Purchasing, Procurement and Vendor Payment

All purchases of goods and services should be made by department staff. Out-of-pocket purchases are strongly discouraged with the exception of restaurant meals and travel related expenses. Please see the Travel page for booking travel without out-of-pocket purchases.

Staff can assist with ordering food for meetings and events. Contact Bella Barrios (students) or Wynante Charles (faculty/researchers) at least two business days prior to the event. Many restaurants in the Evanston area will accept payment via invoice.

In the rare case that a point-of-sale purchase must be made, all efforts should be made to get a tax exemption (this includes restaurant meals). Contact Julia Blend for a tax exempt certificate. We cannot reimburse taxes on a purchase.

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Ordering Procedures/iBuyNU

iBuyNU is a tool that streamlines the entire procurement process and should be used whenever possible. It provides a web-based ordering experience that directly charges Northwestern accounts (charstrings). iBuyNU currently includes Preferred Vendor catalogs representing millions of items that may be needed on a day-to-day basis, all of which reflect competitive discounted pricing, often delivered within 1-2 business days at no additional cost, and no sales tax is charged. Detailed instructions for using iBuyNU are here.

Helpful tips when shopping the iBuyNU Marketplace:

  • Assign CS funded IBUYNU carts to Julia Blend. 
  • In the notes portion of the cart, include the chartstring number, campus delivery stop (Mudd, ME, Tech Advising, Buffet Center, MCC IT) and required sponsored project justification: What will the purchase be used for and how does this directly relate to the project?  *Briefly explain the research or experiment(s) it will be used for, how it is required for that activity, and why it is beneficial to the outcome of the project.
  • If the item on the marketplace is ‘blocked’, contact Julia Blend and we will get access to it.
  • Fire Fox is the recommended browser
  • Do not use the large search box on the main supplier list page.  Search individual suppliers by hitting the green arrow punchout button located to the left of their name on the list, for more accurate results.
  • Contact NUIT at, or call the NUIT help desk at 1-4357, menu option 7, for technical assistance.

For goods/services you can’t find in iBuyNU, rrequest a quote from the vendor and forward it to Julia Blend, along with the Vendor contact info, chartstring, and sponsored project justification.  These requests can take up to 5 business days after the vendor provides required documents, should they require Vendor Registration, establishing a tax exempt account, or Terms & Conditions negotiations.

Please note International Vendors often have additional shipping and customs fees added to the back end of the purchase.  If the item is held up in customs, we can contact the carrier with information on your behalf.

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Computer Equipment & research computing

Computer workstations and laptops should be ordered through Apple, Dell, and CDW on iBuyNU, whenever possible. Please review the Computer Equipment Purchasing Guidelines.

MCC IT recommends a 3 year warranty added to computer purchases, and approves the initial request.  If you do not want the warranty, please indicate that in the notes portion of the iBuyNU cart that you “do NOT want an additional warranty”.

The Department of Computer Science is equipped with several machines for research computing. More information can be found here. For other research computing needs, contact McCormick IT.

**Unallowable equipment purchases without prior approval from McCormick IT

Network extensions that connect to the NU Data network Extensions include, but are not limited to, firewall appliances, hubs routers, switches, wireless access points, etc. Installation, engineering, maintenance, and operation of the NU network, and serving any property owned or leased by the University.

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Software and online subscription purchases

Northwestern IT provides multiple campus-licensed software options for purchase or for download on University machine.

CDW is NU’s contracted preferred vendor for software purchases, located on iBuyNU.

Amazon Web Services are set up with a DLT Solutions Purchase Order, facilitated by NUIT, and billed directly to the department. Contact Julia Blend, with the AWS you require, the estimated dollar amount for the fiscal year (through 8/31), and the chartstring number.

Reach out to NUIT for help determining what AWS services will work for you and your estimated usage.  Unused funds will be returned onto the chartstring on 8/31 (annually), or if you want to cancel services. 

We will request the vendor quote, submit the order, and provide the PO# to NUIT, who will then assist you with establishing the AWS account.

All software purchases that are not already licensed by NU or the CS Department must be approved by MCC IT, including subscription renewals. Please complete the CS Software Request form. Once approved, software licenses, subscriptions and renewals should be purchased with a departmental PCARD through a staff member. Detailed instructions can be found here.

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Vendor Invoice Payments

Forward the invoice to Julia Blend for processing, along with the chartstring number, business purpose, and supporting documentation (event invoices need the invite/announcement, list of attendees, and Advisor approval).  Sponsored expenses require a justification.

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Hiring a non-NU Consultant, Contracted Services & Honoraria

Contact Julia Blend with the following information 2 weeks prior to the payment date:

  • Potential consultant/contractor contact information
  • Business purpose of the hire and the duties that will be performed
  • Date of services, location of services (Zoom or on campus) and applicable back up documentation
  • Honorarium payments require backup documents with the invite or announcement to the event
  • If a sponsored award will be charged, provide documentation stating sponsor approval for the hire

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Participant Study Payments

We process CS funded (Dept ID# 4739000) participant payments for IRB approved studies.  The Research Subject fee account code must be open when charging a grant.  Please check that funds were included on the budget statement of the award proposal prior to requesting participant study payments. If the account code needs to be opened on the award, contact Keziah Tetteh.

Contact Julia Blend Prior to conducting the study, and after IRB approval/exemption is completed.

Payment options

Prolific & Amazon Mechanical Turk

Purchased with a departmental PCARD through a staff member.  IRB, Advisor approval, Chartstring required.   

Virtual Amazon gift cards

Purchased with a departmental PCARD through a staff member. These require the IRB, Advisor approval, Chartstring, EXCEL spreadsheet containing 6 columns with:

  • the IRB# for the study
  • subject’s name or unique ID# assigned by the lab
  • e-mail address
  • date the participant completed the study
  • affiliation with NU
  • dollar amount

Participant receipt confirmations are obtained by a staff member.

Stored VISA gift cards (Virtual & Plastic)

• Virtual Stored VISA gift cards are purchased through Hyperwallet via NU Depository Services, by a staff member. These require the IRB, Advisor approval, Chartstring, and completed Hyperwallet request template. Detailed instruction can be found here.

• Plastic Stored VISA gift cards purchased at NU Depository Services and picked up by a staff member. These require the IRB, Advisor approval, Chartstring, EXCEL spreadsheet containing 6 columns with:

  • the IRB# for the study
  • subject’s name or unique ID# assigned by the lab
  • e-mail address
  • date the participant completed the study
  • affiliation with NU
  • dollar amount

Plastic cards can be picked up at CS Mudd office 3506 by participants. A paper receipt signature is required. Another option is the individual conducting the study can distribute the Plastic cards to the participants in person, and return a signed receipt for each payment to office 3506. The paper receipts are provided by the department.

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