Purchasing Manual


▼   Introduction

The primary purpose of the University of South Alabama (USA) Purchasing Department is to work with faculty, staff and students in identifying, selecting, and acquiring needed materials and services. This is to be done as economically as possible and within accepted standards of quality and service using professional ethics and best business practices, and while obtaining the best value for the total cost while minimizing risk to USA.

Policies and procedures have been developed to allow for purchases to be made in a timely and organized manner that provides for essential accountability of institutional expenditures. The Purchasing Department is charged with the responsibility and authority to commit the University to purchases as delegated by the Vice President for Finance and Administration, the President of the University and the University Board of Trustees.

The Purchasing staff is prepared to assist members of the USA community in the following ways:

  • Provide cooperative interaction between the Purchasing staff and suppliers, members of the faculty, staff and students.
  • Assist in the acquisition of goods and services via creation of purchase orders and preparation of competitive bid specifications.
  • Encourage fair and open competition among suppliers through competitive bidding in accordance with the Alabama Competitive Bid Law.
  • Ensure that purchase orders and contracts contain all necessary terms and conditions to insulate USA against legal liability.
  • Develop and maintain adequate procedures, controls, records and files.
  • Ensure that the highest purchasing standards and ethics are maintained and up-to-date industry practices are applied.

Please be sure to acquaint yourself with the policies and procedures outlined in this manual. It is our goal to provide assistance and service. When the requirement for goods and services arises, you are encouraged to contact the Purchasing Department at (251) 460-6151. The Purchasing Department is committed to providing resources required to support the needs of the entire USA faculty and staff. These resources can be maximized through the application of sound purchasing practices.

Robert M. Brown
Purchasing Director

▼   General Information

USA is a diverse and vibrant public university, is making a difference in the lives of the people of Alabama and the nation through teaching, research, service and healthcare. USA offers a wide range of high-quality undergraduate and graduate academic programs, and the USA Health System, which includes the College of Medicine, USA Physicians and USA Hospitals, provides state-of-the-art healthcare and medical education.

The USA Purchasing Department is responsible for the procurement of a wide range of products and services in support of the various activities on the campus. This manual serves to provide guidelines regarding the procedures for conducting business with USA.

The Purchasing Department is located in the Technology and Research Building #3 (Suite 1400), 650 Clinic Drive, Mobile, Alabama 36688-0002. Business hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Company representatives will be seen by appointment only.

▼   Business Opportunities
Any qualified business may register to become a potential vendor for USA. The Purchasing Department has numerous contracting and individual order opportunities available across a wide variety of product and service commodity codes. 
▼   Purchasing Department Mission
As a part of USA Finance and Administration, the Purchasing Department serves as a support function to the University's overall mission. The primary goal of the department is to provide for timely and accurate service to University employees and departments while ensuring that all University purchasing functions are performed in accordance with applicable state and federal laws. The Purchasing Department is charged with the responsibility of ordering all supplies, equipment and services necessary for the operation of USA. It is also a channel through which the University deals with prospective sellers. The process starts with the user department and ends with the Accounts Payable Department.
▼   State and Federal Purchasing Law Requirements

As a state institution, USA is subject to the requirements of the State of Alabama Competitive Bid Law. Section 41-4-100 of the Alabama Competitive Bid Law requires that, with the exception of contracts for Public Works whose competitive bidding requirements are governed exclusively by 39-2-1 and 39-2-1, all contracts of whatever nature for labor, services, work, or for the purchase or lease of materials, equipment, supplies, or other personal property, involving seventy five thousand dollars ($75,000) or more, made by or on behalf of any state entity, board, bureau, commission, committee, institution, corporation, authority, or office shall, except as otherwise provided within this article, be let by free and open competitive bidding, on sealed bids, to the lowest responsible bidder. USA requires bidding for all purchases of $75,000 or more.

The requesting of bids is a recognized and accepted means of ensuring effective competition among suppliers, and the University will generally receive greater discounts and better service through competitive bidding. Analysis of bids is a means by which the total cost of ownership of the item is determined. It is the responsibility of the Purchasing Department to issue, control, and analyze supplier bids/quotations/proposals. The requisitioning department is responsible for defining quantity, specifications, delivery date, and all other pertinent information essential to proper purchase and can assist in determining the lowest responsible bidder when required. The requisitioning department should also suggest sources, when known, especially for unusual or unique items. Awards resulting from a competitive bid must be approved by the Purchasing Agent.

Departments should allow from two (2) to three (3) weeks for the competitive bid process to occur, depending upon the type of requirement(s). Construction/Public Works bidding valued in excess of $75,000 will require additional bidding time for required advertising.

The competitive bidding process is required prior to the processing of requisitions and issuance of purchase orders.

Bids solicitations are posted on the USA Purchasing website here.

USA is also authorized to utilize all State of Alabama and consortium contracts when it is advantageous. Whenever possible, USA faculty and staff are to utilize the state contracts for their purchases. Access to information regarding active state contracts can be obtained here.

Federally Funded Grant Purchases

General Standards

In order to remain compliant with current rules and regulations for federally funded grant purchases in excess of $75,000, all such purchases can only be processed via competitive bid issued by the University. In cases where the required goods and/or services may be obtained via an approved consortium contract, the University can only use the contract if it can be independently verified and documented that the consortium contract pricing is equal to or more costs effective than the price obtained via competitive bid. All documentation comparing consortium pricing, when used, showing the consortium provided best price is required to be submitted with invoice documentation. The University can not use a consortium contract as a matter of convenience in lieu of bidding for federally funded grant purchases.

The University is committed to avoid the acquisition of unnecessary or duplicative items. Purchases are executed to ensure the most economical purchase possible via the use of competitively bid, state, and cooperative contracts.  Lease versus purchase analyses are routinely performed prior to entering into any lease agreements. Federal and State excess and surplus property is procured when available in lieu of purchasing new equipment and property whenever such use is feasible and reduces project costs.

Value engineering is incorporated into construction project specifications projects of sufficient size to offer reasonable opportunities for cost reductions.

Federally funded Time-and-Materials type contracts are utilized by the University when suitable. Each contract estimated quote must set a ceiling price that if exceeded, the contractor exceeds it its own risk. Quotes are obtained for all time and materials contracts prior to commencement of such projects. Subject contracts are closely monitored for compliance and avoidance of cost overrun.


All procurement transactions for the acquisition of property or services required under Federal awards are conducted in a manner providing full and open competition consistent with the standards of §200.319 and the requirements of the Alabama Public Works Law and the Alabama Competitive Bid Law. The University guarantees a full and open competition process through use of strict competitive procedures, ensuring objective contractor performance, and eliminating unfair competitive advantages. Contractors that assist in the develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, or invitations for bids or requests for federally-funded projects are excluded from competing for such procurements. 

