Purchasing a Professional Service
Responsible University Officer: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer
Policy Owner: Director of Purchasing Services
Policy Contact: Beth Tapp


Units may purchase professional services on an intermittent or temporary basis. Following are examples of why Professional Services would be required:

  • limited or onetime use of specialized or creative skills are needed;
  • the provider has unique areas of expertise;
  • the purchase provides rapid access to the latest technology and the supplier has experience with its application; or
  • the supplier has access to unique problem solving alternatives.
  • Professional services are customized services consisting of specialized intellectual or creative expertise based on personal skills or ideas of an individual(s) provided for a fee. This is determined individually with each customer for each service contract. Examples include artistic design services, editorial services, technical expertise, and consultants.

Units must ensure that contracts with professional services providers:

  • are fully and formally approved before work begins (exception for under $3,000 - process VCPS after work is done).
  • comply with IRS requirements for defining employees and independent contractors.
  • comply with special requirements of projects supported by sponsored funds.
  • include a complete statement of work including any deliverables.
  • use either the University's standard Contract for Professional Services (CPS) with no alterations, additions or omissions, or use a contract that has been reviewed and approved by the Office of the General Counsel.
  • do not conflict with other University policies.


  • For purchases $50,000 and over, a competitive proposal process (i.e. a Request for Proposal (RFP)) must be used to select a supplier, OR the department may complete and submit a Department Request for Exception to Board of Regents Policy if the criteria for bypassing the competitive proposal process are met.
  • For purchases under $50,000 a competitive proposal process is not required, however the department may request that Purchasing Services conduct an RFP process

Conflict of Interest

Per Minnesota Statute 1543, "no employee of the State or the University of Minnesota in direct contact with suppliers and potential suppliers to the State or the University, or who may directly or indirectly influence a purchasing decision or contract ... may:

  • have any financial interest or have any personal beneficial interest directly or indirectly in contracts or purchase orders for goods or services ...
  • accept directly or indirectly from a person, firm, or corporation to which a contract or purchase order has been or may be awarded a rebate, gift, money, or anything of value other than items of nominal value. No such employee may further accept any promise, obligation, or contract for future reward."

A violation of this statute is classified as a misdemeanor, and may also violate federal regulations regarding sponsored funds.

Separation of Duties

Units must give careful consideration to the assignment of duties to staff in regards to procurement transactions so that the same employee is not allowed to select the supplier, place an order, receive the goods/services, approve the transactions, and process the associated voucher and payments.


This policy does not apply to purchases of standard services. Standard services are services routinely provided to a large number of customers usually at published rates without significant customizing (e.g., administrative services, dry cleaning, extermination services, equipment maintenance, laboratory testing services, lawn care, and courier services.).

Purchases of professional services between the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Physicians will not require review and approval from Purchasing or from the Board of Regents, but will instead be consistent with the Master Agreement for the Purchase of Goods and Services between the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Physicians. The Master Agreement does not apply to lease of real property from one party to the other, or to sponsored research activities and related subcontractor relationships.

Special Situations

The Office of the General Counsel is the only unit that may purchase legal services from an external supplier. Architect/engineer services and design services may be purchased only by Capital Planning and Project Management (CPPM) or with their authorization.

The Controller's Office must approve all purchases of any services from accounting/auditing firms. In some instances, prior approval from the Board of Regents will also be required.

Purchases of professional services from Fairview University Hospital will be handled in a manner consistent with Administrative and Board of Regents Policies: Purchasing, but purchases from Fairview University Hospital that are related to research projects will not require bidding for any dollar amount.


Compliance with laws, regulations, sponsor requirements, and University policy will avoid unnecessary legal fees, fines, penalties, loss of sponsored funding, and adverse impact to the University's reputation.

Primary Contact(s)
  • Purchasing Services
  • Policy Clarification
  • Preparing a Request For Proposal (RFP)
  • Evaluating a Proposal
  • Non-Standard Contract
  • Administering a Professional Services Contract
Purchasing Services
Sponsored Funds
SPA Grants Administrator
612-624-5599 (Helpline)
Payment Procedures
Hiring and Paying Employees
See link for specific phone numbers
See link for specific phone numbers
Paying Contractors
Disbursement Services
612-624-1617 (Helpline)
Tax Issues
Federal Withholding Tax
Tax Treaties
Payroll Services
State Withholding / 1099
Disbursement Services
612-624-1617 (Helpline)
Immigration Issues
Employment and Tax Issues
Payroll Services
Visa Issues, Status
International Student & Scholar Services



CPS - Contract for Service

PCPS - Performance Contract for Professional Service

QCPS - Quick Contract for Professional Service

VCPS - Voucher Contract for Professional Service

RFP - Request for Proposal

Professional Services Information Sheet (PSIS)A form that collects information about professional service providers and is required as an attachment to QCPS, PCPS and CPS requisitions.Reasonable PriceA price that can be shown to be not excessive and consistent with current market prices.Request for Proposal (RFP)A document usually sent to multiple suppliers inviting them to make a competitive offer to provide professional services to the University.Statement of WorkAn outline of what the supplier is expected to accomplish or deliver to the University for the price stated in the contract.Types of ServicesThere are two types of services purchased by University colleges and departments: standard and professional services.

