Procurement & Payments

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Purchasing Manual


The Purchasing and Contracting policies of the California State University (CSU) are not based upon a single statutory reference but rather are adopted to form compliance with a variety of statutory and policy provisions found in the State of California statutory codes (i.e., education code, public contract, government code, etc.); Title 5, California code of regulations; the standing orders and resolutions of the Board of Trustees; specific trustee policy issued via Chancellor executive orders and administrative policy memoranda.

CSUN Purchasing and Contract Administration is committed to providing its customers with quality materials, on-time delivery and competitive pricing in accordance with the desired specifications.

Our role is to develop and preserve alliances with our internal and external customers by:

  • Listening to our customers.
  • Offering assistance and technical advice.
  • Promoting sound business practices while maintaining the highest level of source.

Each Buyer acts as an Agent to the University by routinely performing the following functions:

  • Negotiate prices for supplies, equipment and services.
  • Solicit competitive bids.
  • Establish and administer contracts/purchase orders.
  • Research and identify potential sources of supplies/services to include small and disabled Veteran business. Evaluate and monitor supplier performance.
  • Provide customer service by following up and expediting orders.
  • Purchase order/contract dispute resolution.
  • Ensure that the purchase practices comply with the established Purchasing and Contracting policies and procedures.


California State University, Northridge Purchasing & Contract Administration subscribes to the code of ethics of the California State University Procurement and Support Services Officers Association dated 9/27/04. As public employees and purchasing professionals, we commit ourselves to provide leadership and dedicated service to our customers and to apply our best, unbiased judgment and maintain the highest ethical and moral standards in the conduct of CSU business. We guide our activity through the application and adherence to the following commonly shared values and ethical standards in our daily interaction with suppliers and University customers:

  1. Conduct business in good faith; demanding honest, legal and ethical practices from all participants in the purchasing process.
  2. Foster an open environment by being fair and reasonable in all dealings.
  3. At no time and under no circumstances accept directly or indirectly, gifts, gratuities or other things of value which might influence, or appear to influence, purchasing decisions.
  4. Promote positive supplier/contractor relationships by according vendor representatives courteous, fair and ethical treatment.
  5. Make reasonable efforts to negotiate equitable and mutually agreeable settlements of controversies with suppliers.
  6. Avoid involvement in any transactions/activities that could be considered to be a conflict between personal interests and the interests of the CSU.
  7. Know and obey the letter and spirit of laws governing the purchasing function and remain alert to the legal ramifications of purchasing decisions.


Delegation to the Campus Presidents:

Campus Presidents have received delegated authority from the Chancellor to purchase, sell, lease or license personal property in accordance with trustee policy and law. Responsibility for the preparation of campus internal policies and procedures consistent with the provision of the California State University policy manual for contracting and procurement remains with the Campus Presidents.

The Manager of Purchasing & Contract Administration is a designee, under the delegation of the President, is authorized to commit the University to a purchase of supplies, equipment or services; and to execute contracts/agreements.

The Manager of Purchasing & Contract Administration has delegated authority to CSUN Buyers as follows:

  • Buyer I - Commodities/Services Order Value $10,000. Purchase orders exceeding this dollar amount must be approved by the Manager of Purchasing & Contract Administration.
  • Buyer IICommodities/Services Order Value $25,000. Purchase orders exceeding this dollar amount must be approved by the Manager of Purchasing & Contract Administration.
  • Buyer III- Commodities/Services Order Value $50,000. Purchase orders exceeding this dollar amount must be approved by the Manager of Purchasing & Contract Administration.


Under the delegation to the President the following are authorized methods of procurement of goods and services:

  • Petty Cash: Campus Personnel, once approval has been obtained from their department, can directly purchase goods not exceeding $50.00 (excluding tax) and be reimbursed by providing a Petty Cash Reimbursement Request Form and original receipts.
  • Direct Pay: Campus Personnel, once approval has been obtained from their department, can directly purchase goods or services selected procurements where Purchasing adds little or no value to the transaction. The list of eligible direct pay transactions and procedures are located under the Direct Payment Process.
  • PCard Campus personnel can be authorized a limited delegation to purchase goods and services via the PCard. Please review the program and instructions on establishing a PCard account under the PCard Program.
  • Purchase Order: All other requests for goods and services that do not fall within the three categories listed above must be handled via a purchase order. Departments must submit an on-line requisition to the Purchasing & Contract Administration Department. Purchasing & Contract Administration will process a purchase order to the vendor, which authorized the goods to be shipped or the services to be performed. Departments are not authorized to commit the University to goods or services under this method of procurement. Instructions for creating on-line requisitions are located at the Financial Systems web site.


All contractual agreements which would bind California State University, Northridge must be reviewed by Purchasing & Contract Administration. This review is required regardless of monetary considerations. All proposed agreements and subsequent changes to agreements must be submitted to Purchasing & Contract Administration for review and coordination of agreement approval. This policy is located on the Contract Approval for Campus Organization.