Contractor is defined as an entity that receives a contract as defined in this section.

Contract, for the purpose of Federal financial assistance, ia a legal instrument by which a recipient or subrecipient purchases property or services needed to carry out the project or program under a Federal award. For additional information on subrecipient and contractor determinations, see § 200.331.

When contracting for architectural and engineering services, geographic location may be a selection criterion provided its application leaves an appropriate number of qualified firms, given the nature and size of the project, to compete for the contract. 

To the greatest extent possible, all University bid solicitations incorporate a clear and accurate description of the technical requirements for the material, product, or service to be procured, and must not contain features or parameters which unduly restrict competition. Brand name or equal descriptions may be used as a means to define the performance or other important requirements of procurement. The specific features of the named brand which must be met by offers must be clearly stated, and all requirements which the offerors must fulfill and all other factors to be used in evaluating bid responses must be identified. 

The University ensures that all prequalified lists of persons, firms, or products which are used in acquiring goods and services are current and include sufficiently qualified sources to ensure maximum open and free competition. Additionally, the University does not preclude potential bidders from qualifying during the solicitation period. 

Noncompetitive procurements will comply with federal regulation § 200.320(c) “Methods of Procurement.

Domestic Preferences

To the extent consistent with applicable state and federal procurement laws, the University provides a preference for the purchase, acquisition, or use of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States (including but not limited to iron, aluminum, steel, cement, and other manufactured products). 

Procurement of Recovered Materials

The University has established a robust program to promote cost-effective waste reduction in all operations and facilities. Paper, plastic, cardboard, and aluminum waste is collected and delivered to designated recycling centers as per applicable EPA guidelines.


For construction or facility improvement contracts or subcontracts exceeding the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, the University requires adequate bonding and surety as per Alabama state requirements and to the extent that the Federal interest is adequately protected. Minimum requirements of subject bonding are follows: 

(a) A bid guarantee from each bidder equivalent to five percent of the bid price in the form of a bid bond, certified check, or other negotiable instrument accompanying a bid as assurance that the bidder will, upon acceptance of the bid, execute such contractual documents as may be required within the time specified. 

(b) A performance bond on the part of the contractor for 100 percent of the contract price. A “performance bond” is one executed in connection with a contract to secure fulfillment of all the contractor's requirements under such contract. 

(c) A payment bond on the part of the contractor for 100 percent of the contract price. A “payment bond” is one executed in connection with a contract to assure payment as required by law of all persons supplying labor and material in the execution of the work provided for in the contract.

Contract Provisions for Non-Federal Entity Contracts Under Federal Awards

All contracts made by the University under a Federal award must contain provisions covering the following, as applicable. 

(A) Contracts for more than the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), will address administrative, contractual, or legal remedies in instances where contractors violate or breach contract terms, and provide for such sanctions and penalties as appropriate. 

(B) All contracts in excess of $10,000 must address termination for cause and for convenience by the non-Federal entity including the manner by which it will be affected and the basis for settlement. 

(C) Equal Employment Opportunity. Except as otherwise provided under federal regulation 41 CFR Part 60, all contracts that meet the definition of “federally assisted construction contract” in 41 CFR Part 60–1.3 include the equal opportunity clause provided under 41 CFR 60–1.4(b), in accordance with Executive Order 11246, “Equal Employment Opportunity” (30 FR 12319, 12935, 3 CFR Part, 1964–1965 Comp., p. 339), as amended by Executive Order 11375, “Amending Executive Order 11246 Relating to Equal Employment Opportunity,” and implementing regulations at 41 CFR part 60, “Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Equal Employment Opportunity, Department of Labor.” 

The University commits to promotion and insuring of equal opportunity for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, employed or seeking employment with Government contractors or with contractors performing under federally assisted construction contracts.

(D) All prime construction contracts in excess of $2,000 will include a provision for compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act (40 U.S.C. 3141–3144, and 3146–3148) as supplemented by Department of Labor regulations (29 CFR Part 5, “Labor Standards Provisions Applicable to Contracts Covering Federally Financed and Assisted Construction”). In accordance with the statute, contractors must be required to pay wages to laborers and mechanics at a rate not less than the prevailing wages specified in a wage determination made by the Secretary of Labor. In addition, contractors must be required to pay wages not less than once a week. The University will place a copy of the current prevailing wage determination issued by the Department of Labor in each bid solicitation. The University will report all suspected or reported violations to the appropriate Federal awarding agency. Contract awards will also include a provision for compliance with the Copeland “Anti-Kickback” Act (40 U.S.C. 3145), as supplemented by Department of Labor regulations (29 CFR Part 3, “Contractors and Subcontractors on Public Building or Public Work Financed in Whole or in Part by Loans or Grants from the United States”). The University will also report all suspected or reported violations to the Federal awarding agency. 

(E) Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (40 U.S.C. 3701–3708). Where applicable, all contracts awarded by the University in excess of $100,000 that involve the employment of mechanics or laborers will include a provision for compliance with federal regulation 40 U.S.C. 3702 and 3704, as supplemented by Department of Labor regulations (29 CFR Part 5). Under 40 U.S.C. 3702 of the Act, each contractor must be required to compute the wages of every mechanic and laborer on the basis of a standard work week of 40 hours. Work in excess of the standard work week is permissible provided that the worker is compensated at a rate of not less than one and a half times the basic rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in the work week. The requirements of 40 U.S.C. 3704 are applicable to construction work and provide that no laborer or mechanic must be required to work in surroundings or under working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous. These requirements do not apply to the purchases of supplies or materials or articles ordinarily available on the open market, or contracts for transportation or transmission of intelligence. 

(F) Rights to Inventions Made Under a Contract or Agreement. If the Federal award meets the definition of “funding agreement” under federal regulation 37 CFR § 401.2 (a) and the University enters into a contract with a small business firm or nonprofit organization regarding the substitution of parties, assignment or performance of experimental, developmental, or research work under the contract funding agreement, the University will comply with the requirements of 37 CFR Part 401, “Rights to Inventions Made by Nonprofit Organizations and Small Business Firms Under Government Grants, Contracts and Cooperative Agreements.”

(G) The University will comply with the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401–7671q.) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251–1387). Contracts and subgrants of amounts in excess of $150,000 will contain a provision that requires the University award to agree to comply with all applicable standards, orders or regulations issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401–7671q) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act as amended (33 U.S.C. 1251–1387). Violations must be reported to the Federal awarding agency and the Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

(H) The University will comply with Debarment and Suspension statutes, rules, regulations, and executive orders (Executive Orders 12549 and 12689). A contract award (see 2 CFR 180.220) must not be made to parties listed on the governmentwide exclusions in the System for Award Management (SAM), in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR part 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR part 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” SAM Exclusions contains the names of parties debarred, suspended, or otherwise excluded by agencies, as well as parties declared ineligible under statutory or regulatory authority other than Executive Order 12549. 

