Note: this page contains internal SOPs for the University’s Office of Procurement Services.  These SOPs are for internal use only.


SOP 1: Goals

SOP 2: Overview of UT Policies

SOP 3: Receiving Funds

SOP 4: Office-Specific Rules

SOP 5: Dress Code

SOP 6: Office Cleaning and Repairs

SOP 7: Email Signatures

SOP 8: Conduct

SOP 9: Manager-on-Duty (MOD)

SOP 10: Negotiation

SOP 11: Leave

SOP 12: Productivity and Queues

SOP 13: Bonds

SOP 14: Remote Working

SOP 15: Preferred Suppliers

SOP 16: Contracts and POs

SOP 17: Office Supplies

SOP 18: Fraudulent Orders

SOP 19: Unduly Restrictive Specifications



SOP 1: Goals


Purpose: This SOP is intended to communicate the office’s big-picture goals.


The goals for our team:


  1. Provide excellent customer service; and to consider everyone our customers: both internal and external individuals.
  2. Ensure that the University complies with applicable laws and university policies.
  3. Negotiate both-win deals with the university’s suppliers.
  4. Continuously improve: strive for operational excellence to increase efficiency and improve effectiveness.
  5. Hold suppliers accountable by conducting routine audits and supplier-relationship-management meetings.
  6. Provide outreach to the state’s diversity business community.
  7. Acknowledge our duty to the environment and engage in sustainable procurement practices, when possible.



SOP 2: Overview of UT Policies



Purpose: This SOP is designed to provide you with a high-level overview of official UT policies.

Important Official University Policies:

  1. Generally: The university has several policies that govern your employment at the You are responsible for knowing all policies that affect you at the university. Just like ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse, neither is ignorance of policy.
  2. Website: The official policy website is: here
  3. Overview: The university’s policies are divided into the following main categories:
    1. Board of Trustees
    2. Fiscal Policies
    3. Human Resources
    4. Information Technology Policies
    5. Safety Policies
  4. Specific Policies: The following policies are very important, and you must have deep familiarity with these policies:
    1. Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources (IT0110)
    2. Code of Conduct (HR0580)
    3. Conflict of Interests (FI0125) (note, some conflicts of interest are crimes)
    4. Disciplinary Action (HR0525)
    5. Employee Gift Acceptance Policy (FI0717)
    6. Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action and Diversity (HR0220)
    7. Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FI0130)
    8. Sexual Harassment (HR0280)
    9. Use of University Vehicles (FI0725)
  5. Procurement Cards: Please do not apply for a procurement card. No one in this office may request a university procurement card without first obtaining the director’s written
  6. Petty Cash: We closed our petty cash account on July 27, 2015. Please do not apply for a petty cash account.
  1. Notice Regarding Public Records: Your internet use and history; computer use and files; personnel file; and emails are all public records under Tennessee law. Note that deleting an email will not delete the email from the university’s servers (note: Outlook allows you to delete from Microsoft’s servers). Also, please note that your salary is a public. Further, you have no right to privacy in anything that you create, send, or receive on a university computer. Please do not conduct University business through personal email. If you do so, your personal email accounts might become public records.
  2. Gift Acceptance: Many suppliers will seek to offer our team’s members gifts, discounts, etc. Since we are in procurement, suppliers will try to target us in an attempt to influence us. We cannot accept gifts of any kind from suppliers.
  3. Parking: If you need to go to a meeting on UT property, be sure to take an “Orange Dot” parking pass, or drive the office’s UT‐owned.
  4. Non‐Exempt Staff: The director encourages non‐exempt staff to take the Certified Administrative Professional Examination. Under HR0465, passing the exam entitles non‐exempt staff to a one‐time salary increase of 9%.
  5. Administrative Closing Days: The university is closed on some, but not all federal holidays. The university also observes other “administrative closing” days. See here for a list of those days:
  6. Discounts: All University employees are eligible for certain discounts. Here is the link:
  7. UT Car: Our office has a university vehicle. Before you are eligible to drive it, you must comply with Use of University Vehicles (FI0725).
  8. Workplace Injuries: If you suffer an on‐the‐job injury or work‐related illness, you must do the following:
    1. If you suffer a serious bodily injury, call 911 or seek treatment at the nearest emergency room.
    2. Notify your supervisor immediately. You will need to tell your supervisor exactly what happened, how it happened, identify any witnesses to the incident, and explain any injuries you suffered.
    3. You and your supervisor must call the Workplace Injury & First Notice of Loss Call Center at 1‐ 866‐245‐8588, option #1, as soon after the occurrence of the incident as possible. You will speak to a nurse with the State of Tennessee’s third‐party administrator who will evaluate the nature of your injury and determine immediate care or treatment options.
    4. Your supervisor will notify the First Notice of Loss Unit at 1‐866‐245‐8588, option #2 to provide additional information.
    5. For more information, please see the University’s Worker’s Compensation Policy, HR0397, or contact the Risk Management Office at 4‐5409.
  9. Little Hatch Act: The Little Hatch Act prohibits all state employees from engaging in the following:
    1. Displaying campaign literature, banners, placards, streamers, stickers, signs, or other items of campaign or political advertising on the premises of state property. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-19-206(a)) Exception: Employees may display a decal or bumper sticker on their personal vehicle while parked on state property. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-19-206(c)).
    2. Using state-owned property for campaign advertising or activities (Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-19-206(b));
    3. Engaging in political activity not directly a part of that person’s employment during any period when the person should be conducting business of the state (Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-19-207).



