Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequenly asked questions related to Purchasing processes and activities.

When do I use a Department Order and when do I use a Check Request?

Department Orders can be used for purchases up to $1000 for items not on the restricted list (see the Restricted Items answer). The authorized Department Personnel (as designated by the Financial Manager) can place the order with the Vendor. Provide the Vendor with the order number from the upper right corner of the Purchase Form. Instruct the Vendor to be sure this order number appears on their invoice. Have them mail the original and one copy of the invoice to WWU Accounts Payable, PO Box 29420, Bellingham, WA 98228-1420. Emailed invoices are accepted, faxed invoices are not. Invoices may be emailed to: accounts.payable@wwu.edu Department personnel should not accept invoices. If an invoice comes with the shipment, forward it to Accounts Payable, MS 1420.

Check Requests can be used for purchases up to $1000, for items not on the restricted list (see the Restricted Items answer), where the Vendor requires payment in advance. Generally a Check Request is used for memberships, subscriptions, licenses (non-software), permits and certain shipping costs such as Fed Ex, UPS, or USPS. A completed vendor order form or other source document (renewal notice, application form, subscription card, etc.), plus one copy, must be attached to the Purchase Form. When the Check Request is processed the check and original source document will be sent to the Vendor. Checks cannot be sent to an employee for forwarding.

The Purchase Form is NOT Purchase Order. Do not give or fax a copy of the Purchase Form to a Vendor. This document is meant only for use within Western's Purchasing System. If the Vendor says they need a Purchase Order, make a note on the Purchase Form and Purchasing will create a Purchase Order and send it to the Vendor.

For employee reimbursement, submit a Services/Reimbursement Form.


What is a Restricted Item?

Restricted items are products which, regardless of dollar amount, must be purchased by Purchasing or routed to the appropriate University Department as indicated on the Restricted Items page.


How do I find out if a PO or Invoice has been processed or paid?

The best way to track down an Invoice is by using two Banner forms: FOICOMP and FAIVNDH. FOICOMP is the form used to look up ID numbers for Vendors.

  1. Open a Banner session, type in FOICOMP, and press enter
  2. Type in the Vendor name with a % sign before and after
    Example: %Biotools% (Note: this search is not case sensitive)
  3. Click F8 to execute the query
  4. Write down the resulting Vendor #
    Example: W00316192 Biotools Inc.
  5. Exit FOICOMP, type in FAIVNDH, and press enter
  6. In the Vendor ID box, enter the Vendor ID #
    Example: W00316192
  7. You can narrow your search by Fiscal Year (current Fiscal Year = ##) or search for all payments ever made by clearing the Fiscal Year field
    Caution: clearing the Fiscal Year field can slow the query and might retrieve thousands of records
  8. Hold down the Control key and press Page Down
  9. Review the list for your invoice to verify payment

The best way to track down a Purchase Order is by using the Banner form FOIDOCH.

  1. Open a Banner session, type in FOIDOCH, and press enter
  2. Type PO in the document type
  3. Type in your PO # with an F in front if Purchasing placed it or a D if you placed it
  4. Hold down the Control key and press Page Down

Why do I have to pay sales tax on the product I ordered even through it didn't come from a company in Washington State?

The University is required to pay tax on all purchases just as any other business or consumer must do. WWU is not tax exempt. We pay either a sales tax (as specified by RCW 82.08) or a use tax (RCW 82.12) on almost all purchases. The only exceptions are exemptions for certain categories such as food, advertising, or professional services.

Sales Tax should be represented on price quotes and invoices from vendors who are registered with the Washington State Department of Revenue.

Use Tax is a compensating tax that we pay to the State of Washington. It will always be our current local tax rate and Accounts Payable will add it to invoices from vendors who are not registered with the Washington State Department of Revenue.


What is the PCD item in my budget report?

A PCD prefix on the document number means this was a purchase placed with a WWU PCard. If you used your own PCard to place the order, you probably recognize the information you see. You may see a PCD document even if you don't have a PCard. Purchasing and Accounts Payable sometimes use their PCards to place order or process Check Requests per a Purchase Form you have sent them.


What is required for Purchasing to handle my request as sole source?

To claim sole source we must be able to document in detail that we have searched for alternative sources, and there must be a written description of what the special conditions or requirements are which make the purchase justifiable to only one source. The Request for Sole Source Approval Form has been developed to aid in documenting. If you have trouble with the form, contact Purchasing for help with determining the extent of support necessary to support the request.

Brand or model name is not usually sufficient to justify sole source. Often, these brands are available from several different distributors or retailers. In this case, instead of doing a sole source form, indicate on the Purchase Form why an equivalent brand or model will not serve your purpose.


What does a purchase need to competitively quoted?

Any purchase for goods or services with a total value (less tax and freight) equal to or exceeding $3,300 requires a competitive quote (verbal quotes are acceptable under $3,300). Any solution that is projected to excede $46,000 shall at a minimum be posted on Washington's Electronic Business Solution (WEBS). For computer hardware, software and telecommunications products and services we have a bit more leeway. Written quotes are required over $10,000, and it must be advertised if it exceeds $100,000.

Why would I want/need to get a quote for something?

The competitive process is our most effective means of determining the best price and overall value to the University. Competitive quoting fulfills our obligation to the business community who, as taxpayers, expect to be given a fair and equal chance at participating in the business the University has to award.

It's also the law! The dollar amounts for competitive quote requirements are specified in the Revised Code of Washington (specifically RCW 43.19.1906).

Page Updated 10.15.2012