Getting Started with Procurement

As a public funded organization, the procurement at University of Guelph is governed by the laws and regulations of Canada and Ontario. These legislative requirements are mostly reflected by the University's policies and procedures.

It is the responsibility of every member of the University’s faculty and staff involved in procurement activities such as planning, sourcing, requisitioning, contracting, receiving and payment to understand these requirements and abide by them.


Purchasing Code of Ethics

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The University of Guelph's Purchasing Policy formally adopts the Supply Chain Code of Ethics (the Code) as below. The goal of the Code is to provide a general foundation on which to build professional and accountable practices and behavior in all areas of procurement activity. All members of the University involved with Supply Chain Activities must be in accordance with the Code.

This Code applies to every member of the University's faculty and staff involved in the purchasing activities including planning, sourcing, requisitioning, purchasing, receiving and payment.

The following are the three major components of the University’s Purchasing Code of Ethics.


All individuals involved with purchasing or other procurement related activities must act, and be seen to act, with integrity and professionalism. Honesty, care and due diligence must be integral to all procurement activities within and between the University, its suppliers and other stakeholders. Respect must be demonstrated for each other and for the environment. Confidential information must be safeguarded. All participants must not engage in any activity that may create, or appear to create, a conflict of interest, such as accepting gifts or favours, providing preferential treatment, or publicly endorsing suppliers or products.


Procurement activities must be open and accountable. In particular, contracting and purchasing activities must be fair, transparent and conducted with a view to obtaining the best value for University funds.


All individuals involved in the purchasing or other procurement-related activities must comply with this policy and the laws of Canada and Ontario. In this context the University is committed to continuously work to improve procurement policies and procedures, to improve the knowledge and skill levels, and to share leading practices, where possible.

Conflict of Interest Policy

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In matters of procurement, every member of the University’s faculty and staff shall be governed by the University’s policies on Conflict of Interest including Conflict of Interest Policy for University of Guelph Employees.

This Policy is intended to facilitate employees’ ability to maintain the highest business and ethical standards, and to facilitate the protection of the integrity of employees in the course of their job responsibilities.

This Policy defines and addresses potential, apparent and actual conflicts of interest. It provides guidance to employees so that conflicts of interest are recognized and either avoided or resolved expeditiously through appropriate disclosure and management.

The fundamental principle underlying this Policy is that employees must not permit relationships with others or external business activities to conflict, or appear to conflict, with the interests of the University.


Conflict of Interest means a potential, apparent or actual conflict where an Employee’s financial or other personal interest, whether direct or indirect, conflicts or appears to conflict with the Employee’s responsibility to the University, or with the Employee’s participation in any recommendation or decision within the University.

Employee means University of Guelph full-time or part-time Employees who are not members of the UGFA.

External Activity means any activity of an Employee outside the scope of her/his employment with the University undertaken as part of a commercial or volunteer enterprise.

Relationship means any relationship of the Employee to persons of his or her immediate family whether related by blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law relationship, and any relationship of an intimate and/or financial nature during the preceding five years, any student-supervisor relationship, or any other past or present relationship that may give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias

Supervisor means the person to whom an Employee reports or, in the case of a committee, the committee Chair.

Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest

All Employees have an obligation to disclose to their Supervisor any Conflict of Interest. The Employee must disclose in writing as soon as she/he could reasonably be aware that a Conflict of Interest exists. The existence of a Conflict of Interest does not necessarily preclude involvement in the issue which has given rise to the Conflict (“the Matter”). The Employee must declare, in writing, the nature and extent of the Conflict of Interest no later than any meeting or process in which the Employee participates and at which the Matter is to be considered. The Employee must refrain from taking part in any discussion or decision-making vote in relation to the Matter, and withdraw from any meeting or process when the Matter is being discussed until a decision has been reached regarding the manner in which the Conflict of Interest will be addressed.

A Conflict of Interest may also be reported to a Supervisor by any other person. A report to a Supervisor about the existence of a potential, apparent or actual conflict of interest shall be made in writing.

