9.18 Small Dollar/Direct Purchase Procedures

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Procedure Information

Number: 9.18  
Responsible Unit: Financial Services - Purchasing Last Revised Date: 12/01/2021
Email: FNSV-Purchasing@arizona.edu Phone: 520-621-1747

Purpose and Summary

Financial Services Purchasing has established an efficient, cost-effective method for departments to purchase and pay vendors for certain small dollar transactions. This procedure provides guidelines and additional information on small dollar expenditures.


Purchasing Policies Manual, including, but not limited to sections:

Purchasing Card (PCard) Policies Manual


This procedure applies to all University locations and units, including all University extensions, satellite locations, and off-site campus units, both domestic and international.


  1. Arizona BuyWays: The University’s web-based E-Procurement system that provides access to multiple vendors and contracted pricing via UAccess Financials Shop Catalogs.
  2. Purchasing Card (PCard): A University credit card for traditional small dollar purchases not to exceed $10,000 that is used wherever Visa is accepted. All transactions made using the PCard must benefit and support the University's mission of education, research and public service and be in compliance with the Purchasing Card Policies Manual and University policy for allowable expenditures.
  3. Small Dollar Direct Purchases: Purchases not exceeding $10,000 utilizing the University Purchasing Card (PCard) or $25,000 utilizing Arizona BuyWays when existing University Contracts or Inter-Departmental sources cannot satisfy the need. All small dollar purchases must be used for University of Arizona business only, not for personal use.


Determining Purchase Method and Allowability

  1. Prior to making a purchase, review 9.01 Introduction to Expenditure Policies and Procedures to determine which purchasing method to use.
  2. Determine if existing University Contracts or inter-departmental sources can satisfy the need. If needs cannot be satisfied from existing University Contracts or inter-departmental sources, then select a vendor that meets your needs at a reasonable cost and use the Purchasing Card, if allowable under PCard policy. Orders may also be placed via Arizona BuyWays.
  3. Obtain competitive quotes prior to placing an order, whenever feasible. If practicable, Small Dollar Direct Purchases should be restricted to Small Businesses.
  4. To determine if expenditures are allowable under University policy, refer to the following or contact your Fund Accountant or Financial Compliance:
    1. 9.10 Requisitions/Reimbursements
    2. Purchasing Card Policy for detailed instructions, including PCard specific restrictions, pre-approval and exception procedures when placing orders with the PCard.
    3. Individual purchases to any merchant may not exceed $10,000 utilizing the PCard or $25,000 utilizing Arizona Buyways under the Small Dollar Policy. Pyramiding, or fragmenting, is making a purchase greater than the purchase threshold and paying for the item(s) in multiple payments over an interval of time to circumvent procurement thresholds. Intentional fragmenting of a purchase may result in civil or criminal penalties under the Arizona Board of Regents Procurement Policy. For more information refer to Purchasing Policy 1.2 General Acquisition and Violation Procedures.
  5. If none of the small dollar purchasing options fit your requirements, if the vendor of choice is not capable of accepting the PCard, or if the purchase is not allowed on the PCard, prepare a Requisition. If the requisition exceeds $10,000 and the vendor is not a Small Business, documentation must be provided with the Requisition as to why it is impracticable to utilize a Small Business.
  6. If a small dollar purchase must be accompanied by a contract requiring signature, send the contract to the Contracting Office for approval and signature prior to making the purchase.
  7. The use of personal credit cards or cash for making small dollar purchases and then seeking reimbursement on a Disbursement Voucher is discouraged because this is more costly for the University to process.

Placing Orders and Delivery

  1. Orders may be placed by phone, electronic commerce, fax, at the Vendor’s place of business, or directly with the University’s inter-departmental source.
  2. Orders should be shipped directly to the Department and not to Central/Medical Receiving except orders placed via Arizona BuyWays.
  3. When placing an order with a non-contract vendor always ask for the University discount.
  4. When the vendor is making the delivery be sure to provide the following: employee name, phone number, address, building name, and room number.

Documentation and Audit of Small Dollar Purchases

  1. It is the department's responsibility to submit auditable records, including original documentation and proper authorization, for small dollar purchases to Financial Compliance when using the University Purchasing Card. While the transaction documentation is stored as imaged documents in UAccess Financials, the written documentation for deviation from a University-Wide Contract or Strategic Alliance shall be maintained in the department’s/unit’s files, and should be readily available in case of an audit.
  2. When small dollar purchases are made using Arizona BuyWays, Financial Services Purchasing will maintain the audit records.
  3. Purchases may be subject to review or audit by Purchasing, Financial Compliance, Internal Audit, or external auditors to ensure policies and procedures are being followed and that restricted items are not being purchased using one of the small dollar direct purchase methods. Fraudulent or intentional misuse of the Procurement purchasing tools, including the PCard, will result in cancellation of the card and/or possible criminal changes under the University of Arizona's Misuse of University Assets Policy.

Related Information

Arizona BuyWays
Business Purpose Guide
Contracted Vendors
Guidelines for PCard Documentation Submission
Misuse of University Assets
Purchasing Card (PCard) Policies Manual
Purchasing (PCard) Program Information
Purchasing Policies Manual