Avoid Unauthorized JLab Purchases

Avoid Unauthorized JLab Purchases

In preparation for a Department of Energy Procurement Review Team visit scheduled for late August, the Procurement Department has gone through a preparatory review. While conducting this internal review Procurement staff noted a concern regarding an increase in the number of unauthorized Procurements from FY2011 to FY2012. Examples of unauthorized procurements include keeping rental equipment beyond the contract period, and placing items on order with a company without a Purchase Order from Procurement.

In fiscal year 2011, Procurement had to deal with 11 situations involving unauthorized procurements; already in FY12 there have been 12 cases of unauthorized procurements at the lab. While this is a very small number of irregularities, considering the many thousands of procurements that take place each fiscal year, the increase is a cause for concern and action.

Unauthorized procurements are an important contractual compliance issue; only authorized individuals can make financial commitments on behalf of Jefferson Lab. If a person makes an unauthorized commitment, the costs could be unallowable under the prime contract and that individual could become personally liable for that commitment.

Unauthorized procurements also require extra time and work by Procurement staff and the individual or workcenter that initiated the unauthorized procurement to rectify the situation.

To prevent further instances of this type of irregularity from occurring, Procurement staff reminds everyone at Jefferson Lab of the need to follow the established procedures and approval process when making or setting in motion any type of lab procurement, service contract, software renewals or other kinds of financial commitments.

Purchase Requests must be submitted in advance of purchases and agreements, and receive approval by an authorized person before lab money or resources may be committed. An authorized person is someone who has the authority to commit funds; these individuals have a letter of authorization on file with Procurement. Additionally, staff with P-Cards must use their P-Cards within their posted dollar limits and according to lab procedures.

Only delegated Procurement personnel are authorized to commit laboratory funds; and a limited number of designated personnel such as P-Card holders and facilities management personnel are also authorized to commit lab funds.

To avoid unauthorized commitments, avoid actions like telling vendors to ship a product to the lab without the proper procurement authorization, or asking vendors to hold an item for you while a Purchase Requisition is submitted/approved, or executing a verbal  computer software renewal over the phone or via email.

Procurement staff realizes that there are times when emergency purchases must be made – and is available to assist – during normal business hours as well as after hours. Procurement contact information and emergency procurement criteria are posted at: http://www.jlab.org/div_dept/admin/business/secure/emergency.html.

We appreciate when everyone follows the set guidelines so Procurement does not have to intervene. Avoid the compliance headaches, wasted time, extra work and potential problems of having to seek "ratification" for unauthorized commitments. Check with a Procurement staff member or your workcenter's procurement-authorized staff before making a commitment for any product or service for Jefferson Lab or for your work at the lab. Stay within your P-Card limits and do your PRs and get them approved, first.

Lynn McKnight
Jefferson Lab
Procurement Manager

This message is being sent on behalf of the Procurement Department.


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