Policies and Procedures
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 I.Purpose
 II.Receiving a Purchasing Card
 III.Authorized Purchasing Card Use
 IV.Unauthorized Purchasing Card Use
 V.Making a Purchase
 VI.Cardholder Record Keeping
 VII.Review, Approval, and Accounting Treatment of Monthly Activity
 VIII.Merchandise Returns and Exchanges
 IX.Charge Disputes
 XI.Purchasing Card Security
 XII.Audit Procedures
 XIII.Conclusion


I. Purpose Top 

The Purchasing Card program was established to provide a more efficient and cost-effective method for purchasing and paying for small dollar transactions, high-volume transactions, and repetitive purchases. The Purchasing Card replaces the traditional process of requisition, purchase order, delivery, invoicing, accounts payable review, and disbursement of check on certain transactions of $2,500 or less.

The card is a privilege extended to Tulane faculty and staff (except student employees) and must be used in a responsible and appropriate manner. Fraudulent or intentional misuse of the card will result in revocation of the card, personnel actions against the Cardholder, and/or possible criminal charges. Routine audits of Cardholder's transaction files and monthly summaries will be conducted by Tulane University's Office of Internal Auditing.


II. Receiving a Purchasing Card Top 

Department Heads authorize the issuance of cards by completing the Purchasing Card Application Form for each prospective departmental Cardholder. The form is available on the Purchasing Card Administration Web Site located in the Administrative Units under Administration on the Tulane Home Page. The original completed form should be sent to Stephen Sovinsky, Purchasing Card Administrator at the Purchasing Office - Uptown on Maple Street. Questions should be directed to this office by calling 862-8000 extension 2675 or by e-mailing ssovins@tulane.edu.

Card applicants will be scheduled for training on the policies and procedures of the Purchasing Card Program prior to receiving a card.

Each prospective Cardholder will be required to sign the Purchasing Card Employee Agreement indicating that he understands the policies, procedures, and responsibilities of a Cardholder.

The Purchasing Card Administrator will maintain records of Purchasing Card requests, dollar limits, Cardholder transfers, and lost/stolen/destroyed card information.


III. Authorized Purchasing Card Use Top 

The Cardholder will receive a Purchasing Card with his/her name embossed on it, and the card should only be used by the Cardholder. No other person is authorized to use that card. The Cardholder may initiate transactions on behalf of others in his/her department; however, the Cardholder is responsible for all use on his/her card. The Cardholder is required to sign the back of the card.

Examples of typical purchasing card purchases ----- include: books, periodicals, subscriptions, newsletters, audio and video tapes, conferences and seminar registration fees, photo processing, art, and office supplies. It is the Cardholder's responsibility to be aware of departmental rules and guidelines and to make only appropriate purchases. Purchases related to sponsored projects are not authorized at this time. Cardholders will be notified when these charges are allowed.

Use of the Purchasing Card will be limited to the following conditions:

A. Departments will assign a single transaction limit to each Purchasing Card account. A maximum amount of $2,500 has been established to avoid the purchase of capital equipment. A transaction is defined as the invoice total for all items ordered and delivered. A purchase cannot be split into multiple transactions to stay within the single transaction limit established for that account. This is expressly prohibited.
B. A monthly spending limit, not to exceed 25% of the annual supplies budget for each account authorized for use, will apply to each Purchasing Card. The purpose of this limit is to minimize the amount of charges that may occur if a card is lost or stolen.
C. Tulane University is exempt from local and State of Louisiana sales tax. Documentation confirming Tulane's exemptions can be obtained by contacting the Accounts Payable at 865-5824 or rpaige1@tulane.edu . The Cardholder must inform the supplier that the goods are not subject to sales taxes and confirm that no sales taxes are charged before authorizing the transaction.


IV. Unauthorized Purchasing Card Use Top 

Transactions with certain types of merchants are blocked from use with the Purchasing Card. These merchants operate businesses that generally provide goods or services that are not allowed on the Purchasing Card. The following is a list of categories of expenditures that are prohibited. Also listed below are the categories of merchants/businesses that have been blocked. If a transaction is attempted for one of the following categories of expenditures or merchants, or if the transaction exceeds the transaction limit, the vendor cannot accept the card since the transaction will be declined through the point of sale authorization process.