To learn more about the procedures for Management of Conflicts of Interest or other aspects of the University of Conflict of Interest Policy, visit the Conflict of Interest Policy for University of Guelph Employees website.

Broader Public Sector Procurement Directive

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Overseen by the Supply chain Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive sets out procurement rules in the purchase of goods and services with public funds under Ontario's Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010

As a major recipient of provincial funding, the University of Guelph is required to be in compliance with the principles and practices contained in the BPS Procurement Directive (Directive).


 The purpose of the Directive is to:

  • Ensure that publicly funded goods and services, including construction, consulting services and information technology, are acquired by BPS organizations through a process that is open, fair and transparent;
  • Outline responsibilities of BPS organizations throughout each stage of the procurement process;
  • Ensure that procurement processes are managed consistently throughout the BPS;
  • Maximize the value that BPS organizations receive from the use of public funds.


The Directive is based on the following five key principles that allow Organizations to achieve value for money while following a procurement process that is fair and transparent to all stakeholders:

  • Accountability: Organizations must be accountable for the results of their procurement decisions and the appropriateness of the processes.
  • Transparency: Organizations must be transparent to all stakeholders. Wherever possible, stakeholders must have equal access to information on procurement opportunities, processes andresults.
  • Value for Money: Organizations must maximize the value they receive from the use of public funds. Avalue-for-money approach aims to deliver goods and services at the optimum totallifecycle cost.
  • Quality Service Delivery: Front-line services provided by Organizations, such as teaching and patient care, must receive the right product, at the right time, in the right place.
  • Process Standardization: Standardized processes remove inefficiencies and create a level playing field.

Procurement Policies and Procedures (Mandatory Requirements)

The following are some of the mandatory requirements in the Directive:

  • Organizations must segregate at least three of the five functional procurement roles: Requisition, Budgeting, Commitment, Receipt and Payment. Responsibilities for these roles must lie with different departments or, at a minimum, with different individuals.
  • Organizations must establish an approval authority schedule (AAS) for procurement of goods and non-consulting services.
  • Organizations must conduct an open competitive procurement process where the estimated value of procurement of goods or services is $100,000 or more.
  • Organizations must competitively procure consulting services irrespective of value.
  • Prior to commencement, any non-competitive procurement of goods or non-consulting services must be approved by an authority one level higher than the AAS requirements for competitive procurement.
  • Prior to commencement, any non-competitive procurement of consulting services (exemption-based only) must be approved by the President or the Board of Directors of an organization.
  • Organizations must not reduce the overall value of procurement (e.g., dividing a single procurement into multiple procurements) in order to circumvent the approval requirements of the organizational AAS or the Procurement AAS for Consulting Services.
  • Calls for open competitive procurements must be made through an electronic tendering system that is readily accessible by all Canadian suppliers.
  • For reporting and auditing purposes, all procurement documentation, as well as any other pertinent information must be retained in a recoverable form for a period of seven years.
  • Organizations must monitor any conflict of interest that may arise as a result of the Members’ of the Organization, advisors’, external consultants’, or suppliers’ involvement with the Supply Chain Activities. Individuals involved with the Supply Chain Activities must declare actual or potential conflicts of interest. Where a conflict of interest arises, it must be evaluated and an appropriate mitigating action must be taken.
  • Competitive procurement documents must outline bid dispute resolution procedures to ensure that any dispute is handled in an ethical, fair, reasonable, and timely fashion.

The Directive also sets out a number of specific requirements for the procurement of consulting services, the competitive bidding process and contract management. Please refer to the relevant sections under Getting Started with Procurement for further information.

Trade Agreements

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Trade agreements support the exchange of goods and services between Ontario and other countries and provinces. Trade agreements and procurement practices are built on the fundamental principles of Fairness, Transparency and Reciprocal Non-Discrimination.

