Chapter 16-100

Purchasing/Subaward Authority

16-101 Definition

Purchasing/subaward authority is the authority to make legally binding commitments on behalf of the University to purchase goods or services from external sources, including entering into subawards (i.e., subcontracts or subagreements) (see 16-320 through 16-323). The terms “purchasing authority” or “purchasing” as used in this Chapter encompasses subawards (subcontracts and subagreements). Purchasing authority is delegated from the President to the Chancellors/Laboratory Director who redelegate it to appropriate campus/Laboratory administrative staff. (See 16-110 through 16-130.) Authority for campus Contract and Grant Officers to enter into subawards is described in 16-220 below.

Authority to enter into independent consultant agreements with parties outside of the University is separate from purchasing authority and, as such, is conveyed though a separate delegation of authority. See 16-442 for coverage on independent consultant agreements.

Policy governing the purchase of goods or services from sources within the University (i.e., from other campuses or from the DOE Laboratory) is presented in 10-250 through 10-253.

16-102 Distinction From "Expenditure" / "Budget" Authority

Authority for purchasing transactions is distinct from authority to budget or expend funds. Budget or expenditure authority refers to the establishment of budgets and to the authorization of budget transaction requests and purchasing requests. Expenditure/Budget authorities and related responsibilities are discussed in Chapter 6.

16-110 Purchasing Authority - The President

Pursuant to its powers as provided by the Constitution of the State of California and described in Chapter 13, The Regents of the University have granted authority to the President to execute on behalf of The Regents all contracts and other documents necessary in the exercise of the President's duties, including those for purchasing goods and services, within the restrictions of Standing Order 100.4(dd) itemized in 16-111.

16-111 Limitations on the President's Purchasing Authority

The President must seek specific authorization The Regents (see 10-210) for:

  1. obligations on the part of the University which require the construction of facilities not previously approved;
  2. exceptions to approved University programs and policies;
  3. obligations on the part of the University to expenditures or costs for which there is no established fund source;
  4. agreements for the provision of employee group insurance benefits, with the understanding that Board authorization shall not be required for periodic revisions to existing agreements when the revisions do not substantially change the authorized scope of the benefit plans;
  5. agreements with associations composed of medical staff for collection of professional fees for services rendered to patients at University or affiliated teaching hospitals; and
  6. agreements by which the University assumes liability for conduct of persons other than University officers, agency, employees, students, invitees, and guests. This restriction does not apply to agreements under which the University assumes responsibility for the condition of property in its custody.

However, the President is authorized to take all actions and to execute all documents necessary in the exercise of the President's duties when an emergency precludes prior submission to the Board of Regents (see 10-213(b)).

16-120 Purchasing Authority - Chancellors/Laboratory Directors/Administrative Officers

The President has delegated to Chancellors and Laboratory Director (DA 2100) the “authority to execute purchase contracts, subcontracts, and standard purchase orders for goods and services" (but excluding independent consultant agreements) with the following additional provisos:

  1. purchase contracts, subcontracts, or standard purchase orders are issued in accordance with University policy (refer to 16-300 and 16-370);
  2. funds are available;
  3. prior approval is secured as required pursuant to the provisions of a contract, grant, or other extramural sponsor agreement (refer to 16-311); iv) prior approval shall be obtained from the Treasurer of The Regents for any acquisition or lease/purchase which contemplates or will result in the issuance of Certificates of Participation, in order to provide funding for the transaction; and
  4. approval as to form is secured from the General Counsel for any purchase contract other than that made on the standard purchase order form or for any changes in the standard terms and conditions (see 16-320);
  5. Chancellors and Laboratory Directors are authorized to redelegate this authority to the administrative officers responsible for purchase of all goods and services.

16-130 Purchasing Authority - Materiel Managers/Librarians/Others

The administrative officers responsible for purchase of all goods and services may further redelegate their purchasing authority as described in 16-120 to the Librarian for the purchase of books and periodicals and to the Materiel Manager for all other goods and services or to other campus personnel. “Any redelegation of these authorities to other than the University Librarian or Materiel Manager shall have the prior approval of the Senior Vice President - Business and Finance, except that the University Librarian and Materiel Manager may redelegate this authority to individuals under their supervision without obtaining such approval or providing copies to the above University officials.” (DA2100) As such, for campuses where the Sponsored Projects Office has delegated authority to negotiate and sign subawards (i.e., subcontracts and subagreements) under awards accepted in that office, this authority is redelegated from the campus administrative officer with purchasing authority under DA 2100 to the Sponsored Projects Office Director. This redelegation must have the prior approval of the Executive Vice President – Business Operations, (formerly the Senior Vice President - Business and Finance).

16-140 Low-Value Purchase Authorization

Materiel Managers may delegate "Low-Value" purchasing authority to individuals in departments outside the purchasing department. Such a delegation of authority must be in writing and include written procedures adequate to ensure observance of good business practices and compliance with University purchasing policy.

The conditions under which such delegations may be made and the criteria attached thereto are discussed in detail in Business and Finance Bulletin BUS-43, Part 3, Section IX, B., "Low-Value Purchase Authorization." The amount an individual is authorized to expend shall not exceed $2,500 per transaction in accordance with the criteria specified. Greater amounts may be authorized in an emergency situation.

Typically, the “Low-Value” purchasing authority is inappropriate for purchases/subawards that pay a subrecipient since agreements where the University is entering into a transaction with a subrecipient, as defined below, require subrecipient monitoring that typically is not included in the “Low-Value” purchase process.

16-150 Unauthorized Purchases

An individual who makes a purchase of goods or services without proper authority shall be responsible for payment of the charges incurred. The amount of payment and conditions under which such payment must be made by an individual are discussed in Business and Finance Bulletin BUS-43, Part 3, Section VIII, "Unauthorized Purchases."