(I) ) The University will comply with the Byrd Anti-Lobbying Amendment (31 U.S.C. 1352)—Contractors that apply or bid for an award exceeding $100,000 will file the required certification. Each tier certifies to the tier above that it will not and has not used Federal appropriated funds to pay any person or organization for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a member of Congress, officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a member of Congress in connection with obtaining any Federal contract, grant or any other award covered by 31 U.S.C. 1352. Each tier must also disclose any lobbying with non-Federal funds that takes place in connection with obtaining any Federal award. Such disclosures are forwarded from tier to tier up to the non-Federal award.


▼   Gifts and Gratuities
Employees who are responsible for the procurement of goods and services for the University are prohibited from accepting personal gifts, services, gratuities, or other benefits of any value.
▼   Invoicing

To ensure prompt payment of invoices, it is necessary that vendors follow the instructions on every order. All invoices must reference the purchase order number. The item description, quantity and unit prices must appear as shown on the purchase order or its latest amendment. Vendors are required to submit their invoices with a valid purchase order number to:

In order for all of us to take advantage of the EI process, it is important  that all invoices be sent electronically directly from suppliers to the USA Account Payable Department at (usaap_invoicecapture@concursolutions.com). Please note that every invoice must include a valid USA PO Number.  Invoices lacking a valid PO number will be returned unpaid to the suppliers, as the system will be unable to recognize them. To prevent the possibility pf duplicate payment processing, it is important that you no longer forward invoices directly to individual departments or USA Accounts Payable. Monthly statements can be mailed to the USA Accounts Payable (accountspayable@southalabama.edu).


▼   Sales Tax Status
USA is exempt from Alabama state sales tax pursuant to AL Code 40-23-4 (a) (11). This exemption also generally applies to Alabama city and county sales taxes. Other taxes, such as taxes on lodging and rentals or personal property, may apply.
▼   Commitment to Diversity
USA is committed to the goal of non-discrimination and to giving fair consideration for all vendors in its procurement programs while providing efficient and cost-effective acquisition of quality goods and services. USA's Minority/Women Owned Procurement Program exists to ensure that small, women-owned, and minority-owned firms have full opportunity to compete for the USA's business. The Minority/Women Owned Procurement Program serves as a liaison between the vendor community and all University staff with procurement responsibilities.
▼   Small Business Development
The USA Purchasing Department actively works to support the University's commitment to provide equal opportunities through contracting and individual order opportunities for small businesses. Purchasing makes every effort to ensure that the University includes the maximum practical number of small businesses in the competitive bidding process. The Purchasing Department seeks to maximize the opportunity for small business participation through the development of mutually-beneficial business relationships, while also educating the University community about USA’s goals in this area.
▼   Organizational Authority

The Purchasing Department is maintained within the University to fulfill the purchasing function. Authority and responsibility for the organization of this area is assigned to the University Controller. To ensure that University objectives are met and that specific needs of end users are recognized and served, responsibility and authority for purchases of all commodities are delegated to the USA Purchasing Manager, although various other individuals in the Purchasing Department may often have communication with suppliers, contractors, and vendors.

Requests to commit USA funds for materials or services valued at less than $1,000 should be processed via P Card. Requests to commit University funds for materials or services valued in excess of $1,000 should be processed via Banner requisitions, form FPAREQN. Construction-related contracts may only be approved by the University Treasurer or the Vice President for Financial Affairs.

Firms doing business with the University are aware of this policy and have been advised that all purchases chargeable to the University of South Alabama must be authorized by a designated University official.

▼   Purchasing Department

Main Office: 650 Clinic Drive, TRP 3, Suite 1400, Mobile, AL 36688-0002
Main Phone: (251) 460-6151
Fax: (251) 414-8291

Hours of Service: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Internet: Purchasing Homepage


▼   Pre-Planning Material Requirements

The need for departments to evaluate well in advance their supply and equipment needs cannot be over-emphasized. The time required for Purchasing to issue an order and secure delivery after receiving a properly prepared requisition varies greatly. Workload at any given time within the Purchasing Department is also a factor. Delivery always depends upon the supplier’s stock and/or availability in securing delivery from suppliers.

Submission of requisitions well in advance of the required delivery date is encouraged. USA purchasing policy requires that all equipment and supply requirements in excess of fifteen-thousand dollars ($75,000) be competitively bid prior to placing an order (Refer to Competitive Bidding Guidelines). In most cases, this process is accomplished within two (2) to three (3) weeks, depending upon the requirement. When requisitioning items that are used repetitively, specify the largest possible quantity (within bid law requirements) and as many items as possible from common sources of supply. There should be no need to designate repetitively used items as “emergencies” if departmental requirements are properly planned.

▼   Selection of Suppliers

It is the responsibility of the campus department to select sources of supply, although the final approval is designated to the Purchasing department. Orders resulting from competitive bids must be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder unless approval to do otherwise is granted by the Purchasing Agent. Suppliers should be selected for their ability to serve the needs of USA in an economical and efficient manner on a continuing basis. Past performance of suppliers and cooperation with USA are important factors in supplier selection.

The Purchasing Department is committed to assisting departments in the evaluation of new suppliers, including small, women-owned, disadvantaged and minority suppliers. The Purchasing Department will follow a department’s recommendation as much as possible. If a department requests a specific supplier with no substitutions, adequate justification should accompany the requisition for consideration.

▼   Records
Purchasing Department retains all original bid-related documents for an appropriate time period as required by Alabama State Law. In most cases, original bid files shall not be allowed to leave the department area.
▼   The Purchasing Process

The purpose of this section of the manual is to explain the major steps in the procurement process. It is suggested this section be reviewed before completing a Banner purchase requisition. If any step in the process is not clear or if circumstances are unusual, please contact the Purchasing Department (6-6151) for assistance. The following represent the basic steps in the general procurement process:

Banner Purchase Requisition

A Banner purchase requisition is used to initiate the procurement of all supplies, equipment and services that are required to support the University community. The requisition is prepared by the requisitioner and is forwarded to the Purchasing Department via a series of electronic approval queues that are administered by the Purchasing Department. Purchase orders are the preferred method for order processing and should be used whenever possible. The complete Banner Requisition process is accomplished as follows:

  1. Requisitioner completes an electronic purchase requisition via the Banner System. The electronic data file is sent to a series of Banner electronic approval queues for approval/disapproval by designated University officials.

  2. Approvers review the electronic requisition data files verifying account numbers, sufficient fund balance, purchasing policy compliance, and state bid law compliance (Purchasing only) in Banner form FOAUAPP. If all documentation is acceptable, a purchase order is issued.

