There are multiple, authorized methods of buying and paying for goods and services in support of the university's goals and mission. This page features information about the purchase of common types of services, including details about special considerations and the recommended purchasing method. Some purchases require additional approvers or supporting documentation to support the university’s ability to meet compliance requirements.
For additional guidance on other types of purchases, refer to the following pages:
- The Categories of Purchases page provides specific requirements related to purchasing methods depending on the type of purchase where applicable.
- The Purchasing and Payment Methods page reviews the various purchasing processes and resources to support using them.
- The Buy & Pay Guide contains an A to Z list of commonly-purchased goods and services with related expenditure type and best purchasing method.
Generally, when a department would like to hire a non-Stanford, outside company or individual to perform a service for Stanford, a contract is required. While the Stanford purchase order acts as a basic contract and can protect the university from some risks, most services raise additional risks that should be addressed with a written contract issued by Procurement Services and signed by both the service provider and Stanford.
When schools or units engage an individual to perform services, Stanford must ensure the person and the work being performed meet the legal requirements for status as an independent contractor (sometimes also called an independent consultant).
Distinction Between a Consultant and an Employee
A consultant is exceptionally qualified, by education or experience in a particular field, to render services or give advice in circumstances where no university employees have a similar level of expertise. The university does not control where and how the work is performed but only receives a final deliverable. By contrast, the work and schedule of an employee (including a casual or temporary employee) is directed by a Stanford manager and Stanford supplies the employee with tools or supplies (such as a computer or laptop). The determination of whether a worker is classified as an employee or as an independent contractor (consultant) drives whether employment taxes are withheld and paid by the university and eligibility for benefits including vacation, etc. Refer to IRS guidance at Employee versus Independent Contractor Status for more information.
Independent contractors or consulting firms should be procured through a SmartMart Contracts request. If the supplier is an independent contractor, a signed Independent Contractor Checklist (IC Checklist) must be attached when submitting the contract request. Please note that if the consultant will use Stanford data, there are additional considerations.
If the person and/or work being performed do not legally qualify for Independent Contractor status, hiring the person as a temporary employee may be the appropriate option.
University HR manages the university temporary staffing and contingent labor program, CardinalTemps, which is accessed through one of the tiles in iProcurement. CardinalTemps mitigates risks associated with hiring temporary workers by ensuring consistent background checks, appropriate classification of workers, proper insurance for workers and enforcement of Living Wage policies.
While not considered direct compensation for a service, an honorarium is typically a one-time gratuitous payment made as a gesture of goodwill and in appreciation to speakers or participants in special Stanford events (e.g., symposia, lecture series or professional conventions). An honorarium is provided to help cover costs for volunteers or speakers. See Paying Honoraria for more guidance. If any fee is required by the individual or negotiated, payment is no longer considered an honorarium, but rather a contracted fee for service and should be processed as a SmartMart Contracts request.
All cloud computing accounts used for any Stanford-related activities—including development, student work, testing, learning and building production-ready solutions—should be part of Cardinal Cloud. This includes all accounts with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure.
Being a part of Stanford's Cardinal Cloud enterprise-wide services reduces costs and cybersecurity risks and improves access to services.
- To begin a cloud computing service, UIT offers guidance for choosing and purchasing a solution. This could include moving a school or unit’s servers, applications, or other IT resources to the cloud, or investigating a cloud solution to meet a business need.
- If a school or unit has an existing standalone cloud account (that still incurs credit card or PCard charges or gets monthly invoices), they should join any accounts to Cardinal Cloud, which will not disrupt existing cloud services.
Web development services should be procured through a SmartMart Contract request. Refer to Topic Overview: Selecting a Supplier for guidance about vendor selection and the overall process. Refer to Independent Contractors/Consultants on this page for additional considerations.
Web-applications are required to meet Stanford’s Accessibility of Electronic Content Policy. Suppliers providing such products through direct purchase should provide documentation as to how the product conforms with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level A and Level AA standard. Such documentation may include a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template), Accessibility Conformance Report, accessibility documentation, or accessibility development workflow adopted by the supplier. To request assistance from a representative of the Office of Digital Accessibility, please submit a support request.
Stanford has discounted pricing on Shipping via FedEx Online at Stanford. When shipping internationally export control regulations may apply. Please refer to the Dean of Research’s Export License Review and Certification Reference Guide for more information.
When an international shipment is sent to Stanford, customs forms and fees as well as freight forwarding services will need to be provided by a customs broker. JAS, the designated customs broker for the university, will need to be paid directly for any of their services, plus duties or taxes. Schools or units should send a copy of the purchase order for the product that required clearance into the country to JAS to ensure prompt delivery and invoice processing for any import services. Refer to How To: Create a Standard Non-Catalog Requisition for more details on how to send the purchase order to JAS.
Contact Information for JAS (formerly TIGERS):
800 AIRPORT BLVD., SUITE 518
BURLINGAME, CA 94010
If customs information was not included on the original purchase order, schools or units will need to pay the invoice from JAS by:
- Providing JAS with the original PO number for the product that required clearance into the country; or
- Creating a non-catalog purchase requisition with JAS as the supplier for the import services; or
- Using a Purchasing Card (PCard), as long as the purchase of the import services complies with PCard policy.
In cases where the school or unit receives free or donated international shipments, they will also need to pay the invoice from JAS either with PCard or by creating a non-catalog purchase requisition to JAS.
Advertising and marketing services on social networking service/media companies (Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, etc.) may be purchased through a purchase order or a PCard.
Please note that this does not include payment processing and fintech pay sites such as Paypal, Venmo, GooglePay, Square, etc. These remain as non permissible and the PCard may not be used on these sites to pay for products or services.
Please refer to the Moving Services page for information about relocation to or from Stanford. On-campus office or lab moves should be coordinated with the appropriate facility manager. Office moves may also be accomplished through LBRE's Event Services.
Stanford arranges for many events both on- and off-site. Some on-campus event space is controlled by Schools or Departments which may charge for use via an iJournal.
The Office of Special Events & Protocol (OSEP) provides event policy guidance and information on many on-campus venues and services to assist with event planning. For on-campus events, many services can be arranged through LBRE’s Event Services. The Faculty Club is another on-campus location for events. Residential & Dining Enterprises provides Catering and Event Spaces.
Stanford Transportation Services can facilitate event parking, or the rental of Marguerite shuttles or charter services for events. Student Affairs provides a party planning guide that includes the student alcohol policy and OSEP provides information on alcohol service and licensing requirements. Regardless of venue, the business meal maximum limits apply to Stanford events. See more information in Administrative Guide Memo 8.2.1: University Events.
Arranging for a university-sponsored event at an off-campus event space, such as hotel conference facilities, requires a contract. In some cases, venue deposits are required and must be paid immediately to secure a booking. The most secure payment method for paying for a venue deposit is through a purchase order. If the venue requires a credit card to secure the venue booking and the transaction is compliant with PCard policy and other related policies, a PCard can be used to pay a venue deposit while the contract is being processed in SmartMart Contracts; however, the balance of the contracted amount must be committed in Oracle and paid against a purchase order. Please include a note to the Contracts team in your Contract Request stating the deposit amount paid on the PCard. Online event registration and management services are available through Certain or Eventbrite.
A master agreement for lab coats (rental or cleaning) has been established. They can be ordered through Cintas via a Non-Catalog Requisition.
Commissioned work, such as photographs, written content for a website, or prototype construction, when the results for the work may be copyrighted or patented, require a contract. Additional or special terms must be included and signed by both Stanford and the supplier.
Construction-related services for architectural design, engineering surveying or design, construction services from general contractors or subcontractors require a contract. For construction services that are part of a capital project, refer to capital projects for additional process and information.