The California State University (CSU) system is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and services are accessible and usable by all students, staff, and faculty, including those with disabilities. A critical component of this effort involves ensuring that all Information & Communication Technology (ICT) products meet recognized accessibility and usability standards. CSUN complies with this requirement to procure accessible products which include:

  • Software applications and operating systems
  • Web-based internet and intranet information and applications
  • Telecommunication products (phone systems, voice mail systems)
  • Video and multimedia products (videos, TV tuners and displays)
  • Self-contained, closed products (printers, fax machines, kiosks, ATMs)
  • Desktop and portable computer

Information and procedures are located at the Accessible Technology Initiative Procurement Procedure web site.


CSUN supports those goals and programs established by the State of California to increase opportunities for small businesses and disabled Veteran business enterprises in the provision of goods, information technology, and services to the University, and in the construction of University facilities.


CSUN shall establish purchasing practices that assure, to the maximum extent economically feasible, the purchase of materials, goods and supplies that are recycled or have recycled material within their content. Fitness and quality being equal, purchase preference shall be given to recycled products whenever such products are available and the cost of such products is no greater than that of their non-recycled counterparts.


CSUN is committed to a policy of promoting fair and open competition for the acquisition of goods and services to meet its needs. In implementing its policies and procedures for the preparation and administration of purchase orders and contracts, CSUN strives to achieve through public advertising, notification, and outreach, the following objectives:

  • Compliance with the intent of competitive bidding statutes as a means of protecting the public from misuse of public funds;
  • Stimulation of competition in a manner conducive to sound fiscal practices by providing qualified bidders fair opportunity to participate;
  • The elimination of favoritism, fraud, and corruption in awarding of purchase orders and contracts.

It is the policy of the California State University, Northridge to solicit competitive price quotes for supplies, equipment, and services, whenever it considers it to be in the best interests of the University. Whenever possible, the Purchasing Office will use telephone or FAX quotes to obtain or verify best pricing from a minimum of three suppliers in order to expedite requests.

Efforts shall be made to meet the goals established for small businesses and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise DVBE Participation Goals and Small Businesses.


  • Quotation or Request for Quotation: Informal method of obtaining price quotes. This can be done verbally, via fax or via email. Award is made to the lowest responsible bidder meeting specifications.
  • Invitation for Bid: Formal method of obtaining pricing. Award is made to the lowest responsible bidder meeting specifications.
  • Request for Proposal: Formal method of obtaining pricing. Award is made to the highest scored proposal based on a combination of criteria, not just price.


  • Acquisitions Less than $50,000:

Competition is not required for goods & services on transactions of an amount less than $50,000 (except for IT goods & services) unless the Purchasing Office determines that competition is necessary to develop sources, validate prices or for other sound business reasons.

  • Acquisitions of $50,000 or more:

All contracts for the acquisition of goods in the amount of $50,000 or more shall be formally bid and awarded by written contract to the lowest responsible bidder meeting specifications.

Exceptions are:

  • When it has been determined that only one source or that only one brand or trade name of an article will properly meet the needs of the CSUN;
  • State contracts or cooperative/consortium contracts exist where competition has already been satisfied.
  • Acquisitions greater than $50,000 and less than $100,000 from a Certified Small Business:

Bids that result in an Award to a certified small business are not required to be advertised in the California State Contracts Register, as long as price quotations have been obtained from two or more certified small businesses.


  • Acquisitions from Certified Small Business

Acquisitions that are estimated to be less than $50,000 may be awarded to a certified small business without competition. However, whenever there is a reason to believe a price quote from a single source is not fair and reasonable the campus shall obtain at least two price quotations from responsible suppliers.

Acquisitions that are estimated to be equal or greater than $50,000 and less than $100,000 may be awarded to a certified small business, as long as price quotations have been obtained from two or more small businesses.

  • Acquisitions less than $50,000

Acquisitions that are estimated to be less than $50,000 may be awarded when the price has been determined to have met fair and reasonable standards. The attainment of the standard of "fair and reasonable" may be determined by, but not limited to, one of the following techniques:

  • Catalog or Market Price - The price offered is supported by an established and verifiable catalog or market pricing medium issued by a responsible supplier and/or through an established reputable forum. In addition, the pricing structure provided is one that a prudent buyer would accept as a reasonable representation of existing market value.
  • Price Comparison – A Buyer has obtained and documented quotes or offers within the last 18 month period from other responsible suppliers which provides evidence that a price obtained is deemed fair and reasonable.
  • Historical Pricing - A Buyer is able to demonstrate that other transactions occurring in the past 18-month period exist showing prices for similar acquisitions, which provides evidence that a price obtained is deemed fair and reasonable.
  • Controlled Pricing - Law or regulation sets the price offered.
  • Informal Bid Process.
  • Campuses may also define "fair and reasonable" attainment techniques that provide the best value to the CSU.
  • Acquisitions equal to or greater than $50,00, and $250,000 or less:

Acquisition of IT requirements estimated to be equal to or greater than $50,000 and $250,000 or less, may be the result of an informal bid process. These processes may be in the form of written or verbal quotes from vendors.

