Procurement with Sponsored Funds

Purchases using sponsored funds often have unique requirements beyond U-M’s normal procurement process. This page provides an overview of the requirements to use federal sponsored funds, based on the Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.

Non-federal sponsors may have other unique requirements when making purchases with their funds that may be found in the agreement with the sponsor.

Beginning July 1, 2018, purchases using federal sponsored funds must be made in accordance with Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200). The Uniform Guidance requires Sponsored Programs to review transactions meeting certain criteria to determine if they are allowable.

The purpose of these federal guidelines is to verify that all expenses charged to a research project have a “direct benefit” and should be charged as “direct costs” to the project. To ensure compliance, all activity affecting a sponsored project/grant should meet the terms and conditions of the grant or contract.

When purchasing with federal funds, university employees must: 

  • Avoid the acquisition of unnecessary or duplicative items. 
  • Give consideration to the use of federal excess or university surplus through Property Disposition in lieu of purchasing new equipment whenever such use is feasible and reduces project costs. 
  • Take all necessary steps to include minority businesses, women business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms whenever possible

Full and open competition

Procurement transactions using federal funds must be conducted in a manner that allows full and open competition to ensure objective supplier performance and eliminate unfair competitive advantages. Suppliers that develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, and invitations for bids or requests for proposals must be excluded from competing for such procurements. In addition the university should not:

  • Place unreasonable requirements on firms in order for them to qualify to do business.
  • Require unnecessary experience and excessive bonding.
  • Implement noncompetitive pricing practices between firms or between affiliated companies.
  • Enter into noncompetitive contracts with consultants that are on retainer contracts.
  • Have unmanaged organizational conflicts of interest.
  • Specify only a “brand name” product instead of allowing “an equal” product to be offered and describe the performance or other relevant requirements of the procurement.
  • Take any arbitrary actions in the procurement process.

Any sourcing event for a purchase using federal funds over the federal simplified acquisition threshold ($250,000) must be publicized per the Uniform Guidance. Any response to publicized requests for proposals must be considered to the maximum extent practical.

Sole source requests on federal awards

Sole source purchases are allowed only when one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • Proprietary materials and services; maintenance or service from OEM or authorized dealer
  • No substitutions available to match existing hardware/equipment/services
  • Supplier is specified by name in an awarded contract or grant
  • Is being procured due to an emergency

Departments are required to complete and submit a Sole Source Justification form to Procurement Services in support of this request.

In addition to the conflict of interest requirements in SPG 201.65-1 and the Michigan Public Act 317 of 1968, the Uniform Guidance requires that no university employee may participate in the selection, award, or administration of a contract supported by a federal award if he or she has a real or apparent conflict of interest. 

Such a conflict of interest would arise when the employee, officer, agent, any member of his or her immediate family, his or her partner, or an organization which employs or is about to employ any of the parties indicated herein, has a financial or other interest in or a tangible personal benefit from a firm considered for a contract. In addition, U-M employees should—whenever possible—avoid making purchases that could create an organizational conflict of interest with university-affiliated entities to avoid the appearance that the institution is unable to be impartial in conducting a procurement action involving the related organization.