Procurement Policy


To ensure that Seneca’s procurement activities are performed in an efficient and cost effective manner through cross-functional procurement framework, where inventory and services are managed appropriately and an optimal level of quality control is in place.


This policy applies to all Seneca employees and internal and external suppliers/contractors.

Key Definitions

Capital Asset

An asset that has a useful life of over one (1) year and a value greater than $5,000.

Competitive Evaluation

The process to evaluate a supplier’s overall competitiveness based on factors including price, quality, cost trends, lead-time, flexibility and technical capabilities. Criteria and associated weighting factors will vary by good or service.

Conflict of Interest

When a Seneca employee makes a decision or participates in making a decision that they should reasonably know may result in a real or perceived opportunity to further their private interests.

Consulting Services

The provision of expertise or strategic advice that is presented for consideration and decision-making from external entities. These services do not include professional services.

Nominal Value

A good or service valued at less than $100.Purchase Order (PO)A formal order to a supplier to purchase goods or services and a commitment from that supplier to supply the goods and services that meet the specified requirements, at an agreed to rate or price.

Purchase Requisition (PR)

An internal form used to authorize the Procurement department to purchase goods or services on behalf of the originating department and to charge the same to their budget.

Request for Supplier Qualification (RFSQ)

Gathered information about suppliers’ capabilities and qualifications in order to pre-qualify them for an immediate good or service need.


1. Roles and Responsibilities

1.1 The Vice President, Finance and Administration is responsible for ensuring that this policy is enforced and that any exceptions to it are documented and approved.

1.2 The Procurement department is responsible for carrying out all duties assigned to them in this policy.

1.3 Employees are responsible for understanding and complying with this policy to ensure all procurement transactions are properly reviewed and executed.

2 Segregation of Duties

2.1 To ensure the effectiveness of Seneca’s internal controls, there must be segregation of duties preventing any one (1) individual from controlling the entire procurement process.

2.2 There are five (5) procurement activities that require segregated approval by the following accountable parties:

Accountable Party

Activity Accountable Party
Requisition Faculty or department
Budgeting Budget holder
Commitment Procurement department
Receipt Faculty or department receiving goods or services
Payment Accounts Payable department

3. Conflict of Interest

3.1 Seneca employees, consultants and suppliers must disclose any involvement in a procurement activity that creates a real and/or perceived conflict of interest. For more information, refer to Seneca’s Conflict of Interest Policy.

3.2 Seneca’s procurement activities must be performed in a fair and transparent manner to ensure an unjustified advantage is not created for any of its suppliers. A situation may require judgment by an accountable faculty or department in determining if there is potential for a supplier to have an unjustified advantage.

4. Gifts from Suppliers

4.1 An employee must not solicit or accept gifts from a supplier. This includes money, awards, loans, food, liquor, events or anything other than items of nominal value.

4.2 An employee may accept a personal gift of nominal value or supplier logoed merchandise if it is customarily offered to others who have a similar relationship with the supplier.

4.3 Employees must request approval from their managers prior to accepting a gift from a supplier if they are unsure of its value or the situation in which it was offered.

5. Fundraising/Donations from Suppliers

Donations of goods from a supplier to Seneca will be managed by the Advancement and Alumni department.

6. Meals and Entertainment with Suppliers

6.1 An employee may accept social amenities only when supplier personnel are in attendance and participating.

6.2 Entertainment is limited to sporting and cultural events and excludes overnight stays.

6.3 Employees must inform and request approval from their managers prior to attending an event.

6.4 The total cost of an entertainment event must not exceed $100 per person, excluding meal expenses.

6.5 A guest of an employee may only attend an event if a supplier or Seneca is paying for it. An employee must not solicit invitations for a guest and must offer to pay for their guest, if invited.

7. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

7.1 Seneca shall support its responsibility to incorporate accessibility criteria and features when purchasing goods, services, or facilities, in accordance with sections five (5) and six (6) of Ontario Regulation 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards.

7.2 All staff shall consider the barriers of students and employees with disabilities and seek options to fit everyone’s needs.

7.3 If it is not practicable to incorporate accessibility criteria and features when purchasing/acquiring goods, services or facilities, an explanation must be prepared as to why accessibility features were not included.

