PAIGE CAMPBELL | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
WSU has placed an immediate freeze on all non-essential contracts and discretionary purchases of equipment and software to compensate for a 10 percent reduction in funds.
Matthew Skinner, associate vice president for WSU Financial Services, said the freeze works as a tool to help staff prepare for funding reductions and offers some financial flexibility.
“We put the tool in place to give colleges and campuses a chance to think about what they’re buying even more closely than they already do,” he said.
The chancellors and vice presidents of each department have submitted a budget plan to the executive budget committee, he said. The budget plans detail different scenarios for how the department will deal with the reductions.
The freeze follows the guidelines for state agencies set by Gov. Jay Inslee’s directive. The directive recommends higher education institutions impose similar spending reduction guidelines.
All equipment and software purchases must cost no more than $5,000, according to the freeze guidance document. The freeze also applies to the operating leases for equipment.
Contracts and purchases that are directly related to revenue-generating activities, or the protection of life or public safety are criteria for exceptions in purchases, according to the document. Contracts and purchases funded exclusively by sponsored program sources are also exceptions.
If contract negotiations have been completed but no contract has been signed and the contract is on frozen funds, WSU departmental administration will need to determine if the contract execution is warranted, according to the document. Client service contracts are exempt from the freeze.
Skinner said purchases supporting grants paid by grant funds are also able to move forward without any extra approval.
Faculty must complete a freeze exemption request form alongside their request for any additional purchases, according to the document. The department’s chancellor, vice president or dean must sign the request before the purchase can be processed. The request form can be found on the WSU Purchasing website.
Slowing down purchases has been the university’s biggest challenge caused by the freeze, Skinner said. Additional analysis must be conducted to make sure purchases are receiving approval and are being funded properly.
The university expects some negative consequences with the 10 percent funding reduction, but they will try to maintain quality academics and student support services, he said.
Skinner said the university has yet to make plans for when they will end the freeze.
“We’ll need to analyze what the state funding reductions look like when they arrive,” he said. “We’ll analyze it to see how things are going, and then decide when we can lift the freeze.”