The University of Tennessee Procurement Card Program provides an efficient, cost-effective alternative for departments to make purchases costing less than $10,000. Purchases of $10,000 or more must be bid unless they are being purchased from existing framework orders or term contracts. Using the card may greatly reduce the department’s need for a petty cash account. The procurement card is a special card that works similarly to a personal credit card, except charges are directly billed to the University.
The purpose of this section is to provide policies and guidelines you are expected to follow while managing the procurement card function in your department. Although the cardholder has important obligations in using the card, the department head is ultimately responsible for the purchases and for administering the procurement card program.
The UT procurement card is a card that works similarly to a personal credit card, except the charges are billed directly to the University and paid by the Treasurer’s Office.
Cardholders are responsible for making purchases on behalf of their departments and have received approval from their department head to conduct UT business with a procurement card.
The verifier is responsible for verifying that an acceptable receipt is provided for every transaction on the monthly statement, reporting questionable purchases to the department head, and distributing charges to the appropriate expense code (general ledger account), cost center, or WBS element in the financial and human resources system (IRIS).
The approver is normally the department head (or designee). This person must be authorized to approve the expenditure of University funds and be knowledgeable of the department’s procurement card activities. The approver is responsible for the electronic approval of procurement card statements.
University employees who are issued a procurement card are provided the ability to make purchases on behalf of their department or unit up to the spending limits imposed by the card. The department head retains ultimate responsibility for purchases on the procurement card. The department head is expected to make reasonable efforts to select appropriate employees as cardholders to ensure these employees use the card properly and in compliance with University policies. Serious violations of procurement card policies may result in disciplinary action, including termination. Personal use of the card is theft.
Obtaining a card
University employees who have the responsibility for making purchases on behalf of their department and have the approval of their department head are eligible for a procurement card. Cards may not be issued to independent contractors, temporary employees, students, or any non-employee without permission from the chief financial officer. Additionally, the card should not be loaned to a student.
Separation of Duties
The verifier is the single most important control in the entire procurement card process. Therefore, the verifier (normally the bookkeeper) should not be the cardholder nor be responsible for making purchases with the card.
In rare cases, small departments may not have sufficient staff to separate these duties, or the available staff’s workload may be too heavy to accept the additional duties of verifying procurement card transactions. Such departments should attempt to find an outside verifier, e.g., the college or campus business office.
To receive a card, employees must request a card in Concur and complete the procurement card training and questionnaire in the K@TE learning management system. The Concur request is routed to the department head and program administrator for approval.
Procurement cards are for business use only. The following types of purchases are prohibited:
- Personal use
- Transactions that violate the University’s bid limit (Policy FI0405 – Procurement)
- Assets totaling $5,000 or more. Equipment costing between $1,500 and $4,999 is permissible provided that an asset record is created and linked to the transaction during the procurement reconciliation process.
- Cash advances
- Cash refunds from returned card purchases
- Gift cards unless an approved Gift Card Form is submitted with the receipts
- Motor vehicles
- Personal service contracts or those contracts that are processed through the Contract system
- Credit card convenience fees (charges added to the invoice solely because a credit card is being used) in excess of $100
- Entertainment purchases costing more than $1,000 per function unless pre-approval from the chief business officer has been received. Entertainment purchases are subject to the approval and documentation requirements of FI0715 Entertainment
- Restaurants, caterers, and common travel vendors are blocked on the procurement card program. An exception from the chief business officer is required to process transactions for these merchant categories
- Travel, including airlines, hotels, automobile expenses, and meals (Note: Registration fees are acceptable.) Receipts along with the conference agenda must be submitted with the employee’s travel reimbursement request. Fees for events at the University should be paid via transfer voucher
- Cellular telephone equipment and service
- Purchasing club membership such as Sam’s Club, Costco, and Barnes and Noble where membership is in the name of the employee (unless approved in writing by chief the business officer)
- Amazon Prime memberships
- Purchases from other University departments, including University bookstores
- Purchases prohibited by University fiscal policy on purchasing (Policy FI0405)
Each card has a specific spending limit: $9,999.99 per transaction and a preset maximum for each 30-day billing cycle, typically $20,000. If a purchase violates these limits, the vendor will not accept the order. Changes to the spending limits will be considered upon approval of the department head and campus business officer.
Receipts are critical to the success and integrity of the procurement card program. Acceptable receipts include vendor invoice, charge slip, cash register receipt, packing slip, or printout of e-mail or web page transaction confirmation, provided the following information is included:
- Itemized description of goods or services purchased, including unit price
- Vendor name
- Transaction date
- Transaction total
Generally, order forms are not acceptable as receipts. For subscriptions, a copy of the renewal notice or initial subscription request is considered a receipt.