  3. Purchasing Department issues a purchase order. Encumbrance takes place immediately upon entry of the order into the Banner System.

  4. Copies of the resulting purchase order are forwarded to the vendor, department, and USA Accounts Payable. Requisitioners are responsible for reviewing their copy of the purchase order for accuracy as soon as it is received. If there are any errors, please contact the Purchasing Department as soon as possible so the appropriate corrective action(s) can be taken. Purchasing will not be responsible for any incorrect information on the purchase order, or any costs associated with an incorrect order.

  5. The supplier ships the material to the using department and sends an invoice to the Accounts Payable Department.

  6. When the material arrives, it is checked by the using department against the purchase order. 

  7. Accounts Payable compares receiving information to the invoice information and, if they agree in quantity and price, payment is issued to the supplier. Section 93 of the Alabama Constitution restricts the payment of goods or services prior to receipt without the approval of the USA Finance and Administration Department Assistant Vice President.  

    Purchase Order

The purchase order is the usual instrument by which goods are procured to fill a requirement. It is the seller’s authority to ship and invoice for the goods specified on the order. It is a legal instrument which expresses the buyer’s part of a contract of sale. Once accepted, it has the legal force of a binding contract.

Purchase orders are issued by the Purchasing Department as soon as possible after receipt of properly completed requisitions. Orders can also be faxed to suppliers upon request.

It is the requisitioner’s responsibility to check the copy of the purchase order for accuracy as soon as it is received. If there are any errors, please contact the Purchasing Department as soon as possible so the appropriate corrective action(s) can be taken. Purchasing will not be responsible for any incorrect information on the purchase order.

Note: Blanket purchase orders are processed in the same manner as regular Banner purchase orders and are issued to suppliers for expendable supplies and services where the unit price of the item(s) or service(s) has been established by agreement or bid.  Blanket orders are typically issued for a period of one year.  In most cases, a contract or service agreement will need to be issued in conjunction with the blanket purchase order.

University of South Alabama Purchase Order Terms and Conditions

Benefits of Using a Purchase Order for Required Goods or Services

A Purchase Requisition is a department-generated internal source document required to initiate a Purchase Order.  Purchase Requisitions include a description of the product or service, departmental requirements, corresponding funding and delivery instructions, and the required departmental and Procurement Banner approvals necessary to move forward with a purchase.

A Purchase Order is important to the University for numerous reasons.  A Purchase Order creates a system of record in Banner where all documents associated with the purchase are stored in one location that can be efficiently retrieved at a later date for auditing/quality assurance and record keeping purposes.

A Purchase Order also provides the Requestor and their department with greater control, clarity, and protection in the purchasing process, helping to ensure their needs are met efficiently.  The below chart outlines some of the many benefits to using a Purchase Order. 

Benefits of Using Purchase Orders


  • Provides a clear record of goods or services ordered, order date, and price.
  • Creates a permanent electronic that can be used for accounting and auditing purposes.
  • Tracks order and spend history.


  • Provides a record of sale.
  • Provides a legal document
  • Evidence of an agreement in the event of a dispute.
  • Order fulfillment, tracks customer orders, and ensures that goods/services are delivered on time.

A Purchase Order is automatically generated in Banner based on the information provided by the Requestor during the Purchase Requisition process.  Therefore, special care must be taken in submitting a detailed Purchase Requisition to ensure the Supplier receives a complete and accurate representation of the purchase being made.  The flowchart below visually represents the overall process and relationship between Purchase Requisitions and Purchase Orders. 

Requestor gathersBlue Arrow pointing right information and documentation 
Requestor submits aBlue arrow pointing right requisition in Banner database 
Requisition isBlue arrow pointing right reviewed and approved
Purchase Order is generated and issued to the Supplier


A fully executed contract does not necessarily eliminate the need for a Purchase Order.  A Purchase order is an essential tool necessary for capturing the details of the purchase and enables the Requestor and their respective departments to manage the transaction more effectively.  Additionally, a Purchase Order contains terms and conditions which protect the University by ensuring expectations are understood by both parties.

A Purchase Order should be issued prior to the commencement of work and/or the receipt of goods or services. 

Blanket Purchase Order Usage Policy


A Blanket Purchase Order is a purchase order where services and/or goods may be purchased over a given period of time or where materials or supplies require numerous shipments and/or payments. Blanket Purchase Orders may be used for frequently purchased non-fixed asset miscellaneous items or supplies and/or services. The Blanket Purchase Order permits USA departments to place releases for commodities or services on an “as needed” basis without having to submit additional requisitions through the Purchasing Department. Blanket Purchase Orders are to be processed annually for each fiscal year period and will be closed at the end of each fiscal year at which time departments will forward a copy of the Blanket Purchase Order Receiving Copy to Accounts Payable with the word CLOSE written on the PO.  If a department requests to extend a Blanket Purchase Order beyond the current fiscal year

Blanket Purchase Orders should contain all applicable ordering and billing instructions, contract/bid numbers, and a description of the goods or services that can be ordered including:

  • The period of time covered by the order
  • The commodities covered
  • The total dollar value which can be encumbered under the blanket order and monetary limitation applicable to each transaction
  • Invoicing and billing instructions (when applicable)

Used Equipment

Most equipment purchases made by the University are for new equipment. However, there may be instances when the procurement of previously used equipment may be necessary or advantageous including, but not limited to, lack of the availability of new equipment or  budgetary restraints. University departments should be aware of the risks involved with the procurement of used equipment. Any department that is considering the procurement of used equipment should ensure and document that the purchase price is fair market value or less and the equipment is in proper, working condition.  Used equipment should be personally inspected prior to the purchase being executed.  If personal inspection is not practical, the University may accept the purchase without inspection. with the approval of the department head. The purchase of used or refurbished equipment is subject to the requirements of Section 41-4-110 of the Alabama Competitive Bid Law and Alabama sales tax laws and regulations.   


The ordering department is responsible for maintaining a complete audit trail of transactions under a blanket purchase order. This includes administering and documenting the authority for issuing orders and maintaining records of transactions including pricing accuracy and contract terms and conditions compliance.

All foreign/international vendor profile submission requests are verified for acceptability and compliance in accordance with the Office of Inspector General Exclusion Database.

Respondents to all University competitive bid solicitations are required to complete a Department of Homeland Security E-Verify Agreement, a Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Form, and an Alabama Vendor Disclosure Statement. 

Change Orders

A change order is work that is added to or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract, which alters the original contract amount and/or completion date. A change order may modify a project to handle significant or minor changes to a current project.  The maximum allowable increase amount for a USA change order is 25% of the original value. 

Public Works Contracts

The University follows the guidelines and recommendations outlined in Alabama AG Opinion 79-00313 for change orders, whereby the amount of changes approved shall not exceed 10% of the contract price whether made through negotiations with the low bidder or by change order. This limit applies to each individual negotiation and each change order and to the cumulative total for each project. This means that the total of negotiations and/or change orders shall not exceed 10% of the contract price for each project.

Note: The above criteria for negotiations with a low bidder and change orders are guidelines only and each factual situation must be decided on the facts and merits of each case. The most important factor in the approval of negotiated changes or change orders is the good faith of the officials executing the change.

Change Orders for USA Purchase Orders

USA purchase orders may be modified after initial issuance via a USA Change Order Request (PDF). Change order requests are to be used for minor changes to a purchase order and are not to be used to avoid the issuance of a new or replacement purchase requisition.  

Requesting a Bid Solicitation

Non-Public Works purchases in excess of $75,000 must be competitively bid if a contract for such goods and services does not exist as per Alabama statute § 41-4-100. Public Works projects in excess of $100,000 must be competitively bid as per Alabama statute § 39-2-2. It is the responsibility of the requesting department to create the required bid specifications. The Purchasing Department is here to assist upon request. Guidelines for writing effective bid specifications can be found here (PDF)..  


 Concur Invoice Direct Pay Requests

Purchase orders or P Cards are to be used in most purchasing situations. However, if the option to use a purchase order or P-Card is not provided by the supplier, then an Electronic Concur Invoice Direct Pay Request may be initiated after receipt of invoice.

The only types of purchases to be made using Direct Pay Requests, provided the option to use a purchase order or P-Card is not available, are those listed below.  All other purchases of goods and services must be made by purchase order or P-Card.

Items authorized for direct pay acquisition:

Recurring subscriptions that significantly vary in price each billing period 
Registration fees for approved courses, conferences, symposiums, etc.
Advance payments
Payment of scholarships, refunds, loans and allowances
FedEx and UPS invoices
Payments to universities/colleges for which there is no defined mailing address or utility companies who refuse to accept purchase order or P-Card payments.
Subcontract invoices for grant-funded activities when the Principal Investigator (PI) and/or USA Grants and Contracts Accounting staff are required to approve expenditures.
Other items as approved by the University Controller  

**Transactions cannot be split to avoid the need for competitive bidding.

***IMPORTANT: Aramark and temporary labor/staffing invoices must be paid via  purchase order.P Card.  

Service Contract and Subcontract Procurement and Approval Process 

All grant-related Service Contracts will be processed via purchase order and invoice (for companies). At the discretion of the responsible USA department, Service Contracts with individuals may be processed by either a purchase order and invoice of via Concur Direct Pay.  If determined by OGCA to be high risk, corresponding invoices will be submitted to the appropriate G & C accountant for approval. Service Contracts are coded to various account codes that begin 741XXX.  

All grant-related Subcontracts will be processed via Concur Invoice Direct Pay. The invoices will be assigned the appropriate Grants and Contracts accountant. Subcontracts are coded to various account codes that begin with 745XXX thru 749XXX.


Shipping/Delivery of Purchased Goods

All goods or items that are purchased using University funding shall be shipped to the purchaser’s respective University address.  At no time shall any good or item be shipped to a home/personal address.  In the event that you have an extraordinary circumstance and business purpose for an item to be shipped to your home address, pre-approval from your Dean and the Business Office will be required prior to shipment.

Alabama Vendor Disclosure Statement

Act 2001-955 requires a disclosure statement to be completed and filed with all proposals, bids, contracts, or grant proposals to the State of Alabama in excess of $5,000. The disclosure statement is not required for contracts for gas, water, and electric services where no competition exits, or where rates are fixed by law or ordinance. In circumstances where a contract is awarded by competitive bid, the disclosure statement shall be required only from the person receiving the contract and shall be submitted within ten (10) days of the award.

Alabama Vendor Disclosure StatementsSpecial Purchases


Special procedures must be followed for the procurement of copying equipment. All copying equipment is to be procured with authorization from the USA Purchasing Department via Copier Placement Form (PDF).


Special steps must be taken when processing Banner requisitions for the purchase of computers. The manufacturer’s model or part number must be indicated in the description field in form Banner, accompanied by quotation and contract numbers and a complete list of applicable specifications.

State and Consortium Contract Purchases

The State of Alabama Division of Purchasing and private consortium entities routinely establish contracts for a wide variety of goods and services that can be utilized by all USA departments. All contracts are the result of a competitive bid issued by either the State of Alabama Division of Purchasing or a private consortium. University departments are to utilize these contracts whenever possible. When processing a purchase requisition for goods or services in accordance with one of the established contracts, the contract number must be indicated in the body of the requisition to ensure proper and accurate processing.

All active contracts can be reviewed by visiting the State of Alabama Division of Purchasing website.Sole Sourcing

The declaration of a "sole source" purchase must be exercised judiciously and always with good faith. The following guidelines must be applied and all criteria met when a declaration is made.

"Sole source" - A good's or service's "uniqueness" alone cannot qualify the producer or supplier of the good or service as a "sole service" of a good or service under Alabama's competitive bidding laws. To so qualify, the good or service offered must be unique; that uniqueness must be substantially related to the intended purpose, use and performance of the good or service sought; the department seeking to declare a "sole source" must show that other similar goods or services cannot perform the desired objectives of the goods or services being indicated as sole source.

Cancellation of Orders

A purchase order is a binding contract between the University and the supplier. Caution must be taken when canceling an order. Any request to modify or cancel an order or contract should be directed to the Purchasing Department in writing. The Purchasing Department will then act in cooperation with the department in the best interest of the University and advise all parties accordingly.

Generally, a supplier will agree to a request for cancellation if the items have not been shipped. The department may be held responsible for any material shipped by a supplier or costs of fabricated items incurred prior to cancellation.

Change Orders

If it becomes necessary to make any change to the original purchase order, a change order can be initiated by the Purchasing Department upon request. The requesting department will issue notification to the supplier if required.


Contracts with Family Members

Alabama code § 36-25-11 prohibits state entities from entering into any contracts with family members of employees for the procurement of goods or services that have not been awarded via competitive bid as stated below:

§ 36-25-11. Public officials or employees entering into contracts which are to be paid out of government funds.
Unless exempt pursuant to Alabama competitive bid laws or otherwise permitted by law, no public official or public employee, or a member of the household of the public employee or the public official, and no business with which the person is associated shall enter into any contract to provide goods or services which is to be paid in whole or in part out of state, county, or municipal funds unless the contract has been awarded through a process of competitive bidding and a copy of the contract is filed with the commission. All such contract awards shall be made as a result of original bid takings, and no awards from negotiations after bidding shall be allowed. A copy of each contract, regardless of the amount, entered into by a public official, public employee, a member of the household of the public employee or the public official, and any business with which the person is associated shall be filed with the commission within 10 days after the contract has been entered into.  

