Procurement & Purchasing FAQs
- What is Rice Marketplace?
Rice Marketplace is Rice University’s electronic purchasing tool that enables users to take advantage of a number of contracts and agreements specifically established to benefit Rice staff and faculty in their daily business needs. Access is restricted to Rice users only. Rice staff and faculty attempting to access this site from outside the Rice University network (off-campus) must use VPN to properly authenticate.
- When is a Sole Source Application necessary?
Less Than Adequate Competition Available (requiring a Sole-Source Justification)
There will be instances when it is appropriate for a Purchaser to submit a Sole Source Justification (SSJ) to waive the competitive bid requirement. SSJs standardize the process so as not to create an unreasonable burden to the department processing the request as well as offer clear and concise reasoning to apply to the situation. It is important to understand that this is not an alternative purchasing method and that the Office of Procurement will review and approve the document before the commitment is made to a vendor. The only valid reasons acceptable to have a waiver considered are as follows and each requires a written explanation:
- The product or service required is the only one that will meet the department/area’s need and it can only be obtained from one source (manufacturer/distributor/service provider).
- The product or service is required to match existing installed equipment or systems or is obtained from a designated service provider to prevent a voided warranty or otherwise required by documented restrictions.
- The service is controlled by state, local, or municipal authority, utility, or government. This is a contract for professional or artistic services (Note – requires a Professional Services Agreement or PSA).
- The transaction is a re-order based upon a previous bid(s) resulting from a competitive award that has already occurred in the last calendar year and the pricing is set in accordance with that bid.
- An unusual or compelling urgency exists that requires Rice University to waive the competitive bid requirement. (Note; Inadequate planning is not a valid reason to waive competition and may result in rejection of the bid requirement.
The Sole-Source Justification template can be found here.
- What is a Preferred Vendor?
To reduce time and effort in the purchasing process, the University has created a Preferred Vendor Program. Certain approved vendors are subjected to additional review as part of a competitive process or some other substantive review in order to assign a designation as the preferred vendor in a particular commodity group. Preferred vendors are listed in the University’s Preferred Vendor list and must be used whenever possible. Vendors not designated as preferred should only be used if the preferred vendor(s) in that commodity group may not provide the good or service or the pricing is not competitive.
- When is a purchase order required?
Any purchase over $3,000 requires a purchase order for payment to be processed.
For the vast majority of purchasing needs, the Purchase Order is appropriate and the preferred method of purchasing goods and services. In cases where the Department cannot issue a purchase order, the Purchasing Representative will determine if the p-card is appropriate or will contact the Office of Procurement for assistance in identifying the most cost-effective alternative method available to the Office of Procurement to use to fulfill the demand. At no time is an employee or student authorized to commit the University to the purchase of any goods and/or services using any other method than the authorized methods in these procedures.
Examples of when a purchase order can be used effectively:
- Issue to a vendor to order goods/services for a single purchasing event;
- Issue to a vendor to order goods/services over a period of time (often referred to as a “blanket” Purchase Order);
- Issued internally (not sent to the vendor) to create an encumbrance in Banner to permit the easy payment of an invoice received
- How do I cancel a Purchase Order?
A department will cancel a purchase order if payments have not been made against the purchase order, and the funds need to be un-encumbered. First, contact the vendor to receive WRITTEN confirmation that the purchase order will NOT be fulfilled or invoiced. Then, submit a help desk ticket with the PO number and cancellation confirmation.
- How do I close a Purchase Order?
A department will close a purchase order if payments have been made against the purchase order, and the remaining encumbered funds need to be released. Follow the instructions listed here or submit a help desk ticket.
- How can I tell if an invoice has been paid?
The quickest and easiest way is to access WebApps and follow these steps:
- Access Edgar/WebApps
- Select the "Finance" tab
- Payment Queries - select "Vendor/Invoice History"
- Search for vendor
- View payments
WebApps is a secure site which requires a password and ID and is maintained by Administrative Systems. If you are a new user, please refer to the Security Agreement available at the Administrative Systems website. If you need to change or expand your WebApps access, contact firstname.lastname@example.org . Administrative Systems also provides training in order to use the system.
You can also call Payment Solutions (refer to the Payment Solutions Staff page for name and phone numbers) with your invoice inquiries. Please have the vendor name and invoice number available. If the payment amount is over $3000, please have the PO number available as well.
- How do I adopt a new vendor to Rice Marketplace?
Fill out the Vendor Adoption Request, and allow 2-4 business days for the request to be completed.
- I need to order something quickly and it is under $3,000. It's not subject to any restrictions. What is the quickest way to make the purchase?
The Purchasing Card can be used for most expenses under $3,000.
- I have signature authority - why can't I approve documents in Rice Marketplace/AP Director?
To update an individual with Banner signature authority to an Approver in Rice Marketplace (or AP Director), the head of department must email Procurement. If an individual in a department needs signature authority, the head of department will need to complete the necessary form and send it to Payment Solutions. .
- Can I use the Purchasing Card to make purchases on the Web?
Yes, the Purchasing Card can be used to make purchases on the Web. However, for Web transactions, we suggest you do whatever you can to minimize the security risks. See Ordering By Phone/Internet for more information about making purchases online.
Do not use the PCard if you are unsure whether it is a secure web site. Purchases such as web purchases, where the card is not physically presented to a merchant, are 100% covered in cases resulting in fraud or unauthorized use.
It is sometimes difficult to inform the vendor of Rice's tax-exempt status when purchasing via the Web. It may require a phone call to the vendor inquiring about the correct procedure to avoid paying sales tax. The vendor may request the tax-exemption form. The form can be faxed to them.
- How can I tell if my requisition has been approved?
See instructions on how to view requisition approvals here.