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Purchasing (Policy)

Office of Origin: Purchasing & Risk Management
Responsibility: Manager, Purchasing & Risk Management
Date Adopted: 10-26-93
Dates Reviewed: 8-16-12, 5-2-16, 8-4-21(C), 9-25-23(C)
Last Date Approved by Board: 12-5-23

Lake Michigan College (the College) is committed to maintaining financial and business practices that assure equal opportunity to all those who provide goods and/or services to the College.   

The College is an Equal Opportunity institution, as described in the Non-Discrimination policy. 

The Purchasing Department (Purchasing) is responsible for conducting purchasing functions in a manner that results in the greatest benefit to the College while upholding the ethical practices of the purchasing profession. Purchasing subscribes to the National Association of Educational Buyers’ (NAEB) Code of Ethics, which governs the relationships between purchasing professionals and vendors. 

The College may not be financially obligated to a vendor unless an approved purchasing method is used. 


It is the responsibility of employees to know and abide by this policy. If an employee is found not to be compliance, the following progressive options are available depending on the nature of the non-compliance:  

  1. Verbal reminder and review of the procedure with the employee 
  2. Verbal warning to the employee by Human Resources 
  3. Written warning to personnel file 
  4. Discipline up to and including termination 

Employees are expected to conduct business according to the highest legal and ethical standards; see Conflict of Interest - Employee policy

Employees are to avoid accepting any kind of gratuity, tips, or gifts, including merchandise, cash, services, entertainment, etc.; see the Gifts & Gratuities policy.  

Purchases may only be made if there are adequate budgeted funds over which the purchaser has authority, or with written approval from the Executive Director, Finance or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to exceed budget. 

All contracts/agreements are to be sent to Purchasing to be maintained in the master contract file. It is the responsibility of the employee to ensure compliance with a contract/agreement. 


In accordance with the Authority to Bind the College to External Agreements policy, certain purchases require Board of Trustee (the Board) approval in advance of the purchase commitment; see “Authority to Bind College to External Agreements” (Authority to Bind) policy


The following outlines requirements for initiating purchases: 

  • Less than $5,000 (less than $10,000 for Facilities and IT departments) – no requisition or comparison pricing is required, although comparison pricing is always expected to occur as a prudent purchasing standard. Purchases should be completed by direct pay (i.e., check request) or procard.  
  • $5,000-$24,999 ($10,000-$24,999 for Facilities and IT departments) – a requisition and minimum of 3 written quotes are required. The quotes may be solicited by Purchasing or the requestor if approved by Purchasing. The purchase will be awarded to the vendor whose quote is most advantageous, using price, quality, and other factors as considerations. 
  • $25,000 or more – require a requisition and competitive sealed bids solicited by Purchasing. Solicitations require advertising through appropriate media (e.g., mail, e-mail, internet, public notice in newspaper of general circulation.)  

If it is neither practicable nor advantageous to solicit bids due to the unique or unquantifiable nature of the good or service (e.g., professional services), the Request for Proposal or Request for Qualifications methods may be used.


Exceptions to the competitive pricing/quote/bid requirements are:   

  • Advertising contracted services  
  • Approved sole source purchases  
  • Cooperative purchasing program purchases up to $100,000 
  • Emergencies * 
  • Goods and services for resale by Mendel Center   
  • Library books and subscription renewals  
  • Mendel Center Mainstage show contracts  
  • Utility services 

*An emergency is an occurrence that is believed to be disruptive to College operations or to create a hazard to the health or safety of persons or to property if not corrected as soon as possible. When an emergency occurs during working hours, Purchasing must be contacted for an emergency PO. If an emergency occurs after hours, purchase of emergency items may be done with the approval of the President, Chief Financial Officer, or Executive Director, Facilities. Purchasing must be notified within 2 working days of the purchase so that it can be properly documented as an emergency purchase. If an emergency purchase exceeds $100,000, the President will inform the Board at or before the next Board meeting of the purchase and the reason.


Procurement of goods and services without competition is only done under exceptional and limited circumstances. The requestor must complete a Justification for Sole Source Procurement Request form (Sole Source Form) prior to purchasing the good or service. 

Sole source purchases may be made only if the request is made using the Sole Source Form, the request meets one or more of the criteria on the Sole Source Form, and the Sole Source Form has all required approvals. 

Cost analysis must be performed by the requestor to ensure that the cost charged by the vendor is reasonable and customary by comparison the cost with: 

  • competitive published price lists, market indexes, etc., 
  • independent market research, 
  • proposed prices received in response to a competitive solicitation, or 
  • previously proposed prices for the same or similar items. 

Purchases and/or contracts requiring Board approval per the Authority to Bind policy that are awarded as a sole source must be so indicated in the materials provided to the Board. 


