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55.074: Purchasing Card




January 31, 2005

Initiated by:

Mary Patacca | Director of Procurement Services

Reviewed by:

Herman ("Butch") Hill | Chair, Policy and Procedure Review Committee

Endorsed by:

Larry Corrigan | Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration

Approved by:

Kathy Krendl | Interim Provost

Signatures and dates on archival copy
  1. Purpose

    The Purchasing Card (p-card) is a University credit card that delegates small-dollar purchasing power to individual University employees. The p-card allows the cardholder to charge work-related expenses directly to the appropriate University account. The p-card permits purchases to be made with a minimum of delay and a minimum of clerical labor, while also providing accountability. This policy describes the proper use of a University purchasing card. The procedures established here also serve to protect the University from fraud and other deliberate or accidental misuse of its funds.

  2. Policy

    All University employees are eligible for the purchasing card, with the exception of student employees. Non-employees are not eligible. Student employees may be eligible for a more restrictive card (Controlled Value card) if an explanation and accountable plan is provided with the application. The p-card may be used for business purposes only, and all purchases must comply with all Ohio University Policies, in particular the Travel and Entertainment policies (whose numbers start with 41.), and the Purchasing policies (whose numbers start with 55.). Further detail is available in the P-card Manual, which is issued to each cardholder and is also available online. A cardholder must comply with all applicable policies and procedures to retain use of the card.

  3. Procedures

    1. Program Overview

      1. Application

        University employees must submit a Purchasing Card Application. All information must be completed, and the form must contain all authorizing signatures.

      2. Types of Cards

        As of February, 2004, the University uses a MasterCard provided by GE Corporate Payment Services (CPS). A p-card is available in a regular or a Controlled Value (CV) card version. The CV card is a p-card with an overall, life-of-the-card dollar limit. Both versions are available as Standard or Travel-Only cards. Standard cards can be used for a variety of goods and services, as well as typical travel expenses. Travel-Only cards may be used only for travel expenses - e.g., airline tickets, hotel, car rental, and restaurant meals. The standard transaction limit is $2,500, though other limits are available with proper cause and authorization.

      3. General Use

        The p-card is the preferred method for high volume, low dollar buying, and for travel expenses. In general, the p-card may be used to purchase any item that falls within the guidelines provided by the Purchasing policies (whose numbers start with 55.), Policy 41.121, "Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment," Policy 41.123, "Entertaining Official Guests," and Policy 03.016, "Foundation Expenditures." The purchase must be within the assigned dollar limit. Airline tickets for University employees must be purchased on the p-card.

        There are some unique exceptions and restrictions to p-card use. See sub-section XII, sub-sub-sections C, D, and E, below, prior to using your card.

      4. Expiration and Reissue of Cards

        Controlled Value (CV) cards expire on the last day of the month designated (may be up to five years) and are not replaced.

        All other cards expire every three years, on the last day of the month embossed on the front of the card (expiration date). Purchasing cards are automatically sent to the P-card Office within 1 to 3 weeks prior to the expiration date. The cardholder will be sent an e-mail notification listing the date and location to pick up his or her new card. The cardholder should read and sign a new Cardholder Agreement Form and bring it with photo identification to pick up the new card.

      5. Changing Information on a Card, or Canceling a Card

        Purchasing Card Addendum form must be used to apply for changes to the card. To cancel a card, destroy the card and send an e-mail message to the Purchasing Card Administrator at purchasing.card@ohio.edu, indicating department name, cardholder name, cardholder account number, and the reason for canceling the account.

      6. Forms and Manuals

        Forms and user manuals are available online. Revisions to the forms and the manuals are frequent; all cardholders should check the website often for current versions.

      7. Updating Transactions

        All transactions appear in the p-card software system. Access to the system is available over the web to all cardholders or their designees. As of February, 2004, the University's system is PARIS from GE CPS. Transactions must be updated within ten business days from the post date with adequate descriptions, details, and accounting codes, etc. See sub-sections XIVXVI, and XXII for more details.

