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 BSA PO Tool Update/New iBuyNU Procedure Job Aid
August 1, 2023 | Alice Camacho, Associate Director of Finance

Dear Lab Manager’s and Staff,

Thank you for taking the time to attend last week’s PO Tool workshop concerning iBuy purchases. As we shared at the meeting, we are planning to pilot the PO Tool entry for all iBuy orders. One of our goals is to improve processes and our communication with the labs. We believe the additional entry into the PO Tool will give us the opportunity to address purchase concerns coming from all parties. Please review the new iBuyNU Procedure job aid to help with the new process. 

Note, we plan on surveying the community in late August and look forward to receiving feedback.

 Updated BSA Entertainment Guidelines
July 10, 2023 | Alice Camacho, Associate Director of Finance Administration

Dear Faculty, Lab Staff and Students,

Please review our updated BSA Entertainment Guidelines. We included additional information to help clarify items.

 Procurement Processing Timelines
September 21, 2020

In light of the return to campus for many of our faculty and lab staff, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of expected processing times for BSA procurement transactions and expense reports (reimbursements). While we strive to process all order requests as soon as possible, we have a staff of three full-time employees and a procurement manager that are processing hundreds of transactions per week. See below for each type of transaction.

iBuy Shopping Carts and Fisher Stockroom Carts

24 hours

Non-Preferred Vendor Orders (PO Tool)

Approximately 48 hours. Please note that additional time may be necessary to set-up new vendors or for large purchases or agreements that need legal or school level review. The University has added additional layers of approval and required justification for purchases on non-grant sources over $5,000 as they look to focus on essential purchases and those supported by sponsored funding. Procurement team will provide updates via comments section in PO Tool.

Expense Reports

Five business days to review/respond with questions and submit for approvals. Please note that expense exceptions require Dean's Office approval and may add an additional five days for processing. Reimbursements on grant chart strings add an additional layer of approvals from ASRSP which will increase processing time.

Invoices for Payment

Three business days for preferred vendors; if this is a new vendor, note that acceptance of a new supplier may take additional time.

In order to ensure our team can promptly review and submit your requests, please refrain from emailing for order status updates within 24 hours of submitting your order. We understand your eagerness to confirm your order has been submitted; however, the more emails we receive regarding the submission of an order, the less time the team has to process transactions.

If you're order is very urgent, make sure to notate this on the iBuy order or in the PO Tool so the team can prioritize your request. Please make sure to only mark as urgent when absolutely necessary to maintain workflow and ensure orders are processed in the order they are received.

Please contact our Procurement Team with any questions.

 New Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards

The Federal Government has issued new purchasing guidelines when using federal grant awards, called Uniform Guidance.

The primary goals of these procurement standards are to:
  • Increase reuse of existing equipment and supplies
  • Increase competition when purchasing equipment and supplies
  • Minimize sole sources

Key Policy Updates

  • Any purchase on a federal grant of $10,000 or more requires multiple bids (quotes).
    • This includes lab supplies, approved equipment or computers, lab services, consulting, etc.
    • If the purchase is made from a NU Preferred Vendor, multiple bids are NOT required.
  • If a purchase can only legitimately be procured from a single vendor, we can submit a sole source justification that will be evaluated through the workflow approval process.
  • Bids for purchases over $250,000 using sponsored funds will be formally conducted by Northwestern’s Procurement and Payment Services department.
  • The threshold for purchases that require ASRSP approval has been increased from $2,500 to $5,000; expenses lower than $5,000 that are not subcontracts, consulting, or travel will no longer require ASRSP approval in workflow.
    • Justifications for non-capital equipment or computers not included in the grant proposal still require prior approval before submission.
  • Purchases on non-grant accounts of $25,000 or more still require multiple bids, or a sole source justification when only a single vendor can provide the item(s).

Additional Resources

Visit Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards for detailed information about these new purchasing procedures.

For additional resources, visit Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Program (ASRSP) – Uniform Guidance.

Contact the BSA Team

If you have any general questions about Uniform Guidance or need to discuss justifying certain expenses on your grants, please contact your research administrator in BSA. If you have questions about Uniform Guidance standards, when to use multiple bids or how to request a sole source justification, please contact BSA’s Procurement Team

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