Ordering Goods and Services

The purchase of most goods and services from outside Suppliers begins with the initiation of a Requisition in Workdayby the applicable department.  This should occur at the time the department needs to order the product or service, not when it is time to pay for the product or service.  A Requisition number begins with the prefix REQ.  A fully approved Requisition is then issued as a Purchase Order that begins with the prefix PUR. The official Purchase Order is then sent to the Supplier by Purchasing Services.  

Starting with a Requisition ensures that an approved and official Purchase Order is issued.  An official Purchase Order is the legal document that governs the transaction and properly protects the department and University.  The terms and conditions specify each party's rights and obligations. 

Workday Punchout Suppliers: The University has partnered with three suppliers to provide goods at discounted pricing and with a streamlined ordering process.  Use Workday Punchouts for purchasing office supply products, Dell computer products, and Fisher Scientific lab products

Purchase Orders are required for the purchase of goods or services in excess of $3,000 or :

  • when the orders require review from another department (see restricted purchases section)
  • when the purchase will require multiple payments
  • for Professional Services Agreements that are $5,001 or greater
  • the purchase of goods where the use of the P-Card is not permitted

There are four types of requisitions in Workday:

  • Blanket
  • Professional Services Agreement (PSA)
  • Equipment (non blanket)
  • Standard

When creating a requisition in Workday, the appropriate requisition type must be selected. 

Blanket Orders are to be used primarily to make payments for goods & services (not consultants) that are provided on a regular and consistent basis, and in some cases for the regular delivery of a consistent quantity of product.  

  • Blanket Orders are sent to the Supplier so they know the PO number to include on all invoices.
  • The University’s bid threshold requirements also apply to Blanket Orders.
  • Remember to include the description "Blanket Order" in the description section of the Requisition along with the applicable dates.

A Professional Services Agreement is a contract used to engage a consultant, freelancer, or LLC (Limited Liability Corporation), to provide professional services to the University.  These service providers are called independent contractors

The first step in the process of engaging an independent contractor is to determine whether or not they can be hired using a Professional Services Agreement, or need to be hired through University Human Resources.  The Determination of Status form needs to be completed in order to document that the decision made meets IRS regulations for the classification. 

Equipment is defined by Brown University as tangible, non-expendable, personal property having an anticipated useful life of one year or more and having a unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or greater. For additional information, please refer to the University's policies for property managment

Standard requisitions are for purchases that do not fall into one of the above categories (blanket, equipment or Professional Services Agreement.) 

Grant Subcontracts are negotiated through the Office for Sponsored Projects (OSP).




Other acceptable methods of ordering include:

  • use of suppplier invoice process for payments to Suppliers that are less than $3,000 or are not for restricted purchases

  • use a p-card for allowable purchases under $5,000

  • order through Workday Punchout (OfficeMax, Fisher Scientific, and Dell)

Restricted Purchases: The purchase of certain items or services may require special steps and/or an additional  approval from the appropriate responsible office before it can be issued as an official Purchase Order. When initiating the Requisition, the appropriate Spend Category must be used so all appropriate approvals can be obtained. This applies to the following:

  • Animals
  • Catering (Brown First)
  • Computer hardware, software and tech services
  • External Copy and Printing & Design (Brown First)
  • Facilities related work
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Leases and housing rentals
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Shredding (use only University Preferred Supplier)
  • Use of the Brown logo (Use of licensed Supplier required.  See Code of Conduct for Licensees)

The Office of Communications has important policies posted on their website that require compliance. Individuals involved with purchases are responsible for reviewing and complying with these policies if they are working with a supplier that will use images of Brown or involve Graphic designers, licensees and individuals producing communications or products for or on behalf of Brown employees, units, programs: The Brown Image Use Policy and The Visual Identity Policy and Strategy.

Export Restricted Purchases:  Items restricted by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) require special steps to define and record specific maintenance, use and storage procedures in a Technology Control Plan (TCP) and/or an export license.  Anyone purchasing items restricted by ITAR must contact Juliane Blyth, Associate Director of Research Operations with the Office of Research Integrity. Juliane can be reached at 863-3295, or by email, at Juliane_Blyth@brown.edu.

Purchases Using Grant/Sponsored Project Funds: The purchase of goods and services using grant funds  requires the approval of OSP. When initiating the Requisition, the appropriate Worktags must be used so all appropriate approvals can be obtained. 

Internet Orders:  When ordering through the Internet please consider the following:

  • Deal only with established, reputable Suppliers.  Do not buy from unincorporated individuals or groups offering products or services. 
  • Request that the Supplier accept an official University Purchase Order, which they can then reference on the invoice that is sent directly to Accounts Payable.
  • Departments can also utilize their PCard.
  • Departments choosing to order via the Internet should ensure that the Supplier provides a secure Website for transmission of information.

Purchasing Goods Through Auctions:  In general, the University discourages the use of web auctions and auctions as a means to make regular purchases of goods and services.  Occasionally, hard to find or specialized items may become available for purchase through an auction process. If considering a purchase through an auction, contact Purchasing Services in advance to discuss options for your payment.

Consider the following:

  • Make certain that the auction /website offers protection against purchasing defective or erroneously described merchandise.  For all auction purchases, the department should ensure that the auction /website allows for refunds, if necessary, after a physical inspections of the goods received.
  • The department should document and understand fully all warranties and other protections offered by the seller or auctioneer.
  • Documentation needed for auction purchases:
    • Description of the goods being purchased
    • Explanation of why the item needed to be purchased through an auction
    • Final cost
    • Copy of the purchase confirmation
    • List or market prices from other sellers of comparable items
    • Documentation describing all warranties and proof of ownership/title from seller 

When ordering goods and services please consult the University's policies for Supplier Diversity, Brown First, and Environmental Awareness