      8. Allocation of Charges

        Dollar amounts charged will be allocated to the default account number assigned to the p-card at the time of issue. The cardholder selects the default account number on the P-card Application. Dollar amounts may be moved to another account number, or split between several account numbers, once they appear in PARIS. Dollar amounts will be posted (mapped) to the General Ledger, as designated in PARIS, ten business days after the transaction's post date. To request changes after charges have already been mapped, use the Accounting Correction form.

      9. Documentation Requirements

        Cardholders should always obtain an itemized receipt for each transaction. If a cash register tape does not have descriptions, write them on the tape. (Exceptions apply for some types of business travel transactions if the expense is less than $75. See Policy 41.121, "Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment," for details.) Any transaction without a properly substantiated receipt is subject to reimbursement of the university by the cardholder.

        A receipt is defined as an invoice, cash register receipt, sales slip, or packing slip which contains an itemized list of goods purchased, with dollar amounts, and the name and location of the supplier. An employee of the supplier must sign handwritten receipts.

        1. Purchases Made in Person

          Retain the itemized receipt in addition to the credit card copy to properly substantiate the purchase.

        2. Faxed or Mailed Purchases

          Retain a copy of the order as faxed or mailed and the fax confirmation (if available) for your records.

        3. Internet Purchases

          At least one of the following types of documentation is required:

          1. Print out of the completed online order form.

          2. Print out of the online order confirmation.

          3. Print out of the e-mail confirmation.

        4. Reconciliation

          The cardholder should complete and sign an Approval Statement, affix it to the front of the monthly cardholder statement, and attach receipts along with all supporting documentation (credit memos, copies of disputed item and refund forms, etc.). Four years of documentation, plus the current fiscal year, must be kept on file. One year plus the current fiscal year should be on-hand in the department. See sub-sections XVI and XXII, below, for important details.

      10. Approvals

        Higher-level approval is required. The supervisor or budget unit manager must sign off on an Approval Statement once attached to the cardholder's reconciled monthly statement. See sub-section XXIII for details.

        1. Executive Officers

          Executive Officers are defined as the President and his or her direct reports. The p-card transactions of Executive Officers do not require higher-level approval, but are subject to regular audit by Internal Audit and the Finance Office. The expenditures of the President and Executive Officers will be reported yearly to the Board of Trustees.

        2. Academic or Administrative Officers

          Academic or Administrator Officers are defined as those who report directly to the Executive Officers (e.g., Assistant VPs, Deans). The p-card transactions of Academic or Administrative Officers require higher-level review and approval by their Executive Officer. In the event that the Executive Officer is not available to provide such review and approval, he or she may designate another reviewer-approver (e.g., the planning unit's budget manager). Written requests for such an exception should be submitted by the Executive Officer to the Purchasing Card Office for approval by the Finance Office.

        3. All Other Cardholders

          All other cardholder transactions must be reviewed and approved by a higher-level of authority within the cardholder's department.

      11. Audits

        Transactions are audited on-screen by the Finance Office according to a plan on file in Procurement Services. Further, all documents and departmental procedures are subject to audit by the Internal Audit and the Finance Office. Routine Customer Service Visits will be scheduled with departments, schools, or college offices. Visits will be designed to:

        1. Review departmental records and record keeping practices;
        2. Correct errors and ensure policy guidelines are followed;
        3. Offer "best practice" procedures;
        4. Solicit feedback regarding processes and "best practice" procedures.

        Results of these visits will be used to facilitate the purchasing and accounting functions of Ohio University, and will be shared with the Budget Unit Managers.

      12. Abuse

        Upon the first notice of suspected credit card abuse, the Department should immediately advise the Finance Office and consult with the Office of Legal Affairs.