A public employee's "household" is defined to include the public employee and his or her spouse and dependents.  Ala. Code § 36-25-1(17). 


▼   Conflict of Interest

Only the highest ethical principles are to be employed by all persons involved in the procurement process. It is the responsibility of each member of the USA faculty and staff and of the Purchasing Department to take all appropriate steps to assure that the University does not knowingly enter into a purchase commitment which could result in a conflict of interest situation. A conflict of interest exists when some factor (financial or personal interest in a supplier) interferes or appears to interfere with or influence a departmental requestor’s ability and duty to be completely impartial and loyal to USA’s interests.

Contracts with Family Members

Alabama code § 36-25-11 prohibits state entities from entering into any contracts with family members of employees for the procurement of goods or services that have not been awarded via competitive bid as stated below:

§ 36-25-11. Public officials or employees entering into contracts which are to be paid out of government funds.
Unless exempt pursuant to Alabama competitive bid laws or otherwise permitted by law, no public official or public employee, or a member of the household of the public employee or the public official, and no business with which the person is associated shall enter into any contract to provide goods or services which is to be paid in whole or in part out of state, county, or municipal funds unless the contract has been awarded through a process of competitive bidding and a copy of the contract is filed with the commission. All such contract awards shall be made as a result of original bid takings, and no awards from negotiations after bidding shall be allowed. A copy of each contract, regardless of the amount, entered into by a public official, public employee, a member of the household of the public employee or the public official, and any business with which the person is associated shall be filed with the commission within 10 days after the contract has been entered into.  

A public employee's "household" is defined to include the public employee and his or her spouse and dependents.  Ala. Code § 36-25-1(17). 


▼   Allowable and Unallowable Purchasing Expenditures


Authoritative guidance governing University expenditures:

  • The Constitution of Alabama
  • Attorney General’s opinions
  • General rule of thumb – expenditures that serve and further the University’s purpose and mission

Definition of state money:

  • Any funds controlled by the University (state budgeted, self-generated, private gifts, athletics). Agency funds are NOT considered to be 'controlled by the University'.

Required documentation:

  • For purchased good – requisitions, invoices, evidence of receipt of item
  • For expenditures related to gatherings, meetings, etc – In addition to documentation listed above, lists of attendees (internal and external), agendas, where meeting was held, whether food or refreshments were served, and business purpose of gathering.

Purchase of multiple like items – bid law perspective:

  • All like items purchased in any one fiscal year are aggregated for determination of the applicability of the state bid law.

Rules for students are generally more liberal than for employees.

It is the policy of the University of South Alabama (the University) that all reasonable business expenses, with certain exceptions, are allowed to be paid using University funds.  In order to be considered allowable, such expenses must be deemed appropriate and approved by management, as outlined below, and must also meet the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of a deductible expense.  That definition (IRS Publication 535, Chapter I) is as follows:  “To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.”  The business purpose of all expenditures MUST be adequately documented as to the specific purpose of the expenditure to the extent that such documentation would demonstrate compliance to IRS regulations.

All University funds (operating accounts, gifts, grant/contracts, etc.) are expected to be expended in a reasonable and prudent manner and only for business related activities that support the University’s mission.  Under no circumstance may University funds be used for goods/services that do not have a clear business purpose and/or are personal in nature.

The USA Purchasing Policy defines an allowable business expense as a necessary, reasonable, appropriate, and allowable non-compensation expense incurred for a valid business purpose to fulfill the mission of the University. The policy also provides criteria for determining an allowable or unallowable expense and provides examples of common expenses.

An Allowable Expense is defined as a necessary, reasonable, and appropriate expense incurred for the primary benefit of University business and therefore permitted to be reimbursed or directly charged based on the permission of the University or by the terms of federally or privately sponsored agreements.

A Reasonable Expense is defined as an expense that is ordinary and reflects a well advised or sensible decision to incur the expense on behalf of University business. Not extreme or excessive.

An Appropriate Expense is defined as being suitable or fitting for a particular business purpose. In order for an expense to be appropriate it is also presumed that there is a valid business purpose, which is normally the responsibility of the department or program to determine.

The following questions should be considered when determining the appropriateness of costs:

  • Could the cost be comfortably defended under public scrutiny?
  • Would you be confident if the cost was selected for audit?
  • Would you be comfortable explaining to a donor that their donation was used this way?
  • Has it been adequately documented?
  • Would you be comfortable reading about it in the newspaper?

An Unallowable Expense is any expense that does not meet the criteria of reasonable, allowable, or an appropriate expense as defined above.

Examples of unallowable expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Memorabilia, promotional, or personal items for employees such as watches, phones, athletics accessories and equipment, gifts, apparel, etc. 
  • Tokens of appreciation for employees
  • Upgraded first/business class travel or lodging services
  • Personal care services including, but not limited to hair and skin care, makeup, spa services, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Entertainment without appropriate approval

Policies related to specific expenditures are as follows.  All expenditures must be made within specific budgetary constraints of each department:

General Expenditures

Employee Annual Fund:

  • Expenses related to the employee annual fund campaigns are allowed.

Memberships and dues:

  • Generally allowable if they are necessary to the business of the University and advance the purpose or mission of the University
  • Civic club membership dues, as approved by the divisional Vice-President are allowed.
  • Multiple years’ dues to organizations can be paid, if they are in the name of the University OR are transferable to other individuals
  • Expenses for membership in peripheral organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and similar organizations where such membership is related to the purchaser’s role in the University and a clear benefit to the University can be established are allowed.

Lobbying and Charitable Contributions:

  • An employee or student group cannot make any donation to a charitable organization regardless of how the funds donated were procured.
  • Outside lobbying expenses for purposes other than supporting political candidates or influencing election ONLY as originated or APPROVED by the Office of Governmental Relations are allowed.
  • Political contributions - not allowed
  • Charitable contributions - not allowed

Flowers, greeting cards, gifts, parties, etc.:

  • Generally not allowed
  • Birthday gifts not allowed
  • Flowers or fruit baskets purchased for funerals of University employees or their immediate families (as defined in section of the employee handbook) or for supporters of the University and their immediate families are allowed.  Such expenditures must be approved by the divisional Vice-President.
  • Congratulatory flowers, appreciation gifts, holiday cards, retirement cards, plaques, and other award for individuals as approved by the appropriate vice-president are allowed if the University determines such purchases are in the best interest of the institution and promote the purposes for which the institution was created.
  • Flowers for University functions (decorative, table, etc) are allowed
  • Flowers purchased for public areas are allowed
  • Flowers purchased to be given to senior students at a public recognition venue are allowable.
  • Christmas and other special event decorations are allowed if they remain the property of the University and are usable from year-to-year (artificial trees are OK, live trees are not OK)
  • Holiday greeting cards provided to business associates, donors or other supporters of the University and approved by the divisional Vice-President - allowed
  • Christmas/Holiday cards provided to University employees – not allowed
  • Christmas/Holiday parties - generally not allowed without the prior approval of the Division Vice President. 
  • Retirement receptions, as approved in advance by the Dean of the appropriate college - allowed
  • Retirement gifts/cakes - not allowed
  • Service pins/Retiree gifts – not allowed unless issued by USA Human Resources as part of employee recognition program.
  • Items (low individual cost such as cups, t-shirts, etc.) purchased to be given away (to groups including donors, companies, general public, students and employees) for public relations or promotional purposes are allowable.
  • Non-medical items to be given away to patients are allowable if such items are deemed to be helpful in the care or treatment of the patient.
  • Tokens of appreciation to employees for assisting the University with the evaluation of a program or other activity – not allowed
  • Tokens of appreciation to non-employees for assisting the University with the evaluation of a program or other activity – allowed
  • Gifts to state officials, trustees, etc., of de minimis value (<$25) are allowable. 

Miscellaneous office equipment and furnishings:

  • Refrigerators – allowed
  • Microwave ovens – allowed
  • Ice makers for break room - allowed
  • Stoves/Toaster ovens – allowed
  • Coffee Pots/Makers for Students and Visitors – allowed
  • Coffee Pots/Makers for Faculty and Staff – not allowed
  • Heaters/fans for individual offices – allowed (Heater make and model must be approved by the USA Safety and Environmental Compliance Office)
  • Vacuum cleaners - allowed
  • Televisions for break room – not allowed
  • Televisions for individual office where the use of such television is relevant to the individual’s official function – allowed
  • Tissues for personal (employee) use - Allowed. Tissues for common areas for guests and students - Allowed.

Office Furniture:

  • Virtually all office furniture must be either purchased via the AL state contract, consortium contract, USA Bookstore, or competitively bid. Office furniture purchases via state contract providers are processed via Banner purchase order and are made payable to the manufacturer with the assisting dealer information indicated on the order. State contract procured office furniture purchase orders are not to be made payable to a dealer or processed via Direct Pay. 

Coffee, water, soft drinks for offices:

  • Coffee for offices – not allowed
  • Water, soft drinks, coffee and supplies for University offices that regularly entertain official guests  to the University(e.g., President's Office, patient areas) for business or other purposes - allowed
  • Water, soft drinks and coffee for personal consumption by University employees - not allowed

Home Internet Upgrades:

  • Home connections and upgrades are allowed if they are ONLY used for work purposes – in most cases, however, the burden of proof for such expenditures is very high and the expenditure should be considered risky.

Sponsorship of meetings, conferences and events:

  • Generally not allowed unless payment is for advertising or marketing and advertising benefit is commensurate with the sponsorship amount
  • Advertisements in high school athletic event programs are allowable if the purpose of such advertisements is the recruiting of students to the University or a specific program of the University.
  • General sponsorships of conferences, meetings, programs, civic events or other events in which a clear benefit to the University can be demonstrated are allowed.  Such sponsorships must be approved in writing and IN ADVANCE by the University President or his/her designee.
  • Refreshments during conferences or seminars (external or internal) are allowed


  • Generally allowable if for publications which support the work of the employee
  • Multi-year subscriptions are allowable if financially advantageous and if the subscription is in the name of the University (Multi-year subscriptions in the employee’s name are not allowable.)

Sales tax (reimbursement of sales tax to individuals):

  • Not allowed for in-state purchases
  • Allowed for travel
  • Allowed if ONLY means of purchase was use of personal credit card or cash/checks and such use is properly documented.

Event Tickets:

  • Tickets for University staff to Chamber of Commerce or other community organization events in which a clear benefit of University staff attending such events can be demonstrated are allowed.  Such participation must be approved by the divisional Vice-President.
  • Event tickets (symphony, opera, etc.) purchased and provided to University donors or potential donors as approved by the divisional Vice-President are allowed.

Athletic Tickets:

  • Tickets to post season athletic events may be purchased for certain individuals constituting the travel party for the institution. The travel party includes athletic department representatives engaged in the event and their spouses; direct policy makers of the University and their spouses; and the athletic squad and their spouses. Spousal tickets and travel are generally taxable to the employee.

Tables at events and awards programs (alumni, etc):

  • Tables for fund raising events (civic and community events) in which there is a clear benefit to the University (i.e., when such sponsorship would not be considered a true charitable contribution) are allowed.  Such expenditures must be approved by the divisional Vice-President.
  • Generally allowable if held on campus (even if wine is served at the dinner and if a portion of the tickets represents a deductible contribution to the group sponsoring the event)
  • Generally not allowable if held at and off campus site.

Food expenditures:

  • Generally not allowable
  • Working lunches with only University personnel in attendance are not allowed, except as noted below.
  • Receptions/meals for outside groups or supporters of the University are allowed.
  • Legitimate business lunches that include only employees and that provide benefit to the University may be allowable.  In order to be allowable, a clear reason as to the necessity of meeting during the lunch hour must be documented and approved.  It is anticipated that such lunch meetings involving only employees will be infrequent.  Such expenditures must be approved by the dean of the appropriate college or Vice-President of non-academic divisions.
  • On-campus meetings whereby food is sourced from a vendor other than the current Food Services contract provider, a waiver must be submitted and approved at least two weeks prior to the event.
  • Business lunches that include non-employees that provide benefit to the University are allowed. Such expenditures must be approved by the dean of the appropriate college.
  • Refreshments/meals for faculty and staff in connection with standing, regularly scheduled, recurring meetings are allowed. Meetings qualifying for this allowance must be approved in advance by the divisional Vice-President. This approval is required only once and does not have to be obtained each time the group meets.
  • Generally allowable for meeting IF meeting extends through a meal time.
  • Lunches for meetings are allowed if the meeting reasonably wraps around the lunch hour. (e.g., meeting time of 10 am until 2 pm is allowable – 11 am until 1 pm is not allowable.) The meal should not be the first thing or the last thing at the meeting.
  • Consultants, advisers, faculty presenters can be taken to lunch by University personnel and those meals can be reimbursed. Documentation should include who attended and what business purpose was served by the lunch.
  • Refreshments for meetings involving outside individuals are allowable but only for the outside individuals
  • Refreshments for meetings involving only University employees at their base are not allowed
  • Refreshments during conferences or seminars (external or internal) are allowed
  • Expenses related to a reception for the University, or a component of the University, for fund raising purposes that included donors, alumni or other outside groups AND employees are allowable
  • A luncheon held to celebrate the end of a fund raising event (e.g. annual fund) for University employees is allowable.
  • Refreshments for student gatherings are generally allowable unless the students are under the employment of the University (e.g., purchase of refreshments for students who are performing [and getting paid for] work for the University is not allowed.)
  • Alcoholic beverages, for any reason, are not allowable
  • Food expenses for a quarterly medical staff meeting held from 5-7 pm due for the convenience of physician schedules are allowable.
  • For additional information on rules regarding food expenditures, please visit the Travel Services Website.