SOP 3: Receiving Funds


Purpose: To ensure that staff comply with applicable University policy related to depositing funds.


  1. Background: This office receives several checks per year. These checks are usually rebates from suppliers based on UT’s spend volume, but sometimes these checks are for signing-bonuses or other similar items.
  2. Steps:
    1. The staff member who receives the mail will notify the director and associate director of the check, the payer (who wrote the check), and the amount.
    2. The director must ensure that a digital copy of the check is retained in the I: Drive in the following folder: I:\Vol03\Purchasing\Compliance_Records_Reports\Rebates\Documentation
    3. If the check is for a rebate, the buyer responsible for the purchase agreement must determine whether the check is reasonably accurate based on the University’s spend during the time-frame that the rebate check covers.
    4. The director must require a staff member to take the check to the Office of the Treasurer within 2 business days of receipt. The Office of the Treasurer will generate a digital receipt.
    5. The director must store the digital receipt in the I:Drive.


SOP 4: Office-Specific Rules


Purpose: This SOP covers general office rules.


Office-specific rules:


  1. Templates: When the director or associate director publish a template, staff members must use the template when applicable. Except for the areas of the template that must be modified (for example dates, etc.), staff members may not modify templates without the director or associate director’s permission.


  1. Voicemail: Staff members may choose:
    1. A traditional voicemail box; or
    2. A voicemail message that notifies the caller that your voicemail box does not accept voicemail, and you can disable the voicemail box from accepting messages.


  1. Gifts: Around the holidays or birthdays, or other special occasions, the question of gifts Whether or not to buy a co‐worker a gift is 100% voluntary.
    1. General: Please do not feel obligated to buy anyone in this office a gift.
    2. Gifts for Director Prohibited: I’m happy to receive cards, but please do not buy me any Employees will not be disciplined for buying me a gift, but I much prefer that you do not spend any money on the director.


  1. Soliciting Money: The Code of Conduct prohibits “soliciting, collecting money, or circulating petitions on university property.” Please do not sell items to coworkers, including chocolate bars, or coupon books.


  1. Communication: Good communication is essential to any professional relationship (co‐workers, suppliers, etc.). Misunderstanding and miscommunication are the root causes of most disputes. Be sure to communicate early, clearly, and often. Be sure to listen, too.  Listening is the most important communication skill you can have.


  1. Respect for Others: The Code of Conduct requires all university employees to treat others with respect and prohibits employees from harassing, discriminating, or retaliating against others. We respect everyone on our team. This office will not tolerate any violation of the Code of Conduct, and will impose discipline (up to termination) for confirmed violations of the Code of Conduct. Employees who act in a manner that is deemed “gross misconduct” may be terminated immediately.


  1. Discrimination/Sexual Harassment: We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment, sexual or otherwise, in this office. Employees who feel like they are the target of discrimination or harassment or who have concerns about discrimination or harassment must contact their supervisor as soon as possible.


  1. Reporting Harassment: Please call 865‐946‐CARE (865‐946‐2273) if you are concerned for your wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. The university’s human resources department lists the following signs of troubling behavior:
    1. Depression
    2. Fixation on weapons
    3. Anger or paranoia
    4. Chemical dependency
    5. Social isolation
    6. Zealotry‐racial, religious, political,
    7. Pushing the limits of acceptable behavior
    8. Contempt for authority
    9. Newly acquired bad traits
    10. Newly acquired poor personal hygiene
    11. Verbal threats, bullying
    12. Discussion or act of stalking and harassing others


  1. Requesting an accommodation for a disability: If you need to request an accommodation for a disability, please see the Office of Equity and Diversity’s website:


  1. Fraud, Waste, and Abuse: Employees must report suspected fraud, waste, or abuse to me, Mark Paganelli, or Ron Maples, or to the university’s Office of Audit and Compliance (865‐974‐6611), or the State of Tennessee hotline (1‐800‐232‐5454). Fiscal Policy FI0130 gives the following examples of fraud, waste, or abuse:
    1. Theft or misappropriation of funds, supplies, property, or other resources
    2. Improper and wasteful use of resources
    3. Forgery or alteration of documents
    4. Bribery or attempted bribery
    5. Unauthorized use of records
    6. Unauthorized alteration or manipulation of computer files
    7. Unauthorized use of logos, trademarks, copyrights,
    8. Falsification of reports to management or external agencies
    9. Pursuit of a benefit or advantage in violation of the university’s conflict of interests policy
    10. Improper handling or reporting of financial transactions
    11. Authorizing or receiving compensation for goods not received or services not performed
    12. Authorizing or receiving compensation for hours not worked
    13. Willful violation of laws, regulations, or contractual obligations when conducting university business
    14. Falsification or unauthorized alteration of time or leave records.
  2. Be a team player:
  1. Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like others to treat you.
  2. We are here to help departments: Help departments find solutions to problems and ways to meet their needs. Of course, we must comply with applicable policies and laws at all Be a problem solver.
  3. Empathy: Try to understand the person’s feelings and “where they are coming ” Empathy is a powerful trait, and essential for anyone who aspires to be a leader or a good co‐worker.
  4. Outstanding customer service: We must deliver outstanding customer service. They key concepts are: responsive, helpful, proactive, friendly, and patient.
  5. Patience: Be patient. Not everyone learns as fast as you do, or in the same way that you
  6. Consistency: Consistently treat everyone with respect.
  7. “Thick skin”: If a department or supplier gets hostile or combative with you, please take a deep breath and relax. Don’t take comments personally. Remember: you can never “take your words back.” Also, there are few things more important than maintaining good working relationships with others.
  8. Knowledge: If you don’t know the answer to something, tell the department that you will be happy to find it.
  9. Work ethic: Departments appreciate strong work ethic. Put yourself in the department’s shoes, and try to work hard to fix their issues.
  10. Responsive: Don’t leave anyone waiting a long time for a response. In general, you should respond to someone within one business day.
  11. Adaptability: Be adaptable. Things change, and people who adapt will succeed. Every person you work with is an individual (i.e. different from everyone else). Treat everyone with respect, but adapt your techniques to most benefit the person you are working with.
  12. Clear communication: Convey exactly what you mean. Say it is in the simplest ways possible, and be sure to avoid vague or ambiguous statements.


SOP 5: Dress Code

Purpose: This SOP covers the office’s dress code.


  • Staff members must dress in a manner that they believe reflects their planned professional activities for the day and portrays them in a professional manner.  Staff members must make a reasonable effort to be aware of meetings or other happenings in the office based on the group calendar, and dress accordingly.
  • Staff must use good judgment when wearing clothing with logos/symbols, etc.
  • Blue jeans: Staff members must use good judgment when deciding whether to wear jeans.  Generally, on Fridays, staff members are welcome to wear jeans.  On days other than Fridays, staff members may wear dark jeans with a professional top/shirt, if the staff member feels like this is an appropriate clothing choice.  Jeans must be intact (no holes, rips, patches, or frayed‐ edges).
  • If a staff member has medical reasons for dressing in a particular way, staff members may dress as required by their condition, or as directed by their physician.  To the extent allowed by policy, leadership may require staff members to provide documentation.
  • When the office’s air conditioning is not working, staff may dress in a casual manner provided that the staff member’s dress remains professional.



SOP 6: Printing; Trash; Office Cleaning; Recycling; Repairs

Purpose: This SOP covers printing, trash, office cleaning, how to report complaints about office cleaning, how to request special cleaning, and recycling.


Batteries: Do not throw batteries in the trash. Please give batteries to Donna. She will dispose of these properly.


Boxes: If you have boxes that should be thrown away, please put a note on the box that say “trash.”


Complaints: If you have a complaint about the quality of cleaning, please report it to the director.  Do not report it to any Facilities Services staff.


Desks: If you want the cleaning staff to clean your desk, please remove all items from your desk and place a note on the desk: “Please clean this desk, thank you.”


Out‐of‐Order: If something is out‐of‐order or broken, please notify Blake immediately. The facilities services crew gets in trouble when their inspectors find a light is out, for example.


Printing: Please reduce your printing to the maximum extent possible. Please print in black‐ and‐white when possible.


Personal Printing and Copies: We must pay for personal prints or copies. Black‐and‐white prints/copies are $0.03 per page, and color prints/copies are $0.10 per page. I encourage you to keep a spreadsheet of all personal prints and copies, and provide the money to the director once per month. The director will give the money to Susan Wilson, and she will email you a receipt.


Recycling: Please recycle paper in the blue bins.


Repairs: Please notify the director immediately of any defects you notice with lighting, hear, air conditioning, windows, any bathroom, etc.  The director will place a work order in Archibus.


Sink: Individuals who use plates, cups, mugs, silverware, or other utensils or containers must clean these items before going home for the day.   No dirty dishes need to be left in the sink overnight.



SOP 7: Email Signature


Purpose: This SOP covers email etiquette and rules governing your email.



  1. Email Etiquette:
    1. Generally:
      1. Reduce Reply‐All: Please only use “reply to all” when it’s truly necessary. When in doubt, do not reply to all.
      2. New York Times Rule: When sending an email to a supplier, or when sending an email about a contentious issue, please try to write the email as if it will appear on the front page of the New York Times. In other words, if everyone else could read your email, what would they think?
      3. Use the CC line correctly: If you want, or expect, a response from someone, please put their email in the “To” line, not the “CC” line.
      4. Include only necessary recipients: Sending an email to a large group can cause communication problems. It’s best to send your email to only recipients that are necessary.
      5. Avoid emoticons: Avoid using emoticons other than smiley faces, especially when your message might be misinterpreted as having a harsh tone.
      6. Avoid all‐caps: Avoid using all caps. If you want to emphasize something, consider using bold or underline, or a different color font.
      7. Concise: Keep your messages concise. We’re in a “Twitter” world, and people are often bombarded with lots of emails. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, and simple words. Also, use lists or bullet points, when needed.
    2. Signatures: An email “signature” is a block of text that is at the end of an e‐mail message you send. A signature is should only provide the recipient with your name, e‐mail address, business contact information, or Web site URL.
    3. Email Checklist:
      1. Check the names of all email recipients.
        1. Is the email addressed to the correct parties?
        2. Are there people who don’t belong?
      2. Check the domain names of all email recipients.
      3. Proofread your email (again) and use spellcheck.
      4. Scroll to the bottom of the email. It’s way too easy to send an embarrassing or problematic email thread. I like to trim off what’s not necessary if I’m forwarding an email thread.
      5. Open each attachment and confirm that it’s the correct version. You might think you clicked on “TPS Report” when attaching that document, but weird things happen when you’re on autopilot and you’re in a hurry.
    4. Email Signatures: We will present a consistent brand and we must always be professional with our email Rules:
      1. Only your official University contact information and official University‐approved logos and slogans can be use.
      2. All other statements, quotes, images, logos, phrases, etc., are prohibited. You may not include religious, political, holiday, or any other content in your emails other than content officially endorsed by the University.
      3. Refer to our office as “Procurement Services.”
      4. Whether to include the phone number or fax number is optional.
      5. You may include a Certified Professional Secretary designation, a graduate degree, or professional procurement‐related certification after your name, but nothing else.
      6. Letter closing: You must use a professional closing, such as “thanks,” “best regards,” etc.



Thank you,


Blake Reagan, J.D.

Director of Procurement Services

The University of Tennessee




SOP 8: Conduct



Purpose: This SOP covers the office’s rules of conduct, which are in addition to the University’s Code of Conduct.  These guidelines below are this office’s rules of conduct. Employees in the Office of Procurement Services must comply with these rules:


  1. Responsiveness. If a team member emails you, please make reasonable efforts to respond within the same business day, or the next business day.
  2. United Team: You are welcome to express work‐related concerns to co‐workers in this office, and you’re welcome to speak to me anytime. However, do not “badmouth” co‐workers or our suppliers to departments or others outside of our office (often, the idea below is summarized as “don’t air dirty laundry”):
    1. When speaking to people outside of this office, whether over the phone, email, or in person:
      1. The simple rule is: keep all comments related to work positive and
        1. Do not criticize departments.
        2. Do not criticize our suppliers.
        3. Do not volunteer criticism of system‐wide initiatives, state initiatives, or platforms, such as the e‐procurement system or outsourcing.
        4. Do not criticize campus leaders.
        5. Do not criticize anyone in our office.
    2. Inside this office:
      1. Do not
        1. Gossip
        2. Insult co‐workers.
      2. Do:
        1. Provide constructive feedback to help everyone improve, when needed.
        2. Speak honestly and professionally about concerns you have regarding initiatives or platforms, such as the e‐procurement system.
        3. Try your best to avoid controversial or inflammatory topics when speaking with others.
    3. Reporting: Employees are encouraged to tell their supervisor, or me, if another employee’s behavior in this office is affecting your ability to do your job, or that employee’s behavior violates UT policy.
    4. Petty complaints: Note that I will not tolerate “tattling” (i.e. petty complaints). I will view tattling as an act intended to create disunity and I will take appropriate disciplinary Sometimes, being a team player means “thickening your skin” and focusing on your own actions and holding yourself accountable, instead of focusing on someone else’s perceived shortcomings.
  3. Language: Please remember that we often have meetings in our office. It’s important to strive for professional language at all times.
  4. Punctuality: Get to the office and all scheduled meetings on time. We all run late occasionally, so if you are running late, you must make reasonable efforts to notify the people with whom you planned to meet as soon as possible that you are running late.
  5. Fragrances:
    1. After‐shave/Cologne/Perfume: Wear only a light amount of perfume, cologne, and after‐ Please remember that some fragrances will cause other people to suffer allergic reactions, headaches, etc.
    2. Scented Candles: You may not burn, melt, or heat scented candles. Again, sometimes, these scents cause others to suffer. While we’re on the topic of candles: no open flames are allowed in this office.
  6. Honesty: Be honest regarding work‐related activity.
  7. Personal Favors Prohibited: We will not ask others to perform personal favors for us. For example, we will not ask others to schedule personal appointments for example.
  8. Accountability: Accept responsibility for your Humans are not perfect; they eventually make mistakes. Deflecting liability for your error to another person is poor.
  9. Privacy: Respect your peers’ privacy regarding their private life outside of work. Do not start rumors about other employees, for example.
  10. Decorations:
    1. Your office or cubicle: You may decorate your office, provided that decorations are Avoid displaying any inflammatory or offensive material in your office or cubicle.
    2. Common space: Do not decorate any common space (hallways, bathrooms, etc.) without first obtaining my permission.
  11. Music: You may play music, so long as the music’s volume cannot be heard beyond your
  12. Frugality: We will be frugal when spending university resources, and you must comply with FI0130, Fraud, Waste, and Abuse:
    1. Use electronic documents as much as possible, and think about the environment before you print
    2. Check with your supervisor before spending university money. Do not use university money to buy something unless the item or service is
    3. Before ordering office supplies, please check the office supply storage
  13. Self‐Report: If you violate a university policy, or SOP, you might consider self‐ reporting the violation to me. Except for gross misconduct, the director may favorably consider an employee’s self‐reporting when assessing the severity of disciplinary



