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.
Professional Services are typically performed by an independent contractor or consultant who is exceptionally qualified, by education or experience in a particular field, to render services or give advice in circumstances where a university employee with a similar level of expertise is not available. Examples of professional services include:
- Graphic Design/Branding/Illustration Services
- Transcription/Translation Services
- Video/Photography Services
- Equipment Repair
- Indexing Services
- Legal related services (e.g., notary, fingerprinting, document scanning). Please note: Hiring an attorney requires a contract and must be approved by Stanford’s Office of the General Counsel.
Purchasing Methods by Types of Professional Service
Professional services should generally be procured through a contract. 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. In most cases, these contracts should be paid for through a non-catalog purchase requisition (purchase order), which will be generated through the contract request process. Certain professional services may be paid with a PCard either upon contract approval or without a contract. Refer to the below table to learn about how to purchase these specific professional services:
|Type of Professional Service
|Purchasing or Payment Method
|A professional service that will be performed by an independent contractor and the cost is less than $600 per year.
|Services should be procured by submitting a $0 contract request. After the contract is signed and services are delivered, the services can be paid with a PCard so long as the transaction is compliant with PCard policy and other related policies.
|Services should be procured by submitting a $0 contract request. After the contract is signed and services are delivered, the services can be paid with a PCard so long as the transaction is compliant with PCard policy, such as the maximum limit of $4,999 or less, and other related policies.
|Contract preferred, but can be purchased with a PCard without a contract so long as the transaction is compliant with PCard policy, such as the maximum limit of $4,999 or less, and other related policies. If the supplier requires a signature on any document for these services, the transaction must be purchased with a contract, even if the payment method is with a PCard.
Recommended Creative Vendors
University Communications maintains a selection of creative vendors that are available, but not required, for department use. These include vendors for services such as graphic design, illustrators, photographers, and more. Creative services are generally considered a professional service and must be procured through the contracts process. Where applicable, upon selecting a vendor from the resource list, it is noted below their contact information if the supplier has already been onboarded as a supplier in the Stanford Procurement system, which may expedite the contracts process in those cases. If the vendor is not currently onboarded as a Stanford supplier, refer to Setting Up a New Supplier or Visitor Payee for more information. To check whether a vendor is active or inactive in the Stanford Procurement system, or to request to update or activate their record, refer to How To: View Pending Supplier or Payee Requests.
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.
Fee for service speakers must be procured through a contract. If a school or unit is making a one-time gratuitous payment as a gesture of goodwill and in expression of appreciation to speakers or contributors in special Stanford events (e.g., symposia, lecture series or professional conventions), it is considered an honorarium. Refer to Paying Honoraria for more information.
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 the accounts to Cardinal Cloud, which will not disrupt existing cloud services.
Home internet services
Stanford may provide cell phones, related devices, and/or data or internet services to employees in order to improve communication, productivity, and work efficiency; facilitate telecommuting and working between multiple campus locations; and to otherwise enhance the contributions of employees based on business necessity. Administrative Guide Memo 8.1.3: Provisions of Mobile Equipment and Related Services outlines the policy and process for these expenses in further detail. Employees must obtain approval from their school or unit before purchase. Upon approval, reimbursement is made to the employee via paycheck stipend.
Internet services while traveling
Wifi during business travel is permissible with a demonstrated business need. An air travel service subscription that provides WiFi is not permissible/reimbursable.
Google Drive and Shared drives are Stanford’s preferred file sharing and storage solutions. University IT (UIT) also supports Microsoft OneDrive. Departments should consult with their local IT administrator on preferred storage solutions at the school or unit level. For Principal Investigators (PIs) and research groups, the SRCC Oak storage environment is available to store research data or backups of datasets.
Schools and units should not create a purchase requisition for storage solutions without consulting with UIT. If the storage solution is not available through UIT, it may be procured through a contract. Please note that the use of Stanford data will have additional requirements.
Network security protects the university from malicious attacks, shields critical data, enables safe online activity, and supports efficient operations. To ensure alignment with UIT security protocols, before purchasing any software, including online software purchases with an accompanying “clickthrough agreement,” schools and units must consult University Information Technology's (UIT) Software at Stanford page. This resource can be used to search for specific software and how to obtain it. The UIT Software Licensing office acts as a main point of contact for academic software that is available for purchase or use at the university.
If a department is unable to locate the required software after searching Software at Stanford, they must follow the below process to determine the appropriate purchasing method, which depends on the related risks.
- Consult with their local IT team or department administrator, who may conduct a pre-screening risk assessment with regard to use of data that will be used in the software. For more information, local IT staff may reference: Software Purchase Guide for Local IT.
- After the consultation, if the local IT team or department administrator approves, the department may use a Stanford Purchasing Card (PCard) to purchase software so long as the software is standard (off the shelf), name brand, and low risk software that will only be used with low risk data. The PCard transaction must also be compliant with PCard policy and cannot require a contract.
- After the purchase, the PCard holder must attest that they had the consultation in the PCard purchase verification process.
- Software that does not meet the requirements to be purchased with a PCard such as custom software, software from lesser known entities, software developed in certain foreign countries, or software to be used with medium to high risk data should be submitted to the Information Security Office for a data risk assessment (DRA) prior to submitting a contract request in SmartMart. Note that software that requires a contract may not be purchased with a PCard.
Software applications are required to meet Stanford’s Accessibility of Electronic Content Policy. Regardless of the method in which software and services are purchased (e.g., contract, PCard, etc.) consult with your local IT team or department administrator to conduct an Accessibility Risk Assessment pre-screening.
- If the screening confirms software or services identified as Low Risk, these may be purchased without an accessibility review from the Office of Digital Accessibility (ODA).
- If software or services are identified as Medium or High Risk, it will need to undergo an accessibility review by ODA, regardless of the form of payment. If the software or service does not meet Stanford's accessibility standards, a temporary exception must be obtained from ODA before purchasing. ODA recommends requesting a Voluntary Product Accessibility Report (VPAT) or other accessibility documentation from the vendor. Such information should include how the software or service conforms, at a minimum, with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), Level A and Level AA standard.
For more details about requesting vendor accessibility documentation, refer to procurement guidance on the ODA website.
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 Professional Services section 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, Google Pay, Square, etc. These remain as non permissible and the PCard may not be used on these sites to pay for products or 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. Note that departments should not sign agreements on behalf of the university (learn more about signature versus financial approval authority). 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.
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.