Purchasing Policies


General Policy Statements

In general, purchases should be handled in a manner that creates the greatest ultimate value per dollar expended. Price, quality, and delivery are of special concern in all purchases. Whenever possible special consideration should be given to local/and or Iowa owned companies. There should be funds available in the departmental budget before considering any purchase.

Morningside College, as a non-profit educational institution, is exempt from the payment of Iowa sales tax on the purchase of goods and services in the state of Iowa. The College's tax exempt number is 42-0680400. Every effort should be made to purchase all goods and services with a purchasing card or a purchase order from Accounts Payable. Failure to do so may increase the cost of the goods or services by having to pay sales tax.

In order to ensure buildings across campus are consistent in quality and the ambiance of the buildings is maintained, carpeting, furniture, and wall coverings should be selected through the Physical Plant Director and the appropriate vice president.

Employees are not allowed to make purchases through the College for personal use.

Local, area, and state vendors should be used where possible and cost effective to do so.

Purchasers should use a purchasing card when possible to avoid paying sales tax.

In most cases office supplies should be purchased through the online Staples program. Other vendors may be used only when the product can not be found with Staples or a cheaper price can be located with another vendor.

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Vendor Selection

Purchases will be made from local and/or Iowa owned vendors unless distinct advantages can be gained by going to other vendors. Price negotiations are always an important consideration, and comparing pricing between vendors is encouraged at any dollar amount. For purchases of $3,000.00 or more, bids should be requested from at least three (3) vendors, whenever possible, before a purchase commitment is made. Generally, the low bidder will be awarded the order.

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Purchase Order Requisitions

A purchase order requisition is the basic document used for initiating the procurement of supplies, services, or equipment and may be obtained from the Accounts Payable Department. The form has been arranged to closely follow the layout of the purchase order. Department heads or authorized employees must prepare the requisition when initiating the procurement of supplies, services or equipment for amounts greater than $1,000.00. Faculty/staff must obtain the signature of their department head before sending the requisition to Accounts Payable.

The following items are excluded from this requirement:

Purchasing Card Purchases Consultants 
Advertising   Insurance
Independent contractor  Telephone
Registration fees   Gas
Airline tickets  Membership Dues
Rent   Utilities
Auto repair Public Relations (not advertising)


Please make sure all information is accurate and that proper signatures and account codes are obtained. Use the account code which best describes the type of expenditure. If you are not sure which account to use, call the business office.

Also, check your budget to see if you have sufficient funds to cover the expenditure.

The purchase requisition must be signed by the department head.  Purchases of $1,000.00 or more require the signature of your vice president and the Vice President for Business & Finance.

Purchase requisitions are sent to Accounts Payable.

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Bids and Quotations for Purchases over $3,000

It is the policy of the College to obtain competitive bids and price quotations whenever practical, on all purchase requests for material and equipment purchases with an aggregate value of $3,000 or more. This is accomplished by negotiated pricing agreements, soliciting requests for proposal, and formal bidding procedures.

All vendor bids and quotations are evaluated on the basis of product quality, technical compliance with specifications, total cost, and the vendor’s acceptance of the College’s terms and conditions. Bids should be requested from at least three (3) vendors, whenever possible. All received bid quotes should be sent to Accounts Payable.

The primary objective of this procedure is to obtain goods and services at the lowest overall cost commensurate with quality and service. As a result the College benefits when suppliers realize they are vying for the award of business and must be competitive in cost and service.

The requirement for competitive quotations depends upon the total cost of goods or services to be procured during the term of the agreement; such cost may be incurred either at one time or over a period of time, as in the case of a lease or rental agreement.

The requirement to obtain competitive quotations may be waived in certain situations such as the following:

  • Procurement can be made under an existing agreement.  
  • An emergency situation exists.  
  • The price and terms are known to be substantially identical among all suppliers.
  • The request is for an identical requirement that has been procured recently through the quotation procedure.
  • The available supply is limited and procurement must be made immediately or an opportunity will be lost.  
  • The vendor is the only vendor in the world who sells the particular item requested.
  • The decision to do so is in the best interests of the College.

If the above reasons for not obtaining bid quotations apply, the requisitioning department should note as such on the request. Again, this only applies for purchases costing $3,000 or greater.

Whenever possible, consideration should be given to local suppliers capable of competitively furnishing the College’s requirements. All interested suppliers will receive fair and impartial consideration. The College does not purchase goods or services for the personal use of its employees.

The Business Office will assist Departments with the following:

  • Selecting the proper procurement method - Buy, Lease, or Rent.
  • Determining the applicability of obtaining price quotations.
  • Formulating requests for proposal or quotation, if applicable.
  • Sending proposal or quotation requests to or soliciting prices from selected suppliers.
  • Receiving, documenting and evaluating supplier proposals, quotations or prices.
  • Selecting the supplier, completing negotiations and forwarding the appropriate order.
  • Executing the agreement, when applicable.

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Purchase Orders

The Purchase order is a contract that legally obligates the College when accepted by the Vendor.