Ontario is a party to two domestic trade agreements:

Ontario is also subject to international trade agreements, including:

As a publicly funded institution, the University is subject to the procurement obligations of all applicable trade agreements. University's procurements must be compliant with the requirements outlined in the chapter of Government Procurement in these trade agreements.

Customs Legislation

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Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is the government authority who administers and enforces more than 90 acts, regulations and international agreements on behalf of other federal departments and agencies.  Among them are Customs Act, Customs Tariff, Export and Import Permits Act, Food and Drugs Act, Prohibited and Restricted Goods, etc.

Over the recent years, regulation changes have resulted in expanding information requirements, greater enforcement of customs responsibilities for all importers and exporters, and tighter timelines for information required prior to the release of goods. Compliance audits have also been incorporated into all of the CBSA programs, and non-compliance may result in penalties to the University as dictated under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

The risks related to customs non-compliance are not only financial, they can spill over to affect reputation, eligibility fo research grants, and the quality of research and academic programs.  In a worst case scenario, a facility could be shut down and related certifications, licensing or permits could be revoked.

To learn more about customs legislations, visit Canada Border Services Agency website.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

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This legislation places a legal obligation on the University to provide accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, building, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2014.

Under the AODA, the following Ontario Regulations establish the accessibility standards the University is required to meet as a public service provider.

  • Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07)
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ontario Regulation 191/11)

The University is committed to creating and maintaining an accessible university community under this Act. All procurement authorities of the University shall incorporate, where appropriate, accessibility criteria and features when procuring or acquiring goods, services or facilities.

What you need to do

Public sector organizations must include accessibility criteria in their processes for buying and acquiring goods, services and facilities. This means you must consider accessibility, where possible, along with other criteria like the quality and cost of the items. You must also incorporate accessible design and features where possible.

For example:

  • Santosh is buying a new printer for the office. There are accessible models that are easier to use for people in wheelchairs, but none will work with the company network. Instead, Santosh buys a regular printer and puts it on a lower table to make it more accessible for employees who use a wheelchair. When it’s time to buy new computers or replace the company network, he plans to choose technologies that will work with an accessible printer.
  • Stacy is looking for a conference centre to host her company’s annual staff day. Cost and location are important, of course. But Stacy also ensures the facility has an accessible entrance and washrooms, as well as staff who are trained in providing accessible customer service.
  • The Town of Anywhere considers accessibility in all of its buying decisions. Where possible, the Town tells vendors in writing the accessibility criteria and features it will consider. The Town also provides guidelines on how it will evaluate vendor proposals based on accessibility. Where it is not practical to address accessibility concerns, the Town will explain why in an accessible format, on request.
  • Jonas was buying new computer monitors for his company. He requires the monitors to offer adjustable colours and contrast so they would be accessible to people with vision loss. The monitors also have to include buttons that users could identify by feeling them and be able to operate easily with one hand. Finally, Josh asked the vendors to ensure that the instructions on using the monitors are available in accessible formats.
  • Omar is opening a new office downtown. When viewing possible locations, Omar looks for a visible alarm system to alert people with hearing loss. He also looks for elevator buttons that use raised lettering for people who are blind.
  • When interviewing consultants to train staff, Linda asks the companies how they would accommodate people with different disabilities. She also asks if they provide training materials in accessible formats.

Questions to ask about accessibility

When you’re buying and acquiring goods, services or facilities, you should ask these questions to ensure your meeting accessibility standards.

For goods

  • Can the product be used by someone:
    • in a seated position?
    • using one hand, with limited upper body strength?
    • with limited fine motor skills?
    • with vision loss or low vision?
    • with hearing loss?
  • Does the product meet ergonomic standards?
  • Can the product be customized to meet different needs?
  • Are instructions for using the product clear and easy to follow?
  • Are support materials (e.g., manuals or training materials) available in accessible formats at no extra charge?