SOP 9: Manager-On-Duty


Purpose: This SOP addresses who is in charge of the office when the director is out of the office for a day or longer.  Team members will treat the “acting” office leader (“Manager-on-Duty,” “MOD”) with the same amount of respect and courtesy as if the MOD is the director.


Note: This SOP does not address succession planning because this office will follow HR policies when filling a job.


Below, please find a chart with team members listed by name and level of authority while the director and while the person listed above the team member is out.



Team Member MOD (when person listed above is absent) Authority
Blake Reagan Director
Abbie Shellist Full authority as director


When both the director and associate director are out of the office, if an employee needs to leave early or has an urgent situation, the employee will contact the associate director for guidance.  The associate director will coordinate with the director, as needed.


When the director and associate director are out, team members who feel the need to leave using sick or annual leave during the time while the director and associate director are out may do so without asking permission.  Team members must reflect their absence on their calendar, and the group calendar.



SOP 10: Negotiation


Purpose: This SOP covers negotiation.



Starting for every bid published on July 11, 2016 of after: all staff must negotiate every bid, and may negotiate when working with cooperatives.   Staff must record their results in the group drive.


Staff may use any of the following tactics:

  • Request for a best-and-final offer;
  • Target-price negotiation;
  • Simply asking the apparent winner to lower their price below a certain number.


The director encourages staff to use the IBIS World procurement resource for research.


The goal for the entire office is to save between 7 and 11 times its own operating costs.  Currently, including software, travel, benefits, operating costs, salaries, etc., the total operating costs is approximately $3,000,000.00 (roughly $1,000,000 in staff salary and benefits).  Accordingly, the office’s goal is to save between $21,000,000.00 and $33,000,000.00.  These savings goals are aspirational only.


When negotiating, staff must track only two data points:

  1. General savings: Pricing on a quote from a respondent who participates in the bid (if available) [minus] the respondent’s initial bid response; and
  2. Negotiated savings: Winner’s initial, official bid response [minus] Winner’s final costs.


Staff will not be evaluated on their results by comparing to other staff members.  Staff will be evaluated on whether they participated in negotiation.



SOP 11: Leave



Purpose: This SOP provides guidance on proper procedures when requesting leave and when submitting timesheets.



  1. Out‐of‐Office Email Notice: Whenever possible, when you will be out of the office for one full day or longer, please activate the “out of office auto response” feature in
  2. Group Calendar: Please update the group calendar with events that will require you to be out of the office (including events that are less than a full day).
    1. You do not have to put lunch breaks on the calendar.
    2. You do not have to, and are encouraged not to, share overly personal details. For example, if you are going to the dermatologist, you can simply say “doctor.” The University tries hard to preserve the confidentiality of employee health Please do not accidentally undermine these efforts by disclosing health information in the group calendar. Be careful about revealing personal details in conversations, emails, etc., also.
  3. Sick Leave:
    1. Details: If you are sick, please keep the details to a minimum when letting others in our office know. We trust you to be honest with your sick leave. In general, we don’t need to know about specifics of your
    2. When to stay home: If you are unable to perform your duties, you are a danger to others, or you have a contagious illness, you must stay
    3. Documentation: HR0380 states that the university may require a physician’s statement or illness or injury before granting sick leave. No one other than the director may request such documentation. This rule is to keep protected health information as confidential as
    4. Planned in advance: Please submit all requests for planned‐in‐advance sick leave to your immediate supervisor via email. Once your leave request is approved, please put your leave on the group
    5. Unplanned: If you are ill, injured, or have another unplanned reason to use sick leave, please make reasonable efforts to follow the procedures below:
      1. Please call the main telephone number and speak with someone to inform them that you are not going to come in. Note, if you are too sick to call, please email.
      2. If you do not call or email by 10:30 AM, we’ll give you a call to check on you.
      3. When you return to the office please put your sick leave on the group calendar, even if the day in question has passed.
    6. Sick Leave Bank: Note that the university operates a voluntary sick‐leave bank:
  4. Annual Leave:
    1. Documentation: University Human Resources Policy requires that annual leave be approved in advance by your supervisor.
    2. Timing: Please submit all requests for annual leave to your immediate supervisor via email. If your supervisor approves your request, please put your leave on the group
    3. General Rules:
      1. For leave of two days or less, you may submit an email request up to 24 hours before the requested leave. (For example, if you wish to take annual leave on a Friday, submit an email no later than Thursday morning).
      2. For leave of more than two days, please submit an email requesting leave at least two weeks in advance, except when an emergency or other unexpected circumstance occurs.


