Making purchases

As a publicly-funded institution, UVic is required to "go to market" for high-value purchases. This ensures we get the best use out of public funds and that we provide a fair bidding platform for vendors.

Our office is staffed by professional buyers who ensure you get the best value, avoid legal and financial risk, and help you work in compliance with UVic policy, provincial law and both international and provincial trade agreements. 

For smaller value purchases, and especially if you are hiring someone to perform a service (regardless of price), we can help you make sure vendors provide everything you need at the price you agree on.

Competitive Procurement

In the competitive procurement process, you post a public request for proposals, tenders, supplier qualifications or other information, and vendors send you material offering their plan and pricing for meeting your needs. Then you select the best option according to your own criteria, and negotiate a contract.

Below, you can read a summary of the purchasing Process. The summary, like procurement projects, is organized into the strategy, documentation, competition, decision, and post-procurement Phases.

For a full-detail of the process, you can download and read the procurement guidebook.

Strategy Phase

  1. Assess the Procurement Strategy

Once a request is submitted, the purchasing team evaluates it and determines if a full-length purchasing strategy should be written or if the initial request is sufficient. The complexity and details of the procurement strategy usually depend on the objective’s risk and complexity.

  1. Conduct Information Gathering (if necessary)

If UVic has incomplete information about either the material/services that you require, the capabilities of the market to deliver the material, service, or solution required, then additional background research and requests to the market may be useful. The Purchasing Officer handling the procurement will determine which information-gathering tool best fits the situation.

  1. Select Competition Level

The three types of competition levels are, in ascending order of complexity and time commitment, are Direct Award, Invitational, and Open.

Direct Awards require the least amount of initial time and resource investment, and are used when a preferred supplier is known and either the cost of the procurement is below the $75,000, the purchase meets the exemption criteria, or there is one clear proponent and Purchasing Services has time to issue the public market a Notice of Intent (NOI).

An Invitational Competition balances between the simplicity of a direct award and the comprehensiveness of an Open Competition. It is used when the procurement is between $15,000 and $75,000 and a clear supplier is not known, or when pre-qualification methods have been undertaken as part of a public information-gathering process.

An Open Competition is the most comprehensive method of procurement. Due to the time and resource commitment required, Open Competitions are usually only used for purchases more than $75,000 or of high risk and/or value. 


Documentation Phase

  1. Set up the Documentation Team

If an invitational or public competition has been selected as the best procurement method, the Purchasing Officer will create a cross-functional team to develop and evaluate competition documents and criteria—the Evaluation Team. The size and complexity of the team depends on the size and complexity of the materials or services being procured, and may include various specialists.

The Purchasing Officer, in consultation with the end user or project manager, prepares the evaluation protocol.

  1. Draft and Review Competition Document

Typically, the Purchasing Officer will choose and draft the documents needed for proposals. Therefore, it is important that the Purchasing Officer understands the full scope of work for the contract and associated risks to ensure that the identified risks are addressed in the contract documents. Purchases are user-driven and may include additional subject-matter experts, so the Purchasing Officer will consult as needed.


Competition Phase

  1. Issue and Advertise the Competition

Once the competition documents are drafted and polished, they will be uploaded to BC Bid for a public competition or sent to invitees. Depending on the scope of the strategy, additional portals such as Merx may be used, as well as other electronic bid media, newspapers, or trade journals.

UVic procurement analysts are responsible for knowing the procedures related to the electronic portals and can direct any questions to the appropriate source.

  1. Communicate Additional Information

All competitors must have access to equal information; therefore, once the competitive documents are released, all communication with suppliers must occur formally. An addendum may be published if the UVic procurement team needs to modify the competition documents for any reason, and may be accompanied by an extension to the closing time. If suppliers ask relevant questions, a Q&A may be prepared and posted.

If relevant, the Purchasing Officer may make arrangements to facilitate a site visit. 

  1. Receive Responses

Responses must be submitted by the set closing time and through the appropriate method, as detailed in the documents prepared for the purchase. Once recorded, the coordinating purchasing officer reviews the submissions and releases copies to the Evaluation Team. The original documents are retained in the Bonfire Portal and the Purchasing Services archive.


Decision Phase

  1. Evaluate the Responses

1.1 Non-compliant submissions are set aside for rejection.

1.2 Evaluation team members prepare independent evaluations covering their areas of expertise. Evaluators focus on the sections of responses that they have been assigned to evaluate, and conduct their assessments confidentially.

1.3 Evaluation team members enter scores into the Bonfire Evaluation Tool. Results are reconciled to arrive at a single final evaluation matrix that ranks the submissions.

1.4 If all submitted prices are above the estimate, the coordinating purchasing officer will advise the project manager or end-user. The evaluation may proceed or end at this point, depending on whether or not more funds are made available. If a significant change of scope is needed to meet the budget, the procurement process should be cancelled and re-tendered with revisions.  

1.5 If a respondent’s wording is unclear, clarifications may be sought.

1.6 Once a lead respondent is identified, the Purchasing Officer prepares a Recommendation to Proceed summarising the results, and circulates the document for the necessary approvals.

  1. Negotiate, if Required

2.1 If the prepared strategy included plans to negotiate, then negotiations with the lead proponent are begun after the Recommendation to Proceed has approved.

2.2 If negotiations with the lead proponent fail, then negotiations will be initiated with the second-place proponent, and so on.

  1. Award Purchase Order or Contract

3.1 Once any required negotiations are concluded, the respondent will be sent an award letter or final contract, as appropriate to the scope and complexity of the project.



  1. Debrief Unsuccessful Respondents

Once the final contract or agreement letter has been received, Purchasing Services will send regret letters to unsuccessful proponents. These letter usually include offers to meet the respondent to discuss their submission and why it was unsuccessful (unless the evaluation was based solely on price).

Debriefings should be conducted with respect. Participating in a competitive process costs respondents time and money, and it is to UVic’s benefit to encourage potential suppliers to participate in future competitive processes.

  1. End of Your Goods’ Use

Once you no longer need items that have belonged to your department, contact Purchasing Services for proper resale or disposal.

Items deemed to have potential university use by other UVic departments and researchers will be re-allocated.

Items with resale or trade-in value will be sold through a fair and competitive process by Purchasing Services. Profits will given to the owning department.

Items without further use or monetary value will be recycled or disposed of accordingly.


If you wish to purchase a good or service, please review either the goods or services page for specific information. 

Click here to find your Purchasing Officer.