent with University mission and is in the best interests of the University; 
  4. does not include a provision for assumption of sales tax by the University;
  5. does not include a provision for automatic renewal of the contract; and
  6. does not contain requirements with which the University cannot comply.

When a contract also involves a purchase, the Contract Initiator must follow the requirements of the University’s Procurement Policy and/or Procurement Card Policy.

B. Administrative Review and Approval

Following preliminary review by the Contract Initiator, all contracts must undergo further administrative review and approval as set forth below:

  1. Contracts must be sent to the Purchasing Office for review.
  2. SUNY’s Office of General Counsel may be asked to review contracts
  3. In addition to the University’s approval, contracts may require approval of specific SUNY officers and the Offices of the NY State Attorney General and Comptroller.

C. Contract Signature Authority

Only the President is authorized to enter into contracts, deeds, or leases between the University and another party. The President, however, is permitted to delegate this responsibility to appropriate University officials as follows:

Vice President for Finance and Management has the authority to sign contracts, deeds or leases arising out of the normal business operations of the University.

Additional, limited delegations of contract signature authority may be made by the President and the Vice President of Finance and Management. All delegations of signature authority must be in writing and entered onto the New York State Office of the State Comptroller Bureau of Contracts Authorized Signature Form. Copies of all such written delegations must be provided to the Office of the State Comptroller.

D. Retention of Signed Contracts

A copy of signed business contracts, MOUs, and affiliation contracts are to be maintained by the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office.

No Officer or member of the University community may sign or otherwise execute a contract that binds the University or its subunits unless he/she has been delegated signature authority that has been documented in writing and is on file as set forth in this policy. Contracts signed by Officers or employees without documented signature authority may be deemed void. Individuals in such circumstances may be personally liable for the obligations assumed under such contracts per the University's employee indemnification policy, and are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. 

Managers/supervisors are responsible for communicating this policy to all staff members and for enforcing its requirements.

Academic Equipment Replacement (AER)

The special University-wide lump-sum distribution of Academic Equipment Replacement funding has specific and defined restrictions governing its use. The following guidelines apply:

  1. Academic Equipment Replacement Funds may be expended for the purchase, upgrading, or major repair of equipment for teaching departments or for equipment assigned to Educational Communications Centers (Cortland's Learning Resources Center) which is used in direct support of instruction. Major repair or upgrading of instructional equipment must serve to extend the useful life of the equipment.
  2. Repair of equipment may not be interpreted to authorize the purchase of service contracts, authority to establish or maintain service shops to be supported from Academic Equipment Replacement Funds, or to include routine maintenance or minor repairs of equipment.
  3. The costs of upgrades which improve or expand the original function of the equipment will be added to the original cost of the equipment for inventory asset purposes.
  4. Computer software may only be purchased as a part of an initial acquisition of computer hardware and only if it is an integral part of the system or is available only from the hardware manufacturer. The cost of the software must be included in the cost of the computer hardware for inventory asset purposes.
  5. Office-type equipment (desks, chairs, filing cabinets, copiers, typewriters, computers, etc.) are normally used for administrative support and are, therefore, ineligible for AER funding. Only if primarily used in direct support of the teaching process may such equipment be purchased from AER funds.
    • An explanatory notation describing the intended use of any proposed purchase, which is not obviously in direct support of teaching, is required to document adherence to guidelines.
  6. Installation Costs: The associated costs of installation of purchased equipment is applicable to AER funding under the following conditions:
    1. The installation must be executed as part of the single order and price, and through the vendor supplying the equipment.
    2. An installation at a time later than the time of delivery constitutes a separate transaction and is a fundamental violation of AER guidelines.
    3. If the installation involves any kind of construction or alteration to the facility, there must be adherence to all construction regulations, and such costs are not an appropriate use of AER funds.
    4. A separate installation, from other funds, differentiates that cost from the dollar value of the equipment inventory upon which future AER funding is based.
  7. For the purposes of this program, the following definitions will apply:
    1. Equipment - A unit of Group III moveable equipment which is non-consumable, has a unit acquisition cost of $500 or more, and a useful life of at least two years. For audio-visual and office business machinery and equipment, the unit acquisition cost is set at $250 with a useful life of at least two years.
      1. Group I: Structural (built-in) equipment - a part of the building; not AER eligible.
      2. Group II: Permanent, non-moveable equipment; not AER eligible.
      3. Group III: Moveable equipment over $250.00; AER eligible over $500.00, (ECC/LRC) eligible over $250.00.
    2. Teaching Department - A department whose chart of accounts code contains zeros in the third and fourth positions (i.e., XX00XX, designating an I & DR account).

Food Type Payments

Reimbursement or Payment for Food/Beverages - NYS Requirements

Under certain circumstances, cost of food and beverages can be considered an appropriate NYS expenditure.  This policy is intended to clarify those circumstances and limitations.

Please refer to the SUNY Cortland Food Policy Utilizing State Funds for the most recent updates. 

MacBride Principles

The New York State Finance Law was amended in 1992 to reflect the MacBride Fair Employment Principles. Agencies must ensure that any provider of goods of services, or any entity holding ten percent or more ownership of that provider, must: (a) have no business operations in Northern Ireland, or (b) will abide by the MacBride Fair Employment Principles relating to non-discrimination in hiring and employment.

Contracting for Services

When contracting for services, careful consideration must be given to the issue of outsourcing (contracting for work which can be performed by current staff), non-employee status (as defined by IRS), and the Public Works Law (see below). To ensure compliances, it is vital that commitments for contracted services be made only by the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office and not by an individual faculty or staff member.

Public Works Law

New York State requires that prevailing wage rates (as published by the NYS Department of Labor) be paid for any work performed of a "building trades" nature, unless that work is performed by a graded civil service position titled employee. Building trades cover a wide variety of skilled and semi-skilled specialties, including but not limited to, communications worker, carpenter, welder, sheet metal worker, machinist, painter, glazier, mason-bricklayer, plumber, etc. While virtually all construction project work fall under "trades," even work which does not alter or add to the physical structures, such as painting, must comply. It is for this reason that all contracted service must be carefully reviewed, given pre-approval, and executed via purchase order or contract issuance by the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office with no prior commitment made to the vendor.

Independent Contractor Vs. Employee

The IRS sternly enforces monetary penalties for inappropriately treating a person as an independent contractor (non-employee) rather than as an employee. It is the IRS' intent to maximize immediate tax withholding (including Social Security) by requiring treatment as an employee unless clearly proven otherwise through its "twenty-question" test with the burden of proof on the employer.

Construction Contracts

New York State requires special treatment of construction-type contracts for services regardless of dollar value or funding source. Any work which in any way alters or adds to the physical structure of the campus must be defined as a construction contract and be fully developed by the Office of Facilities. The development would include, as applicable, approved specifications and drawings, prevailing wage rates, environmental assessments, external agency approvals, code compliance, adherence to Procurement Opportunities requirements, competitive bidding. The contracts are reviewed and executed by Purchasing. Unless there is a compelling reason, otherwise, design consultants may not bid on construction projects which they designed. As becomes evident, construction projects require thorough and advance planning and extra time and effort to develop and administer.

Multi-Year Installment Purchases

There is a limited opportunity for multi-year installment purchases within the State of New York. The duration of an agreement cannot exceed the useful life (five year minimum). Only purchases with an outright purchase price exceeding $250,000 may be acquired in this manner on the rationale that for purchases under $250,000 the additional cost of financing is not justified. The cost threshold is arguably too high for small agencies such as SUNY Cortland, but the policy is firm. Additionally, all multi-year installment purchases must follow C.O.P.S. (Certificates of Participation) procedures requiring advance appropriation requests (generally a request for C.O.P.S. multi-year purchasing must be submitted in October for the next fiscal year). The State has given the Office of General Services (OGS) sole authority for obtaining C.O.P.S. financing.


Leasing is generally discouraged by the State of New York as not cost effective unless leasing is the only option offered by the vendor. All proposals for leases must be presented for review and approval to the Attorney General (AG), Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), and Office of General Services (OGS). While leasing may be considered a viable alternative to outright purchasing for short term needs, strong arguments must be presented to persuade the external approving agencies. In cases where technological advances may render the acquisition obsolete in a period shorter than its useful life, leasing may be considered valid.


In cases of short-term need, renting may be permissible if clearly cost-effective. Because rentals are carefully scrutinized by OSC at the time of payment processing, it is essential that the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office be contacted for advice and coordination at the early planning stages and that no unauthorized vendor commitments be made.

Research Foundation Purchases

The SUNY Research Foundation (RF), established to administer externally funded grants, is a legally, separate corporate entity in the State of New York. As such, the regulations and procedures of the State and SUNY do not apply. The SUNY Research Foundation's policies and procedures do reflect sponsor mandates (federal agencies, etc.) and parallel SUNY to the extent feasible. Purchases against RF grants are processed independently from State Purchasing, following RF procedures and using RF forms.

There are cases in which funding for a single purchase may be shared by both State and RF resources. In such a circumstance, both sets of procedures must apply with the stricter standards (usually State) prevailing. It is vital therefore that good planning and coordination occur to successfully process split-funded purchases.

Emergency Procedures

There are, on rare occasions, situations requiring action to protect persons or property. An emergency is defined as that which presents a clear and immediate danger to persons or the physical environment. In these situations normal procedures and requirements may be abbreviated or suspended so long as full justification and documentation are developed as soon as practicable. In cases when the Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office is unavailable for authorization and coordination, usually outside normal office hours, the Director of Physical Plant, the Director of Public Safety and the Director of Facilities may authorize emergency purchases of goods or services. Full written justification must be provided to support approvals, as applicable, by external agencies. In situations involving physical structures, a presidential certification is necessary to justify suspension of standing purchasing regulations and requirements.

