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Guidelines & Frequently Asked Questions

Purchasing Guidelines

Before You Buy (Goods & Services):

  • Check the budget/funding source.
  • Determine whether additional documents are needed to support your purchase (such as quotations, specifications or permits).
  • Check existing contracts.
  • You may also contact vendors/contractors.
  • Compare pricing by seeking price quote(s).
  • Find a SWaM (Small, Women and Minority) vendor or contractor. 

How to Find a DMBE Certified Vendor/Contractor:

  • Use the eVa website e-click SWaM.
  • Click DMBE.
  • Click the bullet Department of Minority Business Enterprise.
  • Click SWaM Vendor Search.
  • Click NIGP Code/Description Search.
  • Enter the good/service description and click Search.

Exception: Most construction projects (repairs/maintenance/renovations) are exempt and must be approved by the Director of Facilities.

  • Submit your purchase requisition (PR) using eVA for both the Visa P-Card and Non-P-Card purchases. Remember to identify your campus destination in the title field (such as CS for College Staff, AN for Annandale) to avoid processing delays.
  • Submit your PR using eVA using the P-Card for purchases of $5,000 or less. These purchases require the use of a DMBE-certified SWaM vendor or contractor.
  • Submit your PR using eVA for purchases more than $5,000, but less than $50,000. These purchases must be processed by the purchasing office as a Quick Quote with a small business set aside designation.
  • Submit your PR using eVA for purchases more than $50,000. These must be processed by the Virginia Department of Purchases & Supply.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When am I authorized to make a purchase?
A: You must have eVA access and/or be assigned a P-Card with a dollar limitation.

Q: How do I create a Purchase Requisition (PR)?
A: Please attend training offered by the Purchasing Office. Also check the online tutorial on eVA's website.

Q: How long does it take for PR approval?
A: A PR approval or denial occurs within approximately 48 hours after receipt by the buyer in the Purchasing Department.

Q: How do I check the status of a PR?
A:  In eVA, click Status.

Q: What is an Emergency Order?
A: An Emergency Order may be used in very rare cases (immediate life and safety issues). An Emergency Order requires approval prior to processing. Contact your purchasing liaison prior to submitting an Emergency Order.

Q: What is a Sole Source?
A: A Sole Source is used in rare cases when only one practical source is available. Once the purchasing office determines that your purchase is a Sole Source, you must provide answers to the following four questions:

  • Why is this the only product that can meet the needs of the purchasing agency?
  • Why is this vendor the only practicable available source from which to obtain this product?
  • Why is the price considered reasonable?
  • Describe the efforts that were made to conduct a non-competitive negotiation to get the best possible price for the taxpayers.

Q: What is the dollar amount/limitation procurement of goods and services?
A: Unless the goods or services are purchased using a contract, the following limitations apply:

  • $0 to $49,999.99 - one quote from a SWaM vendor/contractor
  • $5,000 - $49,999.99 - quote(s) and complete specifications
  • $50,000 and more - quote (s) and complete specifications

Q: How do I find existing contracts?
A: On the eVA home page, select the Buyer tab. Under the Buyer Quick Links, select State Contracts. You may also check the VITA, VCCS and various local county municipalities.

Q: What is an Invitation for Bid (IFB)?
A: IFBs are processed by the purchasing office and normally take at least 60 days to complete. IFBs are used when we can specifically identify our requirements/scope of work.

Q: What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?
A: RFPs are processed by the Purchasing Office and normally take at least 120 days to complete. RFPs are used when requirements/scope of work is not easily identifiable and request outside assistance for the best possible solution.

Q: When should I contact my purchasing liaison?
A: Contact your purchasing liaison via email when you have question(s) pertaining to procurement of goods and services.


Q: What is a Purchase Card Order (PCO)?
A: A PCO is a purchase order generated in eVA using the Visa P-Card.

Q: What is an EP Order?
A: An EP is a standard purchase order generated in eVA. It does not use the Visa P-Card as a method of payment.

Q: What is a Confirming Order?
A: A Confirming Order is a completed procurement transaction. Confirming orders must be entered in eVA. Remember to write "Confirming Order - Do Not Duplicate" in the title of your requisition. In the comments section of the requisition, please explain why you did not obtain prior authorization for the transaction.

Q: What is ERP integration?
A: ERP integration occurs when the submitted requisition has been approved and budget process completed. It is part of the requisition approval process.

SWaM/DMBE/Supplier Diversity

Q: What should I do if I cannot locate a SWaM vendor?
A: In the comments section of your requisition you must include what attempts you made to find a SWaM vendor, including screenshots of search tools you used.

Q: What should I do if a SWaM vendor quote is more expensive?
A: Per NOVA policy, a SWaM vendor is given preference up to a 5% higher difference. Otherwise, the requester must attach the SWaM vendor quote and the non-SWaM vendor quote as an explanation to the requisition.

Q: What should I do if the SWaM vendor cannot deliver what I need in a timely manner?
A: eVA terms and conditions are always FOB destination, but timely must be justified by the requester.

Q: What if there is already a state, college or VCCS contract with a Non-SWaM vendor?
A: Generally, contracts signed prior to October 2008 supersede the SWaM requirements. Other contracts depend on vendors identified in the contract that can be used. You should always research the specific terms of each contract before proceeding.

Q: What is DMBE?
A: Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise is the agency that certifies Small, Women and Minority businesses and provides a comprehensive list of vendors and contractors via a database.