Federal Funds Purchasing Policy



Purchases funded by federal grant funds must comply with the Procurement Standards under OMB Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR §200) as a condition of receiving funds and to meet annual audit compliance.  Individual federal grants may contain terms and conditions that are unique and specific to the grants and are in addition to this Policy. Principal Investigators must comply, at a minimum, with the following principles when purchasing with Federal funds:

  • Purchases must be necessary, not duplicative and must provide a direct benefit to the Federal grant.
  • Where appropriate, an analysis of lease and purchase options, and any other appropriate analysis must be performed to determine the most economical and practical procurement.
  • Where appropriate and to the extent required by each procurement method outlined below, analysis and selection must ensure open competition, objective contractor performance and elimination of unfair competitive advantage.
  • Employees, officers, or agents of the College must adhere to the Investigator Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Policy and may not participate in the selection, award, or administration of a contract supported by Federal funds if a real or apparent conflict of interest exists.
  • Purchases, to the extent practicable and economically feasible, are to be made using minority businesses, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms.
  • Transactions must be supported by original detailed and unduplicated documentation.
  • Purchases must remain in aggregate and cannot be separated into multiple increments in order to bypass procurement threshold requirements.
  • Subrecipients under sponsored research awards are exempt from the purchase order requirement and bid policy.  Please refer to the subaward decision tree to determine if an organization is considered a subrecipient.  The subrecipient award, monitoring, and closeout process provides guidance on issuing a subaward.

Purchases and commitments that are not in compliance with these Federal requirements will need to be returned, cancelled or paid for with department funds or other non-federal sources.



  1. Micro-purchases - the acquisition of supplies or services, the aggregate dollar amount of which is less than $10,000. 
  2. Small purchase - the acquisition of supplies, services or equipment in the range of $10,000 to $250,000.  Written price or rate quotations must be obtained from a minimum of three qualified sources prior to making a purchase. 
  3. Sealed bids - For acquisitions costing more than $250,000, bids are publicly solicited and a firm fixed price contract is awarded to the responsible bidder whose bid is the lowest price.
  4. Competitive proposals - For acquisitions costing more than $250,000, conducted with more than one source submitting an offer, and either a fixed price or cost-reimbursement type contract is awarded.  Contracts must be awarded to the responsible firm whose proposal is most advantageous to the program with price and other factors considered.
  5. Noncompetitive proposals (Sole Source) - procurement through solicitation of a proposal from only one source.  Prior to making the purchase a waiver must be granted by submitting the Vendor Selection Form – Federal Funds Only.

For additional information on each of these methods, please refer to Uniform Guidance 200.320 Methods of procurement to be followed



For purchases under $10,000, use your own judgment in identifying potential suppliers.  Purchase orders will not be required.  To the extent practicable, micro-purchases must be distributed in an equitable and reasonable manner to ensure fair and competitive pricing.  When possible, buyers should use Wellesley College discounts.  If you are uncertain as to whether or not a purchase qualifies as a micro- purchase or a small purchase, please contact your Grants Accountant at Post Award Services prior to making the purchase.  For example, installment payments less than $10,000 towards a total purchase price greater than $10,000 do not count as micro purchases. 

For purchases between $10,000 and $250,000 buyers will need to submit a Workday requisition and attach at least three price quotes and the Vendor Selection Form – Federal Funds Only which documents the basis for vendor selection prior to making a purchase.  Documentation needs to be in writing from the vendors and can include screen shots from websites, copies of published price lists and advertised pricing in established magazines or journals.  This documentation should be attached to the Workday requisition prior to routing for workflow and the buyer should not make the purchase until the Workday purchase order has been fully approved.  To the extent practicable, small purchases must be distributed in an equitable and reasonable manner to ensure fair and competitive pricing.  If a Workday purchase order is not created prior to receiving an invoice, Post Award Services will have the authority to reject the invoice from being paid against federal funds.  If you require assistance in obtaining 3 quotes, please contact the Senior Buyer in the Procurement Department. 

For purchases greater than $250,000 buyers will need to contact the Assistant Director of Financial Operations and Procurement to help assist them with the formal publicized Request for Proposal (RFP) process.  Tina will work collaboratively with the PI or requestor to facilitate this process and meet all the federal requirements.  It is important therefore that the buyer communicate their plans for major purchases as early as possible so there will be reasonable time to accomplish the bidding procedure. 



There may be times when competitive bids are not appropriate and the requirement for obtaining them is waived.  Failing to anticipate needs resulting from poor planning is not an exception to the bidding policy.  For an exception to be valid, a clear statement of justification for waiving the competitive bidding process must be submitted in writing for approval by completing page 3 of the Vendor Selection Form – Federal Funds Only.

Situations that would justify purchases without the competitive bid process are:

  • The supplier is obviously a sole source for the item.  Examples:
    • Artwork
    • Unusual and not generally available used equipment
    • A very specialized piece of scientific equipment
    • A specialized service (lobbyist, consultant) when the supplier has a one-of-a-kind ability to provide the required service due to demonstrably unique circumstances (knowledge, contacts, experience)
  • There is an undeniable compatibility requirement.  The item will be hooked up to existing equipment or the purchase is an upgrade to existing equipment/software.
  • There has been an unpredictable emergency and there is no time to bid.  Examples:
    • Human life, health or College property is in jeopardy
    • Repairs are immediately needed for equipment where delay would lead to higher expense.
  • Subcontracts whereby the agreement to work with another individual or institution was written into the grant award.
  • The Federal awarding agency or pass-through entity has expressly authorized in writing in response to a written request by the Principal Investigator to waive the noncompetitive proposal requirement.
  • Competition is deemed inadequate after a minimum of two solicitations have been unsuccessful.

Situations that would NOT justify purchases without the competitive bid process are:

  • We did some looking around and this supplier is offering a very good deal. - while this may be true, federal guidelines require a competitive bidding process that demonstrates that due diligence was used in spending tax payer dollars.
  • I waited so long to work on this that now I need it tomorrow - busy schedules do not excuse the College from following federal regulations
  • It would be so much more convenient is we could just use this supplier - Convenience is not a strong enough factor to allow the granting of a waiver from the process.  An emergency situation must be present.
  • The company already started the work. - making such agreements or purchases at a departmental level is contrary to this College policy and federal regulations.



Please fill out page 3 of the Vendor Selection Form – Federal Funds Only and submit it to your Grants Accountant at Post Award Services.  Include as much documentation as possible to justify the waiver.  Do not proceed with any purchases until you have received notification that the waiver has been approved.



  • Debarment and Suspension ($25,000 or more)
    • For amounts of $25,000 or more, vendors and subawardees must be verified that they do not appear on the Excluded Parties Listing using the search function of SAM (System for Award Management). PI’s should verify that vendors do not appear on the Excluded Parties Listing prior to submitting a Workday requisition.  Subawardees are verified by the Office of Sponsored Research prior to issuance of subaward.