How We Buy

The University buys in multiple ways. We have an e-procurement system, P-Cards and purchase orders.  Depending on the amount of the purchase and availability of the item, the University may use a written competitive process for larger purchases, and solicits phone, letter and e-mail quotes for smaller purchases. For most of our repetitive procurement needs, annual term contracts and purchase agreements are used. The awarded suppliers will then provide the items during the contract period at the quoted prices. The benefits to the University of a term contract or a purchase agreement are consistent quality, quantity pricing, immediate access, and consistency of supply.


cyBUY is our e-procurement marketplace available to all ISU employees for the procurement of supplies and equipment from a diverse group of competitively bid supplier catalogs.  Higher limits, lower prices, reduced or free shipping, automatic tax exemption, easier returns process, improved customer service through dedicated ISU representatives, less paperwork, and faster receipt of orders are the main benefits.

ISU Purchasing Card

Procurement Services delegates the authority to departments to purchase low-dollar supplies via the ISU Purchasing Card.  This is a VISA credit card, commonly referred to as a “P-Card”, and is intended to speed procurement and reduce paperwork for suppliers as well as the University.  P-Card limits are determined by the cardholder’s department with transaction limits of $4,900 or less.

Purchase Order

Purchase orders are issued by Procurement Services to procure both goods and services that are not able to be purchased through cyBUY or with the ISU Purchasing card.

Professional Services Contractual Agreement (PSCA)

Professional services are defined as unique, technical, and/or infrequent functions performed by an independent contractor qualified by education, experience, and/or technical ability to provide services. Procurement Services will review, approve and sign the agreement and also issue a purchase order to accompany the PSCA.

Competitive Bidding

Formal competitive bids are solicited for goods and services over $50,000 – as a single purchase or over the life of the contract.  There are other situations when competitive bidding is warranted such as use of federal funds, participation by a conflict-of-interest supplier, and at procurement agent discretion.

All bidding opportunities are posted on the ISU Procurement Services website on ISUBid.

Procurement Services issues the following types of solicitations:

Request for Information (RFI)

A formal process issued solely for information and planning purposes.  Pricing may be requested for budgetary purposes.

Request for Quotation (RFQ)

A formal process for direct bidding based on known specifications and performance for goods and/or services.  Award is determined by lowest price that meets the specifications.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A formal process that states performance criteria and invites vendors to propose equipment, systems or services to achieve the desired level of performance. Evaluation criteria used for award will be stated in the proposal.