Procurement Guidelines for Sponsored Projects

Version: December 2020

These guidelines pertain to procurement processes specific to sponsored projects. The procurement of goods and services on sponsored projects should be made in accordance with the College’s Code of Ethics Policy and Financial Conflict of Interest Policy, and following established practices of the Business Office. In addition, all of the sponsor’s requirements must be followed and will take precedence whenever they are more stringent.

A sponsor’s requirements may be found in the call for proposals, their guidelines, the terms and conditions of the grant agreement, and/or in federal regulations for federally funded projects. In addition, the approved proposal and proposal budget will further guide the types of purchases that are allowed on a project. The sponsor’s guidelines dictate when prior approval is required for budget deviations or changes. The SPARC office interprets sponsor guidelines and helps ensure that the College meets the requirements of the award. SPARC will facilitate communication with the sponsor on budget changes and administrative matters as needed.

Procurement processes for grants often involve collaboration among departments. In general, grant-related purchases are initiated by the Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD) and/or their proxy, approved by SPARC, and processed by the Business Office. PIs/PDs and staff members with a responsibility to charge or approve of expenses on sponsored projects should be familiar with these guidelines.

Most grants are awarded to the College and not to individual PIs; items and equipment purchased with grant funds belong to Lewis & Clark. Contact SPARC to determine whether internal or external approvals are required for budget changes, and with questions about the allowability of expenses before making purchases or engaging the services of a contractor. Expenses that are not allowed on a grant will be charged to a PI’s department or other institutional account, and/or reimbursement may be denied if guidelines are not followed.

Types of Expenses
PIs must make reasonable choices when expending grant funds on items and services by selecting the vendor or contractor that meets the required quality standards at the lowest cost. The Business Office website has information on group purchasing agreements for vendors and contracts that provide discounted pricing.

Material and Supplies – Only items needed to carry out the approved project should be charged to a grant. P Card purchases and reimbursement requests should include a grant-related business purpose. Routine administrative and departmental expenses, such as copy machine paper, office supplies, and postage, are generally not allowed on sponsored projects.

Computer Hardware and Software - Before purchasing computer hardware or software, consult with Lewis & Clark’s Information Technology (IT) Department to ensure the items can be supported. IT can provide discounts on some software licenses, and may purchase items on a PI’s behalf, charging the grant budget directly after approval from SPARC.

Vendors and Independent Contractors – Vendors (e.g., businesses or nonprofits) and independent contractors (i.e., individuals) provide services for a fee and issue invoices requesting payment. Some independent contractors have established businesses, but if they do not, a PI may be required to complete and submit an Independent Contractor Checklist to confirm the appropriate designation. An independent contractor is not an employee of the College. Additional information about contractors is available on the Accounts Payable website.

A contract should be in place prior to engaging the services of an independent contractor, and it is required if the contractor will be paid with federal funds. The contract should specify agreed upon rates and fees, the scope of work, any deliverables, and the timeline for services. Contracts are subject to review by the College’s General Counsel, and should be approved by an authorized College signatory before any work begins. If an independent contractor is unable to provide a service contract, the College can issue a Personal Services Contract (PSC) to them. Contact SPARC for assistance in navigating this process.

Contact the Business Office before engaging a nonresident alien in any work. The entry, visa status, payment, and taxation of nonresident aliens is governed by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, and Internal Revenue Service. Note that it may take several weeks to complete the paperwork required. More information is available here.

Capital Equipment – Equipment purchases made in whole or part with grant funds are subject to Lewis & Clark’s capitalization process. The College’s capitalization threshold is $10,000, or $5,000 when equipment is purchased with federal funds (see below). The total equipment cost includes expenses incurred to make the equipment serviceable, such as shipping, installation and required ancillary expenses or repairs. Equipment acquired with external support becomes the property of Lewis & Clark unless otherwise restricted by the sponsor. No matter the source of grant funds, PIs are responsible for ensuring proper receipt of the equipment, establishing maintenance procedures and maintaining operational condition of the equipment, keeping pertinent records, and participating in regular inventories. PIs should contact the Business Office when there is a change in the equipment’s location on campus and/or its condition (i.e. damage or loss), and to discuss options for disposal in compliance with the funding agency’s guidelines at the end of the equipment’s useful life.

Purchasing methods
The four main methods for procurement at Lewis & Clark are outlined in Table 1. All purchases made with grant funds should be approved by SPARC, rather than the department. The PI or designee must verify that goods and/or services were received, approve payment from the designated grant account(s), and route the request to SPARC. Invoices, Requisition forms, and Check Request forms are routed either on paper or electronically and P Card purchases are routed for approval through Works. SPARC will review, and if approved, route the appropriate documents to Accounts Payable (AP) for processing.

Although less common, interdepartmental transactions may also be used when goods and services provided by a campus department should be charged to a grant. Examples include the Mail Room, the Copy Center, and Conference and Events. Bon Appetit and the Bookstore may be used in some circumstances, but note that meals and catering, entertainment, and office supplies are generally unallowable expenses on federal awards. Contact the department providing the goods/services for their ordering and billing procedures, and provide backup documentation for purchases and orders to SPARC.

Table 1. Procurement Methods based on sponsor/funding source

  When to Use it


Procurement Method

Lewis & Clark Funds

Non-Federal External Funds*

Federal Funds*


Purchasing Card (P Card) is the preferred and most efficient method. Receipt and business purpose are required in Works. Unapproved expenses in Works will decrease the available limit; process P Card transactions in a timely manner to ensure full access to available credit.

Preferred payment method. Use when the total purchase amount is less than the assigned P Card limit.