Hazardous Material Data Worksheets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS's) for all chemical products which contain potentially hazardous components.

The MSDS's, which contain important health and safety and emergency information, must be made readily available to employees.

MSDS's are required for all chemical products which contain potentially hazardous components.

  • Examples of products for which MSDS's are required include:
    • laboratory chemicals
    • art supplies
    • cleaning materials
    • paints and varnishes
    • degreasers
    • lubricants
    • welding supplies
    • pesticides
    • adhesives

If an MSDS is requested for a product which is not hazardous under the OSHA regulations, the vendor must state that the product is exempt when declining the MSDS request. The requesting department must requesting MSDS's from vendors at the time of purchase, and forwarding them (or having the vendor send them directly) to the Environmental Health & Safety. Environmental Health & Safety Office will review the MSDS's, retain a copy in a master file, and forward the MSDS to appropriate campus personnel.

Property Control System (Equipment Inventory)

SUNY Cortland maintains an inventory of all State and Research Foundation-owned equipment through a University automated system. It is the responsibility of the University to record all additions, deletions, and changes in a timely and accurate manner and this responsibility is delegated to the Property Control Manager within the Business Office. The program requires, however, the ongoing cooperative efforts of Business Office departments for document processing and individual University departments for physical inventory verifications.

See Property Control Office for more information.

Gift Certificates / Gift Cards

The ability to purchase gift cards will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis upon submission of the Gift Card/Certificate Request Form.

The maximum quantity allowed is fifteen (15) cards per program (cumulative of any combination of increments).  The maximum dollar amount per card is $50, with one (1) card up to $100 as the grand prize.  The maximum dollar amount per program is $800.  The recipient of the gift cards must be students and a prize receipt form must be completed by all recipients.

The form must be submitted a minimum of 45 days prior to the event.  The approved form must be submitted with the purchase documentation.

Tax Exemption & Federal ID

The University is tax exempt - Tax Exemption Certificate.

SUNY Cortland Tax Exempt #: 14740026K

SUNY Cortland Federal ID #: 146013200

Reasonableness of Price

Preferred Sources and State Contracts

  • Purchases from NY State Preferred Sources do not require any additional documentation.
  • If the commodities/services are on State Contract, please provide the contract number. State Contract items do not require anything further to process the order.

Price Verification & Vendor Selection

Price quotes from at least 2-3 other responsible vendors that can provide the similar type product or service to demonstrate that the vendor you have chosen has the lowest reasonable price. Each procurement should include a quote from at least one M/W/SDVOB vendor as a good faith effort to meet state goals. Published price lists or Internet search information may be acceptable when price quotes are not feasible. It is advisable to document reasonableness of price and vendor selection criteria whenever possible for purchases less than $2,500 and is required for purchases $2,500 and above.  Written documentation should support both the selection of the vendor and the reasonableness of the price (Reasonableness of Price Check List).

Single Source Procurement

A Single Source procurement is defined as one in which two or more vendors can supply the commodity, technology, and/or perform the services required by an agency, but the State agency selects one vendor over the others for reasons such as expertise or previous experience with similar purchases. Circumstances leading an agency to select this method of procurement may include, for example, an agency's need for a specific consultant firm where a number of firms are available to perform the work. In such case, the agency can demonstrate a rational basis for selecting a single vendor because of specific factors such as past experience with a particular issue, familiarity with specific agency operations, experience with similar projects at other agencies or at other levels of government, demonstrated expertise, or capacity and willingness to respond to the situation.

In a single source procurement, the agency must document in the Procurement Record:

  1. the circumstances leading to the selection of the vendor, including the alternatives considered;
  2. its rationale for selecting the specific vendor; and
  3. the basis upon which it determined the cost was reasonable, as in the case of a Sole Source procurement, and how that conclusion was reached.

All such documentation is required by OSC in order to review the proposed purchase.

Sole Source Procurement

A Sole Source procurement is one for which only one vendor can supply the commodities, technology and/or perform the services required by an agency. Procurement by this method must be documented in the Procurement Record by an explanation of:

  1. the unique nature of the requirement,
  2. the basis upon which it was determined that there is only one known vendor able to meet the need, i.e. the steps taken to identify potential competitors; and
  3. the basis upon which the agency determined the cost to be reasonable, i.e. "fair market price" that could be anticipated had normal competitive conditions existed, and how that conclusion was reached. (Examples of such determination may include a comparison to product catalogs, published price lists, retail market surveys, records of previous similar purchases, experience).

All such documentation is required by OSC in order to review the proposed purchase.

NYS Contract Reporter Ads

If the procurement cost is $50,000 or more and the purchase is not from a State contract, we are required to place a notice of the anticipated purchase in the New York State Contract Reporter for a minimum of fifteen business days.

Purchasing and Accounts Payable Office

SUNY Cortland
P.O. Box 2000
Miller Building, Room 310
Cortland, NY 13045

Phone: 607-753-2305
Fax: 607-753-5486

Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.