Transaction detail from the UT Market Place is an acceptable receipt because this is a University system and all relevant information is retained and available through this system.
Supplemental receipt forms must be used when a proper receipt cannot be retained. The supplemental receipt form is not intended for use as a replacement receipt. Any available documentation of the transaction and efforts to obtain the receipt should be included with the supplemental form.
Employees have been terminated for improper use of the procurement card, and others have had their cards suspended and disciplinary action taken for violating University policy.
The Department Head’s Role in Procurement Card Management
Because you are ultimately accountable for the use of procurement cards in your department, you are expected to make reasonable efforts to select appropriate employees as cardholders and ensure that these employees use the cards properly and in compliance with University policies. You are responsible for the following oversight activities:
- Select and approve employees who are eligible to apply for a procurement card and ensure that they are trained on the appropriate use of the card.
- Select an individual(s) who will be responsible for verifying monthly statements. The verifier must have access to and be trained to use the University’s financial and human resources system (IRIS) and should not be a cardholder.
- Ensure that the card is used only for official UT business purposes. Generally, departments should limit the number of cardholders to as few as reasonably possible.
- Ensure that Tennessee sales tax is not charged on purchases.
- Ensure that orders are verified for accuracy, quality, and price.
- Ensure that original receipts are obtained from vendors and retained to support purchases with the card.
- Ensure that cardholders and verifiers sign the monthly statements.
- Ensure asset records have been properly created for any new sensitive minor equipment that is purchased with the card.
- Ensure that purchases are verified and approved each month by the Treasurer’s Office deadline. (See “Your Role as Approver” below.)
- Ensure that the supporting documents are attached in IRIS.
- Ensure that the card and account information are kept secure and the card number confidential.
- Ensure that incorrect charges and product returns are resolved with the merchant or vendor quickly.
- Ensure that the bank is called immediately if the card is lost or stolen and that the campus/institute coordinator and the program administrator in the Treasurer’s Office are notified by faxing the Lost/Stolen Card Notification form.
- Cancel cards of employees who terminate employment in your department and request a new card as needed for eligible employees.
- Forward a card being canceled to the campus/institute coordinator with an explanation.
As the department head, you have general oversight responsibilities in administering your department’s procurement card(s). Because the department head is normally the approver, you also have the following specific duties.
- Obtain training for electronic approvals and ensure that verifiers also obtain appropriate training.
- Review monthly procurement card statements on the electronic approval system for approval or rejection. Approve statements by the Treasurer’s Office deadline. Approval indicates that the purchases and the distribution of charges are appropriate.
- Electronically reject statements and attach an explanation indicating why the statement was rejected under the following circumstances:
- If the statement requires further processing by the verifier
- If you suspect an inappropriate purchase (that has not been marked as disputed)
- If you do not have enough supporting documentation to make an informed decision about the appropriateness of a purchase
- If the distribution of charges needs to be changed
Your Role as Approver
Questions that the approver should ask him/herself prior to approval:
- What is the business purpose of the charge? Is it reasonable for the person making the claim?
- Are original receipts or other support attached for every item claimed (as required by policy)?
- Is the expense allowable under University policies?
- Are the costs claimed ‘reasonable’ considering University culture and policy?
- Does the receipt show the name, address, and phone number of the vendor?
- Were any costs split to avoid the allowable maximum?
- Would this type of purchase normally require the issuance of a purchase order?
- Could the item purchased be used in the home? If so, verify the location of the item.
- Was the quantity purchased reasonable?
- If the charge is unfamiliar, consider entering SKU codes from receipts into the website of the vendor (for example, Home Depot).
Lost/Stolen Cards and Fraudulent/Disputed Transactions
Cardholders should notify the bank immediately when:
- The card is lost or stolen
- Fraudulent charges are found
- The card is suspected as compromised for any reason
The cardholder should also complete the Lost/Stolen/Compromised notification form and send to the System Program Administrator. Replacement cards will not be released until this form has been received.
If a travel card transaction is declined for a reason unclear to the cardholder, they should contact the bank’s customer service number on the back of the card. Common reasons for declines include exceeding established spending limits, card expirations, and the merchant category code is blocked.
In the event it is necessary to cancel a procurement card, it must be returned to the department head. The department head will forward the card to the campus unit coordinator with an explanation of why it is to be canceled.