1226 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Purchase Authorization



The policy establishes who may authorize purchases on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University").

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to all University Faculty and Staff, delineating the specific authorities delegated in the purchasing process.


Policy Statement

Each school, department, and division within the University is given a budgetary allotment for purchases. The administrative head (dean, director, department head) of each area is fiscally responsible for the appropriate use of this allotment and has the sole authority to make purchases. The administrative head may delegate this authority to another University representative to approve charges against the department's budget; however, this delegation of authority does not relieve or excuse the budgetary head from their responsibility for the allotted budget.

A designated principal investigator (PI) authorizes spending of budgeted contract and grant funds. The PI may choose to delegate authority to another University representative to approve charges against a contract or grant under their control. As with administrative heads, the delegation of authority does not relieve or excuse the PI from their fiscal responsibility for the contract or grant budget.



Additional Information

Special Situations


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do departmental personnel have the authority to sign a contract or agreement?

A: No, only a limited number of persons have actual authority to sign on behalf of the University. All contracts and agreements should be sent to UNC-Chapel Hill's Department of Purchasing Services for review and signature.

Q: Our department has funds that were a gift to the University. Do we have to follow the purchasing rules for these funds?

A: All expenditures of public funds for the purchase of supplies and services, no matter the source, are to be handled under the provisions of, and in accordance with, the rules adopted by the State Division of Purchase and Contract.

Q: As a principal investigator and researcher, I have earned a grant to fund my research. Since this money was given to me for my work, why can't I purchase from the vendor of my choice?

A: The expenditure of all funds on deposit with the University, no matter the source, is governed by the provisions of the State Division of Purchase and Contract.

Q: Why do I need to get authorization to purchase goods or services in excess of the Small Purchase Benchmark as defined in Finance Policy 1251: Small Order Policy? All the paperwork and bureaucracy makes the process so time-consuming.

A: Authorization is required to ensure adherence to State statutes and in maintaining sensible, effective internal control. Contracts of suppliers who do not have to accept returns usually contain language that increases the difficulty of pursuing that vendor in court. In addition to ensuring the University receives the best value through open competition, required authorization and rules governing state agency purchasing provides Purchasing Services with information on a vendor's historical performance, financial status, and other important factors that mitigate the risk of receipt of faulty goods.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences 

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Authorized purchase of goods and services Purchasing Services 919-962-3774 919-962-0636 purchasing_team@unc.edu



  • May 10, 2022
  • December 9, 2020
  • May 1, 2019
  • February 28, 2018
  • July 12, 2010
  • November 12, 2003
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Article ID: 131419
Thu 4/8/21 9:08 PM
Sun 8/28/22 2:44 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Purchasing Services
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 3:15 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
05/10/2022 3:15 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 3:15 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/1993 12:00 AM