Prohibited Expenditures:
A.Alcohol
B.Animals
C.Business meals (entertainment)
D.Capital equipment (items of equipment with cost greater than $2,500)
E.Cash advances or cash instruments
F.Chemicals
G.Consulting or personal services
H.Controlled substances
I.Cylinder gases
J.Fines, penalties, or other similar fees
K.Gasoline
L.Hazardous and/or radioactive materials
M.Honoraria
N.Leases
O.Maintenance agreements
P.Non-University purchases
Q.Personal purchases
R.Recreation
S.Travel-related expenses (excluding conference registrations which are allowed)
T.Utilities

Blocked Merchants:
A.Airlines
B.Amusement and Entertainment
C.Automobile Rentals
D.Clothing Stores
E.Hotels and Motels
F.Personal Service Providers ( Laundries, Barbers, Health Spa, etc.)
G.Professional Service Providers ( Medical, Education, Accounting, etc.)
H.Service Providers ( Banks, Securities, Insurance, Resorts/Campgrounds, etc. )
I.Utilities
J.Various Miscellaneous Stores
K.Most Transportation-related Providers

The Purchasing Card must never be used to purchase items for personal or non-University purposes even if the Cardholder intends to reimburse the University.

A Cardholder who makes an unauthorized purchase or uses the Purchasing Card in an inappropriate manner will be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, possible card cancellation, termination of employment at Tulane University, and criminal prosecution.


V. Making a Purchase Top 

When making a Purchasing Card purchase, the Cardholder will take reasonable steps to obtain the best price. The Cardholder should purchase from merchants commonly used by Tulane whenever possible to take advantage of pricing and terms negotiated on a University-wide basis. A list of these merchants can be found in the Purchasing Card Administration Website.

A cardholder will use the following checklist when making a purchase.

A. Solicit an adequate number of sources to assure the best price, quality, and delivery.
B. Confirm that the selected merchant accepts VISA. If not, choose another vendor or submit a requisition to the Purchasing Department so that the purchase can be made via a Purchase Order. Inform the Purchasing Card Administrator of the merchant that did not accept VISA if it is anticipated that there will be future needs to use this merchant.
C. Inform the supplier that the purchase is for Tulane University and is sales tax exempt.
D. When making purchases in person, the Cardholder must sign the charge receipt and retain the customer copy.
E. When making purchases via telephone, internet, mail order, etc., Cardholders should give the merchant the account number embossed on their card and direct the merchant to include the following on the shipping label and/or packing slip:

  • Cardholder name and campus phone number
  • Department name
  • Complete campus delivery address including building name and room number
  • The words "Purchasing Card Purchase"
  • The supplier's order number
  • If the items are being shipped to a Receiving department, the Cardholder should notify that department in advance. Regardless of who receives the shipment, the Cardholder is responsible for obtaining all documentation (packing slips, mail order form copies, etc.) related to the purchase.

    All computer purchases must be reported to Moveable Property Management so they can be added to the University's property records. This required notification could be accomplished by e-mailing to scordes@tulane.edu the following information: department name, name of user, location of equipment, and the manufacturer, model, and serial number. An alternative method would be to fax the above information, along with the invoice of the equipment purchased, to 862-8261.


    VI. Cardholder Record Keeping Top 

    Each department must retain documentation for all purchases made with Purchasing Cards. This documentation will be used to reconcile the purchases listed on the Cardholder's on-line report of monthly activity.

    A. When a purchase is made in person, the Cardholder will retain the invoice and customer copy of the charge receipt. The Cardholder is responsible for checking that the supplier lists the quantity and full descriptions of the item(s), and that sales taxes are excluded before signing the charge slip.
    B. When making a purchase via telephone, internet, or mail order, the Cardholder must request that a receipt or confirmation of the order be mailed directly to the Cardholder (not Accounts Payable or Purchasing). The Cardholder should always obtain and document the name of the individual who took the order. The Cardholder should retain all shipping documentation.
    C. Department heads are encouraged to have their Cardholders complete a Purchasing Card Transaction Log to assist in the account reconciliation.
    D. Cardholders must maintain documentation in a manner that will allow an auditor to quickly and easily review the records. Cardholders must file documentation by month in clearly marked files. Each file should contain a printed copy of the monthly activity, the transaction log, and the receipts and other documentation. Documentation that is not properly filed or organized may result in an audit finding.