For services

  • Does the firm provide accessible customer service?
  • Can the service provider accommodate the needs of people of all abilities? For example, if you’re hiring someone to do research for you, do their surveys and interviews accommodate people with different types of disabilities?
  • Will the company use accessible signage, audio and/or print materials? For example, if you’re hiring an event coordinator, will they use high contrast signs for the event?

For facilities

  • Can someone using a mobility aid (e.g., wheelchair or walker) move around the facility?
  • Are signs placed at an accessible height?
  • Does the facility have emergency procedures to assist people with disabilities?

If accessibility is not an option

If you cannot find or use an accessible product, service or facility, you must be prepared to:

  • explain why
  • provide your explanation in an accessible format or with communication supports, when requested

To learn more about the AODA requirements, please visit the University's Accessibility website and Human Rights and Equity website.

Code of Ethical Conduct for Suppliers

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The University of Guelph has long believed that its dealings with suppliers should reflect the institution's recognition that consumer decisions have an impact on those involved in production.

In 2012, the University's Board of Governors approved a Code of Ethical Conduct for Suppliers and Subcontractors in Relation to Working Conditions and Employment Standards (the Code). The purpose of the Code is to ensure that the University does its utmost to have positive impact on working conditions and to minimize the possibility of its contribution to oppressive working conditions.  As a result, the University of Guelph requires all its suppliers and subcontractors who fall within the scope of this Code to conduct their business and uphold workplace standards in adherence to the Code and the Procedures for the Implementation of the Code.

The University procurement authorities are committed to promoting a greater standard of ethical conduct from suppliers and subcontractors by actively implementing our policy and procedures, working constructively with campus community and suppliers and moving toward purchasing from employers who treat their employees in an ethical manner.

In an effort to strengthen the University’s position that all University’s apparel suppliers need to demonstrate their compliance to the Code, the University will require all suppliers who supply apparel products to the University to confirm their compliance of the Code by completing the Supplier Verification of Compliance (SVC) form. Specifically,

  • The University will require all departments to procure apparel products from suppliers who have completed their SVC forms.  
  • The University will maintain a list of apparel product suppliers on its Ethical Buying website that have completed the SVC forms. Departments are encouraged to source their apparel products from the suppliers on this list.
  • Any university departments that would like to procure apparel products from a supplier who has not completed the SVC form will be required to ask the supplier to complete the form prior to a Purchase Order being issued.  The SVC form will be required as an attachment to the purchase requisitions for HVPO.
  • Purchasing Services will be responsible to refresh all suppliers’ SVC forms on an annual basis.  The supplier list on the Ethical Buying website will be refreshed and maintained according to the result of the annual process.

For more information on University’s policy and procedures on Code of Ethical Conduct, and the list of suppliers who have completed the SVC form and the compliance verification process, visit Ethical Buying website;


Special Commodity Regulations

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Certain commodities are regulated by some government agencies due to their special nature and related risks when they are handled improperly.  These special commodities include:

  • Controlled Goods as defined in the Control Goods Program (CGP) of Canada by Public Works and Government Services Canada;
  • Hazardous Materials as defined by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and its Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation;
  • Dangerous Goods as defined by Transport Canada in Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and related Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Regulations. 

Purchases of these special commodities must be compliant with the related government regulations and the University's Special Authority Approval procedures. 

To learn more about these Regulations, click each category to visit related government websites.

Purchasing Policy and Procedures

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The University's Purchasing Policy  provides the framework, general principles and overall guidance for procurement activities at the University of Guelph. The procurement of goods and services by all departments of the University regardless of the final source of funding shall be compliant with the Purchasing Policy.

Purchasing Authority

All procurement activities shall be authorized and approved by the authority as defined by the University's General Policy - Delegation of Authority for Commitment of University Funds Upon Budget Allocation.

Segregation of Duties

In general, 3 of the 5 purchasing functions below should be completed by different individuals for each procurement.

