Governance and Policies
I. Procurement guidelines
As a general guideline, the University shall undertake competitive selection process for the purchase of goods and services to ensure securing the best interests of the University in terms of competitive prices and quality products & services.
Proper budget appropriations shall be secured prior to initiating any procurement process. The competitive selection process should also provide a fair chance to all invited suppliers to quote their prices.
All contractual agreements need the clearance of the Legal and Finance departments.
Competitive selection process - Prerequisites
As a general guideline, the most appropriate bid in terms of prices, quality, delivery, service maintenance and warrantee conditions shall be the basis of selection. It should be noted that successive purchases to avoid the competitive bid requirement is not permitted whether with one or several vendors.
Specifications & RFP’s
In order to qualify suppliers & contractors, it is imperative to provide them with appropriate & clear specifications and ample time to submit their bids. Requesting departments, therefore, should allow ample time for the bidding process.
Depending on the magnitude and the complexity of the purchase, the RFP should be prepared internally or sub-contracted to a specialized firm.
However, when purchasing a common item that can be easily identified with standard specifications, the bid will then be sent to designated vendors and the lowest cost quote must receive the award unless the bid is non responsive (e.g. not according to the set specifications and requirements).
When applicable, the invitations for bidding or the collection of the RFP’s may be announced and advertised in the appropriate newspapers & magazines.
Competitive selection process - Bidding Committee
To accomplish the bidding objectives, a University Bidding Committee shall be established to oversee the procurement process.
The University Bidding Committee shall be composed of the service departments and the requesting department (end user). In particular, representatives from the following departments constitute the committee:
- Facilities & Projects
- End User (might be any one or a combination of more than one University constituents).
It should be noted that the Procurement, Finance and end user representatives are permanent members of the Committee. One or all the other representatives may attend at any time; however, they should attend when their specialized expertise is essential to the bidding process.
For procurement of specialized goods & services e.g. construction, insurance, etc. other University constituents or consultants could be part of the committee (Architect, Construction management firm, Faculty Representative, HR, etc.). The level odepends on the type and magnitude of the bid.
It is up to the Procurement Office to determine the required representatives and their level and in case of doubt, the VP HR & US can decide in coordination with other VP’s.
The University Bidding Committee is responsible for overseeing the bidding process up to the final vendor selection recommendation. In particular:
- The Committee shall convene on preset dates & timing
- Ensure that procurement is within budgets
- Review the pre-qualification of vendors & contractors for specialized purchases (construction, insurance, software, etc.). The input of related University departments is essential during the pre-qualification phase.
- Open the closed bids
- Review & analysis of the bids.
- Recommend the most appropriate vendor or contractor.
- Help Procurement Office to negotiate conditions, specifications and prices with the concerned bidders, if and when necessary.
For certain specialized procurements, when the procurement is complex enough to require significant terms and conditions or specifications and where analysis needs considerable time and expertise, the Committee may assign a member responsible for the bid evaluation. The bid evaluator shall report his findings and recommendation to the committee members taking into account the specifications, prices, delivery, warrantee and other commercial aspects of the purchase. The committee members shall endorse the recommendation and in case of disagreement, the Procurement Office shall review the recommendation with the concerned VP’s for final decision.
It should be noted that Procurement Office may elect to purchase goods & services from a combination of suppliers (lowest bidder plus the second lower bidder) in order to promote competition among suppliers and encourage suppliers to respond to our invitations for bidding.
Exceptions to the Competitive Selection Process
In exceptional circumstances the competitive selection process may be waived. This includes:
- Commodities and general services available only from one economically feasible source.
- Purchasing of books, periodicals and electronic resources handled by the acquisitions department in the Library. These purchases are exempted from bidding due to the complexity of the purchase, the time constraints and to the uniqueness of items.
- Emergency procurements. The department should contact the Procurement Office if it believes an exceptional circumstance exists.
Procurement procedures, including bidding requirements, may be waived in emergency cases where it becomes important for a transaction to be completed within a certain time. Effort is made to accelerate or modify normal procedures to accommodate an emergency rather than to eliminate a procedure.
An emergency is defined as a situation involving public health, public safety, or cases where immediate expenditure is necessary to repair property to protect against further loss or damage, to prevent or minimize serious disruption in the University services. Emergency conditions may result from fires, explosions, adverse weather conditions, or epidemic conditions. They may also result from untimely breakdown, damage, or loss of equipment vital to the maintenance of health or safety standards. The Procurement Office and the requesting departments should submit a letter justifying the sole source selection, performance, quality, suitability, or timing of the item being purchased.