8. Research Expenditures

If stated in a research funding agreement, goods and/or services purchased for research activities or received from grant-making agencies must follow the grant agency’s procurement procedures. If not stated, Seneca’s Procurement Policy and other applicable Seneca policies/procedures must be followed.

9. Financial Limits and Approval Authorities

9.1 External Purchases

9.1.1 Competitive procurement thresholds for goods, non-consulting services and construction are shown as follows:

Goods, Non-Consulting Services and Construction
Total Procurement Value Means of Procurement Quotation
$0 to $4,999
  • Purchasing Card (P-Card),
  • Purchase Requisition (PR) when P-Card cannot be used or
  • Cheque Requisition
Not required
$5,000 to $9,999
  • PR
Not required
$10,000 to $19,999
  • PR
Two (2) written quotes
$20,000 to $99,999
  • Request for Proposal (RFP),
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ) or
  • PR
Three (3) written quotes
$100,000 and greater
  • RFP or
  • RFQ
Open competitive process

9.1.2 Competitive procurement thresholds for consulting services are shown as follows:

Consulting Services
Total Procurement Value Means of Procurement Quotation
$0 to $99,999
  • RFP,
  • RFQ or
  • PR
Three (3) written quotes
$100,000 and greater
  • RFP or
  • RFQ
Open competitive process

9.1.3 The approval of the Vice President, Finance and Administration is required for invitational and open competitive RFPs when less than the required number of written responses are received and it is not possible to re-bid.

9.1.4 A P-Card authorized by Seneca may be used to make authorized expenditures. For more information, refer to Seneca’s Purchasing Card Policy.

9.1.5 A PR is required for all purchases of capital assets.

9.1.6 Consulting services may be approved within the limits of the annual budgets and signing authority of each position. 

9.1.7 A Standing Purchase Order (SPO) may be arranged for goods or services that are procured on a regular basis from the same company for one (1) fiscal year. The amount of a SPO will be the estimated spend during the fiscal year.

9.1.8 Technology purchasers must follow the list of standard hardware models established by Information Technology Services (ITS) unless modified or waived by ITS for exceptional reasons. The standards apply to desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, workstations, monitors, printers, projectors and servers. For more information, refer to Seneca’s ITS Standards List.

9.1.9 Payments for external catering invoices received must be paid by P-Card if less than $5,000 or by PR if greater than $5,000.

9.2 Internal Purchases

9.2.1 Departmental purchases from the Campus Bookstore must be paid by P-Card. For more information, refer to Seneca’s Purchasing Card Policy. 

9.2.2 Catering from the campus food services provider must be approved by the originating department prior to being forwarded to the Accounts Payable department for payment.

9.2.3 POs placed with Seneca’s printing company shall be paid by the Accounts Payable department.

9.3 Purchase Authorization

9.3.1 A PR must be approved by an appropriate authority prior to commencement of the procurement process. Refer to Seneca’s Signing Authority Policy for the approval limits of all signing authority levels.

9.3.2 Financial thresholds for determining an appropriate approval authority shall be based on purchased goods and non-consulting services before taxes. Total cost may include warranty, operating costs, training costs, installation, etc.

9.3.3 Should an existing PO be revised to reflect an increase to the initial authorized purchase, the total purchase on the revised PO will be used to determine the appropriate approval authority.

9.3.4 Purchases may not be broken into smaller amounts to circumvent authority limits stated in Seneca’s Signing Authority Policy.

9.3.5 Purchase approval may not be informally delegated. For more information, refer to Seneca’s Signing Authority Policy.

10. Competitive Procurement

10.1 External Supplier/Contractor Engagement

10.1.1 A Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) may be used prior to releasing a RFP if the results of an informal search are not positive. Responses to a RFI or RFEI shall not be used to pre-qualify a potential supplier or to influence the chances of the participating suppliers being awarded any subsequent opportunities. For more information, refer to Appendix D.

