Procurement of Computers, Software and Services

The purpose of this policy is to provide a defined process for both the new and recurring procurement (through purchase or lease) of computer hardware, software and services using Washington University funds or grant funds administered by Washington University. The process is to be efficient and easy to administer while requiring thorough justification and ensuring the greatest value for hardware and software to be procured.


When the CFU, a school or department contemplates the acquisition of computer hardware, software or IT services, the following process is to be utilized when:

  • there is a need for the software solution to function as part of the larger IT infrastructure, or for the software to be integrated with other university systems or software (e.g. WUSTL key login), REGARDLESS of the expense; or
  • the anticipated expense will be at least $150,000 for hardware, and at least $25,000 for software or IT services.
  1. Identify and describe need and define scope. Be as specific as possible in outlining the requirements and include functionality, performance (size, speed and other), capacity, retrieval frequency, storage and other elements. Identify your timing for product deployment and provide the funding source.
  2. Send the description of need and scope statement to Resource Management and to the Enterprise IT Architect offices along with a list of vendors you have identified that can provide proposals to fulfill your requirements.  Resource Management or Enterprise IT Architect will respond, acknowledging receipt of your information.  Acknowledgement of receipt of the request will occur in less than two business days and a meeting will be arranged.  Because the size and complexity of the acquisition can vary widely, the delivery milestones for the specific purchase will be worked out at the preliminary meeting.
  3. The Enterprise IT Architect office will review and assess your description of need and scope statement.

For hardware, the assessment will include, but not be limited to:

  • Identification of existing hardware that could possibly fulfill your need;
  • Knowledge of or experience with any of the vendors you’ve identified as possible sources;
  • Alternative ideas of solutions to fulfill your need;

For software, the office will assess:

  • Determination if the software is already available through the WU software library;
  • Possible availability of existing WU licenses that you could use;
  • Alternative software solutions (from third party vendor or WU developed) to fulfill your need.

For services, the office will assess:

  • Cloud services (laaS, PaaS, SaaS, etc.) that might provide a solution;
  • Consulting services and potential sources.

The assessment could result in the Enterprise IT Architect posing questions to the originating school or department, seeking clarifications regarding the description of need and/or the scope statement. Ultimately, a decision will be made that the purchase:

  • Is a fit with the IT strategic direction;
  • Is not a fit, but is a valid exception;
  • Is not a fit, and no exception will be granted.
  1. Once all issues have been clearly addressed and the decision is made to proceed, the school or department, Resource Management and the relevant IT organization collaborate to develop the Request for Proposals (RFP), identify the bidders list and timetable and release the RFP.
  2. Proposals are received and opened by Resource Management and shared with the school or department and the relevant IT organization. Proposals are tabulated and any clarifications and questions are asked of and answered by the vendors.
  3. The award decision is a collaborative one made to ensure the need and scope requirements will be fulfilled on time, and that the financial value for the school or department and WashU is optimal.


  • In any award decision, there needs to be affirmation that there are no conflicts of interest, as defined by Washington University’s Conflict of Interest Policy.
  • The location of the vendor must be identified as domestic or foreign.
  • With the award decision, it must be documented who was on the negotiation team, who authorized the purchase and that the final contract IT terms are consistent with the needs of the requesting school or department.

Revised April 26, 2017

Submit this form to request computers, cloud software and more.

Download the Form (docx)