        Procurement will initiate and coordinate an investigation of the suspected credit card abuse. As soon as practicable, Procurement will furnish a preliminary status report to the Associate Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, with copies to the Director of Internal Audit, The Controller, Legal Affairs, and the Department.

        The employee shall be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations described in the preliminary report.

        Following the interview with the employee and completion of the investigation, Procurement shall issue a final written report to the director of Internal Audit with copies to Legal Affairs and the Department.

    2. Cardholder Responsibilities

      1. Everyday Use

        1. Rules and procedures

          1. The card is for business expenses only. It must not be used for personal purchases.

          2. The card is not transferable. It may be used by the cardholder only.

          3. Itemized receipts must be obtained for all p-card transactions. (Exceptions apply for some types of business travel transcations if the expense is less than $75. See Policy 41.121, "Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment," for details.)

          4. Pyramiding - i.e., dividing one purchase into two or more, in order to stay within your transaction limit - is not allowable.

          5. If the cardholder does not update his or her own transactions, he or she must provide the PARIS user with the information needed to update the transaction within 10 days of purchase.

          6. Cardholders may not receive cash advances of any form using the p-card.

          7. Cardholders are responsible for resolving discrepancies and ensuring credits are received.

          8. Cardholders may not receive cash back or in-store credits for any refunds or exchanges. Such amounts must be credited to the p-card account. If a supplier mistakenly issues a refund check, it must be submitted to the P-card Office within five days of receipt by the cardholder.

          9. Cardholders should not pay Ohio sales tax. The cardholder must tell in-state suppliers the University is exempt from Ohio sales tax. A copy of the University's Tax Exempt Certificate is available if the supplier needs to see it.

          10. If grant funds are being charged, cardholders are responsible for seeing that all granting agency requirements are fulfilled.

          11. Cardholders may not make purchases that violate University policy restricting business transactions that may be perceived as a conflict of interest (purchases from a business in which you or a relative have a financial interest). See Policy 55.003, "Purchasing - Authorized and Unauthorized Procurement," and Policy 19.058, "Conflict of Interest in Research, Educational, and Public Service Activities."

        2. Preventing Fraud

          The cardholder should use basic security measures, as outlined below, to guard against fraud:

          1. DO Sign your card as soon as it arrives.

          2. DO Keep the card in a secure location; guard the card number carefully.

          3. DO Save receipts and statements in a secure area (they may contain your card number).

          4. DO Keep an eye on the card during the transaction, and retrieve it as soon as possible.

          5. DO Always know where your card is. If you can't find the card, assume the worst: Have your account canceled and request a new card.

          6. DO Be aware of what you are signing: Your signature can copy through to other slips deliberately placed underneath.

          7. DO Audit your monthly statement closely. Make sure all charges shown are legitimate charges.

          8. DO Visit reputable, familiar merchants whenever possible.

          9. DO Report possible fraud immediately to P-card Administration at 597-OHIO (6446).

          10. DO NOT Discard credit card slips in public areas, or discard them whole. Thieves can acquire your card number from receipts, slips and statements.

          11. DO NOT Lend your card to anyone.

          12. DO NOT Give your card number to anyone over the phone unless you know you are dealing with a reputable vendor.

        3. Unauthorized Purchases

          The p-card may not be used to purchase the following items:

          1. Personal items

          2. Live animals (contact Lab Animal Resources in Research Compliance Office for details).

          3. Controlled substances requiring a DEA license

          4. Employee relocation and relocation-related expenses

          5. Purchases that involve signing an agreement, license, or contract (e.g., leases) - send document to Purchasing and Contracting Office for review and action.

          6. Long term rentals (1 year or longer).

          7. Contracted or personal service providers – specific to unincorporated 1099 service providers (e.g., photographic studios, dry cleaners, physicians, medical labs, auto towing or repair, etc.).