10.1.2 A Request for Supplier Qualification (RFSQ) may be issued by the Procurement department. Terms and conditions of the RFSQ must contain language that disclaims any obligation of Seneca to call on a supplier to provide goods or services as a result of pre-qualification. Successful suppliers in the RFSQ process shall be selected as part of the Vendor of Record (VOR) for that particular good or service. For more information, refer to Appendix D.

10.1.3 Prior to engagement, the originating department shall verify with the Accounts Payable department that an external supplier is a qualified supplier of Seneca.

10.1.4 The Accounts Payable department shall ensure the legitimacy of a supplier prior to creating a new supplier record or to the Procurement department issuing a PO. The controls conducted by the Accounts Payable department will ensure the legitimacy of a supplier’s:

  • Business and HST numbers
  • Credit history
  • Legal status.

10.2 Competitive Quotation/Tendering

10.2.1 The Procurement department shall prepare, review and approve documents pertaining to competitive procurement. Requisitioning may prepare the documents for cases under $100,000 using the standard templates for goods and services for competitive tendering. For more information on competitive procurement documents, refer to Appendix D.

10.2.2 Calls for open competitive procurement will be made through an electronic tendering system that is readily accessible by all Canadian suppliers.

10.2.3 Seneca shall provide bidders a reasonable amount of time, based on the complexity of the acquisition, to prepare their bid submissions. Response times shall be at least 15 days in all circumstances.

10.2.4 Bid submission dates and closing times will be set on a normal working day (Monday to Friday, excluding provincial and national holidays).

10.2.5 The bid submission date and closing time will be clearly stated in all competitive procurement documents. Submissions delivered after the closing time will be returned unopened.

10.3 Competitive Evaluation

10.3.1 Competitive procurement documents shall:

  • Disclose the evaluation methodology and process to be used in assessing submissions, including the method of resolving tie-scores
  • Outline mandatory, rated and other criteria to be used in assessing submissions, including the weight of each criterion.
  • State that submissions that do not meet the mandatory criteria will be disqualified.

10.3.2 Evaluation criteria may be altered by an addendum to the competitive procurement process.

10.3.3 Mandatory criteria will be kept reasonably minimal to ensure no bid is unnecessarily disqualified.

10.3.4 Maximum justifiable weighting will be allocated to the price/cost component of the evaluation criteria. Price will be the only criterion when the product definition and requirements are standard and products offered by different suppliers are standard.

10.3.5 Seneca shall not discriminate or exercise preferential treatment in awarding a contract to a supplier as a result of the competitive procurement process.

10.3.6 Seneca may request suppliers to provide alternative strategies or solutions as a part of their submissions. In such cases, Seneca shall establish criteria to evaluate alternative strategies or solutions prior to commencement of the competitive procurement process. Alternative strategies and solutions shall only be considered if they are explicitly requested.

10.3.7 For more information on evaluation criteria and guidelines, refer to Appendix C.

10.4 Competitive Supplier Contracts

10.4.1 The agreement between Seneca and a selected supplier must be formally defined in a signed written contract prior to the provision of goods or services.

10.4.2 Contracts will be negotiated using the agreement that was released with the related procurement document or any other Seneca standard agreement, where possible. Where an alternative procurement strategy has been selected, the justification of its use must be documented and approved by the Vice President, Finance and Administration.

10.4.3 The Procurement department shall manage contract negotiations in conjunction with originating departments.

10.4.4 The Procurement department shall consult and support originating departments with the development of Service Level Agreements (SLA) with measureable Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

10.4.5 An interim PO may be used when an immediate need exists for goods or services, and Seneca and the supplier are unable to finalize a contract. The justification of an interim PO must be documented and approved by the Vice President, Finance and Administration.

10.4.6 All contracts must include appropriate cancellation or termination clauses. Seneca shall seek appropriate legal advice when adjustment clauses are changed from the standard contract and/or when conducting complex procurements requiring clauses that permit cancellation or termination at critical stages of a project’s life cycle.  

10.4.7 All contracts must include a dispute resolution clause.

10.4.8 Extension of a contract beyond its defined term and extension options stated in the procurement document may only be made under exceptional circumstances with proper justification and the approval of the Vice President, Finance and Administration.

10.4.9 All contracts must include Seneca’s standard payment terms and methods. Alternatives to standard payment terms and methods must also be outlined.

