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Buying and Paying Basics

Before You Buy

Think first about buying internally

  • Most durable goods purchased at the University eventually pass through Surplus Property, often in excellent condition with many useful years of life left in them. This property is available to departments, please see the Surplus Property website for more information.

Then think about buying on contract

  • University and state contracts usually offer the best prices.
  • Vendors are known and approved, and their performance is monitored.
  • Contract vendors have a vested interest in keeping all their University customers happy.

Buying From Outside Vendors

Some purchases may be made directly by departments, but many must be processed by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services due to their dollar value or the nature of the purchase.

  • Consult the Guidelines for Competition to determine if your purchase will require competition or other processing by Procurement Services or if your department may order it directly.
  • Reference the other links under "Buying & Paying" in this page's navigation bar for full information on paying for purchases acquired through all purchasing methods.
  • Any rebates or rewards earned on purchases belong to the University and must be applied to other University purchases.

There are three methods by which departments may purchase for themselves those goods and services which do not require processing by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services. It is important to understand the restrictions and requirements for each method before making a purchasing decision.

  1. Travel and Expense Card (previously the Pcard):
    The University offers a “one card” solution that allows the cardholder to make small dollar purchases of goods, services, and travel expenses. Please see the Travel and Expense Card Program page for more information.
  2. Department Purchase Order:
    Purchases of less than $10,000
    may be ordered directly and paid automatically by the simultaneous submission of a Department Purchase Order, or may be purchased against an existing standing order Department Purchase Order. See restrictionspopup .
  3. Payment Voucher:
    Orders of less than $50,000 for goods or services meeting the requirements for demand payments may be placed directly and paid by submission of a PV.

All other orders require competition and must be processed by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services:

Purchase Requisition

Goods and services which require competition, or are restricted from purchase on the Travel and Expense Card, Department Purchase Order, or PV, cannot be purchased directly by the department and may only be acquired through the submission of a Purchase Requisition.

Following departmental approval, our buyers will review the requisition, seek appropriate competition, create a Purchase Order to the selected supplier, and place the order.

Paying Outside Vendors

All payments for goods and services must be processed by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services. The payment procedures vary depending on the method used to purchase.

Reference the other links under "Buying & Paying" in this page's navigation bar for full information on paying for purchases acquired through all purchasing methods.

  • Invoices for POs and Department Purchase Orders must always reference the PO Number and should be sent directly to Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services - Accounts Payablepopup for payment processing.
  • Vendors cannot be paid for Department Purchase Orders until they are registered in the Integrated System Supplier List. Please see Adding a Vendor for a Department Purchase Order for instructions.
  • Travel and Expense Card payments are made directly by the University to the card provider. Cardholders receive a monthly statement from the card provider for reconciliation. There will now be a window of several days each month during which it is possible to change or split the PTAEO (charged account) of each transaction which is in the Integrated System from that month's billing.
  • Invoices to be paid by Payment Voucher should be sent to the department. It is the department's responsibility to submit Payment Vouchers promptly and correctly so that vendors receive timely payments, as required by law. These payments must be reconciled to the Integrated System monthly.

Standing Orders

A standing Purchase Order allows departments to obtain one PO or Department Purchase Order for a specified dollar amount and then place multiple purchases against that order, authorizing payment only for each purchase.

Creating a standing order:

  • The total cost of the good or service for a 12-month period determines whether the order requires competition, and what methods may be used to place the order.
  • For orders totaling $9,999 or less for the 12-month period, we recommend the University Purchasing Card.
  • It is important that the 12-month cost can be accurately projected when creating a standing order.

Purchasing against a standing order:

  • The vendor must be given the PO Number from an existing, approved Purchase Order in the system.
  • Vendors should be instructed to invoice only for the amount of each individual purchase.

Managing a standing order:

  • Exercise special vigilance when receiving and when reconciling receipts against paid invoice copies.
  • If discrepancies are detected, notify an Accounts Payable Specialist immediately, so that vendors are not paid for items not yet ordered or not received in good condition.
  • Remember that small dollar purchases add up. If the total amount invoiced against a standing Department Purchase Order reaches $10,000, the final invoice will become a problem invoice and will require special processing by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services before payment can be made.


As a public institution the University is governed by the Code of Virginia. Other laws which directly apply to purchasing are:


Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services defines policy as what we are required to do, by law, and by the combined policies of the Commonwealth and the University. 

All payments for goods and services must be handled according to University policies and procedures and State and Federal law.  Invoices for goods and services not obtained in accordance with these rules will not be processed. Purchases of tangible goods remain the property of the University of Virginia. 

All activities carried out and administered by Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services are subject to these policies: