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Policies and Procedures

Policy 1251 – Small Order Policy

March 1, 1998
Last Updated
December 9, 2014
Last Reviewed
October 1, 2014
Responsible University Officer
Director of Purchasing Services
Responsible Unit
Purchasing Services

Policy Statement

The State of North Carolina and the University allow purchases for goods and services that cost less than $5,000 including tax and shipping to be purchased as needed without submitting a requisition to place an order or obtaining a bid or quote. Each department has budget authority to use this small order process. The chair, dean or director may delegate this authority to specified departmental personnel. Individuals using the small order policy should exercise due diligence in obtaining best-value products before expending University funds.

Goods or services acquired under this policy may be paid for using a University Purchasing Card (P-Card), direct billing via E-Commerce, or the campus voucher process with an invoice. Procurement Services monitors the small order payments to ensure compliance with all policies, laws and regulations.

Reason for Policy

This policy provides for efficient ways to procure small dollar items where the financial risks to the University are low and the State of North Carolina does not require competition.


The small order policy cannot be used for the following:

  • Purchases in excess of $5,000 (including taxes and delivery charges); purchases may not be split into several purchases to avoid this threshold.
  • Personal services provided by an individual who has no employee affiliation with the University and who provides service to the University, such as a consultant, a speaker or a performer.
  • Research gases
  • Radioactive materials
  • Items carried in University Storerooms
  • Chemicals on list of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism standards

Special Situations

Services for one-time repairs and maintenance (see Chart of Accounts for proper account) may be purchased through this process. However, regardless of dollar value, any written contract for repairs and maintenance services must be reviewed and signed by Contract Services.


  • None

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I would like to purchase an item costing in excess of $5,000. Is there any way I can purchase the item without Purchasing Services’ involvement?
A: No. Once the cost of an item exceeds the $5,000 threshold, it is no longer considered a small order and Purchasing Services must be involved to ensure fair and open competition.

Q: Can I purchase an item with personal funds and then have the University reimburse me?
A: No, small purchases are made by one of the approved procurement methods whereby the University is making the payment directly to the vendor. The University's exemption from sales and use tax is only valid if the purchase is made through approved procurement channels.

Q: If the item costs less than $5,000 but shipping and handling bring the total cost to more than $5,000 may I pay the invoice on a campus voucher?
A: No, the total amount of the purchase must be less than $5,000. The campus voucher system will not allow you to create a document in excess of $5,000.

Q: Do I still have to use State contracts to make small purchases?
A: Yes, some State contracts are mandatory and they are to be checked before making a purchase.

Q: Do I have to get three quotations before making a small purchase?
A: No. Three quotations are not required, but a good steward of the State’s dollars should always look for the best price.

Q: If the purchase cost less than $5,000 and there is a contract or maintenance agreement to be signed, may I just sign the contract?
A: No, all contracts must be reviewed and signed by Purchasing Services. If you sign the contract, you are making yourself personally liable for the terms of that contract.

Related Data

State of North Carolina Division of Purchase and Contract Administrative Code: Procurement Authorization and Procedures, Contract Requirements, 01 NCAC 05B.0301 (1)
- Small Order Purchase via Purchasing Card (P-Card)
- Small Order Purchase via Business-to-Business Strategic Partner Agreements


Small order purchases of goods & services Purchasing Services - Goods 919-962-3774 919-962-0636


December 9, 2014: Added item to list of Exclusions.
October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisitions; revised references to campus vouchers.
July 23, 2010
August 10, 2007
March 29, 2005