FI0410 – Purchasing – Bidding Requirements

Effective: June 1, 2015
Revision No: 16
Bid Limits Resolution Of Vendor Protests
General Bidding Policies Competitive Negotiation
Qualified Bidders Lists Exceptions To The Bidding Process
Nondiscrimination By Vendors Procedures
Patent Liability Of Vendors Forms
Indemnification By Vendors Contacts
Public Review Of Bid Files Related Policies

To provide general bidding policies and requirements for the purchase of supplies, equipment, and services from outside vendors.


Bid Limits[top]

  1. Purchases of Less Than $10,000. Purchases of goods or services of less than $10,000 may be made by departments based on their discretion. If a vendor requires the university to sign a contract (or otherwise agree to terms and conditions), departments must comply with the university’s contract policy - FISCAL POLICY FI0420. Departments may not artificially divide purchases so as to appear the purchase is less than $10,000 or to make multiple purchases or request multiple invoices for single purchases of identical goods or modular components from the same vendor. Purchases of identical goods or modular components from the same vendor, which total $10,000 or more in a calendar year must be initiated through purchasing. Excluded from the bid limits are purchases for construction and renovation work and for goods or services available through existing state or university contracts. (See 46-49 of this policy for purchases through existing contracts.)

    A copy of the university's tax exemption certificate should be provided at the time of purchase to ensure that sales tax is not charged (see CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION). The exemption is valid in states outside of Tennessee. See the Controller’s Office website for details.

    Methods for making purchases within this range are as follows:

    1. Petty Cash Purchases. Departments may use petty cash funds to make single purchases less than $10,000 from local vendors in accordance with FISCAL POLICY FI0525.
    2. Credit Purchases. Single purchases of less than $10,000 may be made from vendors who will provide goods and services on credit without a purchase order and will invoice the university after delivery. Invoices for such purchases should be sent directly to the department receiving the goods or services and processed for payment in accordance with FISCAL POLICY FI0505.
    3. Departmental Purchases with Personal Funds. Employees may use personal funds to make single purchases of less than $10,000 for goods or services for departmental use and be reimbursed by the university. The PETTY CASH REIMBURSEMENT REQUEST, FORM T-44, must be used to request reimbursement. (See FISCAL POLICY 525.) Requests must include an itemized  receipt containing a description and the price of each item as well as the total amount of the purchase.Requests must include a receipt that has an itemized description and the price of each item as well as the total amount of the purchase. A cash register tape with a description and the price of each item purchased may be used. The receipt or cash register tape must be imprinted with the vendor's name.
    4. UT-issued Procurement Card Purchases. Upon the recommendation of the treasurer's office, departments will be given university-issued procurement cards that may be used for making single purchases of goods or services of less than $10,000. Procedures for making credit card purchases will be provided to departments when the cards are issued. (See FISCAL POLICY FI0530 on procurement cards.)

      Note: Goods available through campus central storerooms may have to be obtained from that source. Refer to campus or unit procedures statements or contact the purchasing department for these and other purchasing guidelines and requirements specific to the campus or unit.

  2. Purchases Between $10,000 and $49,999. All purchases between $10,000 and $49,999 will be made by the purchasing department. With the exception of non-competitive purchases (i.e., sole-source, proprietary, or emergency), vendor selection will be based on the solicitation of informal competitive price quotations from at least three sources. IInformal bids may be obtained in writing, by e-mail or by facsimile. Documentation of all informal bids will be maintained in the purchasing department.

    At the discretion of purchasing, departments may solicit informal bids from vendors for purchases within this range. This information must accompany the requisition sent to the purchasing department. (Consult campus or unit procedures statements or contact the purchasing department for price quotation documentation requirements.)