11. Non-Competitive Procurement

11.1 Seneca may utilize non-competitive procurement only in circumstances outlined in the exemption, exception or non-application clauses of the Agreement on Internal Trade or other trade agreements. For a list of allowable circumstances, refer to Appendix B. 

11.2 A non-competitive procurement justification must be added to the PR and approved by the Vice President, Finance and Administration prior to the procurement process commencing.

12. Purchase Orders

12.1 A PO must contain approved standard terms and conditions clauses.

12.2 A PO must include payment conditions as outlined within the contract or Seneca’s standard payment terms.

12.3 A PO will be considered a formal contract between Seneca and the supplier for a specific transaction once the supplier receives a copy of the PO and confirm acceptance of its terms and conditions.

12.4 All purchases of hazardous/toxic materials require a PO and must be purchased and received in accordance with Seneca’s Health and Safety Policy.

12.5 Each contract will be assigned a PO for the goods or services outlined within it.  

12.6 The Procurement department shall ensure POs are distributed to the supplier in a timely manner.

12.7 Items exempt from the PO process are stated in Appendix A.

13. Receiving of Goods and Services

13.1 Products received by a department, including Receiving, require a packing slip with the PO indicated on the product or packing slip.

13.2 Approved packing slips must be attached to their related POs within PeopleSoft as validation to the Accounts Payable department that the product has been received.

13.3 Services received by a department must be indicated within PeopleSoft as validation to the Accounts Payable department that the services have been received.

14. Payments

14.1 Payments to persons or legal entities that are subject to Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and/or tax deductions shall be made through Payroll.

14.2 Payments on invoices received to persons or legal entities for goods or services must only be processed with the confirmation of their contractor status by the Human Resources department.

14.3 Departments shall follow the guidelines for determining employee – employer or contractor relationships as established by the Human Resources department. The relationships must be defined prior to the commencement of work.

15. Procurement Contract Management

15.1 The Procurement department shall collaborate with originating departments to manage all supplier related agreements. A Contract Summary Form (CSF) is required to be completed on all external contracts with an entity, such as, suppliers, individuals, government institutions, agencies, businesses, etc.

15.2 Supplier performance must be managed and documented, and any performance issues must be addressed by the Procurement department and originating department.

15.3 Originating departments should engage the Procurement department when disputes or service issues require escalations.

15.4 Payments will be made in accordance with provisions of the related contract. All invoices must contain detailed information sufficient to warrant payment. Any overpayments must be recovered in the shortest time possible.

15.5 In respect to the provision of services, Seneca shall:

  • Establish clearly defined milestones and deliverables. The contract terms should include objectives; background; scope; constraints; staff responsibilities; specific deliverables; timelines; progress reporting; approval requirements and knowledge transfer requirements
  • Establish expense claim and reimbursement rules, ensuring that all expenses are claimed in accordance with these rules and compliance with the Broader Public Services Expenses Directive
  • Ensure that expenses are claimed and reimbursed only where a contract explicitly provides for reimbursement of expenses.

16. Procurement Records Retention

16.1 For reporting and auditing purposes, all procurement documents and pertinent information must be retained in a recoverable form for a period of seven (7) years and in accordance with Seneca’s practice for handling, storing and maintaining a supplier’s confidential and commercially-sensitive information.

17. Exceptions

17.1 Any exception to this policy must be documented and approved by the Vice President, Finance and Administration.

Supporting Documentation

Related Seneca Policies

Related Materials

Appendix A: Purchase Order Exemptions

  • Conference and seminar fees
  • Courier and freight
  • Course registration
  • Custom payments
  • Debt payments
  • Donations
  • Honorariums
  • Interest payments
  • Leasehold payments
  • Membership fees
  • Petty cash items
  • Recruitment fees
  • Refunds
  • Sponsorship fees
  • Subscription fees

Appendix B: Non-Competitive Procurement Allowable Circumstances

Single Sourcing

Seneca may utilize non-competitive procurement in the circumstances listed below provided that they do not do so for the purposes of avoiding competition between suppliers or to discriminate against suppliers:

  1. Where an unforeseeable situation of urgency exists and goods, services or construction cannot be obtained in time by means of open competitive procurement procedures. Failure to plan and allow sufficient time for an open competitive procurement does not constitute an unforeseeable situation of urgency.
  2. Where goods or services (including consulting services) regarding matters of a confidential or privileged nature are to be purchased and the disclosure of those matters through an open competitive procurement could reasonably be expected to compromise government confidentiality, cause economic disruption or otherwise be contrary to the public interest.  
  3. Where a contract is to be awarded under a co-operation agreement that is financed, in whole or in part, by an international co-operation organization, only to the extent that the agreement between Seneca and the organization includes rules for awarding contracts that differ from the defined obligations. 
  4. Where construction materials are to be purchased and it can be demonstrated that the transportation costs or technical considerations impose geographic limits on the available supply base, specifically in the case of sand, stone, gravel, asphalt, compound and pre-mixed concrete for use in the construction or repair of roads.
  5. Where compliance with the open competitive procurement provisions would interfere with Seneca’s ability to maintain security/order or protect human, animal or plant life/health.
  6. Where there is an absence of a receipt of any bids in response to a call for tenders made.

Sole Sourcing

Where only one (1) supplier is able to meet the requirements of a procurement transaction, Seneca may utilize non-competitive procurement in the circumstances listed below provided that they do not do so for the purposes of avoiding competition between suppliers or to discriminate against suppliers:

  1. To ensure compatibility with existing products, to recognize exclusive rights or to maintain specialized products that must be maintained by the manufacturer or its representative. Exclusive rights include exclusive licenses, copyrights and patent rights
  2. Where there is an absence of competition for technical reasons and only a particular supplier could supplier the goods or services required and no alternative or substitute exists
  3. For purchases from a supplier that is a statutory monopoly
  4. For purchases of goods on a commodity market
  5. For work to be performed on or about a leased building, or portions thereof, that may be performed only by the leaser
  6. For work to be performed on a property by a contractor according to provisions of a warranty or guarantee held in respect of the property or the original work.
  7. For a contract to be awarded to the winner of a design contest
  8. For the procurement of a prototype of a first good or service to be developed in the course of and for a particular contract for research, experiment, study or original development. This would not apply to any subsequent purchases
  9. For purchases of goods under exceptionally advantageous circumstances such as bankruptcy or receivership, but not for routine purchases
  10. For the procurement of original works of art
  11. For the procurement of subscriptions to newspapers, magazines or other periodicals
  12. For the procurement of real property

Non-Application of Trade Agreements

  1. Procurement of goods intended for resale to the public
  2. Contracts with a public body or a non-profit organization.
  3. Procurement from philanthropic institutions, prison labour or persons with disabilities
  4. Procurement of any goods with the inter-provincial movement, which is restricted by laws that are inconsistent with the trade agreements
  5. Procurement of goods or services related to cultural or artistic fields and computer software for educational purposes
  6. Procurement of services that in Ontario may, by legislation or regulation, be provided only by the following licensed professionals:
    • Accountants
    • Architects
    • Dentists
    • Engineers
    • Land surveyors
    • Lawyers
    • Medical doctors
    • Notaries
    • Nurses
    • Pharmacists
    • Veterinarians
  7. Procurement of services by financial analysts or the management of investments by organizations who has such functions as a primary purpose
  8. Procurement of financial services providing the management of financial assets and liabilities, including ancillary advisory and information services, whether or not delivered by a financial institution
  9. Procurement of goods or services for use outside of Canada, including construction work
  10. Health services and social services

Appendix C: Evaluation Criteria and Guidelines

The following steps detail the procedure requirements for competitive evaluations:

  1. For invitational competitions, determine which suppliers will be part of the evaluation.
    1. Include any incumbent supplier(s) or document the reason why a respondent is not being included
    2. At minimum, three (3) acceptable suppliers are required for competitive evaluations.  Approval from the Vice President, Finance and Administration is required to continue evaluation with less than three (3) responses
  2. A Seneca cross-department team (the team) must be established to conduct an evaluation.
    1. The team is responsible for reviewing and rating the compliant bids
    2. The team members will be made aware of the restrictions related to utilization and distribution of confidential and commercially-sensitive information collected through the competitive procurement process and refrain from engaging in activities that may create or appear to create conflict of interest
    3. The team members will sign a conflict of interest declaration and non-disclosure of confidential information agreement
    4. At a minimum, the team must include a representative from the Procurement department and the requestor, but normally should include others
  3. Determine evaluation criteria and weightings prior to receipt of any supplier responses or evaluation.
  4. The team’s agreement of criteria and weightings must be documented (e.g. meeting minutes, email).
    1. Document weight and criteria matrix
    2. Once determined, the criteria and weightings cannot be changed without team approval
  5. For each evaluation, all team members will complete an evaluation matrix, rating each of the submissions along with submitting their comments. Records of evaluation scores will be retained for audit purposes.
    1. Evaluators will ensure that everything they say or write about submissions is fair, factual and fully defensible.
  6. Communication of any proposal or bid request and acceptance of any responses must only be performed by the Procurement department to ensure the integrity of the evaluation.
    1. All supplier responses must be due at the same time
    2. Any changes in due dates, requirements or information pertaining to the proposal or bid requests must be communicated to all suppliers at the same time and by the same methodology
    3. The bid proposal should be received in accordance to the bid documentation guidelines
    4. All proposal or bid requests and responses must be documented
  7. Once the proposal or bid responses have been received from the suppliers, evaluation of the responses should be conducted.
    1. A detailed explanation of the team’s evaluation of each non-price criteria is not required
    2. Negotiations are recommended as a part of all purchases and should include all criteria used in the evaluation. Negotiations conducted must include the supplier with the best overall value and can include other suppliers that were a part of the proposal or bid process
  8. A summary of the evaluation scoring, including rated requirements and pricing, along with the decision on the winning supplier(s) must be documented (e.g. electronically via meeting minutes with team members on copy or via hard copy)
  9. The submission(s) that meets all mandatory requirements set out in the competitive procurement document and receives the highest overall evaluation score will be declared the preferred proponent(s) whom Seneca will then invite in contract negotiations as specified in the Competitive Procurement Document.
  10. Seneca will inform all unsuccessful suppliers about their entitlement to a debriefing.
  11. Procurement will provide timely and meaningful notification to all suppliers on the outcome of their participation in the selection process. All supplier feedback will be documented.

Appendix D: Competitive Procurement Documents

Request for Proposal (RFP)

The purpose of an RFP is to request suppliers to provide solutions for the delivery of complex goods or services or, where explicitly required, to provide alternative options or solutions. This process uses multiple predetermined evaluation criteria, including price.

Request for Information (RFI)

A document issued to potential suppliers to gather general supplier, service or product information. Suppliers are provided with a general or preliminary description of a problem or need and are requested to provide information or advice on how to better define it or to provide alternative solutions.

A response to an RFI does not pre-qualify a potential supplier and must not influence their chances of being the successful proponent on any subsequent opportunity.

Request For Tender (RFT)

The purpose of an RFT is to request suppliers to submit bids to provide goods or services based on stated delivery requirements, performance specifications, terms and conditions. The proposal evaluation is predominantly based on the price and delivery requirements.

Request For Quotation (RFQ)

The purpose of an RFQ is to request suppliers to describe exactly the goods and services to be provided. The proposal evaluation is based solely on price.

Request For Supplier Qualifications (RFSQ)

A document used to gather information on supplier capabilities and qualifications, with the intention of creating a list of pre-qualified suppliers. An RFSQ may be used either to identify qualified candidates in advance of expected future competitions or to narrow the field supplier for an immediate need. Organizations must ensure that the terms and conditions built into the RFSQ contain specific language that disclaims any obligation on the part of the organization to call on any supplier to provide goods or services as a result of the pre-qualification.

Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI)

A document used to gather information on supplier interest in an opportunity or information on supplier capabilities/qualifications. This mechanism may be used when a BPS organization wishes to gain a better understanding of the capacity of the supplier community to provide the services or solutions needed. A response to a RFEI must not pre-qualify a potential supplier and must not influence their chances of being the successful proponent on any subsequent opportunity.