Separation of Duties

For reasons of transparency and probity it is important, as far as practicably possible, that different staff are involved at each authorisation stage of the procurement process.  For example, the same person should not

  • approve the use of funds from a Cost Centre (Budgetary approval)
  • approve and issue the purchase order* (Purchase approval) or
  • approve the subsequent invoice for payment (Payment approval)

There is a fourth stage, when the goods or services are delivered (Delivery).  Again, if practicable, this should be carried out by a different person, however, depending on the nature of the goods or services, it may be that the person who gave the original Budgetary approval is best suited to confirm their acceptability.

* For low value purchases, where the member of staff is authorised to approve the use of funds from a Cost Centre and is a Nominated Buyer, depending on the institution's internal procedures, it may be permissible to carry out both these roles.  This is because in the first (budgetary) approval in the process is in connection with the purpose for which the funds will be used.  The second (purchase) approval process is to verify that appropriate procedures have been followed and that it represents best value for money.