Classifications and Requirements

Purchases for research projects and activities may be classified as any of the following:

Tangible Goods

All purchases for tangible goods, including equipment, that have a total transaction cost of $10,000 or more require a purchase order. For further information on Research Foundation equipment or property, see the Property Accounting Policy on the Research Foundation Policies web page.


All purchases for services of $10,000 or more require a purchase order. Certain types of services (facility rental agreements, survey services, evaluation services, etc.) may also require an Office of Sponsored Programs Service Agreement signed by the Office of Sponsored Programs senior director.

Internal Purchase Orders

Internal purchase orders are for the use of encumbering amounts on an account for tracking purchases and are commonly used for student awards and subcontracts.

Independent Contractor Agreements

All independent contractor agreements require a purchase order regardless of the amount. The purchase order is automatically generated by Research Foundation Purchasing after the fully executed independent contractor agreement is received. For further information, see our Independent Contractor Guidelines.

Online Software Tools

All purchases for online software tools that will be used for the electronic storage, processing, or transmission of sensitive data or information—regardless of the amount—requires a purchase order and will be forwarded to the SJSU Information Security Office for approval. The SJSU Information Technology Division has also implemented use of the Technology Requisition Impact Assessment (TRIA) process to assess potential information security risk and accessibility impact when purchasing hardware, software, electronic content and services on SJSU environments. 

Please note that TRIA is NOT required for purchasing the standard workstations, monitors (displays) and other workstation accessories; disks, SD cards, electronic and data storage devices; cables, USB hubs, UPS battery backup for desktops; digital cameras, camera lenses and other camera accessories; televisions, smartphones and projectors. Questions about the TRIA process should be sent to to

For specific details regarding sensitive data, please refer to CSU Information Security Data Classification Standards.


The SJSU Animal Care department is responsible for placing all animal orders on behalf of SJSU and the Research Foundation with approved vendors. The placing of animal orders shall not be done by the Research Foundation or the PI. The requisition for purchase order must indicate that the shipment delivery address is SJSU Animal Care department. Animal orders cannot be shipped directly to central receiving.

Hazardous and Radioactive Materials

Some purchases require special approval and compliance with various federal agencies and health and occupational safety laws:

Emergency Transactions

In the case of a financial or life or death threatening emergency there may not be time to follow the standard process for obtaining a purchase order. In lieu of obtaining a purchase order, the PI may obtain written approval from the executive director of the Research Foundation (or designee) to make the purchase. The written approval must be submitted along with the request for payment.

Low-Dollar Purchases

The use of Procurement Cards (P-Cards) is encouraged when the amount of the purchase for goods and services is $9,999 or less.

Requests for direct payments and reimbursements requests can be made when the amount of the purchase for goods and services is $9,999 or less. A requisition for payment with an invoice from the vendor along with all appropriate supporting documentation should be submitted to the Sponsored Programs manager.