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VIU Procedure Manual on Purchasing


The Purchasing Department is authorized to source, negotiate with and manage the suppliers of goods and services required by VIU. Employees may make contacts with prospective vendors to secure technical information, but except with the approved use of an institutional purchasing card, shall not commit VIU to an order, either directly or by inference. An employee who commits to a purchase outside VIU purchasing procedures may be held personally liable for the invoice, and the supplier will be advised the order was not official.

The activities of the Purchasing Department conform to institutional policy #42.31

Scope of Procedures

These procedures address the acquisition of goods and services by Vancouver Island University. This includes: obtaining quotations, managing requisitions, purchase order and contract administration, purchasing card administration and system contract administration. Policy 42.05 addresses the disposal of surplus materials, equipment and supplies.


Please contact the Purchasing Department for quotations on all significant purchases. A request for quotation form is available from the departmental website. Select request for quotation from the “Requisition Type” drop down box.


Most purchases begin with a visit to the Purchasing Department’s website forms page and the completion of a requisition form. Signing Authority Policy 42.09 governs the authorization of all purchases.

Use of the web enabled requisition or request for quotation form is strongly preferred. Help information is available within the form for many of the fields.

Supplier Order Portals

Common office supplies, stationery and copy paper may be purchased online from

Contact Purchasing to be registered on this site. For further information visit:

Purchasing Card

A purchasing card is a US Bank Canada Visa card with special features required by the University. Payment will be made by Accounts Payable and charged to the cardholder's cost centre(s). A purchasing card may not be used for personal purchases. Visit the Purchasing Department website for complete information and application forms for purchasing cards.
VIU employees with purchasing cards are personally responsible to account for all purchases. The completed monthly statement must be signed in conformance with signing authority Policy 42.09. The signed statement with all associated original invoices must be turned into Accounts payable within 5 business days of the statement date.

Methods of Purchase

The Purchasing Department is responsible for negotiating the acquisition terms of goods and services required by VIU. The dollar value, applicable legislation and/or complexity of the goods or services required will have a bearing on how the business is conducted, including the election of public or selective choice of suppliers. 
In general, the more complex and/or expensive the purchase the greater the rigor of process will be applied. For example, verbal or informal faxed quotations will be obtained for routine purchases or a formal written request for proposal or tender will be used for complex higher value purchases.

  1. Petty Cash
    Petty cash purchases up to a value of $100 may be reimbursed. Bring your original receipt with an approved petty cash voucher to the "cash cage" in Building 200 for reimbursement.
  2. Purchasing Card  
    Purchasing has implemented a purchasing card system that allows individuals to make purchases on behalf of VIU up to an approved transaction limit, usually $1,000. Certain limitations apply. See the Purchasing Card Procedures Manual for details. Generally, this card may be used with any business that accepts Visa. Cardholders will receive training on policies and procedures when they apply for the card and Site Coordinators can refer to the Site Coordinators Manual. Consult your Dean/Director to request a card.
  3. Contract
    Generally an agreement between VIU and another party in a form prescribed by one of the parties, to cover the provision of a service as opposed to goods. A contract is usually struck after direct negotiation with a single source supplier, although, where multiple sources exist, an approach equivalent to Request for Offer may be adopted.
  4. Quotation
    An informal price enquiry usually for an uncomplicated purchase of small dollar value where there is no fixed closing date or special terms and conditions set by VIU. A minimum of three quotations will be required to support an order except where only a single source exists or is reasonably known to exist.
  5. Request For Offer
    A request where VIU will bind the supplier to terms and conditions, including firm closing date, and will require completion of standard documentation. This acquisition method will be used where the requirements are known and specified in the request. Usually a minimum of three vendors will be approached, except where limited known sources or other special circumstances exist. Price will be the primary criteria for award. May or may not be publicly advertised.
  6. Request for Proposal
    Similar to a request for offer except the requirements are more loosely defined and creativity in the response is requested from the respondents. Typically a desired outcome is stated, the proponent will propose the ways, means and costs of achieving the stated outcome. Award will be based on several criteria in addition to price. A request for proposal may be publicly advertised.
  7. Tender
    Where a request entails detailed and lengthy specifications, general and specific terms, conditions, bonds, sealed bids, firm closing date, contractual terms and public opening all specified by the university. Tenders will be public, (i.e. openly advertised) except where limited known sources or other special circumstances exist. Most typically used for construction projects.
  8. Purchases Requiring Board Approval
    May relate to contracts or tenders and will apply to the acquisition of land and buildings, contracts and other purchases which commit VIU to liability beyond one year.

In conformance with the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA), purchases of goods and services worth $75,000 or greater and construction worth $200,000 or greater shall be publicly tendered and notice of bid opportunity will be posted on a Nationally recognized bidding website such as BC Bid.

Following responsible public purchasing practices, the Purchasing Department, whenever reasonable, will undertake a competitive process for acquisitions of goods and/or services estimated to exceed $20,000.

The Provincial Government has implemented a Capital Asset Procurement Audit Tool, which the Purchasing Department will use to maintain records, and facilitate acquisition processes according to the Capital Asset Management Framework (CAMF). When considering the procurement of capital assets, please notify the Purchasing Department with sufficient time to ensure that appropriate steps are followed.

Emergency Purchase Orders (EPO'S)

An emergency purchase order is obtained by phoning the Purchasing Department and providing the following information:

  • Name of person making request
  • Department  cost centre and object code
  • Nature of emergency
  • Name of supplier
  • Description of goods or services required
  • Estimated price of the goods or services

Authority to issue emergency purchase orders lies with the Purchasing Department.

Note: An emergency purchase order is one which, if not made within an 8 working hour period, would result in  harm to people, significant financial loss, damage to facilities and equipment or would result in cancellation of a class.
Send an authorized electronic requisition to Purchasing within 24 hours of receiving an EPO. Enter the Purchase order number issued in the PO number field in the requisition form. Supplier provided documents such as packing lists are to be sent to Accounting.

Purchase Order Changes

All changes to existing purchase orders are handled through the Purchasing Department.
Each change requested must be:

  • clearly described
  • refer to the original  purchase order number
  • authorized in accordance with the signing authority Policy 42.09  if dollar value or cost centre are being changed

The originator should keep a copy of all requested changes to existing Purchase orders.


VIU employees are requested to keep the terms of any acquisition confidential. Refer any enquiries concerning a purchase to the Purchasing Department.
Refer a formal request for information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to the Director of Communications and Public Relations.

Purchase of Specialized Equipment

In the interest of standardization, economy of scale purchasing and efficiency of maintenance service and support, purchases of certain equipment will be subject to the approval of a central authority in addition to regular approval requirements:

Type of Equipment

Approval Authority

Computer Hardware and Software
Educational Technology equipment

Director, Information Technology


Director, Facilities Services & Campus Development


Director of Business Operations


Director of Facilities Services & Campus Development

Kitchen Equipment

Dean, Trades and Applied Technology, Director of Facilities Services & Campus Development and Director of Business Operations as applicable.

The purchase of specialized equipment will be done exclusively by the Purchasing Department. Purchasing will coordinate supply with the applicable approval authority. Send an authorized purchase requisition describing the required product(s) to Purchasing.