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Procurement Processing Timelines

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.

NU-provided PPE supplies

Dear BSA Lab Managers,

As our labs continue to ramp up, adding capacity and activity, we want to continue to ensure that everyone has access to sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in order to protect everyone on campus. The University will continue to provide reasonable quantities of the following supplies at no cost to labs:

  • Return to Campus Kit (bag with hand sanitizer and 2 re-usable masks)
  • Disposable 3-ply surgical masks (50 per package)
  • Reusable Mask - Black (1 per package)
  • Reusable Mask - White (1 per package)
  • Office hand sanitizer pump bottle (16 ounce)
  • Personal Size Hand Sanitizer (4 oz)
  • Disinfectant (may be a canister of wipes or spray bottle with paper towel roll)
  • Vinyl gloves (50 pair per box) MEDIUM - for use when disinfecting
  • Vinyl gloves (50 pair per box) LARGE - for use when disinfecting
  • Vinyl gloves (50 pair per box) EXTRA LARGE - for use when disinfecting
  • Personal Use Digital Thermometer (Not Contactless)

NOTE: Gloves to be used for occasional cleaning of work space in offices, not to be worn all the time of for use in labs.

Ordering PPE: BSA PO Tool Instructions

NU Procurement has asked that requests for PPE come from a single representative from each department. We request that you enter these requests for PPE using the BSA PO Tool. Please select “Northwestern Free PPE” as the “Vendor”, enter the desired quantity of each PPE type in “Qty”, enter “NA” for “Item #”, and enter the name of the PPE item from the list above in “Description”. The tool will not accept a $0 entry, so please enter $.01 in the “Unit $” field, and then add additional lines for additional items as needed. Please uncheck the “Receiver Required?” box, and select “Phone” as the “Order Method”. Complete the chart string information at the bottom to balance the entries, and finally “Submit Order” (your chart string will not be charged for this order).

BSA Procurement will process your requests through NU Procurement on a timely basis. Requests from each department will be assigned to the following BSA Procurement Team members:

  • Basic Science Admin – Matt Temkin, Backup: Kelly Thompson
  • Center for Gen Med – Kelly Thompson
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics – Kelly Thompson
  • Cell and Developmental Biology – Mary Crane, Backup: Kelly Thompson
  • Microbiology-Immunology – Kelly Thompson
  • Neuroscience – Kelly Thompson
  • Pharmacology – Mary Crane, Backup: Kelly Thompson
  • Simpson Querrey Center for Epigenetics – Kelly Thompson

For questions on this process, or to check on the status of an order, please email, and we will respond in a timely fashion.

Thank You,

The BSA Procurement Team

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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