  3. Purchases of $50,000 and Higher. The purchasing department is solely responsible for all purchases of $50,000 and higher based on competitive prices by soliciting written sealed bids from 15 vendors or the number of vendors on the Qualified Bidders List, whichever is less. (The chief purchasing officer or designee must approve the solicitation of fewer than 15 bids.) A public opening of the bids received will be held at the time and date specified on the bid solicitation request.

General Bidding Policies[top]

  1. General Statement. Purchases will be made on the basis of competitive prices except as provided in this policy. Whenever possible, specifications for materials, supplies, equipment, and services should be worded to permit open and competitive bidding. Whenever a requisitioner requests a non-competitive method (i.e., sole-source or other non-biddable product), the requisition should be accompanied by the required form, JUSTIFICATION FOR NON-COMPETITIVE PURCHASES AND CONTRACTS.

    A quarterly report of all exceptional purchases (one bid only, other than low bid, sole-source, proprietary, and emergency) shall be sent to the chief financial officer or designee and to the State of Tennessee Fiscal Review Committee (January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December).

  2. Bidder Qualifications. Purchase awards will be made to qualified, responsible bidders whose articles or services conform (in quality, purpose, or use) to the specifications, who can guarantee the delivery dates specified in the Invitation to Bid (when applicable), who demonstrate an apparent ability to perform the proposed contract, and whose bid constitutes the lowest net cost to the university. Included in net cost determination are quantifiable factors stated in the Invitation to Bid, such as discounts for prompt payment (or any other reason), transportation charges, the present cost of quantifiable maintenance and operating expenses, and any other cost factors defined by the Invitation to Bid.
  3. Performance Bond. If the requisitioning department or the purchasing department seriously doubts the lowest bidder's ability to perform the contract, the chief purchasing officer can require a submission of satisfactory evidence of ability to perform and may seek approval to require a performance bond from the vendor. Upon approval by the campus/unit chief business officer and the chief financial officer (or designee), the vendor can be required (at his or her own expense) to furnish a performance bond to the university within ten working days as a condition of receiving the purchase award. The possibility of requiring a performance bond will be included in the Invitation to Bid.
  4. Time Considerations. Competitive bidding may take 14 or more days. Therefore, departments should anticipate their needs as far in advance as possible.
  5. Receipt of Goods and Services. The requisitioning department determines that goods and services have been received and are in accordance with the terms of the purchase order (or contract) prior to approval of the invoice for payment. (See FISCAL POLICIES FI0430 and FI0505 for instructions on receiving goods and services and processing invoices, respectively.)
  6. Solicitations. When making purchases with federal funds, solicitations for bids must include the following: (1) a description of technical requirements (but not including features that would unduly restrict competition), (2) factors to be used in evaluating bids/proposals, including requirements that the bidder must fulfill, (3) a description, whenever feasible, of functional/performance requirements, and (4) the specific features of "brand name or equal" products that bidders are required to provide. Also, whenever feasible, solicitations should include: (5) the acceptance of products and services dimensioned in the metric system and (6) the preference for products and services that conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and are energy efficient.
  7. Tie Bids. A tie bid exists where two or more vendors offer products or services that meet all specifications, terms and conditions at identical prices, including cash discount offered for prompt payment. In such case, a tie bid will be broken by the following methods, in descending order:

    • in-state business;
    • Small/Minority business;
    • award item(s) to vendor who was low bidder on other item(s) being bid per the same requisition;
    • best delivery;
    • by lot or coin toss.
  8. Personal, professional and consultant services - In the event that a proposal evaluation process results in two or more proposals receiving evaluation scores that tie for the rank of highest score, the University may request best and final cost proposals from only those proposers with scores that tie. The University may calculate new evaluation scores for the tying proposals by adding the original technical scores to the recalculated cost scores. Should another tie result, the contract shall be awarded by coin toss.
  9. Multi-step Sealed Bidding. The university's multi-step sealed bidding process must be used in the acquisition of departmental computer systems involving the purchase of hardware and development of application software. This process may be used in other purchasing situations, subject to the approval of the campus or unit chief business officer (or designee), when it is not practical to initially prepare definitive specifications for an award based only on price.