Faculty Recruiting:

  • Meals for Employees dining with Faculty Recruits is only allowable if the Employee is part of the Interview Committee for that Candidate.
  • Meals for spouses of University employees attending recruiting dinners can be reimbursed if the spouse of the recruit is present.
  • Meals for spouses of University employees attending recruiting dinners cannot be reimbursed if the spouse of the recruit is not present.
  • Even if the recruit is female and the USA employee is male and the recruit is uncomfortable going to dinner with just the employee, expenditure for the employee’s wife is not allowable.
  • Reimbursement can be made when spouses of employees entertain spouses of recruits even when the recruit is not present.

Travel and Entertainment:

  • When a trip is booked through an online agency (e.g., Orbitz) and the receipt does not breakdown the detail components of travel (air, car rental, meals, etc), documentation should be provided to support that the total cost paid the agency is less than it would have been had the components been purchased separately.
  • Reimbursement for the costs related to obtaining a passport are not allowable.
  • Hotel internet connections are allowed only if they are required for business purposes.
  • In-room movies or other entertainment as a part of athletic or other student travel is allowable.
  • Fuel used in a personal vehicle is allowable, but is limited to the reimbursement the employee would have received had the employee been reimbursed under the standard mileage rate. When fuel is purchased for a personal vehicle, the employee should not also request the standard mileage reimbursement.
  • Retirement receptions, as approved in advance by the Dean of the appropriate college, are allowed
  • Employee service recognition program expenses (medallions, pins, expenses related to the event) are not allowed unless issued by USA Human Resources as part of employee recognition program.
  • A reception for non-employees assisting the University with a specific project or program is allowable but only if the reception is held on the University campus.
  • Local travel is reimbursable (except for home to base or base to home trips)
  • Travel reimbursement from home to work on week-ends and holidays is not allowable.
  • The employee’s base is defined as his/her primary work site. Travel from home directly to a work destination other than the employee’s base is reimbursable at the lesser of the ‘base to work destination’ mileage or the ‘home to work destination’ mileage.
  • An employee who becomes ill while traveling on official business of the University is unable to come home for a period of time may incur additional expenses associated with the extended lodging. Such expenditures are allowable and may be reimbursed.
  • Attendee conferences held on cruise ships are an allowable expense (there is specific information required for these expenses to be non-taxable to the employee.)
  • Conferences outside the North American area are an allowable expense (there are certain specific requirements that must be met for this reimbursement to be non-taxable to the employee.)
  • The cost of canceled travel tickets is an allowable expense if there is a valid, documented reason for not being able to travel.
  • For additional information on rules regarding travel and entertainment expenditures, please visit the Travel Services Website.


The purchase of regalia for graduation ceremonies is allowable only for President’s Council and Dean’s Council members.  Reasonable and customary cleaning of regalia is allowed and COM closet regalia.

Educational Study Materials

  • For job-related courses and professional certifications that would improve the quality of services rendered by an employee if there is a benefit via additional expertise (with responsible Vice President approval) - Allowable.

    Applicable AG Opinions:
  • 2001-129 – Flower expenditures
  • 21999-00112 – Awards and plaques
  • 2003-137 – Meals and refreshments
  • 2004-168 – Meals and refreshments
  • 2002-221 – Meals and refreshments
  • 2007-64 – Promotional items for give away
  • 82-00183 CPA Review Course Fees
  • 2014-057 - Tuition Assistance Programs
▼   Prohibited Vendors

Based on US government  statute 2019 NDAA, the University is strictly prohibited in engaging in any business activities with the following vendors:

  • Huawei
  • ZTE
  • Hytera Communications Corp.
  • Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company
  • Dahua Technology Company
  • AO Kaspersky Lab
  • China Mobile International USA Inc.
  • China Telecom (Americas)
  • Pacific Network Corporation, and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet LLC
  • China Unicom


The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 was passed on 20 December, 2019 and Section 848 remains in effect. The bill can be found in its entirety at Congress.gov.


These definitions are extracted with permission from the Procedures for the Operation or Procurement of Unmanned Aircraft Systems to Implement Section 848 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2020, published 2 September, 2021.

Covered UAS: Any UAS and any related equipment that:

Are manufactured in a covered foreign country or by an entity domiciled in a covered foreign country; 
Contain critical components, as defined in this document, manufactured in a covered foreign country or by an entity domiciled in a covered foreign country; 
Use a ground control system or operating software developed in a covered foreign country or by an entity domiciled in a covered foreign country; or 
Use network connectivity or data storage located in or administered by an entity domiciled in a covered foreign country
The term "covered foreign country" means the People's Republic of China.

The term "place of manufacture" has the definition provided in FAR 52.225-18, as the "place where an end product is assembled out of components, or otherwise made or processed from raw materials into the finished product that is to be provided to the Government.” If a product is disassembled and reassembled, the place of reassembly is not the place of manufacture. 

The following are included in the definition of "critical components":

Flight controller: The combination of embedded software on computing hardware, that issues commands to actuators based on the difference between the desired and actual position of a UAS. 
Radio: A device that enables communication by packaging, transmitting, and/or receiving modulated signals into or from electromagnetic waves in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. 
Data transmission device: Electronic hardware that actively transfers electronic information from one digital system to another. 
Camera: A device that converts focused light onto a photosensitive sensor for the purpose of recording or transmitting visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals. 
Gimbal: A mechanism, typically consisting of electromechanical actuators and a mechanical frame , which rotates about one or more axes to stabilize and properly orient cameras or other sensors. 
Ground control system: An electronic mechanism that enables a human operator to transmit data in order to influence the actions of an aerial vehicle remotely. 
Operating software: A program that directs a computer's basic functions, such as scheduling tasks, executing applications, and controlling peripherals. 
Network connectivity: The hardware and software required for communication between computers over the internet or other distributed and separately administered systems, for example, through the use of routers, switches, and gateways. 
Data storage: The collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information on electromagnetic, optical, or silicon-based storage media. 


If you have questions about Blue UAS and some of the policies impacting commercial drone use in the USG and DoD, please reach out to the DIU Blue UAS team at blueuas@diu.mil.