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Buying for university-related business is simplified

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock

Purchasing is about to get easier.

Effective Feb. 1, the limits on e-SHOP transactions and university bids will be raised. Along with an increase in the procurement card limit last October, these changes will streamline Cornell’s purchasing process on the Ithaca campus for smaller items and reduce the number of forms needed for larger purchases.

“We made these limit changes in response to feedback from our faculty and those who contract for services or need to buy equipment, office supplies and other items,” said Gerald Hector, vice president for financial affairs and university treasurer.

e-SHOP is a web-based “shopping cart” for ordering goods and services offered by Cornell’s preferred and contract suppliers where users can place orders up to a pre-defined transaction limit without additional approvals. The standard e-SHOP transaction limit will be raised from $500 to $1,500, and the e-SHOP Plus transaction limit will be raised from $1,500 to $5,000.

In most cases, the university bid limit also is increasing. Currently, purchases of $10,000 or more must go out for bid; beginning Feb. 1, purchases of $25,000 or more need to go out for bid. For a limited number of cases, external sponsors – such as the federal government – do not currently allow the increased threshold, and Cornell is committed to working with these sponsors on this concern.

In the fall, a new $1,500 transaction limit was added to the procurement card program and is being distributed strategically by unit leadership. The procurement card program provides charge cards to employees whose positions require frequent, small-dollar purchases of business-related goods and services, excluding travel.

Hector said the procurement card, e-SHOP and university bid changes are based on a yearlong review of the procurement process, and these changes were the first of several that are being considered to streamline the purchasing of goods and services even further. Staff from the Division of Financial Affairs documented the procure-to-pay process and held 15 focus groups with 111 customers. An additional 684 campus customers were surveyed.

Feedback overwhelmingly indicated that university bid, procurement card transaction and e-SHOP transaction limits – which had not changed in more than two decades in some instances – had not kept pace with increasing costs, more efficient ways to make purchases, and the purchasing needs of faculty, staff and, in some instances, students.

Procurement and Payment Services estimates that the higher university bid limit will reduce by half the number of single-source justification forms required for purchases, and the changes in e-SHOP are expected to accelerate order processing.

“We thank everyone on campus who has worked with us to study the procurement process and provide recommendations,” said Hector. “We are confident that these changes will streamline the purchasing process and provide faster turnaround times for orders being placed and products received.”

Hector said his division will continue to implement other changes for ease of service, review feedback and identify future opportunities for improvements in the purchasing process.