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University of Alabama at Birmingham
Purchasing Policies and Guidelines

September 12, 2003 (Replaces policy dated May 3, 1995)

Edited for publication June 24, 1998. Changes incorporated were the following:

Commitment of UAB funds through the procurement function can be authorized only by the UAB Director of University Purchasing. Any purchasing transaction not handled in accordance with the following policies and guidelines will be considered a purchase by the individual, and UAB will assume no liability.

  1. The responsibility for implementing these policies and guidelines has been delegated to University Purchasing. That department is the only UAB entity approved to obligate UAB for the purchase of goods or services. Any transactions entered into without issuance of a purchase order from the University Purchasing may not be honored for payment.
  2. As a state institution, UAB is subject to requirements of the State Bid Law. That law requires that all purchases and/or contracts for labor, services, materials, equipment, and supplies involving $15,000 or more must be let by open, competitive bidding, on sealed bids, to the lowest responsible bidder. Competitive, sealed bids shall be requested by the Procurement Contracts Department on any item or group of like items costing $15,000 or more annually. Bids received will be opened at the designated time and place by the Director of Procurement Contracts or by his or her designee. Requisitions may not be divided into parts of less than $15,000 for the purpose of avoiding the bid law. Title 39 of the State Bid Law allows public works contracts up to $50,000 to be awarded without open competitive bidding.

Prior to beginning the competitive bid process and in situations in which a UAB department or unit has not developed specific requirements for a particularly complex acquisition, the Procurement Contracts Department (in conjunction with the requesting department or unit) may develop and distribute a "Request for Proposal" (RFP)covering the planned acquisition. A Request for Proposal may be used only if the acquisition falls within one of the exceptions stipulated in the State Bid Law (for example, professional services, purchases which are not capable of being competitively bid, or Hospital purchases not covered by the State Bid Law). The RFP must be administered by the Procurement Contracts Department and must be governed by RFP procedures established by that department. Use of an RFP does not replace the need to make the purchase through a competitive bid process if the acquisition is determined to be subject to requirements of the State Bid Law as indicated above.

  1. Brand names of materials, supplies, or equipment can be used in bids but only to designate standards of quality. Items purchased under emergency procedures can be designated by brand name if necessary to meet the demands of the emergency. However, brand or trade names cannot be used to restrict bids.
  2. Occasions may arise requiring immediate purchase of supplies or equipment. Emergency purchases can be accommodated by the Procurement Department. In the case of an electronically submitted requisition, the originator should call the Procurement Department to request that the requisition for the emergency purchase be reviewed and approved the same day. For purposes of this policy, an emergency purchasing requirement is defined as anything affecting the health, welfare, or safety of a patient, student, or employee. Proper documentation supporting such an emergency purchase must be submitted and must be approved by the appropriate department head and administrative official before being forwarded to the Procurement Contracts Department.
  3. Purchase or lease commitments which exceed a one-year period must incorporate language similar to the following clause in case funds to cover subsequent years are not appropriated: "If the state legislature-approved appropriations do not include funds for the continuation of this agreement for any fiscal year after the first year and the UAB budget has no funds from any other sources to continue this agreement, UAB may terminate this agreement without penalty or additional costs by giving thirty days written notice prior to the fiscal year end." The Office of Counsel must review terms and conditions of lease contracts before they are signed. (See also policy entitled "Execution and Review of Contracts for the University of Alabama at Birmingham.")
  4. Purchases of carpets, wall coverings, drapes, and upholstered furniture require compliance with the flammability standards adopted by UAB. Such materials cannot be purchased until the Procurement Contracts Department has received certification from the manufacturer that the materials meet UAB standards.
  5. Surplus items must be sold by auction or bid as set forth in the Alabama Sale of Surplus Property Law or must be disposed of by other means as approved by the Executive Director of Accounting.
  6. Purchases for the UAB University Hospital must be executed according to these guidelines and any other guidelines specific to the Hospital established for this purpose by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.
  7. UAB's commitment to equal opportunity shall be applied to purchasing decisions in all aspects of UAB's procurement and construction programs, including achieving and fostering greater minority-owned and female-owned business enterprise participation. This includes, but is not limited to, operational supplies and equipment, construction/design projects and materials, service contracts, and lease agreements. Questions concerning this portion of these policies and guidelines should be directed to the UAB Supplier Diversity Office or to the UAB Procurement Department. (See also UAB Supplier Diversity Affirmative Action Plan and information brochure covering this subject.)

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