  • Standard Services: Services routinely provided to a large number of customers usually at published rates without significant customizing.
    • Examples are dry cleaning, extermination services, equipment maintenance, laboratory testing services, lawn care, or courier services.
    • Firms rather than individuals are likely to provide these services.
  • Professional Services: Customized services consisting of specialized or creative expertise based on personal skills or ideas of an individual(s) provided for a fee, which may be determined individually with each customer for each service contract.
    • Examples are artistic design services, editorial services, and consultants.
    • Some reasons to purchase professional services are:
      • Limited or one-time use of specialized or creative skills
      • Unique areas of expertise
      • Rapid access to the latest technology and experience in its application
      • Access to unique problem solving alternatives


Capital Planning and Project Management
Review and approve architectural, engineering, interior design and building maintenance services being purchased by the University.
Review proposed professional services contracts with accounting and auditing firms for possible "impairment of independence" issues relative to University of Minnesota audits. For contracts not representing an impairment of independence, approve contracts or recommend Board of Regents approval for contracts requiring Board approval.
Disbursement Services
Review PSIS (Professional Services Information Sheet) to ensure compliance with IRS rules and University policies and procedures. Properly record and withhold certain federal taxes per IRS guidelines. Accumulate IRS 1099 data.
General Counsel
Purchase legal services for the University. Review and approve all nonstandard contracts, and all revisions or exceptions to the University's standard Contract for Professional Services terms and conditions.
Review requisitions for foreign nationals and handle any related issues. Advise on hiring ex-employees through CPS process.
Purchasing Services
Develop the process for purchase of professional services. Ensure that the process complies with University policies, applicable laws, and good business practice. Execute the RFP process for purchases of professional services $50,000 and over. Review and electronically approve professional services transactions $50,000 and over.
Requestor/Requesting Departments
Complete electronic requisitions. Document justification for supplier selection (under $50,000). Prepare RFPs, review and evaluate supplier proposals against the RFP evaluation criteria (for professional service purchases of $50,000 and over). Designate contract administrator. Verify deliverables prior to payment of invoices on contract.
SPA/Certified Approver
Sponsored Projects Administration. Review and approve Contracts for Professional Services for compliance with sponsored funding guidelines.


November 2014 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision. 1. Ink signatures are no longer necessary. 2. Links have been updated and the policy was made consistent with other administrative policies. 3. Conflict of interest information in Minnesota Statue 1543 was moved from related information to the policy statement.
July 2008 - Revised extensively to address rollout of the Enterprise Financial System.
April 2006 - Added Special Situations section.
January 2006 - Reference Policy 3.7.3 - Purchasing Goods and Services in exclusions section and noted that policy 3.7.3 covers standard services.
April 2005 - Facilities Management changed to Capital Planning and Project Management.
February 2005 - The Purchasing a Professional Services Policy using Paper has been retired.
January 2004 - The Policy Statement contains a new requirement that Professional Services $50,000 and over will require that Purchasing Services conduct a formal Request for Proposal process to identify a vendor to receive the contract.
The Routing and Approvals appendix is changed to reflect the fact that since the Contract for Professional Services is now available as a financial transaction on Financial Forms Nirvana (FFN), approval routing will be done electronically. The specific approval routing for each contract is triggered by information entered by the preparer, such as dollar amount, sponsored or non-sponsored funding, type of vendor (individual or corporation) and object code.
The Routing and Approvals appendix reflects that Contracts for Professional Services entered on FFN under $10,000 may be signed by the individual who has been delegated signature authority under the Delegation of Authority. Contracts $10,000 and over will be signed by Purchasing.
The Routing and Approvals appendix reflects that retention of paper FFN contracts under will be the responsibility of the department. Retention of paper FFN contracts $10,000 and over will be the responsibility of Purchasing.
The Procedures section simply links to the appropriate pages on the Financial One Stop.
Procedure Establishing a Basis for Contractor Selection and Reasonable Price has been significantly expanded.
Procedure Administering Contracts for Professional Services has been significantly expanded.
March 2003 - Added Exclusion Section to include Master Agreement with U Physicians.
February 2003 - Added the Guide to filling out the Professional Services worksheet in the Forms Section.
September 2002 - Added MN New Hire Reporting Form.
April 2002 - Changed references from "special payments" to "Non Purchase Order Related Payments".
November 2001 - Added Paying Foreign Nationals to Appendices.
October 2001 - Added Special Payments to Appendices.
September 2001 - Under Definitions, Request For Proposal, deleted "outlining services to be rendered and" and replaced inviting vendors to inviting them; added "and writing vendors to offer competitive proposals to provide goods or services to the University" to the end of the sentence. Under Appendices added 1) Certified Approver Program: Payments for Services and 2) Certified Approver Program: Payments for Individuals. Revised under Responsibilities - SPA - added "and approve" after Review and deleted Approve contracts (see Contract Approvals). Deleted Sole Source Letter info because it is obsolete. Revised under Responsibilities Purchasing Services and General Counsel paragraph.
August 2001 - Changed University Attorney to General Counsel and deleted over $25,000.
March 2000 - Updated Contacts Section.
June 1999 - Added Contract for Professional Services Terms and Conditions.
February 1999 - Policy Statement Change - first bullet changed from "be formally approved" to "be fully and formally approved before work begins".
September 1994
Document Feedback
Date Revised
November 2014
Date Effective
September 1994