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Travel Policies and Procedures


I. Introduction

In an effort to match the purchasing policies for international & off-campus programs with those of departments and offices on campus, this document will outline the expectations program directors should follow when arranging flights, housing, third party services or other travel and on-site expenses for their groups. While we recognize that in most cases any savings made through competitive bidding would not benefit the general ledger of Augustana College, but would instead impact the program costs included in the specific budget of a given program, the practice of seeking bids on key program components is one which can generate significant savings to a program, thus keeping costs down for the students, and so are valuable efforts to the overall success of any program.

Augustana recognizes that many of our off-campus programs possess longstanding relationships with providers overseas and we do not wish to sever these ties, which can themselves lead to significant benefits in program cost, however we also recognize that each program iteration comes with alterations and additions to the itinerary and that there are opportunities to consider alternative providers in these instances. For this reason you will see a blend of strategies to ensure that off-campus programs use purchasing policies similar to those of on-campus offices while allowing for maintenance of valuable relationships with longstanding partners.

II. Annual or Ongoing Programs

This category includes all programs which run on an annual cycle, such as our internship programs in Australia, London, D. C., and Denver as well as study abroad opportunities such as the JETS Nicaragua program or the Summer Spanish in the Andes program. It also includes all programs which have been offered before and are working into either a biennial or triennial rotation, including programs such as the East Asia Term, Ireland Term, Religion in Rome course, the Wittenberg German Language program, the Dijon Summer French program or the Childhood Development program in Guatemala. As these programs have established relationships with providers, in some cases going back 10 years or more, our desire is to focus on any new relationships or providers and to engage in regular review for any ongoing partners or providers.

The guidelines for these programs are as follows:

A. For purchases below $5,000 (total, not per student) no bidding or purchase order is required.

B. For purchases between $5,000 and $24,999 (total, not per student) the following must be provided:

1. Enter Requisition into Arches - Purchasing will create a Purchase order for the funds to be released.

2. Either a statement of ongoing relationship, including a pricing statement.
    Documentation of three bids. This may include online statements of price or program director statement of prices offered through contacts with the    possible partners or providers.

3. Invoice from the provider/partner prior to issuing payment.

C. For purchases at or above $25,000 (total, not per student) the following must be provided:

1. Enter Requisition into Arches - Purchasing will create a Purchase order for the funds to be released.

2. Either a statement of ongoing relationship, including a pricing statement, or documentation of three written bids. This may include online statements of price or copies of contracts (prior to signature) which provide documentation of services offered and prices to be charged.

3. Invoice from the provider/partner prior to issuing payment.

The statement of ongoing relationship mentioned in points B and C above must define the reason this vendor was chosen, the nature of the relationship and a brief evaluation of the services provided in the past which justify maintaining the exclusive relationship with this organization/partner.

For both the $5,000 and $25,000 levels, if a search for providers results in fewer than 3 options, this should be noted in a statement which accompanies the bids obtained. If only one provider is located which meets standards for service, safety and program needs, the bids can be replaced with a statement similar to the one described for ongoing relationships, stating that the provider chosen is a "sole source" option and describing the services or capabilities provided were either unavailable or unmet by other agencies, companies or potential partners who were sought and contacted.

D. Review of Providers

While new components to a program, or changes in providers must include a bidding process at the $5,000 level or higher as part of each program iteration, those providers who are retained due to longstanding relationships or who have been deemed sole-source options, must also be reviewed periodically.

For programs which run annually, this means that a search for comparable service providers must be conducted once each five years. We recommend that these reviews be conducted in years ending in 5 and 0 to regularize the process (2015, 2020, 2025, 2030, for example).

For programs which run every 2 years, the same process should be engaged on the program's third iteration (a 6 year interval) and multiples of 3 thereafter (6th, 9th, etc.) and for programs which run every three years, a review of all ongoing relationships should be conducted on the third iteration and every odd-numbered iteration thereafter (a 6 year interval).

Current providers should be notified that this is a college requirement and does not necessarily reflect dissatisfaction with their services. If a new provider can offer significant cost benefits while promising equal or superior services, they should be given fair and reasonable consideration.

It is understood that a returning provider with a stellar record may be given stronger consideration even in cases when other providers offer services at lower cost to the program, as the director has first hand familiarity with the quality of services provided, a factor which may not be true for any new potential provider.

III. New Programs

New programs are expected to engage in a bidding process for all purchases or services provided which will result in a total cost to the program in excess of $5,000. It is recommended that the bids be in written form even at the lower cost range (below $25,000) as it is important with a new program to receive written documentation of the services to be provided and the costs billed to Augustana.

As a new program does not, by definition, have longstanding relationships with providers, the option of a statement of ongoing relationship is not suitable. The exceptions to this case are if a new program is either an offshoot of a prior program, using some of the same program sites, or if the new program proposes to make a new use of a site utilized in another program. In this case it is still recommended that bids be taken, and that the new program treat the provider as if there is a review process in effect (see above). In most cases, neither of these exceptions is likely, making the bidding process a standard feature of new program budgeting.

IV. Procedures

For both new programs and programs during a review period (see above), initial contact with service providers, including requesting estimates of pricing (but not formal bids) should be completed in the pre-approval stage of development. The budget included with a program proposal should include estimates based on the information gathered for airlines, hotels, educational institutions, study abroad service providers, etc.. In the year following approval but before student enrollment, the bidding process should be finalized and final prices and bids or sole-source documents should be completed. Copies of the finalized bid, review and sole-source documents should go to IOP and Purchasing. Whenever funds are requested for the program, purchase orders and/or invoices should be provided to Purchasing along with the Business Office staff working on cutting checks or setting up wire transfers.

Programs which are being repeated and are not expected to complete a review should include any new components and initial estimates for new providers in the program proposal phase, prior to approval by the International & Off-Campus Study Committee. Again these should be finalized during the period between program approval and student enrollment. By the time students sign up for the program, typically in January, one year after program approval, all major providers should be under contract, or in the case of airline tickets or other services which cannot book prior to 11-12 months before departure, a comparison should be made using current prices.

In all cases, no funds greater than $5,000 can be released without an invoice, a purchase order and proof of either a completed bidding process or a statement of sole-source and/or ongoing relationship status.