  1. High-Demand Times:
    1. Length of employment will play no role in whether your supervisor approves leave for the following weeks:
      1. Week of Thanksgiving
      2. Week before UT’s Winter Break
      3. Week after UT’s Winter Break
      4. Week of New Year’s Day
    2. Rule: No more than 6 staff members will be allowed to be off during each of the weeks listed above.  Note, however, that we must have at least 1 person in the office who can handle a contract, bid, etc.  So, for example, all buyers cannot be out at the same time.
    3. Procedure: To be eligible for annual leave during the weeks listed above, staff must submit their leave requests via email between October 1 and October 10 of each year.  If 6 or fewer people request off for one of the given weeks, those individuals’ requests will be approved.  If more than 6 request off for one of the given weeks, the office will conduct a lottery to determine which staff members will be allowed to take off on the given week.
    4. Exception: If a staff member has a medical need, or other unique personal event (e.g. visit ill family member, etc.), the staff member will be allowed to be off.  Please note that abusing this exception is a violation of the Code of Conduct, and may result in HR actions.
    5. Director or Associate Director: Ultimately, the director or associate director retain total discretion to approve or deny a leave request.


  1. Reporting Time:
    1. When the staff member is uncertain how long the staff member will be out of the office: use the IRIS Web leave request form to report leave after the staff member takes the leave.
    2. When the staff member is certain how long the staff member will be out: use the IRIS Web leave request to input time that you will be off. You may do this only after your supervisor has approved your leave.



When out for an entire day:


Exempt (“salaried”) staff must follow these procedures when the staff member will be out of the office for a full day, or longer.   Staff must choose an option:


  1. Delegate: Select a delegate to handle all of their work while the staff member is out. The staff member will inform the delegate of all relevant items, and the staff member will not check email while out.


Staff member must:

  • Provide delegate with all relevant information.
  • List delegate’s information in staff member’s out-of-office email.
  • Not check email while out of the office.


  1. Opt to check email: While the director encourages staff to choose option # 1, staff may choose this option if they feel the need to work while out of the office. Staff members must accept full responsibility and accountability for items that the staff member handles while the staff member is out of the office.



SOP 12: Productivity and Queue Guidelines




Purpose: To encourage productive working hours.




All team members must be mindful of their productivity during all working hours.  Team members must make reasonable efforts to socialize or engage in non-work-related tasks during lunch breaks.  Outside of lunch hours, team members must minimize socializing and other non-work-related tasks.


Infrequent, brief socializing is a positive behavior, as long as the socializing involves communication with positive intentions.  Accordingly, office leadership does not intend to ban socializing completely.


Stated simply: our office has a good “atmosphere,” and a good team environment.  Everyone gets along reasonably well.  These are great attributes.  As UT employees, we have a duty to the University to be as productive as possible, during working hours.  We also have a duty to our team members.  If a team member is unproductive while on working hours, this unproductivity will likely shift a work burden to another team member.


Leadership will provide informal, verbal warnings to team members who violate this SOP.  Team members who violate this SOP more than three times in any month will be provided with a formal written warning, which will be filed with the team member’s annual performance review.



Queue Guidelines




Note: No SOP could cover all situations in which you should notify me or seek my assistance.  I will leave it up to you to exercise excellent judgment and please err on the side of including me.   This SOP is meant to provide guidance, and it is not exclusive of all things in which I need to be involved.


Decisions: For clarity, I always want to be involved in everything involving:

  • Fiscal Review or the State of Tennessee (General Assembly, other state agencies, etc.);
    • This includes anything that potentially could go to Fiscal Review.
  • Master agreements;
  • CBOs or upper-level people;
  • Communications to the other contracts or purchasing offices;
  • Policy revisions;
  • Meetings with Mark, departments, and others;
  • Approving leave requests;
  • Any HR issues;
  • Anything you believe is “bad news.”



Queue time: By “queue time,” I mean: “time it takes for you to provide your first, thorough, substantive review.”


Goal = Excellence*: Your goal queue time is less than 1 business day.  Same-day turnaround. Most contracts can be processed in under 2 business hours.


