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Procurement and Contract Services

How to Do Business with The University of Southern Mississippi

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Procurement & Contract Services

Procurement and Contract Services provides service and support of the procurement needs of the educational, research and administrative mission of the university while adhering to state and federal statutes and university policy.  We manage the procurement process from the purchase request through the receiving of goods, processing of vendor payments and cataloging of inventory.  In addition to the procurement process, we also manage university travel and contracted services (i.e. university contracts for Eagle Dining and Barnes and Noble).

Due to COVID protocol, meetings with Buyers are by appointment only. Please reach out to schedule a meeting before arriving on campus.

USM's Terms and Conditions


Procurement Services require new vendors to complete a Vendor ID Request and a W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. A W9 is required for all individuals (including undergraduate and graduate students) for services.  Payments will NOT be made until the forms have been returned to Procurement Services for processing.

Also refer to the Vendor Maintenance Procedures section below for  New and Existing Vendor EPLS verification

A permanent address must be provided for mailing a 1099 to the individual.


The department is responsible for getting all the relevant information needed to set up an International Vendor.  The Foreign Corporation Information Form should be e-mailed to the vendor before any services are performed or goods are purchased.  The department should then forward the completed document to Vendor Maintenance in the Procurement office.  They will in turn forward it to the Tax Compliance office who will notify the department of additional IRS forms needed before the vendor can be set up in our vendor system. 

Purchases are made to support academic and research programs as well as to support activities such as the Physical Plant and Residence Life. These purchases total nearly $90 million per year. The items include, but are not limited to, scientific equipment and supplies, computers and accessories, office furniture, office supplies, library books, chemicals, janitorial supplies, minor repair services, construction materials, construction machinery, maintenance service, vehicles and supplies. If you are interested in supplying any of these items, please advise us in writing and provide us with some information on your firm's background and experience.

Southern Miss has two methods of purchasing from external vendors:  university procurement cards and official university purchase orders.

Procurement Cards

  • University procurement cards are issued by Visa and clearly marked “The University of Southern Mississippi For Official Use Only.”  They also include the notation that we are a tax-exempt institution.
  • Purchases of commodities and services totaling less than $5,000.00 may be made using a university procurement card.

Purchase Orders

  • Purchases that cannot be made using a procurement card must be ordered via an official university purchase order.
  • Please do not accept promises from other university departments that you will be given an order. A purchase order can be obtained only after proper purchasing laws and procedures have been followed.

As a public institution, we must follow state purchasing laws and regulations.  Under state law, we are subject to rules and regulations set forth by the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees; the Office of Purchasing, Travel and Fleet Management (OPTFM) which is under the Department of Finance and Administration; and the Department of Information Technology Services (ITS).  Laws relative to the OPTFM and the procurement process in general may be found in Chapter 7 of the Mississippi Code beginning with Section 31-7-1.

Quote and Bid Requirements

  • Purchases totaling $5,000.00 or less, exclusive of freight or shipping charges, may be made without advertising or otherwise requesting competitive bids.
  • Purchases totaling between $5,000.01 and $75,000.00, exclusive of freight or shipping charges, may be made from the lowest and best bidder provided at least two competitive written quotes have been obtained.
  • Purchases totaling over $75,000.00, exclusive of freight and shipping charges, may be made from the lowest and best bidder after advertising for competitive sealed bids once each week for two consecutive weeks in a regular newspaper published in the county or municipality in which such agency or governing authority is located.
  • In determining the lowest and best bid, freight and shipping charges shall be included. No agency or governing authority shall accept a bid based on items not included in the specifications.