          8. Radioactive materials (contact Environmental Health and Safety Office for details).

          9. Weapons or ammunition

          10. Donations

          11. Fuel for a privately-owned vehicle or aircraft

          12. Items purchased with Plant Fund accounts

          13. Modifications to building structures (e.g., labor or installation fees, mechanical or electrical repairs, etc.)

        4. Restricted Use

          Certain items are restricted from purchase with a p-card unless the following requirements are met:

          1. Alcohol for consumption must be charged to a Foundation account.

          2. Capital Equipment is allowable on operating funds only (it is not allowed on grant funds). Cardholder limit must be greater than $2,500, and the following information must be provided when updating the transaction on-screen:

            1. Manufacturer's name, serial number and model number
            2. Acquisition date or date received
            3. Location
            4. Unit acquisition cost (if not already clearly identified)
            5. Name of department taking ownership

            A copy of the transaction receipt must be sent to Equipment Inventory within 5 business days of receiving the item, with p-card transaction reference number noted on the receipt. See Policy 19.054, "Equipment Inventory Control."

          3. Out-of-state printing is restricted according to Policy 55.035, "Purchasing - Printing Procurement." It is the responsibility of the cardholder to determine if the purchase falls within these requirements. P-card holders can contact the Purchasing and Contracting Office (3-1960) for additional information prior to purchase.

            Though it is not strictly required, the University encourages all p-card holders to use Ohio based printing facilities per the State's "Buy Ohio" initiative.

          4. Maintenance or Service agreements are allowable for small equipment such as pagers, VCRs, etc. Service agreements for major equipment items such as copiers and major scientific or medical equipment must be processed on a requisition (request for purchase order).

          5. Gifts and gift certificates are allowable only when certain criteria are met. Please refer to the Finance Division's Gift Buying Guidelines at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/purchasing/giftbuying.cfm.

          6. The travel expenses of other University employees are allowable on the p-card only when used for pre-travel arrangements that cannot easily have additional expenses added to the total transaction amount. Such instances include:

            1. Airline tickets: airline tickets for University employees must be purchased on a p-card.

            2. Conference registrations

            3. Hotel reservations (one night deposit if required)

        5. Restricted Use for Grant Funds and Sponsored Projects

          Expenses on grant funds and sponsored projects are restricted as follows:

          1. All charges and follow-up accounting procedures must meet all sponsored project conditions and requirements: Charges must be reasonable, necessary, and appropriate to the specific account.

          2. Documentation for the current and past fiscal year must be detailed and on-hand. If detailed receipts are not available, the department may need to retain a detailed log of sponsored project purchases. Individual items must be clearly documented. Sponsored projects have unique audit requirements, and departments must maintain a separate, comprehensive record of purchases.

          3. A p-card purchase may be transferred to a sponsored project after-the-fact only if a receipt and purchase detail is attached to the Accounting Correction form.

          4. Copies of receipts and purchase detail may be requested by The Grants and Contracts Accounting Office, as required by the sponsoring agency. Failure to submit documentation may result in loss of card privileges.

      2. Problems with card use

        1. If a supplier does not accept the p-card

          The cardholder should forward a completed Supplier Non-Acceptance form to the P-card Administrator. The Administrator will make an effort to enroll the supplier in the program.

        2. Disputed items (damaged or incorrect shipments, etc)

          It is the cardholder's responsibility to resolve discrepancies and ensure credits are received. The transaction should be updated in PARIS by changing the description to "Disputed Item." The dollar amount should be charged to the default account number and a 796900 natural account, and marked viewed and approved. Once the credit is received, it should be placed in the same account number and natural account (796900) as the original charge with a description of Credit for Disputed Purchase. Contact the P-card Office at 740-597-6446 for assistance or check your p-card manual for current information.

          1. The cardholder should notify the merchant of the problem and seek a credit within 30 days of the purchase.

          2. If a credit is not received from the supplier in 30 days, the cardholder should formally dispute the purchase with GE CPS. Formal disputes must be submitted to GE CPS within 60 days of the transaction post date and can be done in either of two ways:

            1. Complete a Statement of Disputed Items form. It must be faxed to the p-card provider (GE CPS) at the toll-free fax number listed at the bottom of the form.