Invoice is an alternative to a P Card when the total purchase amount exceeds the assigned P Card limit or when a P Card is not accepted by a vendor.

When total purchase is more than the assigned P Card limit.

When total purchase is more than the assigned P Card limit and less than $10,000.**


Purchase Order (PO) is required by some vendors and for purchases over $10,000 that will be made with federal funds. PO is requested by submitting a Requisition Form before placing an order. Note that a Purchase Order is a contract placing an order with a promise to pay. Once the purchased item(s) is received, the subsequent invoice from the vendor must be processed for payment. The College is not obligated to pay an invoice that requires a PO if a requisition is not processed at the time of the order.

When required by a vendor.

When required by a vendor.

When required by a vendor and/or when purchase total is $10,000** or more (also see sections below).


Reimbursement may be requested when personal funds are used for College-related purchases by submitting a Check Request form and receipt(s). Never use personal funds to compensate an independent contractor or for purchases totaling $5,000 or more. Failure to adhere to institutional policies may put reimbursements at risk.

When personal funds are used for College-related purchases.

When personal funds are used for grant-related purchases.

Not preferred, but may be used when personal funds are used for required grant-related purchases.


*SPARC Approval is required.


**Threshold amount refers to the total purchase cost. For example, a $9,000 equipment purchase with a $1,000 delivery fee and $2,000 in ancillary parts is a purchase over $10,000.



Purchases made with Federal Funds
The OMB (Office of Management and Budget) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200) imposes a set of standards for the acquisition of supplies, equipment and real property purchased with federal funds. Procurement of goods and services made with federal funds must comply with these standards. This includes the requirement for an institution to follow its own documented practices, and consistently treat costs as either direct or indirect (facilities and administrative or F&A costs). Purchases made with federal funds must be reasonable, allowable, necessary for the project, and allocable to the project. In general, items purchased close to a project period’s end date do not meet this standard. Some additional federal requirements are highlighted below.

Small, Minority-Owned, and Women’s Business Enterprise Utilization (§200.321): Colleges and universities expending federal funds are required to take affirmative steps to use small and minority-owned businesses, and women’s business enterprises whenever possible. Please see Uniform Guidance for additional information.

Domestic Preference for Procurement (§200.322): To the greatest extent possible and practicable, preference should be given for the purchase, acquisition, and use of goods, products and materials produced in the United States.

Using Federal Funds for Purchases of $10,000 of more
For any purchase totaling $10,000 or more made with federal funds, written price or rate quotations must be obtained from an adequate number of qualified sources (see Table 2). A quotation is a written statement from a vendor regarding the price for a specific good or service; printed webpages are acceptable. Quotes and bids should include specifications and qualifying characteristics of the vendor/contractor, including delivery cost and time frame, scope of work, references, and other relevant specifications. Contact SPARC for assistance with this process.

If only one source exists or only one supplier can fulfill requirements (e.g., unique capacity or ability, such as specialized research services from a skilled party), it may not be possible to obtain an adequate number of quotations (Table 2). A departure from the “free and open competition” standard imposed by the federal government requires justification. In these cases, a Sole Source Request Form must be completed and submitted to SPARC. Note that the departure from the competitive process is likely to receive close scrutiny in audits.

Records sufficient to detail procurement history must be retained. Procurement and service contract records must contain at least three elements:

  1. Basis for the vendor/contractor selection. Information showing how the College arrived at the decision to award the contract to that particular vendor/contractor.
  2. Basis for the price should be documented to establish that the institution obtained a fair price.
  3. Proof that the selected vendor is not debarred, suspended, or otherwise excluded from doing business with the federal government (, in accordance with 200.214.


Table 2: Procurement requirements for purchases
in excess of $10,000 using federal funds

Amount of Purchase*

Procurement Requirements

Under $10,000

No competitive cost estimates required.

$10,000 to $49,999

Detailed cost estimates from two or more vendors, along with the documentation described above. An estimate printed from an internet search is acceptable.

$50,000 to $149,999

Written quotations from three or more vendors with specifications clearly delineated, along with the documentation described above.

$150,000 and more

Three or more sealed bids (formal advertising) or competitive proposals must be solicited from potential vendors/contractors. Must be in compliance with OMB 2 CFR 320.

*Threshold amounts refer to the total cost of the purchase, including shipping, delivery/set-up fees, and ancillary parts required.

Treatment of Capital Equipment purchased with Federal Funds
Capital equipment is defined by the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) as “tangible non-expendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit.” In accordance with federal rules (§200.313), the Business Office tags capital equipment upon acquisition, and performs a physical inventory of equipment purchased with grant funds every two years to verify its location, condition, and the accuracy of records. In addition, the Business Office is responsible for the following:

  1. Insurance: Real property and equipment acquired with federal funds will be insured at levels consistent with other Lewis & Clark property and equipment. The Finance Division is responsible for maintaining adequate insurance.
  2. Record Keeping: Lewis & Clark maintains records including description, serial number, source of funding (including the Federal Award Identification Number, or FAIN), who holds title, percentage of federal participation in the project costs for the Federal award under which the property was acquired, acquisition date and cost, location, use and condition status, and disposition data. This information is maintained by the Director of Accounting as well as stored in the College’s Fixed Asset records.
  3. Disposal: If an item purchased with grant funds is determined to be obsolete, and the item’s value exceeds $5,000, disposition rules must be followed. This may include requesting disposition instructions from the awarding agency. Possible disposition practices may require compensating the Federal awarding agency for its proportion of the original cost applied to the fair market value.