    VII. Review, Approval, and Accounting Treatment of Monthly Activity Top 

    If any purchases have been made on a card, the Cardholder will receive an e-mail notification that there are transactions to review. It is the cardholder's responsibility to review and reconcile the monthly activity to the transaction log and the original receipts. Transactions will be posted on the Paymentech PaymentNet Website. A Cardholder's User ID and password is required for access to these transactions. A link to this site is located on the Purchasing Card Administration Home Page.

    Each card has a single general ledger account hard coded into its accounting code line. This default account number can be changed to a different account number if it has been authorized for use on the Cardholder's application and is appropriate for the transaction. A natural account code will be assigned to each transaction and can be changed to reflect the correct classification of the specific expense incurred. Charges can be viewed 2 to 3 days after the charge is made and reallocation (coding ) adjustments should be done as soon as the transaction is available. Reallocations are allowed up to the close of the billing cycle.

    Every Purchasing Card account must be approved each month prior to posting to the general ledger and payment being made to First USA. The department's designated approver of the monthly activity on that account is responsible for the timely review and approval of each transaction by the cardholder. This required review and approval will be monitored monthly for compliance.

    As noted in Section VI, this monthly activity report must be included in the documentation maintained by the department.


    VIII. Merchandise Returns and Exchanges Top 

    The Cardholder is responsible for contacting the merchant when items purchased with the Purchasing Card are not acceptable (incorrect, damaged, defective, etc.) and arranging a return for credit or an exchange. Receiving cash, checks, or a store credit for future purchases to resolve a return is prohibited.

    The Cardholder is responsible for obtaining a credit on the Purchasing Card account for any returns and retaining the credit receipt with the supporting documentation for that purchase. The Cardholder should confirm that the credit is recorded in the next month's card activity.

    If merchandise is to be exchanged, the Cardholder is responsible for returning the merchandise to the merchant and obtaining a replacement as soon as possible. Documentation showing the proper resolution of the exchange is to be retained with the supporting documentation for that purchase.


    IX. Charge Disputes Top 

    In the case of a disputed charge, the Cardholder must try to resolve the dispute directly with the merchant. If the dispute cannot be resolved, the Cardholder must complete a Cardholder Dispute Form within 60 days of the date of the disputed charge. This form is available in the PaymentNet Web site. The completed form should be sent electronically to First USA through the on-line system. A copy should be sent to the Purchasing Card Administrator.


    XI. Purchasing Card Security Top 

    Immediately upon receipt of a Purchasing Card, the Cardholder must sign the card.

    It is the Cardholder's responsibility to safeguard the Purchasing Card and account number to the same degree that a Cardholder safeguards his/her personal credit information.

    The Cardholder must not allow anyone to use his/her card account number. A violation of this trust will result in card revocation and disciplinary action.

    If the Purchasing Card is lost or stolen, the Cardholder shall immediately notify First USA at 1-800- 270-7760 and advise the Purchasing Card Administrator of this notification.

    A new Purchasing Card will be promptly issued to the Cardholder after the reported loss or theft. A card that is subsequently found by the Cardholder after being reported lost or stolen must be cut in half and forwarded to the Purchasing Card Administrator.


    XII. Audit Procedures Top 

    The Tulane University Office of Internal Auditing will perform routine audits of purchasing card transactions. Such audits will be designed to verify that card transactions are authorized and appropriate and to verify that required documentation has been properly accumulated, approved, and filed.

    In the event of an audit finding, the following actions, depending on the severity of the finding, may be taken:

    A.Warning letter issued to cardholder and department head
    B.Card use suspended for 3 months
    C.Card use terminated
    D.Employment terminated
    E.Criminal prosecution

    In addition, if misuse of the card is detected, the employee's department will be responsible for the charges in question. The Purchasing Card Administrator will automatically transfer these charges to the department's general ledger account. Reimbursement by the Cardholder to the University for unauthorized charges may also be required.


    XIII. Conclusion Top 

    This program is designed to provide user-friendly purchasing and payment tools so that Tulane's personnel can quickly and efficiently order and receive goods and complete effective accounting and settlement processes. The program does include the controls and features needed to ensure that these resources are used properly. The Purchasing Card program minimizes the number of manual tasks required to complete the order and settle the transaction. Program success is contingent on departmental compliance with approved procedures and guidelines.

    If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the Purchasing Card Administrator by calling 862-8000 extension 2675 or electronically to ssovins@tulane.edu.