How to Make a Purchase

This guide will help determine when a department can engage with suppliers directly or if the help of Purchasing Services is required.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is subject to State of Wisconsin purchasing statutes and rules. This page will help ensure those rules are followed when purchasing goods and services at UW-Madison.

Buying Products

Many items can be found at ShopUW+ or through contracted vendors. ShopUW+ is an efficient way to make business purchases and carries commonly used items such as lab supplies, office supplies, computer hardware, and MRO. ShopUW+ is a university resource that saves time and money.

Purchasing Services also manages contracts for many other items and services. The contracts have been negotiated to include favorable pricing and protective terms in case issues arise.

If the product or good can’t be purchased through those methods, a more structured buying process is required.

There are three ways to buy products and goods:

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Buying products from ShopUW+ vendors

ShopUW+ is UW-Madison’s ecommerce site where you can buy commonly used products and goods that are on contract.


  • Office supplies
  • Computers
  • Lab supplies
  • MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operational supplies)

Buy from ShopUW+

Buying products from a contracted vendor not at ShopUW+

UW-Madison manages and maintains many contracts for the purchase of products and goods.  These contracts have already gone through a formal bidding solicitation and do not require additional work prior to purchasing the needed products and/or goods.

Buy from a contracted vendor, not at ShopUW+

Buying products from a vendor not on contract

UW-Madison can purchase products and goods with vendors that are not on contract, but there are additional steps required before making the purchase.

Buy from a vendor not on contract

Buying Services

The purchase of services such as maintenance, instructional, research and consulting require additional considerations and require the involvement of a procurement specialist.

How to Buy Services

Items requiring special approval

Certain items require special approval before purchase.  Purchase orders will not be issued for these items unless specific criteria is met first. Contact a procurement specialist for assistance.

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Products and services requiring special approvals

See Purchasing  Policy and Procedure UW-3043 for specific instructions on how to handle the special approvals.

  • Alarm, Security System Installation
  • Asbestos Removal
  • Audio Visual Equipment Installation
  • Biological Safety Cabinet/Filtered Air Devices
  • Computer Equipment and Software
  • Computer Software License Agreement
  • Controlled Substances, (Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs)
  • Furniture
  • Graphic Equipment
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Ionic Air Purification Equipment
  • Importing or Exporting Goods and Services
  • Legal Services
  • Logos, Indicia/Trademarks
  • Motor Vehicle
  • Omnibus Reconciliation Act–Medicaid/Medicare Funding
  • Printing
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Remodeling Project
  • Signage (Buildings and Campus)
  • Stable Isotope from U.S. Department of Energy
  • Telecommunication Equipment
  • Temporary Help-Contractual Services
  • Weapons and Ammunition
  • Explosives and exotic chemical materials

Vendor Eligibility

Before beginning the purchasing process, check to see if the university is allowed to purchase items from the vendor. If they appear on the following directories, they are ineligible.


Please contact Purchasing Services with any questions.