Bid Bonds, Performance Bonds, and Labor/Material Bonds are required on all construction or maintenance project bids that are estimated at $100,000 or more. Bid bonds are normally required in the amount of 5% of the vendor bid. Performance and Labor/Material Bonds are normally required to be 100% of the vendor's total bid. Exceptions to this requirements must be approved by the President.   

All bonds must be from bonding companies licensed to do business in Michigan. All bonds in effect are to remain in Purchasing and are the responsibility of the Purchasing Manager. 


Agreements to Maintain Academic Equipment 

Maintenance agreements may not be a prudent use of College resources, and must be approved in advance by the supervising Cabinet Member. 


Only the following departments may purchase consumable alcohol and only for the following purposes: 

  • Culinary – for direct instructional purposes 
  • Enology & Viticulture – for direct instructional purposes  
  • Hospitality – for direct instructional purposes 
  • Mendel Center Operations – for resale business purposes  
  • Mendel Center Mainstage – to satisfy production rider requirements 
  • President’s Office – Upon occasion it may be appropriate to purchase alcoholic beverages when entertaining College guests or when hosting a College-related group activity. All such occasions must be hosted by the President or the expense must be authorized in writing by the President.   

Capital Purchases 

A requisition and purchase order is always required for a capital purchase or a purchase that is part of a capital project, regardless of dollar amount, to ensure proper tagging as a capital asset. See Capital Asset procedure for what qualifies as a capital asset. 

Cash Advances, Travelers Checks, Money Orders

The College does not offer cash advances, travelers checks, or money orders for travel or other expenses.

Charges for Non-Employees

Costs for a non-employees (e.g., a spouse when traveling on College business) are not allowable purchases unless the non-College individual is a guest of the College (e.g., taking a donor to lunch, meeting with a superintendent for breakfast.)

Flowers & Gifts

Flowers or gifts are not allowable purchases unless provided by or authorized by
the President’s Office or the Culture & Talent Success office. This does not include
College promotional items, like lanyards, t-shirts, sunglasses, etc.

Computers, Peripherals & Software for College Use 

All requests for technology items must be approved by the IT Department prior to or upon requisitioning. Certain grant programs where equipment and software do not become College property and/or are not installed on the College network are an exception to this requirement. The grant administrator is required authorize such purchases prior to or upon requisitioning. 


Donations to other organizations using College monies or assets are prohibited unless approved by the supervising Cabinet member and CFO. 


The College does not purchase, pay for, or reimburse an employee for entertainment unless part of a Lake Michigan College Foundation event, done as a team-building exercise for an athletic team in accordance with Athletic Department
policy, academic field trips or academic recruiting, or done by the Culture & Talent Success department.

International Vendors

International vendors are prohibited for use unless they accept payments via credit card.

Personal Goods or Services 

The College will not purchase goods or services for employee personal use nor will arrangements be made by Purchasing to create any buyer-seller arrangements between employees and vendors. 

Publications (Printing and Graphics) 

All publications (brochures, newsletters, catalogs, forms, etc.) that will be distributed outside the College must be approved by the Marketing Department to ensure consistent, high-quality publications and graphics standards. 

Purchases by Pro Card, Expense Reimbursement, and Direct Pay Check Request 

Purchases by procurement card, reimbursement for out-of-pocket purchases, and direct pay check request are for purchases for which a purchase order is not required or accepted. These purchasing/payment methods may not be used to circumvent this policy or the purchasing procedures, for services provided by an employee (which must go through payroll), and may not be used to circumvent this policy. 

Publications (Printing and Graphics)

All publications (brochures, newsletters, catalogs, forms, etc.) that will be distributed outside the College must be approved by the Marketing Department to ensure consistent, high-quality publications and graphics standards.


Facility or room rentals are not allowable purchases unless College facilities are unavailable.

Sales Tax Exemption Status

The College (other than Mendel Center Operations) is exempt from all federal, state, and local taxes. For purchases related to Mendel Center Operations, see Collection & Review of Tax Exemption Forms procedure. • Sales tax on any
purchase as the College is sales tax exempt. Employees are responsible for ensuring that sales tax is not paid, which may be done by telling the vendor when ordering that the purchase is tax exempt and providing a tax exempt certificate if

Split Purchases

Splitting purchases into more than one transaction or coding a single transaction to difference org units to bypass authority levels, competitive bidding requirements, or internal controls is strictly prohibited. Coding a single transaction to multiple org units is allowed if done for legitimate business reasons.

Travel Expenses

See the Travel Expense Reimbursement procedure.

Authority to Bind the College to External Agreements policy  

Capital Asset policy
Conflict of Interest - Employee policy
Justification for Sole Source Procurement Request form  
Non-Discrimination policy 
Purchasing procedure 

Receipt of Gifts and Gratuities policy
Travel Expense Reimbursement procedure

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