Purchasing Tips

Below are some tips, provided by Chris Munro, to consider when preparing to procure goods and/or services on behalf of VIU. More detailed information is available on the Purchasing Department Web site.

When acquiring goods and/or services for Vancouver Island University, please keep in mind that purchases are to be undertaken in a fair, open, and competitive manner. VIU is maintained by public funds, and as such, all qualified suppliers are entitled to have their goods/services considered. As a public entity, VIU is subject to legislation regarding purchasing practices. Please be reminded that any pricing offered to VIU is confidential, and is not to be disclosed to other companies.

Some things to take into consideration when ordering are:

- Location of the vendor – this is important for a number of reasons:

  • orders coming from greater distances may have increased freight charges, and the impact to our carbon footprint is also greater
  • orders coming across the border will be subject to duties, brokerage fees, and taxes (a common misconception is that we don’t pay taxes if the vendor doesn’t charge us – that is not the case – we remit the taxes directly to the government if they are not collected by the vendor)
  • if goods are defective and have to be returned, freight and customs charges may apply more than once
  • vendors outside of Canada may not have the same regulations as us – factors such as electrical specifications may differ, resulting in receipt of a product that cannot be used

- Reputation of the vendor – a vendor may offer a fantastic deal on a product, but the after-sales service may be absent.

- Size of the order – if you place frequent orders (for example, stationery), you may want to consolidate and place fewer orders. Even when vendors pay the freight, it still impacts the environment each time a delivery vehicle comes to campus.

- Product being ordered – it is possible that there is a department on campus that can be utilized (for example, Printing and Duplicating or the Campus Store).

- Sustainability – there may be alternative products or vendors available that will minimize the impact to the environment. For example, departments may decide to switch to ordering recycled paper or other “green” products.

There are three methods to acquire goods or services in the normal course of VIU business:

  • VIU purchasing cards – the application form is available at Financial Services Forms
  • Official VIU purchase orders – the web purchase requisition is also found at Financial Services Forms. Keep in mind that an order is not official until the purchase order is issued by the purchasing department. Please note that when creating a requisition, you are entering a “suggested” supplier. The purchasing department may be aware of other qualified suppliers, or suppliers that may have contracts with VIU. Additionally, the purchasing department may feel that there is a need (or legislated requirement) to advertise the opportunity to the public in order to solicit competitive pricing or proposals. If you feel that there is only one company that is able to perform the work or provide the product, you will be required to fill out a “sole source vs. single source” justification form. This can be viewed on the Purchasing website.
  • Petty cash.

If you are traveling on VIU business, you may wish to visit either of the links below to find accommodations using previously negotiated rates. VIU is listed as an organization that is able to benefit from the BC Government rates (within BC), and as a member of the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO), we can also benefit from CAUBO rates.



Some simple guidelines for purchases are below (note that these are only guidelines – in cases where the institution has standards or authorities such as Facilities Services, IT Services, Communications and Public Relations, or Health and Safety Services, Purchasing will involve the appropriate contacts prior to placing an order):

  • Up to $3,000: At the discretion of the initiator. Direct purchase may be used where institutional standards are not in place.
  • $3,001 - $5,000: At least one formal quote is required.
  • $5,001 - $15,000: A minimum of three quotes are required, and the lowest priced, legally able company will be awarded the order. All quotations will be scanned in (by the purchasing department) with the purchase order for audit purposes.
  • Greater than $15,000: At the discretion of the purchasing department. The purchasing department may elect to solicit quotations, issue a Request for Proposals, Request for Offers, or similar request document. Purchases exceeding legislated thresholds will be posted on BC Bid without exception. In situations where it is felt that only one supplier can provide the goods/services, a Notice of Intent will be posted on BC Bid.