Business Services

Purchasing Procedures

STATE CONTROLLED ITEMS: The following items must be obtained through the MSU Billings Purchasing Department regardless of dollar value:

  1. Term Contracts: State Purchasing negotiates State Term Contracts with vendors for certain items. These contracts require that all State purchases of these items be made from a Term Contract Vendor. (MSU Billings Bookstore purchases are not an exception to term contracts-if an item is on the term contract and at the Bookstore, the term contract must be used).

  2. Requisition Time Schedule: Requisitions for these categories are due in Helena on or before the dates designated. (Note: Please give the MSU Billings Purchasing Department a week to get your paperwork processed and allow time for mailing.) Categories are identified as annual, semiannual or quarterly. See attachment #2.

  3. Central Stores:  Items available through Central Stores include: computer, copier, and offset paper, envelopes, etc. A Campus Stores catalog is available through the Purchasing Department for all items that are carried in stock.

  4. Printing: All printing that is done off campus must be in MSU Billings school colors and approved by University Relations.

MAINTENANCE AGREEMENTS: Each spring a notice is sent to all departments asking if they wish to have their office equipment put on a maintenance contract. Combined purchase orders are sent to vendors the first of July.

HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, AND WEB SERVICES:  INCLUDING ANY COMPUTER PERIPHERALS, i.e., Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), Digital Camera, and Projection Systems.  These purchases require the Procurement Approval Form to be completed and approved by the Information Technology before ordering. Send a Department Purchase Order (DPO) and Procurement Approval Form to the Purchasing Department for processing. All computer hardware and software purchases must be ordered through the Purchasing Office regardless of dollar amount.

COSTCO PURCHASES: The Purchasing Department has a transferable Costco card for departmental purchases from Costco. This card will be checked out to departments as needed. It must be returned to the MSU Billings Purchasing Department immediately upon returning to campus. Costco will accept a properly filled out Department Purchase Order (DPO) or a cash purchase order (see above) with this card. Costco requires that users have an MSU Billings staff I.D. card.

PURCHASES UNDER $2,000: These purchases can be bought without any quotes, but comparative shopping is recommended. Check the list of Term Contract items for any controlled items which must be processed through the Purchasing Department.

To have the Purchasing Department handle any order, simply send a completed Department Purchase Order (DPO) to the Business Office and mark the "please order" box.

When placing orders directly with vendors, ask them to include the Department Purchase Order (DPO) number, your name and department name, and their federal taxpayer ID number on their invoice, and to send the invoice to the Business Office.

PURCHASES BETWEEN $2000 and $4,999.99: Check the list of Term Contract items for any controlled items which must be processed on a separate Department Purchase Order (DPO) through the Purchasing Department.

If a department chooses to do the purchasing on non-controlled items, three or more telephone quotes must be solicited and documented. Write down the following for each vendor contacted:

  1. The person's name who gave the quote
  2. Vendor's federal taxpayer I.D. number
  3. Quantity
  4. Complete description of item with model number
  5. Unit price
  6. Discount terms
  7. Freight terms - FOB destination is best for MSU Billings
  8. Delivery schedule (date, place, packaging, etc.)

PURCHASES EXCEEDING $4,999.99: Supplies, services, controlled commodities and capital items exceeding $4,999.99 in value must be requested on a Department Purchase Order (DPO) through the Purchasing Department.


The Purchasing Department will assist with any returns, damaged merchandise or problems with vendors. If departments choose to handle these problems themselves, a few general guidelines are:

Returned Merchandise: Notify the vendor before returning the item(s). Most companies will give an RA (return authorization) number to put on the box or mailing label. Some companies will also charge a 15% re-stocking charge. It will be the department's responsibility for getting the package to the proper place for returning.

Damaged Merchandise: Notify the vendor that merchandise was damaged when received. Most of the time the vendor will process the damage claim. If the merchandise is delivered by freight truck, notify the freight company. An employee of the freight company will do an inspection report. Obtain a claim form from the freight company and follow the directions on the form to complete the paperwork. (Or contact the Purchasing Department for assistance.) Do not approve invoices for payment until the problem is solved.


Modification of Purchase Orders issued by the State of Montana or MSU Billings Purchasing Department must be made only through the Purchasing Department. The return of merchandise obtained through these Purchase Orders must be arranged through Purchasing. This is necessary so that encumbrances are properly modified.

Requests to change a responsibility center number must be in writing, approved, and forwarded to the Purchasing Department for processing.

Please remember that the MSU Billings Purchasing Department is here to do the purchasing or to assist in any way necessary.

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