Roles Task Who
Requisition Authorize the budget unit to place an order Department budget authority, research principle investigator or authorized delegate
Budget Ensure that funding is available to cover the cost of the order Department budget authority, research principle investigator or authorized delegate
Commitment Authorize the release of the order to the supplier under agreed terms Buyer in department or Purchaing Services
Receipt Receive the order physically and verify the order is correct and complete Department individual receiving the goods or confirming services have been provided
Payment Approve invoices and authorize release of payment to the supplier Departmental budget authority, Payment Services staff and University signing officers

Procurement Thresholds, and Sourcing and Contracting Requirements

Based on the total procurement value, all procurement shall be conducted in a manner that meets the sourcing and contracting requirements specified below.

1. Goods and Non-Consulting Services

Total Procurement Value (CAD) Sourcing Requirements
(How to Select Supplier)

Contracting Requirements
(How to Place Order)

0 - 4,999 1 quote

One of the following: 

  • Order from pre-negotiated University contracts with GL coding (SMC)
  • Order with 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 with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
10,000 - 24,999 Minmum of 2 written quotes A One of the following:
  • Order from pre-negotiated University contracts with GL coding (SMC)
  • Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
25,000 - 99,999 Minimum of 3 written quotes (invitational competitive procurement) A Purchase order issued by Purchasing Services (HVPO)
Over 99,999 Open competitive procurement (RFx) A Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO)

 A: Single Source / Sole Source is used only as an ecxception, it can not be used as a subsittute for quotes.

2. Consulting Services

Total Procurement Value (CAD) Sourcing Requirements
(How to Select Supplier)
Contracting Requirements
(How to Place Order)
0 - 4,999 Minimum of 3 written quotes (invitational competitive procurement) B One of the following:
  • Order with Procurement Card issued by the University (PCard)
  • Purchase order issued by department financial administrators (LVPO)
5,000 - -99,999 Minimum of 3 written quotes (invitational competitive procurement) B Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO)
Over 99,999 Open competitive procurement (RFx) B Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO)

 B: Single Source / Sole Source of consulting services below $1,000,000 requires approval by the President; over $1,000,000 requires approval by the Board of Governors.

3. Special Commodities

  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Live Animal-Vertebrates
  • Biological Hazardous Materials
  • Hazardous Materials)
Total Procurement Value (CAD) Sourcing Requirements
(How to Select Supplier)
Contracting Requirements
(How to Place Order)
0 - 4,999 1 quote Purchase order issued by Purchaing Services (HVPO
Over 4,999 same requirements as for Goods and Non-Consulting Services same requirements as for Goods and Non-Consulting Services


Non-Competitive Procurement (Single Source/Sole Source)

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It is a mandatory requirement of the University's Purchasing Policy that the University is to use a competitive procurement process to acquire goods or non-consulting services valued at $10,000 and over, and consulting services regardless of dollar value. It is also a mandatory requirement of the BPS Procurement Directive and the applicable trade agreements that the University is to publicly tender the procurement of goods or services valued at $100,000 and over.

However, it is recognized that in exceptional circumstances, only one supplier may be able or capable of providing the goods or services. In these circumstances, the University must justify a non-competitive procurement using one of the limited tendering or non-application provisions in the applicable trade agreements. 

For the list of the provisions that are relevant to the University procurements, please refer to Non-Competitive Procurement Provisions.

For provisions that could have different interpretations, department procurement authorities shall contact Purchasing Services for guidance prior to using the provision in your justification. 

For procurement valued at $100,000 and over, it is highly recommended that department procurement authorities contact Purchasing Services before making any procurement decisions utilizing a non-competitive process.

Non-Competitive Procurement Justifiation form is required for the non-competitive procurement of:

  • goods or non-consulting services of CAD$10,000 or more; or
  • consulting services regardless of value (non-application based only).

For an example of completed Non-Competitive Procurement Justification, please refer to Sample of Completed Non-Competitive Procurement Justification.

Consulting vs Non-Consulting Services

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As required by BPS Procurement Directive, organizations must procure consulting services competitively regardless of the dollar value.

Non-competitive procurement of consulting services is allowed only in circumstances outlined in the applicable trade agreements. Please refer to Non-Competitive Procurement Provisions for these allowable circumstances.

Consulting services procured non-competitively must be approved by the President if the total procurement is between $0 and $1,000,000, and by the Board of Governors if the total procurement is $1,000,000 or more.

Definition of Consulting from BPS Procurement Directive

Consultant means a person or entity that under an agreement, other than an employment agreement, provides expert or strategic advice and related services for consideration and decision-making.

Consulting Services means the provision of expertise or strategic advice that is presented for consideration and decision-making.

A Non-consulting Service Provider is an individual or a company who contracts to provide services, other than consulting services to another individual or business. Examples may include "consultants" such as property brokers, head hunters or trainers.

Determining Consulting vs Non-Consulting Services

When determining whether a service is consulting or non-consulting, the differentiating factor is whether the services involve thinking, and whether the services are strategic versus tactical in nature. 

An individual or organization is considered a "consultant" if they provide the following services:

  • Management Consulting (i.e. helping improve performance, primarily through the analysis of existing problems and development of plans for improvement. This includes organizational change management assistance and strategy development);
  • Information Technology Consulting (i.e. advisory services that help clients assess different technology strategies, including aligning their technology strategy with their business or process strategy);
  • Technical Consulting (i.e. strategic advice related to actuarial science, appraisal, community planning, employment placement, engineering, health sciences, interior design, realty, social sciences); 
  • Policy Consulting (i.e. the provision of advisory services to provide policy options, analysis and evaluation);
  • Communication Consulting (i.e. the provision of strategy and advice in conveying information through various channels and media).

The following are some examples showing the differences between consulting and non-consulting services:

  • Professional services
    • Consulting: an architect is engaged to develop a ten year strategy
    • Non-Consulting: an architect is engaged to design a specific building
  • IT
    • Consulting: an organization is engaged to develop an IT strategy
    • Non-Consulting: an individual is engaged to create a database that will support an IT implementation
  • Operations
    • Consulting: an individual or organization is engaged to assess operatinal performance
    • Non-Consulting: an individual or organization is engaged to implement process improvements on specific operational processes
  • Communications
    • Consulting: an individual or organization is engaged to develop a communication strategy
    • Non-Consulting: an individual or organization is engaged to design a newsletter
  • Executive Management
    • Consulting: an individual is engaged to advise the executive team on communicating to the media
    • Non-Consulting: an individual is engaged to facilitate executive team building sessions
  • Training
    • Consulting: an individual is engaged to develop a training plan for the organization
    • Non-Consulting: an individual is engaged to develop and deliver a specific training program
  • Employment
    • Consulting: an individual is engaged on retainer to provide ongoing expertise to the organization
    • Non-Consulting: a contract specialist is engaged on a temporary basis to manage a specific RFP but is not on the payroll
    • Employee: an individual is hired on a full or part-time temporary basis and is on the payroll

Accountability and Procedures of Procuring Consulting Services

Prior to the commencement of the services, the requestor from the department is responsible to determine if the service being procured is consulting or non-consulting service. If it is consulting service, the requestor shall follow a competitive procurement process to award the contract regardless of the dollar value.  

Prior to the award of a contract and commencement of services, the requestor must obtain approval in accordance with the Procurement Approval Authority Schedule for Consulting Services in the University's Purchasing Policy.

In cases where a department needs to procure services using non-competitive procurement provisions, and the services being procured could be viewed as possibly involving elements of consulting, the requestor from the department is responsible for completing the Non-Competitive Procurement Justification, as well as explaining whether the service being procured is considered consulting and why it is determined so, and submitting them to Purchasing Services.

It is the department's responsibility to ensure that sufficient information has been provided in the Consulting vs Non-Consulting Services Form to support the determination you have made.

If the department cannot provide sufficient evidence to support that the services being procured are non-consulting services, the procurement of the services must be approved in accordance with the University’s Procurement Approval Authority Schedule for Consulting Services.