            2. Dispute the transaction online at http://www.genetservice.com/. The GE NetService Guide provides step-by-step instructions.

          3. A copy of the dispute form or screen print from GE NetService should be attached to the monthly statement and provided to the Budget Manger of the planning unit. Contact the P-card Office at 740-593-1960 for assistance, or check your p-card manual for current information.

        3. If your card is lost or stolen, or if you detect a transaction in PARIS you believe to be fraudulent

          Report loss, theft, or fraudulent use of the card immediately, as follows:

          1. Contact GE CPS lost or stolen card service at 1-800-274-7378 within the United States, or call collect at 1-801-464-3232 if traveling internationally. Have your card number or social security number ready.

          2. To report a fraudulent transaction, have the transaction number and basic transaction information (vendor, dollar amount) ready. Inform your department administrator(s). Inform the P-card Office during normal business hours by calling the Purchasing Card Help Line at 597-OHIO (6446) or E-mail Purchasing.Card@ohio.edu.

          3. The toll free numbers are open 24 hours a day. If reporting during evenings or weekends, department administrators and Purchasing Card Administration Office can be notified the next business day.

        4. Updating a fraudulent transaction

          If you suspect a transaction in PARIS represents fraudulent use, first follow the steps outlined directly above in sub-sub-section C. Further, you must update the transaction by changing the description from Purchasing Card Item to Fraud. The dollar amount should be charged to the default account number and a 796900 natural account, and marked viewed and approved. GE CPS will credit the account for the fraudulent purchases. The cardholder is not required to submit a Disputed Items form. Once the credit is received, it should be placed in the same account and natural account (796900) as the original charge, with a description of Credit for Fraudulent Purchase.

        5. Damaged cards

          If the card is damaged or demagnetized, or requires a correction in the cardholder name or department name, a replacement plastic may be requested. Contact the toll free number for GE CPS customer service on the back of the card at 1-800-274-7378 or call 597-OHIO (6446) to obtain the new card. The replacement plastic will be sent to the P-card Administration Office via regular mail in seven to ten days. The card will contain the same number as the current card. The number will be placed on hold until the new card is received and activated. The old card can be destroyed at the time of order. For name changes, fill out a P-card Addendum form to notify P-card Administration to change the name in the PARIS system as well.

        6. Cardholder leaves the University or changes departments

          Cardholder should contact GE CPS's toll free customer service number listed on the back of the card (1-800-274-7378) and request the account be placed on hold (this will prevent the card from being used by someone other than the cardholder). Return the card to the department administrator. Notify the P-card Office of what action was taken and state the reason. The account will be closed if the cardholder is leaving Ohio University. If the cardholder changes departments, the card may be transferred to the new planning unit if approval is given by the budget manager.

      3. Purchasing Card as Travel Card

        The p-card is the preferred method to pay for travel expenses. The following rules apply:

        1. Only the traveler's p-card may be used for his or her travel expenses with the exception of certain pre-paid arrangements that cannot easily have charges added after the fact; see item 6 in sub-subsection D of subsection XIII, above, for details.

        2. Airline tickets for University employees must be purchased on a p-card.

        3. Any personal charges on the hotel bill (e.g., personal calls, in-room movies, spouse or accompanying guest charges) must be paid out-of-pocket at checkout.

        4. The p-card may not be used to purchase fuel for a privately owned vehicle or aircraft.

        5. All purchases must be in accordance with Policy 41.121, "Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment." See also https://www.ohio.edu/finance/procuretopay/procurement/travel_services.cfm for additional information prior to travel.

      4. Follow-Up Accounting Procedures

        A monthly statement of purchasing card activity will be sent to each cardholder. Each cardholder must:

        1. Immediately reconcile transactions in PARIS, or provide the PARIS user in the department with the information necessary to perform such reconciliation. Reconciliation must occur within ten business days from the Post Date in PARIS.