  • Acquisitions greater than $250,000:

Acquisitions of IT requirements estimated to result in contracts greater than $250,000 shall be awarded as the result of a formal solicitation process.


Other requirements notwithstanding, formal bidding shall comply with the following:

Public Notice-Advertisement in California State Contracts Register (CSCR) - Whenever CSUN contracts for services in excess of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), CSUN will advertise in the CSCR the availability of the solicitation and interested suppliers, upon request, shall be furnished with the copies of the solicitation. CSUN may advertise when goods in excess of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) are contracted.

In addition to advertising in the CSCR, CSUN shall also:

  • In a location easily accessible to the public, post a copy of the solicitation, which shall remain posted until seven days after an award has been made.
  • Maintain complete copies of the solicitation in the Purchasing Office to be made available to an interested supplier upon request.

The solicitation notice may also include an announcement in an appropriate newspaper or trade journal, including a brief description of the goods, the closing date and time for bids to be received and the location where complete copies of the bid documents may be obtained.


It is the policy of the CSU to promote fair and open competition to the maximum extent possible. Sole brand and sole source are two procurement methods that limit competition. Any decision to limit competition may also have the effect of limiting the CSU's ability to minimize costs, negotiate favorable terms and conditions and take alternate course of action during disputes. These methods should be used only when it has been determined that other competitive procurement methods will not fulfill the requirements of the CSU.

Each sole source or sole brand request must include a written justification explaining why the sole source/brand is necessary to satisfy the needs of the requester, except where a contract is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, or safety or the protection of CSU property and programs. The request must be approved prior to the execution of the sole source or sole brand contract. The justification shall include the following information:

  • The unique performance factors required;
  • Why these factors are required;
  • A market survey of other sources/brands that have been considered, rejected and the reasons for the rejection of the sources/brands. The market survey must include specific reason(s) for rejection as well as a price quote/estimate of the rejected sources/brands.

Sole source or sole brand requests shall not be justified on the basis of:

  • A lack of advance planning by the requiring activity;
  • Concerns related to the amount of funds available (e.g. funds will expire) to the CSU or activity for the acquisition of goods or services;
  • A previous non-competitively bid contract, which the price to the CSU was zero or substantially below fair market price and the results of such contract caused the sole source or sole brand to be required on future contracts.

The drafting or application of specifications or bid requirements that directly or indirectly limit the bidding to a single brand or single source does not provide for full and open competition regardless of the number of sources solicited and is prohibited. A "brand name or equal" is a competitive process that allows bidders to propose equivalent items.

The determination as to whether procurement has been adequately justified in writing for a sole source/sole brand award shall be made by the Purchasing & Contract Administration Department. Sole source requests for acquisitions $100,000 or more must be approved by the Vice President for Administration and Finance. For sole sources of $250,000 or greater, a copy of the requisition, the justification and other pertinent documentation must be forwarded by the Purchasing & Contract Administration Department to the Chancellor's Office for review and final approval. Complete a Sole Source/Sole Brand request form when necessary.


A sole brand procurement is prohibited except in the following instances:

  1. The sole brand product is unique and essential to the CSU's requirements, thereby precluding consideration of a product manufactured by another company. Or;
  2. The sole brand product is required to match other similar product already in place and the use of an alternate product would cause the CSU to incur substantial additional costs.
  3. The sole brand product is required for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, safety or the protection of CSU property and programs.


Except where a contract is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, safety or the protection of CSU property and programs, a sole source procurement is permissible only when a determination has been made and approved in writing, that only one source exists for the required product or service.

A requirement for a proprietary (or sole brand) item does not necessarily justify sole source procurement, as more than one potential bidder or supplier may exist who can supply that item.

A sole source request must clearly demonstrate:

  1. That there is only one source or only one supplier that can provide the goods or services in accordance with the requirements of the CSU, or;
  2. The existence of limited rights in data patent rights, copyrights or secret processes makes the supplies or services available from only one source. However, the mere existence of such rights or circumstances does not in and of itself justify a sole source procurement.

Addition of new work that was not within the scope of or incidental to, the original contract scope of work, either as part of the base contract or as an option is subject to sole source requirements.


  • Personal Use of Information: (Reference: Education Code 89006)

Unless specifically stated in the terms and conditions of employment or contractual relationship, it is unlawful for a person to utilize any CSU or CSU Auxiliary Organization information that is not a matter of public record, for personal pecuniary gain. Prohibition of such utilization applies whether or not a person is or is not so employed or under contract at the time the gain is realized.