Orders on State Contract

  • If an item is covered by a competitive bid state contract, we must buy from a particular vendor.
  • If an item is covered by a negotiated contract, we can purchase that item from a vendor not on state contract if the price is lower than state contract price.
  • We have several different receiving addresses.  We have two campuses and several remote sites.  Most purchases will be delivered to our Hattiesburg campus Receiving Department, but regular deliveries are also made to our Gulf Coast operations.  The ship to address for each order will be listed on the purchase order. 
  • Chemicals delivered to the Hattiesburg campus must be delivered to our Science Storeroom.  This address will be noted on the purchase order and any special labeling instructions will be noted in the comments.
  • When shipping items to the university, please include our purchase order number on the shipping label to ensure proper on-campus delivery of the goods.
  • Invoices are processed by Accounts Payable, 601.266.4131. Our billing address is listed on our purchase orders. We strive to ensure prompt processing of all vendor invoices.
  • We mail checks weekly on Friday mornings unless there is a holiday or weather related university closure. If the university is closed on a Friday, we adjust our schedule and mail checks on Thursday.
  • Vendors are not allowed to pick up their checks in Accounts Payable. If a check needs to be hand delivered, special arrangements should be made with the university department that received your goods or services.
  • If your company is new to our university, we will require a completed W-9 and vendor registration form before the first purchase order can be issued.  Both forms can be found in the vendor sections below.
  • On-campus solicitation is prohibited without prior approval. Vendor representatives should not make unsolicited sales calls to individual university departments.  Please contact Procurement and Contract Services to introduce yourself to our campus. 
  • Please call ahead for appointments whenever possible.
  • Make each visit a profitable one. Bring us a new idea, approach, or product.  Help us keep up to date.
  • Please accept only an authorized purchase order from Procurement and Contract Services.
  • Please do not accept promises from other university departments that you will be given an order. A purchase order can be obtained only after proper purchasing laws and procedures have been followed.
  • Please quote realistic dates so we can base our planning on good firm information.
  • If you are discussing a requirement with one of the university departments, make sure Procurement and Contract Services is aware of it. We need good communication.  Procurement and Contract Services can be reached by phone at 601.266.4131 or by e-mail at procurementFREEMississippi.
  • Please conduct your business openly and frankly. As a state institution, all of our business transactions are a matter of public record.
  • We will expect you to honor all pricing, delivery, and service agreements.
  • We value you as our supplier. If you have any questions or if we do anything that you do not understand, please call us.
  • Please do not offer any gifts or gratuities to any university employee.
  • We require an original invoice for all types of payment. Faxed or copies of invoices are not considered original and will not be accepted, which will delay payment.

Procedure for adding new vendors to the vendor database:

When it is determined that a new vendor will need to be added to the University’s Vendor Database, the following procedure will be followed: For New domestic vendors:

  1. Vendor must complete - Vendor Registration Form.
  2. Vendor must complete - Federal Tax W-9 Form and Instructions.
  3. Once Documentation is received, the Vendor Maintenance Specialist will log into the Federal Excluded Parties List System (EPLS), enter the vendor Social Security Number for Individuals or advanced search with Name, State/Country, or Tax Identification Number for vendors to determine if the individual/vendor is currently on the excluded parties list. If the search brings back no results, a copy of the search results are printed and filed with the vendor records. The vendor is then added to the vendor database. If the EPLS search finds a match, the vendor information is either returned to the requesting department or the vendor, informing them that the University cannot do business with the vendor until such time as they are removed from the excluded parties list..


For New International Vendors:

If a determination is made by a University Department that an international vendor will need to be added to the University’s Vendor Database, the following procedure will be followed:

 a. Requesting department is responsible for e-mailing the Foreign Corporation Information form and the W-8BEN form to the prospective vendor. Once the department has received the completed form, it should be sent to the Office of Tax Compliance for review.

 b. The Office of Tax Compliance will notify the requesting department of any additional IRS forms needed before the vendor can be added to the vendor database.

 c. Once all required documentation is received, The Office of Tax Compliance will send all necessary paperwork to the Vendor Maintenance Specialist who will follow the EPLS procedures described in section c. of the domestic vendor procedure prior to adding the vendor to the Vendor Database.


Ongoing Vendor Verification Procedures:

Monthly Vendor Validation

Once a month, updates to the excluded parties list are downloaded and compared to all of the University’s active vendors.  Any names that match are then searched in detail on the Excluded Parties List System.  If a USM vendor is found to match the EPLS, they are inactivated and no longer used.  If need arises for future use, they must first be cleared from the EPLS before being reinstated as active vendors.

The following website is commonly used to find excluded individuals/entities:

If America is to continue its position as the principal economic force in the global marketplace, it must include all members of its society in productive enterprise. Purchasing power in the minority community will be getting much larger.

The University of Southern Mississippi highly encourages its constituents to source their needs from small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses, as well as veteran-owned businesses. To assist you in this endeavor we have provided a few tools listed below.

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) provides a searchable vendor database. Once there, select the ‘Search Now’ link. No login is required. Additionally, another searchable database is the Mississippi Minority Business Registry.


Contact Us

Procurement and Contract Services
214 Bond Hall

Hattiesburg Campus

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Contact Us

GCRL Procurement Services
Oceanography Building
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Campus Map