Guidelines for Research Project Procurement

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Federal granting agencies, including CFI and Tri-Council, require that all purchases for research projects follow the institution’s purchasing policies and procedures.

To provide grant leaders with some guidelines around procuring products or services for research projects, below is a summary of what researchers need to know before starting procurement for research projects.

1. Purchase commitments must not be made to suppliers when soliciting pricing information at the proposal and award finalization stage.

At the time of proposal submission or award finalization, we would have solicited supplier’s quote(s) for project budgeting purposes. It is important that, during this process, we don’t make purchase commitments to any suppliers.

We shall let suppliers know that the quotes are for budgeting purposes only and a competitive procurement process will be performed prior to the actual purchase.

We should pay special attention to quotes with expiry dates and refresh them prior to actual purchases if necessary.

2. The following indicates the University’s procurement thresholds for general goods and services in terms of requirements for sourcing and contracting:

Total Procurement Value (CAD)

Requirements for Sourcing
(Supplier Selection)

Requirements for Contracting
(Order Placing)

0 – 4,999 1 quote

One of the following:

  • Order from pre-negotiated university contracts, if any, with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase from supplier using Procurement Card issued by the University (PCard)
  • Purchase order issued by department financial administrators (LVPO)
5,000 - 9,999 Minimum of 1 written quote

One of the following:

  • Order from pre-negotiated university contracts, if any, with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
10,000 - 24,999 Minimum of 2 written quotes

One of the following:

  • Order from pre-negotiated university contracts, if any, with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
25,000 - 99,999 Invitational competitive procurement with a minimum of 3 written quotes Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
> 99,999 Open competitive procurement (RFx) Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)

3. Single Source/Sole Source procurement may only be used when there is valid supporting information that only one supplier can provide the goods or services and no other supplier may be able or capable of providing the goods or services. 

Single Source/Sole Source procurement must not be considered as a substitute for obtaining additional quotes. In situations where multiple suppliers can provide similar products or services but we prefer one supplier over the other for specific reasons, efforts should still be made to obtain multiple quotes. We are not required to select the lowest price bidder. However, a written explanation to justify the selection of a particular supplier from among the multiple quotes is required.

Single Source/Sole Source procurement must not be used solely because we have worked with a particular supplier in the past or we have always used a particular supplier in similar scenarios. Supplier continuity could be a consideration for Single Source/Sole Source procurement but it needs to be supported by other specific and objective project information.

Single Source/Sole Source procurement must not be used because we are running out of time for a competitive procurement process. Project planning must take into consideration the cycle time of the competitive procurement process in order to ensure sufficient time is available.

Single Source/Sole Source procurement cannot be justified solely based on the fact a particular supplier’s equipment was approved in the grant budget. The University can buy the equipment from any supplier as long as the type of the equipment is the same as what is approved in the proposal. 

4. Single Source/Sole Source procurement for purchases of $100,000 or more must involve Purchasing Services and be validated by ACAN prior to making purchase commitment to suppliers.

As required by the Broader Public Sector Procurement Directive, it is mandatory for any purchases of $100,000 or more to be competitively procured by posting an open RFP on an electronic tendering site.

In situations where extensive market research has been done and the University believes there is only one supplier that exists for the products or services we procure, the University will use an Advanced Contract Award Notice (ACAN) process to validate the Single Source/Sole Source procurement.

An ACAN is a public notice indicating to the supplier community that the University intends to award a contract for specific goods or services to a pre-identified supplier, thereby allowing other suppliers the opportunity to signal their interest in bidding on the supply by submitting a Statement of Capabilities. If no supplier submits a Statement of Capabilities that meets the requirements set out in this ACAN, on or before the closing time of the ACAN, then the competitive requirements of the University are considered to be met and the University may then proceed with the award. If other potential suppliers do submit Statements of Capabilities as set out in the ACAN, then the University will undertake a competitive procurement process to award the contract.

An ACAN is required to be posted on an electronic tendering site for a minimum of 15 days.

5. Plan research projects so that researchers and staff have sufficient time for any required open competitive procurement. 

In general, a Request for Proposal (RFP) can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to complete.

When planning your project, take into consideration the process time and your team’s availability.  Contact Purchasing Services to discuss the RFP timing during the early stages of the project.