    Multi-step sealed bidding is a two-phase process. The first phase may consist of one or more steps in which vendors submit technical offers without prices for evaluation by the university. In the second phase, the purchasing department issues a final Invitation to Bid to obtain unit prices for technical offers the university considers acceptable. The price bids are then considered.

    This process is designed to obtain the benefits of competitive sealed bidding by awarding a contract to the lowest responsible bidder. Also, the process allows the university to evaluate technical offers and determine their acceptability.

    Acceptability of technical offers will be determined by an evaluation team of user department personnel and others determined by campus or unit chief business officer (or designee). All technical offers will be evaluated on the criteria of the Invitation to Bid and other information learned during the evaluation process. All vendors whose technical offers are deemed acceptable or potentially acceptable will be invited to participate in a confidential discussion of un-priced offers.

    Discussions conducted to clarify technical offers and specifications may result in the need for supplemental information, amendments of the offers, and/or amendments of the specifications. If the confidential discussion(s) determine that required and agreed-to changes can only be confirmed through the submission of an amended, detailed technical offer, the purchasing department may require the submission of either an addendum consisting only of those pages in doubt or another complete submission of the proposal.

  10. Late Sealed Bids. All sealed bids must be received in the purchasing department on or before the date and hour specified for bid opening. Sealed bids that miss this deadline will be rejected and returned unopened or kept on file in the purchasing department. No qualifying letters or statements from vendors will be considered a justification for accepting late bids.
  11. Bidder Information. Each bid received must indicate the bidder's full name and business address. The person signing the bid should indicate his or her title and, if requested by the chief purchasing officer, furnish satisfactory proof of authority to bind the company in contract. Unsigned bids will be accepted only if they are accompanied by a signed cover letter on business letterhead or other documentation indicating a bid by a legitimate vendor. Bids must be typed or written in ink or indelible pencil. A representative or distributor bidding in the name of a principal must give the name of the firm to which an order should be issued in the event of an award.
  12. Competition. No federal or state laws prohibit vendors from submitting a lower bid than a price given to the U.S. government. Vendors may bid lower than a U.S. government contract price without any liability because the state or the University of Tennessee is exempt from the provisions of the Robinson-Patman Act and other related laws when the university makes purchases for its own use. In addition, the U.S. government has no provisions in its purchasing arrangements with vendors requiring that a lower price to the state or university automatically be given to the U.S. government.
  13. Pricing and Errors on Bids. Invitations to Bid shall request a net price for each unit of the specified item. Except for cash/time payment discounts, net price is the list price less all trade or other discounts offered. If there are errors in the computation of prices, the unit price will govern. Erasures or use of correction fluid is not permitted on bid forms unless the changes are dated and initialed by the person who signed the bid or, for unsigned bids, the person who made the changes (provided his or her full name is printed on the bid form). Errors may be corrected prior to submission by striking and substituting words or figures, with each correction dated and initialed by the person who signed the bid or, for unsigned bids, the person who made the corrections (provided his or her full name is printed on the bid form). No change or alteration will be permitted after the bid opening.
  14. Amending or Withdrawing Bids. Amending or withdrawing bids may be permitted in the following circumstances:

    1. Before Bid Opening. Before bid opening, a vendor may come to the purchasing department and request the withdrawal of a previously submitted bid or exchange an amended bid for a previously submitted bid. Vendors unable to appear in person may submit a letter signed by a person authorized to bind the vendor, which amends or withdraws a previously submitted sealed bid.
    2. After Bid Opening. After bid opening, a vendor may submit a written request to withdraw his or her bid at the discretion of the university when an obvious error exists in the bid supported by cost data. Also, a bid may be withdrawn when enforcing it would impose a hardship due to an error resulting in a quotation substantially below the other bids received. No change will be made in bid prices or other provisions.
  15. Exemption from Federal and State Taxes. The University of Tennessee is exempt from federal excise taxes and from state sales tax on tangible personal property. Vendors may request exemption certificates for federal excise or state sales taxes (see CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION below). Contractors must pay taxes on the materials they use to complete their contracts when those materials become a part of the real property. All taxes are to be itemized. Bidders are responsible for determining applicable taxes.
  16. Specifications. Specifications should be specific enough to be binding on the contractor. Reference to brand names and numbers in the Invitation to Bid should be considered descriptive (not restrictive) unless specified otherwise. Bids on equivalent items that meet the standards of quality indicated will be considered, unless specified otherwise (provided the bid clearly describes the article offered and how it differs from the referenced brands). Unless specified otherwise, it is understood that the bidder is offering a referenced brand item as specified in the Invitation to Bid.
  17. Lease/Purchase Alternatives. When making purchases with federal funds, lease and purchase alternatives should be analyzed where appropriate to determine which would be the most economical and practical for the federal government.
  18. Trade-in of Used Equipment. The university may request bids for new equipment which include an allowance for the trade-in of used equipment. In these cases, separate price quotations for the new equipment will be requested with and without the trade-in allowance. The university reserves the right to purchase equipment either with or without the trade-in.
  19. Accepting or Rejecting Bids. The university reserves the right to reject any and all bids, to waive any informality in the bids and, unless specified otherwise by the bidder, to make awards by item. All bids may be rejected for unreasonably high prices, errors in the Invitation to Bid, cessation of need, unavailability of funds, or any other reason approved by the campus or unit chief business officer (or designee).
  20. Canceling Invitation to Bid. The university may cancel an Invitation to Bid any time before bid opening. Cancellation will be made by the purchasing department with written notice to vendors.
  21. Awarding Purchase Contracts. An award will be made to the qualified and responsible vendor with the lowest bid whose articles or services best meet the conditions specified in 5 of this policy.
  22. Canceling Purchase Orders. Cancellation of a purchase order c an be made only by the purchasing department and must be in writing. The university reserves the right to cancel purchase orders or parts of purchase orders without penalty and without the vendor's consent under the following conditions:

    • Vendor does not comply with the terms or conditions of the contract.
    • Vendor does not perform the work with promptness or diligence.
    • Vendor does not make shipments within the agreed or specified time, except for causes beyond the vendor's control.
  23. A vendor may request cancellation of a purchase order; the university may grant relief provided the vendor is prevented from performance by an act of war, order of legal authority, act of God, or other unavoidable cause not attributed to the fault or negligence of the vendor. The burden of proof for such relief rests with the vendor. All correspondence regarding the cancellation of purchase orders must be addressed to the purchasing department, with a copy sent to the ordering department. The purchasing department retains the right to remove any vendor who defaults on any contract from the Qualified Bidders List.
  24. Price Increases and Decreases. Price increases cannot be made in one-time open market purchases for delivery within a specified time period. The Invitation to Bid on term contracts may contain a clause describing the conditions in which a price increase might be granted. As the terms of the contract allow, all requests for price increases must be in writing to the purchasing department, must not reflect increases in profit, and must be justified by adequate information that supports the general or industry-wide nature of the change. The purchasing department will accept or reject all such requests within 30 working days of the date received. Contractors must honor purchase orders at the original price that are dated up to 30 days subsequent to the price change request. Contractors must report price decreases upon receipt of the decreases, and the university will receive proportionate price reductions.
  25. Contracts, Leases, and Agreements Involving Equipment. All contracts, leases, agreements, etc., involving the purchase or rental of material or equipment or its maintenance or the purchase of commercial services must be submitted to the purchasing department for signature and handling. When necessary, purchasing will obtain proper administrative approval.
  26. Gifts or Consignment of Equipment. If a department is offered merchandise and/or equipment as an outright gift or on consignment, permission to accept or receive this merchandise should be requested by letter to purchasing through the department head and/or dean or as specified in campus or unit procedures. A complete description should be given of the merchandise or equipment and a clear statement of the conditions of the gift or consignment. When necessary, purchasing will obtain administrative approval before the gift or consignment is accepted.
  27. Small Business Program. The University Small Business Program is designed to give small businesses and small business concerns owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals full opportunity to participate in the university's procurement activities.

    As required by the Tennessee Small Business ad Minority-owned Business Purchasing and Contracting Act (TCA 12-3-801), the University will actively solicit bids from small and minority businesses whenever possible to purchase a fair portion (established annually by the Tennessee Board of Standards) oftheirgoodsandservices. The university will annually report its procurement activitieswithsmall andminority-owned businesses in accordance with TCA 12-3-808.

Qualified Bidders Lists[top]

Failure to perform satisfactorily in any of the above areas may also result in a vendor's liability to the university.

Reasons for removing a vendor from a Qualified Bidders List must be documented and the action reviewed and approved in advance by the chief purchasing officer. Any vendor removed from a Qualified Bidders List will be notified in writing. Notification will include (1) the reasons for removal, (2) the vendor's right to protest and procedures for protesting the action, and (3) the conditions to meet and procedures for regaining qualified bidder status.

  1. Persons or firms desiring to bid on supplies, materials, equipment, or services purchased by the university must apply to purchasing for qualified bidder status. Those who meet the university's requirements (see below) will be included on purchasing's current Qualified Bidders Lists. Bids received from a person or firm not included on a current Qualified Bidders List may be considered for award provided an application for qualified bidder designation is received and approved within ten working days after the opening bid date.
  2. Qualified Bidder Requirements. To be placed on Qualified Bidders Lists, vendors must apply to the campus purchasing department, demonstrate their capability to provide reliable products or services to the university, provide evidence of financial stability, and be licensed to do business with the state of Tennessee.
  3. Certification of Debarment Status. To comply with Federal Acquisitions Regulations, the university requires campus purchasing departments to include the following certification on vendor applications for qualified bidder status (see FAR 52.209-6).

    The vendor certifies that he/she is not presently debarred, proposed for debarment, suspended, or declared ineligible for covered transactions by any federal agency or department. The vendor also certifies that within the past three years he/she has not been convicted of or had civil judgment rendered against him/her for a fraudulent contract or transaction, violation of federal or state antitrust laws, or the commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsifying or destroying records, receiving stolen property, or making false statements.

    Before a contract is issued to a vendor with funds coming directly to the university from the federal government or indirectly through the state government or another agency or entity, the purchasing department should consult the government's Excluded Parties List System ( to determine the eligibility of the proposed vendor.

  4. Removal from Qualified Bidders Lists. Vendors who fail to respond to a reasonable number of Invitations to Bid or fail to comply with the requirements of the bid awards may be removed from Qualified Bidders Lists. Failure to comply with bid awards and orders is entered in each vendor's application file. Noncompliance includes, but is not limited to:

    • Overshipments
    • Undershipments
    • Late shipments
    • Failure to ship
    • Damaged or defective products
    • Products not meeting specifications
    • Unauthorized substitutions
    • Billing errors
    • Service deficiencies
    • Demonstrated financial instability
    • Failure to respond to reported problems with products or services
    • Failure to settle complaints
    • Unethical practices
    • Misrepresentation of goods or services
    • Conviction, guilty plea, or no contest to crimes involving fraud or restraint of trade with respect to public contracts
    • Product presentations without prior approval of the purchasing department

Nondiscrimination by Vendors[top]

  1. Vendors who enter into contracts to supply goods or services to the university must agree to the following nondiscrimination clause:

    In executing the contract, the vendor shall not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, religion, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. The contractor shall take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. This action will include, but not be limited to: employment, upgrading, demotion, or transfer; recruitment or recruitment advertising; layoff or termination; rates of pay or other compensation; and selection for training including apprenticeship.

