2301 Authority and Responsibility for the Purchase of and Payment of Products & Services

Document purpose

To define the authority and responsibilities for the procurement of goods and services for the University.


December, 1986


December, 2019


June, 2023

Responsible Office

Procurement Services




  1. The head of Procurement Services and the University Comptroller will establish and maintain policies and procedures to provide for the efficient and responsible conduct of all procurement and disbursement activities.  

  2. Procurement Services, in conjunction with the Office of the Comptroller, is responsible for enforcing University procurement and disbursement policy. 

  3. The University has established distributed purchasing responsibility, granting authorized University administrators the ability to establish and approve Purchase Orders (POs) for goods and services.  Administrators who have been delegated the responsibility for procurement must procure goods and services in accordance with University procurement policy.  Procedures governing procurement in these areas are subject to prior review and approval by the head of Purchasing Services.. 

  4. Procurement Services maintains the authority and responsibility to execute all purchase agreements for the University.  This includes the authority to negotiate final procurement terms, unless otherwise prohibited by University statutes, policy or Trustee action. 

  5. In conjunction with the Office of the Treasurer, Purchasing Services has the authority to determine and recommend, when appropriate, the potential benefits offered by a lease as compared to the purchase of equipment in accordance with Financial Policy #2311 – Procurement of Equipment 

  6. No employee of the University, except as authorized by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, the statutes of the University, or President’s letter of delegation, is empowered to incur any obligation or make any commitment on behalf of the University for the procurement of products, services, or equipment unless approved in writing by the Director of Procurement Services.  

  7. The BEN Buys Purchasing System and Purchasing Card (P-Card) are the University’s approved buying methods for purchases from external suppliers. Use of the appropriate buying method must be in compliance with guidelines listed in the BEN Financials Commodity Matrix 

  8. All purchases must be made for the purpose of University-related activities. Purchasing any goods or services for personal use is prohibited.  

  9. Procurement Services and the Office of the Comptroller are responsible for maintaining records of all procurement and disbursement transactions. University faculty and staff who have been authorized to use a Purchasing Card (see Policy #2303 – Use of Purchasing Card) are responsible for maintaining records of all procurement credit card transactions.  

  10. Procurement Services and the Office of the Comptroller are responsible for responding to all external audit findings or agency inquiries concerning procurement and disbursement issues.