Exceptions to the competitive selection process should be approved by the VP HR &US and the VP for Finance upon the recommendation of the End User or the Procurement Office.
II. End Users Responsibility
To achieve the overall mission of the Procurement function, the End Users are responsible to identify their needs properly and timely. The End Users responsibilities are summarized as follows:
- Plan their procurement in line with the business needs and approved budgets.
- Prepare their requests on a timely basis and therefore provide the Procurement Office with ample time for execution and avoid urgent requests. Late requests in the year and therefore late orders shall lead to unused funds from the approved budgets.
- Provide clear, detailed and written specifications for their requirements. Ambiguous and general specifications can lead to wrong quotes from the suppliers, variations in the construction, rejection of bids by the University Bidding Committee and therefore delays in the process. In case of complex requirements, a technical assistance is advised thought internally or from outside experts.
- In the case of construction, the End User has to present and sign on his requirements prior to the design work. It is recommended to share final designs with End Users and allow for design reviews.
- Obtain the necessary approvals for their requests from Supervisors in line with this procedure. The request should state if this request is budgeted for and the remaining budget. In case the request is not budgeted or exceeds the remaining budget, the End User is responsible to get additional budget allocation or transfer.
- In case of requests for specific brand name, sole supplier, etc. whereby the bidding process is not complete, the End User has to recommend this separately and get the approval as outlined in this procedure.
- Follow up with the Procurement Office on the progress of the order.
- Coordinate with the Procurement and the Operations Office(s) to plan delivery and installation.
- Upon satisfactory receipt, the End User has to sign for the acceptance of goods & services received and installed. In case of any issues or claims, these should be communicated immediately to the Procurement Office in order to hold the transaction. Similarly, the End User has to sign off on the final acceptance of the construction execution.
III. Library Purchases
The purchases of books, periodicals and electronic resources for the Library are handled directly by the Library. This involves the review of the requisition placed by the schools or generated directly from the publishers catalogs, the issuance of the “Purchase Order” to the appropriate publishers and vendors and the verification of the items received.
Upon completing the order, the Library approves the invoices forward it to the Business Office for payment.
In the case of periodicals purchase, it is the practice that the vendor requests an advance payment upon placing the final order. The advance is approved by the Librarian and processed by the Business Office. The advance is cleared through a final and approved invoice.
The budget control of Library purchases is handled by the Librarian at the commitment level through the Library system.
[Refer to the approved procedure by the UEC for Library Purchases as per attached.]
The Purchasing mission is to support the procurement requirements of the University in a professional, ethical, and timely manner. The Purchasing Office will utilize technology, streamline processes, and provide value driven services, enabling Purchasing customers to acquire necessary goods and services
Procurement Office & Function
The Procurement office has the following operational responsibilities:
- To purchase commodities, equipment, and services as requested by the various campus departments, at the lowest price consistent with required quality, from suppliers who will deliver purchased items at the specified time and place.
- To facilitate the procurement of construction and renovation, as well as IT related projects. The Purchasing shall act as a mediator for pre-qualifying contractors, administering the bidding process and signing the respective contracts.
- To conduct preliminary negotiations with suppliers, to locate sources of supply, to obtain price quotations through formal and informal procedures, to pre-qualify and select vendors, and to place purchase orders.
- To maintain and update a comprehensive data base on local and international vendors.
- To follow-up on purchase orders as requested to ensure that the vendor fulfills the purchase agreement on delivery, and that the carrier delivers the shipment promptly and in good condition.
- To handle, directly with the vendor, all correspondence concerning purchases, including price adjustments, the return of defective or incorrect materials, additional shipments to fill shortages, purchase order cancellation, and to present claims for shortages and damages.
- To furnish prices and estimates of cost for materials, equipment, and services to campus departments.
- To suggest changes that will improve product quality, promote better availability, or provide greater economies in purchase or application.
- To maintain or obtain catalogues and other data about vendors, materials, and services for campus departments to use in determining their needs. Such data may include information that is necessary to determine the overall responsibility of a vendor.
The Procurement Office makes all formal negotiations for prices, determines the appropriate prices and vendors (unless a campus department has been authorized to obtain specifications and cost estimates), and communicates with campus departments to be sure the product or service is suitable, reasonable, and timely.
Procurement of goods & servicesThe purchase of equipment, furniture, supplies, services and other requirements is processed as follows:
- Purchases below $200 can be made directly by the requesting department.
- Purchases above $200 should be processed by the Purchasing department.
- Campus Libraries can purchase books and other items for their operations directly from suppliers, using approved procedures and forms.
The procurement process is outlined below:
Purchase Requisition (PR)
Departments should submit properly approved purchase requisitions to the Procurement Office to authorize initiation of the procurement process according to established procedures. The PR is prepared by the requesting department, forwarded to the technical department, where applicable, for clearance, approved by the immediate supervisor/budget owner or delegate, and finally submitted to the Purchasing Director for approval. Depending on the nature of the goods purchased, the PR will follow either of the below hierarchies.
- PRs involving operating budget items are routed to the immediate supervisor/budget owner or delegate to approve.
- PRS involving assets, capital budget, with a value of $5000 or less are routed to the immediate supervisor/budget owner or delegate to approve.
- PRs involving assets, capital budget, with a value of more than $5000 are routed through the full range of relevant authorization levels.
- PRs involving internally and externally funded projects are routed through the full range of relevant authorization levels and then follow clearance from the Budget Office for externally funded projects.
The Requisition should include the proper specifications and submitted early enough for timely processing.
All PRs requiring technical clearance will pass through the appropriate technical department for clearance, where applicable.
The following bidding procedure and limits are to be used for all purchases:
- Up to USD 1500, no bidding is necessary, however, proper documentation of the transaction is required by the Procurement Office.
- Purchases in excess of USD 1,500 and up to USD 5,000 should be subject to a formal written bidding process. Selection of the most appropriate bid rests with the Director of Purchasing in coordination with the department requesting the purchase.
- Selection of the most appropriate bids for purchases in excess of USD 5,000 needs the review and approval of the University Bidding Committee.
Purchase Order (PO)
The Purchase Order is a legal and binding document. A Purchase Order is issued when the requesting department determines its requirements and communicates them to the Procurement Office. The Purchase orders are to be approved as follows:
- Director of Purchasing for all purchases
- Orders in excess of USD 35,000 should have the additional approval of the VP for HR &US.
- All orders above $ 100,000 should have the additional approval of the President.
It should be noted, unless otherwise indicated in this document, that the budget clearance will be automatically performed by the system.
Additionally, the Procurement Office must coordinate with the requesting departments in order to ensure ample time to order goods & services and receive it within the same budget’s year.
In case the purchase is above $5000 and delivery is not immediate, advance payment is needed and installation or special conditions are required, the Purchasing department has to issue a contract to be signed by the supplier outlining the conditions of the purchase and penalty clauses for any deviations.
The contracts signature is as follows:
- Contracts up to $35000 to be signed by the Purchasing Director
- Contracts above $35000 to be signed by the VP HR &US.
- Contracts above $100000 need the signature of the President
Claims against suppliers have to be initiated by the Procurement Director in coordination with the Comptroller Offices. Waiving claims for special commercial considerations should be approved by the VP HR&US and the VP Finance.
Receiving & payment process
The Purchasing department will coordinate with the suppliers and the requesting department for receiving the goods. In addition, the Purchasing should coordinate with the Operations department in case special considerations are needed for installation.
The requesting department should date sign for receiving the goods and date sign for installation.
The complete package consisting of the invoice, the receiving acknowledgement, the PO, the warranty conditions, the PR and the bidding documentation is controlled by the Purchasing and sent to the Comptroller’s offices for verification and payment processing
Purchasing requiring special authorization
DecorationsOffice decorations such as paintings, prints, wall hangings, plants, planters, Christmas decorations and other art or decorative objects may be purchased only when specific budget appropriations are made for this purpose.
Exceptions require the prior approval of the appropriate Vice President
MedicinesThe Purchase of medicines for the use of students & personnel should be initiated by the Guidance Office only. Generic medicines should be purchased only. Medicines can be claimed back from the insurance company.
Medicines used in the Labs can be purchased as regular supplies.
Memberships & SubscriptionsThe University shall pay for individual memberships to professional organizations only when such membership is approved by the appropriate University entities. Whenever feasible, memberships and subscriptions should be in the names of the University offices, rather than in the names of the individual employees. Memberships and subscriptions below $200 can be made directly by the requesting department.
Any such expenditure must be approved by a supervisor at least one step above the person most directly benefiting from the membership or subscription.
Purchase of costumesThe University provides some employees with costumes related to their work e.g. drivers, maids, maintenance and clerks and students with sports uniforms.
Departments identify their needs and specifications through a PR. Based on this the Purchasing department issues a bidding request. The selection of the vendors is based on the recommendation of the University Bidding Committee.
This bidding process shall be affected normally every two or three years, provided no increase in the prices and the availability of the costumes needed.
