Buying Guidelines

Purchasing Authority

Purchasing authority is contingent upon adherence to various State, Regental Policies and Guidelines, and campus procurement regulations.

The procurement policies we follow ensure our compliance to these regulations and that the University is receiving the best procurement value for its money. It is important that you understand and comply with these policies when obtaining products and services for your department. These policies apply to all funds administered through the University, regardless of source. It is our expectation that staff and faculty will review and follow the formal delegations and published guidelines.

Authority to Contract

You must have specific authority to obligate the University to pay for goods and service.  If you don’t have contract authority in writing or specifically cited in delegations you don’t have the authority.

Keep in mind that authority to contract and commit the University to a purchase is different than business authority to commit to an expenditure.  Contract authority deals with contracts that are legally binding and are enforceable by law, whereas business authority is tied to making business decisions and internal agreements within the University.

Purchasing Contracts Conduct and Ethics

UCSF is committed to professional conduct in purchasing and contracting based on ethical values and standards that apply to everyone in the UC community that interacts with suppliers or businesses with whom we may develop a business relationship.

UCSF’s Purchasing Code of Ethics is based on and consistent with the Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), National Association of Education Buyers Code of Ethics, and The University of California Statement of Ethical Values and Standards of Ethical Conduct.

The University of California Office of the President through the University of California Ethics ensures that the university policy on ethics is circulated to all campuses. This site describes some of the ethics training that is sponsored by the University.

Supply Chain Management promotes fair and ethical business practices. Supply Chain Management is committed to open and fair competition in the best interest of the University and in support of our supplier relationships.

Departments are responsible for making sure that the University policies on ethics are circulated and followed by departmental personnel associated with purchasing and contracts.  Departments associated with the Health Care Industry such as the School of Medicine, have adopted Guidelines for Interactions Among UCSF Faculty, Students and staff and Industry which promote compliance with AMA Statement on Gifts to Physicians from Industry and ACCME Standards for Commercial Support to ensure independence of CME activities.

Departmental participation in UCSF programs such as Low Value Purchases, Procurement Card and purchase requisitioning are to adhere to the above code of ethics principals and conduct.

In association with our ethical standards, UCSF has instituted policies and practices on Gifts & Gratuities, and Conflict of Interest.

Gifts and Gratuities

In order to avoid a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, at no time should a University employee solicit gifts and or gratuities from a current or potential vendor.

Employees need to comply with the University policy and guidelines  regarding acceptance of gifts and gratuities under the California Political Reform Act Disqualification Requirements.  UC policy and the Federal Anti-Kickback Act of 1986 state that no officer or employee should solicit or accept any personal favor, gift, gratuity or offer of entertainment directly or indirectly from a supplier who is doing or seeking to do business with UCSF.

If you have a question regarding an offer or acceptance of a gift associated with a vendor or related purchasing activity, you can contact Procurement.  Conflict of Interest Office and Audit Services are resources for guidance. Any questions or concerns on Conflict of Interest can also be directed to the Conflict of Interest Coordinator at UCSF Office of Legal Affairs phone (415) 476-2815.  The Office of Legal Affairs has additional reference materials on Conflict of Interest.

Maintaining Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure of Information

Campus Procurement and Contracting asks that you agree not to disclose or otherwise divulge any information pertaining to the contents, status, or discussions of any proposal to anyone inside or outside the University other than the initiative team leader or other initiative team members without Campus Procurement and Contracting consent.

The terms disclosed or otherwise divulge includes, but is not limited to, reproduction of any part of or portion of any solicitation, proposal, quote or vendor correspondence.  During the purchase process and formal bid evaluations, vendors and other UCSF personnel may be interested in gaining “insider information” on the purchase.  Confidentiality of this information will ensure integrity of the purchase process and avoid giving information to vendors inadvertently that may undermine the pricing, terms and conditions obtained by the University. The buyer or buying team lead needs to be able to control the dissemination of information and manage negotiations associated with a purchase.

Expectations of Bid Team and Evaluators

Campus Procurement and Contracting’s standard practice is to include individuals from the requesting or using department(s) as part of a team to establish bid requirements and evaluate bids.

Participants must disclose any potential or known conflict of interest in evaluating any company which may bid for the University’s business.  

Evaluators are to provide observations and input in a manner which demonstrates that decisions are based on facts, data, good judgment and logical inference.  

An evaluator must agree not coerce others on the team to change their decisions based on their own personal conclusions.  Evaluators are to encourage others on the team to thoughtfully examine all available bid materials and to also make their own fair and objective evaluations. If an evaluator has a conflict of interest they are required to recues themselves and recommend a replacement.  Confidentiality and non-disclosure of bid information is extremely important. Individuals need to participate with a mindset of fairly and objectively evaluating all proposal responses in an unbiased manner and with the best interest of the University of California being paramount in all decisions.


Keep in mind that UCSF typically pays sales or use tax on purchases of tangible property, such as equipment and supplies.

Suppliers often fail to include taxes in quotes. Campus Procurement and Contracting will build in sales or use tax unless the department identifies the purchase as for resale, or that the purchase is against a Federal Contract whereby the title is retained by the Federal government.