        2. Reconcile receipts with the monthly statement immediately upon its arrival.

        3. Complete and sign an Approval Form, affix it to the front of the monthly cardholder statement, and attach receipts along with all supporting documentation (credit memos, copies of disputed item and refund forms, etc.), and then forward it to the budget unit manager or supervisor for approval.

        4. If a receipt is missing, the cardholder should reimburse the university for the transaction by completing a Refund Form, attaching a personal check made payable to "Ohio University," and submitting the reimbursement to the P-card Administration Office.

        5. All receipts and statements supporting purchasing card transactions for the current and past fiscal year will be kept at the department level. All p-card documents are subject to audit by the Finance Office and Internal Audit, and must always be kept current and complete.

    3. Budget Unit Manager Responsibilities

      1. Determining who should receive a card

        The Budget Unit Manager should review, approve, and forward approved applications to the Purchasing Card Office. Cards may be issued to University employees only. Controlled Value Cards may be issued to University affiliates (grad students, etc.) if an explanation and accountable plan is provided with the application.

      2. Designating default account codes for all departmental cardholders

        With some exceptions, grant and contract account codes cannot be used as defaults due to federal and state audit and reporting requirements.

      3. Retrieving cards from employees

        The Budget Unit manager must retrieve cards from employees who leave Ohio University, change departments, or move to a job in which they will no longer require a purchasing card. The card should be destroyed, and an e-mail message should be sent to the Purchasing Card Administrator (at purchasing.card@ohio.edu), indicating department name, cardholder name, cardholder account number, and the reason for canceling the account.

      4. Establishing p-card software system users

        At minimum, each area should designate one person as the main individual trained to review and update transactions in PARIS. One backup person must also be designated in the event the main user is out of the office.

      5. Overseeing appropriate use of the card

        Budget Unit Managers will:

        1. Review the Purchasing Card transaction and management reports to ensure that the Purchasing Card is being used appropriately.

        2. Ensure that all transactions are assigned to the appropriate University account number.

        3. Ensure that all transactions are assigned to an appropriate natural account. (The default natural account for cardholders is 797900.) Natural account 797900 is not a valid expenditure code in the General Ledger. Charges mapped to natural account 797900 require an Accounting Correction form to move them to the appropriate natural account. Charges are mapped to the General Ledger ten business days after the transaction posting date.

        4. Ensure all transactions are marked "Viewed" and "Approved" in the system prior to mapping into the General Ledger.

      6. Ensuring documentation requirements are met

        Budget Unit Managers will:

        1. Ensure necessary detail is provided on all transactions in PARIS, prior to the mapping date. Charges are mapped to the General Ledger ten business days after the transaction post date.

        2. Ensure that itemized receipts and card statements are retained. In total, receipts for four fiscal years plus the current year must be retained. The current and past fiscal should be available on-site at the department level. All p-card files are subject to audit by the Finance Office, and should always be kept current and complete.

        3. Document all business-related travel and meal transactions in the PARIS NOTES screen. Refer to Policy 41.121, "Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment," and Policy 41.123, "Entertaining Official Guests." (Also see the travel section of the p-card manual).

      7. XXIII.  Ensuring Higher-Level Approval for Transactions

        Budget Unit Managers will:

        1. Determine the level of authority to be assigned to each p-card software system user in the unit:

          1. View capability
          2. View and Approve capability

          Regardless of assigned capability, the Budget Unit Manager must ensure Approval guidelines are followed. See sub-section X, above for more information.

        2. The Budget Unit Manager is also required to have higher-level approval. See sub-section X, above, for more information.


Proposed revisions of this policy should be reviewed by:

  1. Policy and Procedure Review Committee

  2. Planning Unit Heads

  3. Assistant Vice President for Finance

  4. Controller