Realistic Tier 1 (outstanding)*: 1 business day.


Realistic Tier 2 (acceptable)*: An acceptable average queue time is 2-3 business days.


Maximum*: Your acceptable queue time is maximum 4 business days.


Notice: I want to be notified anytime your queue is longer than 3 full business days.



*Note: Of course no timeline could cover every possible scenario, and I understand this.



Vendor follow-ups: Please follow-up with vendors at least once per calendar week when the vendor needs to respond to UT.  We are responsible for managing all aspects of the contract review timeline.


Department follow-ups: Please keep your departments up-to-date, and keep them “in the loop.”  Note, however, that it is a best practice to avoid copying departments when you negotiate with vendors via email.





Buyers must check their assigned requisitions each day by accessing the manage tab in ESM Market Place.



Fast Tracks

For requisitions (Fast Tracks) that are not bids (NCJs, cooperatives, state contracts, under the bid limit) you should strive to complete the PO within 2-3 days of being assigned the requisition.


Goal = Excellence*: Your goal queue time is less than 1 business day.  Same-day turnaround.


Realistic Tier 1 (outstanding)*: 1 business day.


Realistic Tier 2 (acceptable)*: An acceptable average queue time is 2-3 business days.


Maximum*: Your acceptable queue time is maximum 4 business days.


Notice: Buyers must notify the Associate Director anytime their queue is longer than 3 full business days.



For requisitions that will result in a bid, you must be taking action within 3 days of being assigned the requisition.  Taking action could mean the following:


  • Contacting the department to let them know you have been assigned the requisition and give them a timeline for getting the bid out;
  • Getting additional information from the department (specifications, committee information, etc.); or
  • Publishing the bid.


Goal = Excellence*: Your goal queue time is less than 2 business days.


Realistic Tier 1 (outstanding)*: 2 business day.


Realistic Tier 2 (acceptable)*: An acceptable average queue time is 3 business days.


Maximum*: Your acceptable queue time is maximum 4 business days.


Notice: Buyers must notify the Associate Director when the buyer cannot act on a particular requisition within 4 days.


*Note: Of course no timeline could cover every possible scenario, and office leadership understands this.





SOP 13: Performance Bonds


When you receive a performance bond, staff must put the performance bond in the accordion file located in the top drawer of the filing cabinet in the copy room.  Staff may not store performance bonds in their individual offices.


Please file the performance bonds using the following guidelines:


  1. File in alphabetical order.


  1. Ignore articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”) (e.g., “The Catering Company” will be filed under “C”).


  1. If a business’s name starts with a digit, file the performance bond under the first letter of the digit (e.g., “1st Street Catering” would be filed under “F”).


Staff must place a cover page on the bond, which must follow this format:


  • PO or contract number
  • Date received
  • Vendor name
  • Vendor number
  • Dates of PO
  • Name of staff member who filed




SOP 14: Remote Working and Flexible (“Flex”) Time

Remote Working

Remote working offers the opportunity for staff members to remain productive while away from the office due to circumstances beyond their control.


  1. Irregular basis:
    1. For absences where the staff member can make a reasonable effort to plan the medical or personal appointment in advance, and where the appointment will likely last longer than 3 hours, staff members must request permission from the Associate Director at least 5 full business days in advance.
    2. Staff members may request to work remotely with little advanced notice, on a case-by-case basis. Staff members must request permission from the Associate Director before working remotely.
  2. Regular basis: Staff members may not work remotely on a regular basis. ADA accommodations and other applicable laws prevail, of course, so if a staff member needs to request such accommodations, the staff member must discuss with their immediate supervisor, or the Office of Equity and Diversity.
  3. Conduct: While working remotely, staff must contemporaneously log all hours worked, and all tasks performed, with a level of detail sufficient to demonstrate how the staff member spent their time remote working. Staff must turn in this log to the director and associate director each day, on the same day as the staff member works from home.  When working remotely, staff must be as productive as they would be if they were working in the office, or more productive.  Without the routine office distractions, staff working remotely will likely be able to perform more productively.



Flexible Time


Applicability: this SOP applies to all Procurement staff members who are exempt (paid on a monthly, salary basis), except the director.  The director is not eligible for this SOP.


Procedure: Once per calendar year, staff members may choose from one of the flexible-time options below.  Staff members may not switch their choice during the calendar year.


Option 1:

  • Exempt staff members may bank up to a total of 40 hours of banked annual leave, from the period February 1 – October 31.
  • Staff members may bank leave in 15-minute increments (rounded down to the nearest 15 minutes), starting at time worked above 45 hours a week.  Staff members may not accrue flexible time on a week when using annual or sick leave.
  • Before accruing flexible time, staff member must request approval from their immediate supervisor.
  • If staff members work remotely after business hours, or on weekends, staff must comply with the Remote Working SOP.


