Frequently Asked Questions

Can I purchase office supplies on-line?
Yes, once you have been authorized and a password has been set up for you. The password will be given to you upon setup. We are currently using Innovative Office Solution as the on-line vendor. Call Randie, Purchasing Manager, at ext. 4178 for more information.

How do I order Carleton Business Cards or Stationery?
The Office of Publications handles all stationery orders for the College.  You can now order standard Carleton business cards or stationery directly from Engage Printing by accessing their online ordering Web page. To access the online ordering instructions please click here.

What services are available from other departments?
Print Services offers high volume duplicating services utilizing high-speed digital photocopiers at very competitive rates.  They work closely with Mail Services and the Campus Post Office to coordinate the printing and distribution of College materials. 

Facilities Services will assist you if you need office furniture.  Please submit a Facilities work order at with your needs and they will contact you on possible options.

Catering Services is available to help you plan the perfect menu for your event. They are available for consultation and advice and can be contacted at ext. 5430.

How do I buy the goods and services I need to perform my job?
Carleton end users purchase goods and services by determining the products and the suppliers that will afford the college the "best value."  Their purchases are made with a Purchase Order Request Form, a Purchasing Visa card, or reimbursement of employee personal funds.

When do I need to have a formal contract rather than use a purchase order?
A purchase order is a contract with terms and conditions that are associated with it and it is used for purchases of deliverable goods, continuing services (e.g., software licenses, etc).  A formal contract should be used if there is more risk involved, if the amount of money involved is high or when it is prudent to detail specific negotiated terms and conditions, including a Statement of Work within a legally binding document.

What is "best value" and how is it determined?
Best value means the optimum combination of economy and quality to achieve the objectives of the end user and the college. To determine this optimum combination, decisions must be made on some pre-purchase evaluation criteria pertaining to specific purchases. There are different guidelines for purchasing goods and services as well as special services like consulting or professional services from architects. These criteria might involve some or all of the following examples: price, quality, service after the sale, reputation of the vendor, delivery time, cost for training or installation and even trade-in or surplus value when you are through using the item. The list can go on to include as many specific criteria for your purchase that is needed to make the evaluation.

Why do we get quotes or bid?
The purpose for getting quotes or bidding is to guarantee that Carleton always receives the best prices for quality goods and/or services. Allowing vendors to compete in an unbiased and open setting assures that we receive the best possible value.  Refer to the Purchasing Manual for guidelines on when to get quotes.  Remember not to disclose one vendor’s pricing to another vendor when you are in the process of getting the quotes.

Are there any contracts already in place that I can use?
Yes. Carleton is a member of these purchasing cooperatives:

These groups have contracts for office supplies, science supplies, hotel services, flowers, rental cars, travel services, and other contracts that can be accessed.

Who do I call when I have a question regarding purchasing an item?
Call the Purchasing Manager at ext. 4178 or the Administrative Assistant at ext. 7095.

What is a purchase order?
A purchase order is the official and binding document issued to the vendor authorizing the expenditure of College funds for goods and services. The purchase order creates a "commitment" that will help you manage your budget. By using a purchase order, everyone involved in the purchase process can track the order by referring to the same purchase order number as a standard reference.

What is a standing order?
A standing or blanket order is used to purchase materials or services over an extended period of time, usually a minimum of one year, at set pricing. Contact the Purchasing Manager at ext. 4178 for a consultation to determine if this would be beneficial.

What is a Purchase Order Request Form?
A purchase order request form is used to initiate the purchase of goods or services. Someone in your department has authorization to approve the requisition and begin the purchasing process; contact the Purchasing Department for additional information x4178. Send the form to the Business Office, 1-BUSOFC, 109 Leighton.

Please be sure to provide the following information:  

required delivery date,complete description of item(s) requested including model and part number, if available quantity, unit of measure, and estimated cost for each item suggested, vendor name, address, telephone and fax numbers, if known supporting documentation, if available requisitioner's and end user's name and phone number special instructions regarding: short lead time, funding limitations, special shipping requirements, whom you spoke with at the vendor's office, or any other pertinent information you feel will assist us in handling your request.

Where can I get a Purchase Order Request form?
From the Business Office website, outside of the Business Office in Leighton 109 or contact the Administrative Assistant at ext. 7095.

What do I do with my Purchase Order Request form once it is filled out?
Fax it to Purchasing at x7758 or bring it to the Purchasing Manager in the Business Office at 113 Leighton Hall.

How long does it take to get a Purchase Order (PO) after submitting a Purchase Order Request form?
Purchasing processes all purchase requisitions within 24 hours unless more information is needed to complete the PO. In cases where more information is needed, the process is dependent upon the time needed to obtain the necessary information. If a Purchase Order Request Form is received in Purchasing before NOON, a PO will be mailed or faxed in the afternoon on the same day.

What is a maintenance agreement?
A maintenance agreement covers parts and labor on a single piece or multiple pieces of equipment for a specified period of time. Often, there will be an agreement or contract that the vendor will submit. If it's a new maintenance agreement, you should request a quote. If it's a renewal maintenance agreement, you may receive an invoice. Please include all documentation with the requisition. 

How do I create a Purchase Order Request for something already received?
You cannot create a Purchase Order Request for a delivery date which has passed.  Use a Vendor Payment Request Form to process payment.

How do I return an item?
Contact the vendor if you need to return an item. Following are the steps taken to return merchandise:

  • Do not write on the outside of the box as this may void your return option.
  • Department contacts the vendor for return information.
  • Vendor will give Department the pickup information.
  • Item is returned.
  • Vendor ships new item, if required.

Who do I call about warranty repairs?
When purchasing an item with a warranty, be sure to keep a copy of the item packing slip for proof of purchase. Warranty repair is not always performed by the original supplier. If you are unsure about whom to call for service, call the purchasing agent responsible for the original purchase.

How do I receive an order?
Inspect the contents of the package for any damage and cross check the contents against the "packing list" inside. The packing list will give an itemized list of what is in the package. If there is a discrepancy between the "packing list" and the actual contents, contact the vendor for their instructions on how to proceed. If the "packing list" and contents match, sign the yellow copy of the Purchase Order and return it to Melissa Smith, 1-BUSOFC, 109B Leighton, so the order can be received in the College’s financial system and the invoice will be paid.

Where can I get our Tax Exempt Certificate?
The Tax Exempt Certificate can be found on the Business Office Website.

What is our Federal Tax ID number?
The Federal Tax ID number for Carleton College is 41-0694747.

What are Carleton College's purchasing terms?
Generally, Carleton College likes to work with a 30 day billing cycle (net 30) or with a standard discount (2% net 10). However, we can accommodate other terms when necessary.