WSU freezes non-essential contracts, discretionary purchases

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Washington State University is freezing non-essential personal services contracts as well as discretionary purchases of equipment and software costing more than $5,000 effective immediately and until further notice.

This freeze is in-line with Gov. Jay Inslee’s May 13 Governor’s Directive, which placed a freeze on hiring, personal services contracts and equipment and software costing more than $5,000 among state agencies. The directive went into effect May 18. WSU President Kirk Schulz had instituted a university-wide hiring freeze on all but mission-critical positions in April.

WSU’s purchasing freeze applies to new personal services contracts as well as amendments to existing personal services contracts. Exemptions include:

  • Contracts that are funded exclusively from donated (fund 846), capital appropriation (funds 057 and 062), federal or other sponsored program sources (funds 145 and 143)
  • Contracts that are directly related to the protection of life or public safety
  • Contracts that are directly related to revenue-generating activities

Allowable purchases of equipment or software must meet one of the following exemptions:

  • The desired purchase of equipment or software costs less than $5,000
  • It is directly related to the protection of life or public safety
  • It is directly related to revenue-generative activities
  • It is funded by donated (fund 846), capital appropriation (funds 057 and 062), federal or other sponsored program sources (funds 145 and 143)

Purchasing Services will process any requests on the above fund types as normal. Any requests for the other exemptions above must also be accompanied by a Freeze Exemption Request Form, available on the WSU Purchasing website. That form must be signed by a requesting department’s appropriate chancellor, vice president or dean.

The process also allows for the chancellor, vice president, or dean to approve a critical purchase subject to the freeze guidelines with a brief explanation for such on the Exemption Request Form.  Because lab startup commitments are often on state funds, some explanation of a critical purchase using a frozen fund are allowed.

Questions about the process can be sent to

Several frequently asked questions about the process can be found below.

Are Minor Capital Renewal (MCR) or Major Capital Funds for approved projects frozen?

No.  Minor and Major capital projects funded by the capital budget (“capital appropriation”) will be processed as normal.

Can local funds be used for personal service contracts, equipment or software purchases?

Only by approved exception.  Local funds are subject to the freeze guidelines.

What about lab or other equipment associated with startup commitments?

Equipment purchases are subject to the freeze guidelines above. Departments can submit a categorical exemption approval for startup commitments signed once by the appropriate dean, vice president or chancellor, with copies submitted with each applicable requisition as appropriate.

Why is software included as part of the freeze?

Deployment of software, while often a source for future efficiencies, can entail significant direct and indirect costs. As such, software purchases are subject to the freeze guidelines above.

Is the freeze in place effective immediately?


What if my requisition was submitted to the Purchasing Office prior to the freeze effective date?

Purchasing Services has been directed to implement the freeze immediately. Any requisitions that are in process will need the additional administrative approval as indicated above by submitting a Purchase Freeze Exemption Request Form.

What if my requisition is split-funded, but includes one of the frozen fund types?

It needs senior level approval described above.  The freeze applies to any expenditure not on the above allowable fund types and will apply regardless of the amount applied to a purchase.

What if the competitive process and contract negotiations have been completed, but a contract has yet to be signed?

If on the frozen fund types, the departmental administration will need to determine if executing the contract is warranted and it would need a Freeze Exemption Request Form.

Are purchased services agreements subject to the freeze?

Purchased services that support the operations of the University (such as interpreters, janitorial services, maintenance agreements, etc.) will generally be exempt from the freeze.  If you are unsure, please contact WSU Purchasing Services.

Are client service contracts exempt from the freeze?


Does the $5,000 limit for equipment and software include shipping, tax and other fees?

Yes.  The limit applies to the total cost of the purchase.

Do I need approval for a contract amendment that extends maintenance, software subscription, and/or support for installed equipment or software?

No.  These types of agreements to extend the useful life of already installed software or equipment are not subject to the freeze.

Are operating leases for equipment subject to the freeze?

Yes.  The freeze applies to both purchases and operating leases of equipment.

Does the freeze apply to new Software-as-a Service (SaaS) agreements or other new software subscriptions?


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