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last updated: 1st August 2011

The extent of an individual's authority to commit funds should be identified in detail and should reflect the degree of devolved procurement practice within the institution. For example, if the procurement function is strongly centralised, the policy will grant 'sole responsibility' for the function to the central Procurement Office.  Where an institution has a more de-centralised procurement function, there will be delegated authority to commit expenditure to its departments.  It is likely that there will be limitations based on the net value (ie before calculation of VAT) of individual purchases.  Above these levels, the purchase order will have to be approved by someone with a higher authority profile. 

The detail describing the various authority levels within the institution should be clearly stated and recorded within the guidance issued that supports the Authorised Signatory List. Without such formal written authority, the institution's procurement activities may be in an uncertain legal position if its authority is questioned.  Further, the formal record provides protection to staff involved in procurement activities because they, individually, will know the limits of their authority (and responsibility).
 

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