No materials, supplies, or services for Morningside College, with a cost exceeding $1,000, will be ordered or purchased unless a purchase order is secured in advance.

Complete a request for purchase order (Appendix A) and secure approval from the Department Head in writing.  The request for purchase order must be filled out in detail, to include the description, quantity, unit price and estimated cost of each item.

Upon approval from the Department Head submit the request for purchase order to Accounts Payable in the Business Office.  A purchase order will then be generated.  The Vice President for Business and Finance will review the purchase order either approving or denying the expenditure.

Requests for purchase orders submitted to Accounts Payable by 4:30 p.m. will be approved by the Vice President for Business and Finance and issued by noon the next working day.

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Over-Budget Line-Item Purchases

Any purchase request (over $1,000) when the department has already expended its budgeted allocation must have the prior approval of both the appropriate Presidential Staff member and the Vice President for Business and Finance. Department Heads can view the status of their budgets by viewing their accounts via the AIMS Budget Viewing computer program.

The Vice President for Business and Finance may request a written justification for the request along with a plan of action as to how the unit will make up the negative budget variance in other areas.

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Office Supplies

To assure that the College continues to receive the best service and most favorable prices for office supplies the Business Office may submit a request for proposal to selected office supply vendors every 3 years. Participation in buying groups will also be considered to help reduce costs.

Currently all office supplies should be purchased through the “Staples Program” unless the product is not available or a better price may be obtained with another vendor.

Limiting our sources for office supplies has several advantages:

1. By choosing a preferred vendor, through the bidding process, substantial savings may be realized in the purchase of our office supplies.

2. Morningside’s investment in inventory should be minimized due to the fact that in most cases supplies can be delivered next day.

3. Paperwork will be minimized, thus saving staff time formerly spent on ordering, receiving, and paying for the office supplies.

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Damaged Goods

When your order is received, compare the invoice or packing slip to the purchase order. Open cartons immediately to check for damage. The truck driver can wait until you do this. If you see obvious damage to the carton or goods upon delivery, either refuse the delivery or make note on the bill of lading that goods were damaged. If you accept the shipment and find hidden damage, save the carton that the product came in and report the damage to the vendor and Accounts Payable. Forward all packing slips/bill of lading to Accounts Payable with instructions about what you want done with the damaged items (replacement or discount).

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Purchasing Card Purchases

(See Purchasing Card Policy)

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Internet Purchases

Purchasing Cards may be used for purchases over the Internet. (See Purchasing Card Policy)

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Legal Contracts

The Vice President for Business and Finance must sign all legal contracts, leases, agreements that will obligate the College to any vendor with a value exceeding $1,000.

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Professional Service Contracts

Professional Service Agreements are contracts for unique, technical and/or infrequent functions performed by an independent contractor qualified by education, experience and/or technical ability to provide services. In most cases these services are of a specific project nature, and are not a continuing, on-going responsibility of the institution.

Professional service agreements for greater than $25,000 must be selected through a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process unless the service is a sole source purchase that is appropriately documented. The $25,000 threshold is not based on a one-time cost, but rather on a cumulative cost for on-going services under the terms of the project engagement. Professional service agreements, which are less than $25,000 over the course of service, may be entered into without using the required competitive bidding process. Selection of a professional service provider shall be based on a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, demonstrated competence, knowledge, references and unique qualifications to perform the services, in addition to offering a fair and reasonable price that is consistent with current market conditions. Additional criteria may be used as appropriate to the circumstances.

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Miscellaneous Payments – (Expense Check payments)

These payments are referred to simply as "Request for Check" or "Expense Check". Typically the requests to pay are after-the-fact purchases or expenses, or may be in advance of the event in the case of speakers, etc. For purchases, the vendor invoice must be attached to the Request for Check to initiate payment; no requisition is needed. In the case of speakers or various other honoraria payments, there will be no bill but information such as what the event is, date, reason, vendor ID number, social security number, home address, etc. must be included. Do not create Request for Check forms for items ordered or received on purchase orders.

If an invoice is available on a purchase, it is required that you request payment from the invoice and NOT from using a “Request for Check” form (Appendix B).

Attach all copies of paperwork, subscription form, membership form, or order forms to “Request for Check” form.

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Conflict of Interest

Any employee who has an ownership interest in, executive position, or other relationship with prospective suppliers of goods or services or who knows that a family member has such an interest, shall not participate in preparing of specifications, qualifying vendors, or selecting of final vendor for award.

College policy further discourages:


Staff travel for any reason taken at a vendor's or potential vendor's expense.


Acceptance from or offering to vendors any gifts or gratuities in exchange for any special


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Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure purchases are for items that have a useful life of at least two years and a value of $3,000 or more. They are permanent in nature, tangible, and held for purposes other than investment or resale.

There are six types of capital assets: moveable equipment, fixed equipment, buildings, building components, land, and improvements other than buildings.

Before a purchase order is obtained a Capital Asset Authorization form (Appendix C) must be completed along with all required approvals. The completed form is then attached to the Purchase Order requisition which is submitted to Accounts Payable. 

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Surplus Property

Items declared as surplus by any department must be offered or placed within the College to the extent feasible or may be used as a trade-in if economically feasible. Disposition thereafter will require soliciting bids, auction, or dismantling for parts. Employees are not allowed to personally take surplus property without the prior written consent of a Vice President. Contact the Business Office for more information. 

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Centralized Purchasing

a. Computers
It is the desire of Morningside College to standardize its computer hardware such as personal computers, etc. The Information Services Department must approve all computer hardware purchases (Invoice and Purchase Order approvals).

b. Computer Software

It is the desire of Morningside College to standardize its computer software.  The Information Services Department must approve all computer software purchases. The College expects departments to observe relevant software copyright laws; this means acquiring software through legal purchase or license arrangements and preventing any unauthorized copying or use. Each Department will be responsible to assure that compliance with these laws are followed.

c. Paper

If copy paper, envelopes, stationery, etc., are needed, it can be secured from the Print Shop as a supply is usually on hand.  If continuous feed printer paper is needed, it can be secured from the Computer Center.  The department obtaining the paper supplies will be required to pay the cost of the supply plus a small handling fee.  However, in most instances the cost will be less than the individual department can secure on its own.

The department still has the flexibility to purchase paper and other supplies if it feels that it may receive a better price elsewhere.

d. Signs - name plates, name tags, door signs & business cards

Name plates, name tags, door signs and business cards should be coordinated with the Printshop.  It is the desire of Morningside College to standardize these purchases.  The department obtaining the purchase will be charged for the cost.

e. Telephones

Since Morningside College has a digital switch, telephones cannot be purchased at a local store and used on our telephone system.  Telephones can be acquired and installed by contacting the Receptionist/Switchboard Operator.  Any telephone request, must be approved by the Department Head as there is a monthly charge assessed for each telephone used and each department is responsible for paying any long distance charges incurred.  If a voluntary telephone move is requested, the department must pay for the charge.

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Payment of Invoices and Bills

General Policy Statement

No invoice or bill will be paid without approval of the Department Head and the assignment of the appropriate general ledger number. In most cases, invoices should not be approved for payment until the department has verified that materials or services have been received.

Duplicate invoices (photocopies) generally will not be accepted to use as payment for goods or services.

Processing the Invoice

Generally, most invoices are mailed to the Business Office. The invoices are then sent to the appropriate department to be signed and coded with the correct account numbers. After the department verifies the invoice, it is returned to the Business Office for payment. If invoices are received directly by the user department, they need to be forwarded to the Business Office as soon as possible after verification and coding.

1.  Approval can be made on the invoice issued by the vendor:

a)  Circle the amount to be paid.

b)  Note discounts. (Controller responsibility)

c)  Note sales tax. (Accounts Payable responsibility)

d)  Signature or initial of Department Head.

e)  Enter appropriate general ledger number.

Individuals approving invoices should not cross-out sales tax or any pricing information. Only note for Accounts Payable reference. Accounts Payable will correct and notify vendor.

2.  For other payments complete a request for check (Appendix B) and secure approval of the Department Head.

Submit the invoice or request for check to Accounts Payable in the Business Office.  Individual requests for checks turned in by Noon Wednesday will be disbursed on  Friday. If disbursements cannot be made on a Friday, a general campus mailing will be issued by Accounts Payable notifying departments of the disbursement date.  Invoices or bills issued by vendors will be assigned a payment date by the Controller depending upon the terms and conditions.


Check to Accompany Order

When a vendor requires a prepayment before shipping or providing any goods or services, some type of documentation must be sent proving the value of such goods or services. This documentation must show an account number and the proper signature authorization. Generally, College policy does not allow payment prior to receiving goods or services.

Completed order form or application must accompany the request for check.

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Cash Disbursements

General Policy

It is the policy of the College to make all disbursements of College funds by check, rather than in currency.

In order to comply with this policy, all disbursements of College funds will be based upon properly approved invoices check requests, purchase orders, or other appropriate documents.

Disbursements in currency are limited to payments made from a petty cash fund held by the Accountant and Business Office Associate in the Business Office.  These disbursements are to be made only when payment by College check is not practical, and are limited to a maximum of the invoice amount or $50, whichever is less.

Petty cash funds shall not exist without the written approval of the Business Office. Please reference the petty cash policy.

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Interdepartmental Transfer Procedure

(only used for transfers greater than $10)

In order to transfer expenses from one general ledger account to another, complete all areas of an Interdepartmental Transfer (Appendix D). Any questions can be directed to the Controller in the Business Office. Forms can be printed by clicking on (Appendix D) and following instructions or they can be obtained from the Business Office.


Appendix A  Request for Purchase Order

Appendix B  Request for Check

Appendix C  Capital Asset Authorization Form

Appendix D  Interdepartmental Transfer

Appendix E  Iowa Sales and Use Tax Exemption Form

Appendix F  Purchasing Code of Ethics

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