Patent Liability of Vendors[top]

  1. Purchasing departments will inform vendors of their patent liability as follows:

    Without exception, the bidder shall indemnify and save harmless the university and its employees for liability of any kind, including cost and expenses for or because of any copyrighted, patented, or unpatented invention, process, or article manufactured or used in the performance of the contract, including its use by the university. If the bidder uses any design, device, or materials covered by letters, patent, or copyright, it is mutually agreed and understood without exception that the bid prices will include all royalties or costs arising from the use of such design, device, or materials involved in the work.

Indemnification by Vendors[top]

  1. Any contract for goods or services should contain the following indemnification clause:

    The supplier shall hold and save the university, its officers, agents, and employees harmless from any claims, damages, and actions of any nature arising from the use of any materials, goods, or services furnished by the supplier, provided that such liability is not attributable to the user's negligence or failure to use the item as outlined by the supplier in descriptive literature or specifications submitted with the supplier's bid.

Public Review of Bid Files[top]

  1. All purchase records in each campus purchasing department (except in-process formal and informal bid solicitations) will be accessible to the public during regular business hours. Requests for inspection of the purchasing records must be reasonable, must contain sufficient information for retrieval, and must not interfere with the orderly operation of the purchasing department. Where protected by the Public Records Statutes, vendors' application forms (which include financial disclosure information or the identity of prospective vendors before bid openings) are not available to the public. A reasonable opportunity to inspect the bid files, as specified in the Invitation to Bid, will be provided to bidders upon request. As provided by the Public Records Statutes, sealed bids for the purchase of goods and services and individual purchase records, including related evaluations and memoranda, will be available for public inspection only after completion of the evaluation by the university. Vendors are encouraged to attend bid openings on the date and time specified in the invitation notices. A copy of the tabulation sheet may be obtained for a nominal fee.

Resolution of Vendor Protests[top]

The University shall hold such protest bond for at least eleven (11) calendar days after the date of the final determination by the University. If the protesting party appeals the determination, the University shall hold such protest bond until instructed by the Chief Financial Officer to either keep the bond or return it to the protesting party.

At the time of filing notice of a protest of a procurement in which the lowest evaluated cost proposal is less than one million dollars ($1,000,000), or in which the highest evaluated revenue proposal is less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), a minority or small business protesting party may submit a written petition to the Chief Purchasing Officer of the campus or unit for exemption from the protest bond requirement. Such a petition must include clear evidence of minority or small business status. On the day of receipt, the petition shall be given (may be faxed) to the Chief Financial Officer or designee. The Chief Financial Officer has five (5) business days in which to make a determination. If an exemption from the protest bond requirement is granted, the protest shall proceed as though the bond were posted. Should the Chief Financial Officer deny an exemption from the requirement, the protesting party shall post the bond with the Chief Purchasing Officer of the campus or unit within three (3) business days of the determination. For the purposes of this section, “minority business” is defined as solely owned or at least fifty-one percent (51%) owned by a person or persons who control the daily operation of such business and who is disabled (a person having a physical or mental impairment that in the written opinion of the person’s licensed physician, substantially limits one (1) or more of the major life activities of such person, including caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks, which include writing, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, and breathing); African American (persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa); Asian American (persons having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia and Asia, the subcontinent, or the Pacific Islands); Hispanic American (persons of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese origin, culture, or descent, regardless of race,); or Native American (persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America). For purposes of this section, “small business” is defined as one which is independently owned and operated, has total gross receipts of no more than two million dollars ($2,000,000) for the most recently ended federal tax year, and employs no more than thirty (30) persons on a full-time basis.