Option 2:

  • Exempt staff may work a shorter day (time in office must be at least 4 hours), when adhering to the following guidelines:
    • Staff members must work no less than 8 hours on any given day (excluding the shorter day).
    • Staff members may work a shorter day one day per week, leaving no earlier than noon, or arriving no later than 1.
    • Staff members may utilize this option on a sporadic basis, or a regular basis, provided that the staff member complies with this SOP.
    • Staff members may not “roll” time over to a week other than the week in which the staff member takes a half-day off.
    • If a staff member takes a lunch break, the staff member cannot count the lunch break as working time.
    • Exempt staff members must work at least 40 hours per week.
    • This option is not available May 1 – June 30.
    • This option is only available during weeks when UT is open Monday – Friday and when the staff member uses no sick or annual leave.  If a staff member works a half-day Monday – Thursday, and is sick the following day, the staff member must use sick leave to meet the 40-hour minimum.
    • Staff members must attend meetings and meet appropriate deadlines, which might result in the staff member cancelling their half-day off with little or no advanced notice.


Important Notes:

  • Staff members who use either option must demonstrate a commitment to being as productive as possible.
  • By participating in this SOP, staff members acknowledge that the director may revoke flexible-time privileges for any participating staff member at any time, for any reason.
  • Flex-time has no monetary value.
  • Flex-time is not transferrable.



SOP 15: Preferred Suppliers


Procedure:  Our office designates suppliers as “preferred” in two ways:


  1. Texas Supply Chain Alliance: in UT’s official affiliation agreement with the Alliance, we are required to name their suppliers as “preferred.” This is the only “preferred” status that carries with it obligations on UT.  With Alliance suppliers, we must strive to channel at least 80% of our spend to these suppliers.


  1. Supplier Pays UT: Market Place suppliers can pay UT a fee to be named “preferred.” This designation comes with being located at the top of the Market Place.



SOP 16: Contracts and POs


  1. Generally, our office will avoid producing both a payable PO and a contract for the same transaction.
  2. There are two primary scenarios when you might encounter the possibility of a PO and a contract being created for the same transaction:
    1. When a department wants to encumber funds related to a contract; and
    2. When a transaction is bid, and the vendor requires UT to sign a contract.
  3. Encumbered contract: in this scenario, the department will enter the contract, and our office will issue a PO. You must put a PO number in the PO field in the contract management system before you “approve” (activate) the contract record.
  4. Bid contract:
    1. First, determine whether the department will pay on a contract or on a PO.
      1. If a department will pay against the contract, you must not include a PO number in the contract management system. If the contract is for a framework order, you will issue a $1.00 PO for tracking purposes.
      2. If a department will pay against a PO, you must input the PO number in the contract management system. After you put the PO number in the contract management system, you will then “approve” (activate) the contract entry.  The entry will be an “active PO contract.”  Departments will not be able to pay against the contract number.
    2. Second: review the contract, and negotiate with the supplier. You will enter the contract, but only after the contract is in final, fully negotiated form.
  5. You must attach all relevant documentation to the PO record.


SOP 17: Office Supplies


Purpose: to control costs and to reduce waste.


  1. Staff members must obtain permission from the Associate Director before ordering office supplies.
  2. Except for paper, staff members must not buy supplies in a quantity that exceeds two months of use.
  3. Printers: staff members may not purchase a printer without obtaining the Director’s approval.




SOP 18: Fraudulent Orders


Purpose: to standardize the way our office responds to fraudulent orders.  A fraudulent order is when a third-party/scammer pretends to represent the University and places an order with third-party vendors using the University’s name, logos, etc.


How to spot fraud:

  • Very carefully review the domain name (the URL of the website/email address).


  • Check the address the scammer is using (often, the orders will be shipped to places outside of TN).


  • Check the phone number the scammer is using (often, the area code will be something other than 865).


  • Review the terminology of the scammer’s email/order. They will likely use incorrect terminology.



  1. Notify the UT System Procurement Team.


  1. Director will notify Frank Lancaster (Office of General Counsel) and


SOP 19


Unduly Restrictive Specifications


Purpose: to establish a practice related to unduly restrictive specifications (so-called “lockout specifications”).  Our office has an obligation to protect the procurement process from unnecessarily restrictive solicitation specifications.




  1. Specifications must allow for reasonable competition (generally, this means at least two, independent companies could satisfy the specifications). Procurement staff must carefully review all solicitations.  If a procurement staff member identifies a lockout specification, the procurement staff member must make reasonable efforts to eliminate the lockout specification.


  1. If a department or committee asks to disqualify all but one bidder, the procurement staff member must discuss with the Associate Director and Director before proceeding.


  1. During a solicitation event, if a bidder or potential bidder advises a procurement staff member of concerns about lockout specifications, the procurement staff member must immediately notify the Associate Director and Director.


  1. After the solicitation response deadline ends, but before the University makes an award, if a procurement staff member realizes that the staff member forgot revise lockout specifications via addenda, the procurement staff member must immediately notify the Associate Director and Director.