V. Other General Services
InsuranceInsurance needs and appropriate coverage should be analyzed and determined in order to protect the University assets, employees and students against inherent risks.
The process and the coverage shall be reviewed and approved by the University Insurance Committee. In this context, the University may use the services of an insurance specialist to assess the University’s insurance needs.
Upon the selection of the required coverage and the type of insurance, a pre-qualification stage of insurance companies should be made based on the rating of the companies (ACAL listings), the reinsurance arrangements, profit sharing, the relevant experience in the Lebanese market and the financial position of the company. This process is initiated by the VP for HR &US.
The selection of the insurance company shall be based on a formal bidding process overseen by the Bidding Committee.
The VP for Finance and the VP for HR &US shall approve the recommendation by the committee of the appropriate selection of insurance companies.
This bidding process shall be affected normally every three years, provided no increase is introduced in excess of the loss ratio of the related policy after allowing for the NSSF contribution for the medical insurance policy.
AdvertisingUniversity funds may be used for public relations, promoting educational exhibits, informational announcements, official notices, and recruitment notices for faculty/staff. The University will not pay for entertainment, community relations, or public relations not directly related to the objectives of the University.
The dean or director of the unit involved approves, in advance, the use of advertising funds when specific budget appropriations are made for this purpose. Exceptions require the prior approval of the appropriate Vice President.
Proposed advertisement copy should be included when requesting approval
CateringThe University provides the students and the employees with food & beverages at the campus. The selection of caterers is overseen by the University Bidding Committee. The pre-qualification criterion is based on the variety of food offered, the relevant experience in the Lebanese market (minimum 3 years) and the quality of staff.
The selection of the appropriate caterer is based on the offered prices, the margin (% sales) offered to the University, the quality & variety of food and the level of fixed expense recovery.
This bidding process shall be affected normally every three years, provided no increase in the prices.
Contract should be initiated by the Campus Hostess and approved by the VP for HR & US.
The price list and menu should be monitored by the Campus Hostess and any change in prices should be approved by the VP for HR & US.
Vending MachinesThe University shall allow the sales of snacks, beverages (non alcoholic) and other items that it deemed necessary to the well being of its students and personnel.
The installation of such machines shall be coordinated with the Dean of Student Services, the Director of Campus Services and the Operations Department.
Consulting & Law firmsConsultation contracts and contract with lawyer(s) are initiated by the concerned Vice President (s) and/or Legal Counsel and need the approval of the President and the Vice President for Finance, in coordination with the concerned Vice President, each in his/her area of responsibility.
Audit FirmsExternal Audit firm selection and fees shall be approved by the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees upon the recommendation of the Vice President for Finance and the President.
VI. Maintenance & related activities
The Operations functionThe Operations department is responsible for a comprehensive, University- wide program to identify and carry out necessary maintenance and repair of University facilities. Maintenance conduct periodic, detailed inspections to evaluate the maintenance condition of buildings and facilities and to identify any necessary preventive and corrective work. The required work should be assigned to the Facilities department work force. In case of inability to perform it from within, it could be completed under outside contract.
Service Request for repairs & minor renovations (below $5000)The schools and departments should issue a service request. The request should be approved by the budget owner and forward it to the Operations department.
It is the budget owner responsibility to ensure that service request is within his approved budget after securing an estimate for the cost from the Operations.
Bidding ProcedureThe following bidding procedure and limits are to be used for minor renovations & repairs executed by outside contractors or suppliers:
- Up to USD 1500, no bidding is necessary
- Up to USD 5000, written quotations are required.
- In excess of $5000, a formal bidding process shall be undertaken by the Procurement Office and overseen by the University Bidding Committee.
- In case the equipment to be repaired can be maintained only by the supplier, no bidding is required. This should be substantiated by the Operations Director.
As for spare parts and other maintenance supplies, the bidding rules related to purchasing goods & services apply.
Maintenance Contracts & OrdersMaintenance and repair work may be scheduled for outside contractors/ suppliers depending on the scope and nature of the work and availability/capability of staff Maintenance. Also, service contracts for major equipment and facilities are initiated by the Operations department, reviewed and approved by the end users. The contracts & orders approval & signature is as follows:
- Up to $5000 to be signed by the Director for Operations
- Up to $35,000 to be signed by the AV P for Planning
- Above $35,000 to be signed by the VP HR &US.
- Above $100,000 need the signature of the President
The Maintenance service is requested from the contractor or supplier upon through a maintenance order specifying the requirements and the conditions of repairs. It should be noted that the Comptroller’s Offices are responsible to clear Maintenance Orders for budget purposes
Receiving & payment processThe Operations Department will coordinate with the suppliers / contractors and the requesting department for receiving the service in case special considerations are needed for installation. In addition to the approval of the Operations department, the requesting department should date sign for receiving the service in order for charging their respective budgets.
The complete package consisting of the invoice, the receiving acknowledgement, the Maintenance Order and the bidding documentation is controlled and sent to the Comptroller’s offices for verification and payment processing.
VII. Constructions & Renovation Projects
The Facilities FunctionIn the context of this procedure, the Planning & Facilities department is responsible for the design and construction management and contract administration. They are responsible for:
- Initiating approved construction projects.
- Reviewing and approving the designs in terms of fulfilling end users needs and cost effectiveness.
- Ensuring that all legal & government licenses & permits are obtained. Highlighting to the University Administration any issues.
- Reviewing and approving detailed bills of quantities
- Preparing the respective contracts
- Following up on the project progress and ensuring costs are appropriate and in line with approved budgets. Approving invoices to be processed for payments.
- Highlighting any potential cost overrun due to variation in quantities or scope prior to execution.
- Administering the contractual arrangements and ensuring that all conditions are met in terms of warrantees, advances, quality of work, etc.
The start up of a specific project is based on the overall Master Plan and the priorities set by the President’ Cabinet. The ultimate approval of the start up phase lies with the Board of trustees.
Professional ConsultantsThe selection and employment of architects, engineers, planners and related professional consultants (collectively called “consultants”) for construction, construction management, facilities planning, improvements and related activities should be accomplished through a bidding process . The University may elect to handle the “Consultants” selection as follows:
- Develop through a qualification & bidding processes a list of consultants (Retainer List) with their respective rates and their area of expertise.
- Projects with a total expected design/consulting cost of less than $5,000 may be awarded to any firm deemed capable of performing the work. No formal selection process is required. The consultant is required to be on the retainer list.
- Projects with a total expected design/consulting cost in excess of $5,000 must go through the “formal” bidding process undertaken by the Procurement Office and overseen by the University Bidding Committee.
Any exception to the above selection must be justified and approved by the VP HR& US, the VP for Finance and the President.
ContractorsThe selection of Contractors for construction and related activities should be accomplished through a bidding process. The University may elect to handle the contractors’ selection as follows:
- Develop through a qualification process a list of contractors (Retainer List) with their respective rates and their area of expertise.
- Projects with a total expected construction cost of less than $5,000 may be awarded to any firm deemed capable of performing the work. No formal selection process is required. The contractor is required to be on the retainer list.
- Projects with a total construction cost in excess of $5,000 must go through the “formal” bidding process undertaken by the Procurement Office and overseen by the University Bidding Committee.
Any exception to the above selection must be justified and approved by the VP HR& US, the VP for Finance and the President.
Contractual arrangementAll contracts should be cleared by the General Counsel and the Finance Department.
The contracts approval & signature is as follows:
- Contracts up to $5,000 to be signed by the AV P for Facilities
- Contracts up to $100,000 to be signed by the VP HR &US upon the recommendation of the AV P for Facilities
- Contracts above $100,000 need the signature of the President upon the recommendation of the AV P for Facilities and the VP HR &US
Payment ProcessThe Business Office will process approved invoices after verification of the package completeness, accuracy (invoice, contract, bid committee summary, consultant (s) approval) and budget allocations.
Variation OrdersDuring the progress of the project and in case of anticipated cost overruns, due to increased quantities or change in designs or for any other reason, a detailed variation order should be prepared by the Facilities Department for approval by the VP HR & US and VP Finance. In case variations are due to End Users requests’ or due to technical reasons including design, a separate recommendation should be prepared by the End User and/or the “Consultant” justifying such changes including cost estimates and alternative solutions. The recommendation should be approved by the concerned VP. Facilities department has to prepare variation report, get it approved prior to any execution or commitment. The approval of these variations, in addition to the Consultant(s), is as follows:
- Variations in quantities of the contract value and within approved budget, by the original signatory of the contract.
- Variations in quantities in excess of 10% and within approved budget, by the VP HR & US
- Variations due to design or any other reason within approved budget, by the VP HR & US and the President.
- Variations in excess of the approved budget for major construction and renovations need to be approved by the Board.
It should be noted that execution of variation orders must be in line with contract conditions covering unit costs and overhead. In case these are not in line with contract or not priced in the original contract, the prior approval of the contract signer is required.