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Purchasing Contract Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between contracts, purchase orders, framework orders, etc.?

A contract is a formal agreement signed by another party and an officer of the University or a delegated campus official through the University’s Contract System in accordance with University Fiscal Policy FI420 (Contracts)external link.

A purchase order is a document signed by an authorized university purchasing agent that authorizes a vendor to provide goods or biddable services.

A framework order is a specialized purchase order signed by an authorized University purchasing agent that permits departments to make purchases from a contract vendor under pre-set prices, terms, and conditions for a specified period of time.

A University purchasing contract is a purchasing agreement signed by a purchasing official that establishes prices, terms, and conditions that are applicable to purchases from a specific vendor. A framework purchase order will be issued in reference to a University purchasing contract.

Who is authorized to sign a contract?
All contracts must be executed by an officer of the University or a delegated campus official through the University's Contract System in accordance with University Fiscal Policy FI420 (Contracts). Informal agreements with individuals for certain services totaling less than $5,000 referenced in this policy must be sent through the University's Contract System if legal terms and conditions are contained in the agreement.

Purchasing agents in Purchasing Services are authorized by university policy to sign purchase orders, framework orders, and term contracts (price agreements).

For additional information about the contracting process, refer to University Fiscal Policy FI420 (Contracts). Personal liability and disciplinary action may result if a university faculty or staff member signs a contract or agreement without authorization.
Who can help me with negotiating and drafting a contract?
Contact the Office of Business Contracts at 901.448.2072.
As a university employee, am I authorized to enter into contractual relationships directly with vendors on behalf of the university?
No. All contracts must be executed by an officer of the University or a delegated campus official through the University's Contract System in accordance with University Fiscal Policy FI420 (Contracts). Informal agreements with individuals for certain services totaling less than $5,000 referenced in this policy must be sent through the University's Contract System if legal terms and conditions are contained in the agreement.

University personnel specifically authorized by their departmental business managers are permitted to make certain purchases below $5,000 in accordance with university purchasing policies. See university Fiscal Policy FI0410 (Purchasing Bidding Requirements) for additional guidance.

Personal liability and disciplinary action may result if a university faculty or staff member signs a contract or agreement without authorization or makes an unauthorized purchase.
When do I need to process a Non-Competitive Justification (NCJ)?
A Non-Competitive Justification (NCJ) must be processed prior to processing a purchase requisition or contract in IRIS for the purchase of goods or services not covered under an existing contract costing $10,000 or above 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).

For additional guidance, refer to University Fiscal Policy FI0410 (Purchasing Bidding Requirements) and University Fiscal Policy FI420 (Contracts).
What is the process for entering into a Non-Competitive Justification (NCJ) for a purchase requisition?

To document an emergency purchase of $10,000 or above or to request that a purchase of $10,000 or above be made on a non-competitive basis in accordance with Fiscal Policy FI0410 (Purchasing – Bidding Requirements)

Requisitions/Purchase Orders: Departments must attach the NCJ form in UT Market Place. Please see these instructions for more information https://procurement.tennessee.edu/how-do-i-buy/

What is the process for initiating the contract review process?

Contracts: Departments seeking to justify a sole-source purchase associated with a contact must complete the NCJ field in the University's Contract Management System.

Last Published: Jul 19, 2018