  1. Right to Protest. Any bidder who claims to be aggrieved in connection with a bid, the bid process or a pending award may register a formal protest with the university purchasing department. The protest must be submitted in writing within seven calendar days after the claimant knows, or should have known, the basis for the protest. In the case of a pending award, a stay of the award may be requested in accordance with 41 below. Any issues raised by the protesting party after the seven-day period shall not be considered as part of the protest.
  2. Resolution of Protests. The chief purchasing officer of each campus or unit will review the protest and has the authority (subject to review and approval of the campus or unit chief business officer) to resolve the protest with the protester. The decision of the chief purchasing officer will be issued in writing to the protester and to the campus or unit chief business officer.
  3. Appeals by Vendor. If the decision of the chief purchasing officer does not resolve the protest, the protester has the right to request that the campus or unit chief business officer review the record. The request must be made in writing within seven calendar days of the date of the decision issued by the chief purchasing officer. The review and consideration of the protest by the campus or unit chief business officer will be issued in writing to the protester, the chief purchasing officer, and the chief financial officer (or designee) and represents resolution of the issue at the campus or unit level.

    If the decision of the campus or unit chief business officer does not resolve the issue, the protester can appeal to the chief financial officer or designee (as designee of the Board of Trustees) to review the record. The request must be made in writing within seven calendar days of the date of the decision issued by the campus or unit chief business officer. The decision of the chief financial officer (or designee) will be issued in writing to the protester and represents final resolution of the protest.

  4. Further Appeals. If the chief purchasing officer fails to acknowledge a protest within 15 days of its receipt or the campus or unit fails to resolve the protest within 60 days, the protester may request that the chief financial officer (or designee) consider the protest.
  5. Stay of Procurements During Protests. After filing a protest in accordance with 37 above, a protester may petition the chief purchasing officer for a stay of the award. Provided that an award has not been made for the purchase in question, the purchasing department, upon receipt of the petition, will not proceed further with the bid process or issue an award (purchase order) until the protest is resolved in accordance with this policy. However, the university reserves the right to determine that continuation of the purchase is necessary and in the best interest of the university. This determination will be made by the chief financial officer (or designee) upon recommendation by the campus or unit chief business officer, and a written notice will be sent to the protester.
  6. Signature on Protest Constitutes Certificate. The signature of the protesting party, or its representative, on any document submitted during the protest procedure constitutes a certificate by the signer that the signer has read such document, that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass, limit competition, or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of the procurement or of the protest. If a document is signed in violation of these requirements, the university may, to the extent permitted by law, seek sanctions against the person who signed it, a represented party, or both.

    1. Protest Bond Request. Neither a protest nor a stay of award shall proceed under this section unless the protesting party posts a PROTEST BOND. The protesting party shall post, with the Chief Purchasing Officer of the Campus or unit, at the time of filing a notice of protest, a bond payable to the University in the amount of five percent (5%) of the lowest cost proposal evaluated or five percent (5%) of the highest revenue proposal evaluated. Such protest bond shall be in form and substance acceptable to the University and shall be immediately payable to the University conditioned upon a decision by the Chief Financial Officer that:
      1. A request for consideration, protest, pleading, motion, or other document is signed before or after appeal to the Chief Financial
        Officer, in violation of any part of section “Resolution of Vendor Protest”(or)
      2. The protest has been brought or pursued in bad faith (or)
      3. The protest does not state on its face a valid basis for protest.

Competitive Negotiation[top]

  1. When the university is unable to obtain necessary goods and/or services through competitive sealed bids, competitive negotiation with vendors may be conducted before contracts are awarded.

    Competitive negotiation may be undertaken only after it has been recommended by the campus/unit chief purchasing officer and the chief business officer and approved by the chief financial officer (or designee).

    Competitive negotiation with vendors will be conducted by a negotiation team of the chief purchasing officer, the chief business officer (or designee), and a representative of the department requisitioning the goods and/or service. The negotiation team will conduct its work in a manner that safeguards the information from and provides fairness to the vendors involved. At the conclusion of the negotiation process, this team will report its results and recommendation(s) to the chief financial officer (or designee) for approval before entering into a contract.

Exceptions to the Bidding Process[top]

Emergency Purchases

  1. Justification for an emergency purchase may occur when time is limited and products or services are needed to protect the lives or health of persons, to prevent or minimize damage to university property, or to meet other critical requirements.

    Properly documented emergency purchases may be excluded from competitive bidding requirements under certain conditions. The purchasing department should be notified by telephone as soon as possible to expedite the purchase. The required form, JUSTIFICATION FOR NON-COMPETITIVE PURCHASES AND CONTRACTS, must be completed to confirm the emergency situation. As time permits, the purchasing department will try to obtain bids. Consult the campus purchasing department for specific procedures.

    Emergency purchases cannot be made for:

Other Non-Competitive Purchases

Departments must complete the required form, JUSTIFICATION FOR NON-COMPETITIVE PURCHASES AND CONTRACTS, when requesting that products o r s er vi c es be excluded from competitive bidding. Products or services the purchasing department determines to be non-competitive may be exempted from competitive bid requirements. Purchasing should retain the approved justification forms for the time specified in FISCAL POLICY FI0120.

  1. The purchasing department will classify a product or service as non-competitive when competitive methods are not feasible or practical, as in the following situations:

    • Only one product or service can meet the specific need and the required product or service is available from only one source.
    • Compatibility or consistency with past acquisitions of products or services is essential (e.g., avoiding additional costs by changing the supplier of the product or service).

Purchases from Existing Contracts with Vendors

  1. State Contracts with Vendors. The university is required by law (TCA 12-3-103) to use state contracts whenever the contract price is lower than that obtainable by the university. Purchases made from state contracts do not require competitive bids.

    The university may use the state's contract buying system, which establishes contracts with selected vendors for a wide range of commodities. Lists of the most common commodities and services available through state contracts are presented in the campus procedures statements, web sites, and purchasing manuals.

  2. University Contracts with Vendors. The campus purchasing departments have established term contracts for a variety of supplies and services. These items are generally used in volume (e.g., paper towels) by departments or are of a special nature or market situation requiring a contract (e.g., temporary help service).

    Purchases under term or university contracts do not have to be bid since vendor selection for these contracts is based on bid results. Generally, term contracts are executed for 12-month periods. Longer term or multi-year contracts may be executed for periods not to exceed 60 months provided the university may cancel upon giving notice of no more than one year and in the event that funds become unavailable.

    These contracts are in campus procedures statements and purchasing manuals. Departments are required to buy from vendors those items that are covered in existing contracts.

  3. Other Contracts with Vendors. When the university is a member of an organization that offers contracts for its members to purchase items at favorable rates, such contracts may be considered bids and used, provided other informal or formal bids are obtained (see 4). However, the purchasing department may, without further bidding, use contracts established by a group purchasing organization for the purchase of patient care supplies, equipment, and services, provided the contracts are based on competitive bids whenever items amenable to bidding are involved. Information concerning these contract prices is available on request (see 36).
  4. Negotiation with Vendors Who Maintain a General Services Administration Pricing Agreement. The university may negotiate with vendors who maintain a General Services Administration pricing agreement with the United States or any agency thereof, provided that no contract executed shall authorize a price higher than is contained in the contract between the General Services Administration and the vendor affected and provided that the terms of the contract do not conflict with any University of Tennessee policies or state law (see TCA 12-3-202 and 12-3-207).

Products from State Agencies

  1. The university is required to purchase products and services available from other state agencies (e.g., Tennessee State Industries, Services for the Blind) whenever these products or services meet the prescribed specifications and are priced competitively.

Sales Tax Certificates of Exemption

  1. State of Tennessee Sales Tax Certificate
  1. Certificates for other states are available in the Tax Section of the Controller's Office website.

Health Science Center:
Institute of Agriculture:



Blake Reagan  (865) 974-3971