  • Personal Use of Property or Facilities:

No CSU employee shall derive personal benefit from the use of State or CSU property or facilities, unless such use has been authorized in writing by a person having custodial responsibility for such property or facilities. This authorization must include a statement, which assures that such personal use is of benefit to the CSU.

  • Gifts, or Items of a Personal Nature:

Gifts or items of a personal nature purchased using University funds is prohibited. Gifts or items of a personal nature are defined as items that will be kept personally by the recipient and not used in direct support of the University's operations. This includes, but is not limited to, birthday or holiday cards, awards, plaques, flowers, food, drink, party/holiday decorations, office decoration such as artwork, plants, and non-standard office furniture and furnishings, microwaves, refrigerators and coffee makers.If you have questions on any items, contact the Purchasing Manager.

Exceptions are listed below. For exceptions in the area of food, drink and light refreshments. Refer to the University’s Hospitality Expense Policy.

  • Human Resources:

Human Resources is authorized to purchase gifts or items of a personal nature for University personnel for the Employee Service Awards and Employee of the Year.

  • Student Related Development or Recognition:

Gifts or items of a personal nature for student related development and recognition is acceptable.

  • Commencement Services:

Bottled water provided by Commencement Services for the various commencement ceremonies is acceptable.

  • Vendor Outreach Programs:

Purchases made by the Career Center and Extended Learning for Vendor Partners are acceptable. These purchases are from non-general fund sources. These departments operate partnership with vendors in the areas of internships and course offering and must develop vendor outreach programs for viability.

  • Appropriation of State Property or Services(Reference: Public Contract Code 10334; E.O. 409; Penal Code Sec. 72)

Use of CSU procurement facilities or procedures to obtain property or services for personal use, or misrepresentation to vendors or contracts that personal acquisitions are for the CSU when they are not, can result in prosecution for misrepresentation, embezzlement, and theft.

  • Conflict of Interest:(Reference: Education Code 89006. Government Code 8100 et seq., 82019; State Budget Act Section 7.00)

It is unlawful for any person to utilize any information, not a matter of public record, that is received by that person by reason of his or her employment by, or contractual relationship with, the Trustees, the California State University, or any Auxiliary Organization for the California State University, for personal pecuniary gain, not contemplated by the terms of the employment or contract, regardless of whether the person is or is not so employed or under contract at the time the gain is realized.

  • Commercial Endorsements of Products or Services:(Reference: Education Code 89005.5 (a)(2), (3); Trustees' Resolution 63-16)

Officers and employees of the CSU, within their official capacities, are prohibited from commercially endorsing through the use of advertisements, any commercial product or service.

  • Misuse of the Name "California State University:(Reference: Education Code 89005.5)

The name "California State University" is the property of the State. No person shall use this name, any abbreviation of it or any name of which these words are a part, without the permission of the Trustees.

  • Restrictive Bid Specifications:(Reference: Public Contract Code 10318)

No State agency or employee thereof shall draft or cause to be drafted, any specification for bids in such a manner as to limit the bidding directly or indirectly to any one bidder.

  • Splitting Orders or Contracts: (Reference: Public Contract Code 10329)

Splitting purchases or contracts in order to avoid the competitive bidding requirements prescribed in law, regulation or policy is prohibited.

  • Advance Payments:(Reference: Public Contract Code 10312; Title 2, Sec. 679; Government Code 11257)

Payment in arrears is the prescribed method or remitting payment for State acquisitions. Documentation is required to be rendered by the Disbursing Officer that the CSU has received appropriate return and/or in-kind value in order for consideration to be paid. Advance payments by the State are permitted, however, whenever specifically authorized in law and determined to be in the State's best interest.

  • Prohibition of Labor Abuse:(Reference: E.O. 718)

This policy shall apply to all licensing agreements with the California State University (CSU) or a CSU Affiliated Enterprise authorizing a licensee to manufacture products bearing the name, logo, or image of the CSU. This policy shall include each contractor, subcontractor, vendor, or manufacturer that is engaged in the manufacturing process including assembly and packaging of a CSU license product.

The CSU is opposed to any acts or omissions by a licensee that would constitute labor abuse. Officers and employees of the CSU and its auxiliary organizations will use their best efforts to ensure that licensees adhere to non-abusive labor practices, including the provision of safe and healthful working conditions.


Each buyer in Purchasing is assigned to certain commodities and related services. As you begin to plan for an upcoming project, equipment purchase, supplies or event, alert the buyer. Each buyer is available to assist you in researching viable sources, anticipating lead times and contacting suppliers on your behalf for product literature and demonstrations.

The current list of staff and their assignments is located on the Staff Directory/Commodity Assignments.