1240 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Emergency or Pressing Need Purchases



The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") enacts this policy in accordance with North Carolina purchasing guidelines.

Scope of Applicability

All University Faculty and Staff.


Policy Statement

Extraordinary purchasing procedures may be used to accommodate emergency or "pressing need" conditions as defined here.

  1. An emergency is generally defined as a situation that endangers lives, property, or the continuation of a vital University program; and which can be rectified only by immediate, on-the-spot purchases or rental of commodities, printing, or services.
  2. A pressing need is one arising from unforeseen causes including, but not limited to, delay by contractors, delay in transportation, breakdown in machinery, or unanticipated volume of work.
  3. Requisitions submitted for emergency requirements must contain a formal emergency declaration letter from the University department explaining the nature of the emergency that resultant in circumventing normal purchasing policies and procedures.

Supplies or equipment may be purchased without competitive bidding in an emergency situation.



Additional Information

Special Situations


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: The climate control system that keeps our rare, expensive lab mice alive has failed. This must be fixed immediately! How do we get what we need right now?
A: In the case of an extreme emergency, authorized University personnel may take whatever purchasing action necessary to protect human life or University property. This should be followed by a written explanation and summary of the action taken submitted to the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Purchasing Services.

Q: My department was just given some additional money but needs to spend it within the next several days. Can this be considered an emergency purchase?
A: No, your circumstances do not fit the emergency or pressing need criteria as listed above.

Q: A critical piece of research equipment just broke and needs to be repaired immediately. Can I get a purchase order to handle a $30,000 repair?
A: Yes, but you will need to send the Department of Purchasing Services a justification letter along with a requisition explaining your pressing need request. Once approved, Purchasing Services will issue a purchase order for the repair.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Emergency Purchase - Goods Purchasing Services - Goods 919-962-3774 919-962-0636 purchasing_team@unc.edu
Emergency Purchase - Services Purchasing Services - Services 919-962-9463 919-962-6271 purchasing_team@unc.edu



  • May 10, 2022
  • December 9, 2020
  • May 1, 2019
  • February 28, 2018
  • October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisition.
  • August 2, 2010
  • November 13, 2003


Article ID: 131435
Thu 4/8/21 9:08 PM
Mon 5/8/23 9:10 AM
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 3:29 PM
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
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 3:29 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
05/10/2022 3:29 PM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2025 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
03/01/1998 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget