All goods or services purchased on behalf of the college require a purchase order prior to placing the order. Travel expenditures such as meals, lodging, or airfare do not require a purchase order, however the original receipts are required for reimbursement.
The procedures to follow for purchasing are stated below in the proper order. These steps must be followed in order to ensure that payment of the expenditures is handled properly.
Note: Failure to comply with the outlined procedures may result in documentation to your personnel file. You could also be removed from the employees eligible to make purchases on behalf of the college, and you may be held personally responsible for payment.
1. Review your budget in CARS to make sure you have the funds available for the purchase.
- Name of person responsible for purchase and their CARS ID (employee#)
- Vendor name. If new vendor, include complete address, phone#, and federal tax ID#. We prefer the vendor to supply a W-9 form. If vendor has been used previously, provide the vendor’s CARS ID. For help finding the vendor's CARS ID, see Vendor CARS ID lookup.docx (or Vendor CARS ID lookup.pdf).
- Quantity, description, and cost of items or service to be purchased. This amount may be an estimate. Always include separately stated shipping charges.
- The cost center and object code to charge. See article Expenditure Object Codes.
- Proper approval signatures (refer to Article Approval Process for Expenditures or Quick Reference Approval Guide.pdf.
3. Submit the completed and approved PO/Check Request Form to the Business Office for processing.
4. Once received, PO/Check Request Forms are stamped and reviewed by the Business Office. Incomplete PO/Check Request Forms will be returned with any issues to be resolved clearly noted. If the PO/Check Request Form is approved by the Business Office, allow 2-3 business days for processing.
5. Approved purchase orders will be delivered via email to the person who requested it. You must wait until you receive the approved PO before placing the order. All purchase orders by Cost Center (department) can be viewed on CARS. For help, see Purchase Orders by Cost Center Report.docx (or Purchase Orders by Cost Center Report.pdf).
Open Purchase Orders. Open Purchase Orders (PB) can be created for vendors that you use frequently to purchase similar items or services multiple times during the fiscal year. The advantage to using an open purchase order is that you will not need to complete a separate PO/Check Request every time you wish to make a purchase with the vendor. You will be able to use the same PO# for the vendor the entire fiscal year as long as funds remain and the object code is appropriate. Example: parts purchased for instructional supplies from the same vendor can be purchased using an open PO. Office supplies from the same vendor, however, would need a separate PO. You may view the balance of a Purchase Order in CARS. If you need assistance with this please contact the Business Office.
- A request to increase a PO is done by completing the PO Increase Form.xlsx or PO Increase Form.pdf. This process does take time, and if invoices approved for payment exceed the remaining encumbrance on the PO, your purchase order could be closed before the increase occurs, requiring a new PO. To avoid frequent open PO increases, make sure your estimate is as accurate as possible. Also remember that you need cabinet approval on all PO’s that are over $1000 – that includes increases on PO’s that were originally over $1000 and increases on PO’s that were under $1000 before the increase but over $1000 after the increase.
- Once an open purchase order has an expense charged against it, CARS will not allow the total amount of the PO to be decreased.
- Open POs cannot be used for equipment with a unit price of $500 or more.
- Open POs cannot be used to purchase computers or computer related components.
- Open Purchase Orders will be closed when the entire amount available on the PO is used to pay outstanding invoices.
STC Bookstore Purchases. Employees may make purchases at the bookstore without a purchase order. At the end of each month a statement of all internal charges is delivered to the departments.
Copy paper, envelopes, etc. Paper for the copy machines and printers (8 1/2" x 11") is provided by the college at no charge to the department. An email can be sent to the maintenance staff to have a supply delivered. Other paper, cardstock, and envelopes are available from the Business Office. See Supplies Available from Business Office.docx (or Supplies Available from Business Office.pdf).
Promotional Items. See Article Marketing.
Bidding. If the unit price of any item on the PO/Check Request is between $5,000 and $99,999 three written bids must be attached to the PO/Check Request form. If the unit price is $100,000 or more, a Request for Proposal is required.
Conflict of Interest. Employees shall not purchase goods or services from a member of their immediate family or realize personal gain in any form, which would influence improperly the conduct of their College duties. The employee shall inform their supervisors in writing of reasonable foreseen potential conflicts.
Split Purchases. Purchases must not be split to circumvent purchasing policies.
Tax Exemption. Most purchases will be exempt from sales tax. You may need to give the vendor a copy of the College’s Tax Exempt Certificate.
Confirmation Number. Ask for a confirmation number when placing the order. Be sure to request that a receipt and/or packing slip with itemized pricing information be faxed to you immediately. Retain this with your record of the purchase.
Check Requests. If you need a check, only in cases that the vendor will not accept a purchase order, please use the PO/Check Request form and place an “X” in the check request box. Supporting documentation must be attached.
College Credit Card Usage. For more information see Article College Credit Card Usage.
On-Line Purchasing. If you must make an on-line purchase and the vendor will not accept a purchase order, you must follow the PO/Check Request process and indicate the vendor as “on-line vendor”. Note in the body of the PO/Check Request form that the payee will be “Commerce Card”.
When placing an order from a website, you can check to see if the site is running a secure web server by looking at the yellow lock symbol (ssl – secured shell lock) in the lower right-hand corner. If the site is not secure, your credit card number will be sent across the Internet in plain text. Although the chances are small, someone intercepting your message would be able to read your credit card number. If there is a yellow lock, the web server is running the secure site and your credit card number will be encrypted. Encryption transforms data into unreadable form to ensure privacy. Departmental policies and good judgment should be used when ordering over the Internet.
Invoice Approval Process. When a receipt is received at the time of a purchase, such as with travel expenses or some open purchase orders, the individual making the purchase should sign the receipt and refer to the PO# before sending it to the Business Office. When resources such as equipment or supplies are purchased, these items will generally be delivered to the department that ordered them, since the College does not have a central receiving area. Invoices may be sent to the department first or to the Business Office.
- If a department receives an invoice before it is received at the Business Office, the person authorized to approve the invoice should review it, date it, and sign it (provided the department is satisfied with the resources delivered or services provided). Signing off on an invoice/approving it for payment indicates that the pricing and freight charges are accurate. The invoice should then be sent to the Business Office for payment.
- If the Business Office receives the invoice first, it will be stamped and sent to the department for approval by signing on the approval line. The approved invoice must be returned to the Business Office within three (3) days. Failure to return approved invoices to the Business Office may result in consequences such as finance charges being paid for with your department funds, orders being held due to nonpayment, or purchasing privileges being suspended or terminated.
- If you receive goods that are not satisfactory, if goods will be returned, or if goods were invoiced but not received you must notify the Business Office immediately so we can ensure proper credit is received. The Business Office should be notified immediately if payment for goods should be held for any reason. A copy of the supplier provided return document (i.e., return authorization, packing slip, e-mail, etc.) is to be sent to the Business Office. Here are some tips:
- Always retain boxes, containers, special packaging, packing slips, etc. until you are certain you are going to keep the goods. Some items such as software or fragile pieces cannot be returned without the original packaging materials.
- Read all enclosed instructions carefully. Often a phone number and other instructions are included on the packing slip and/or receipt.
- Many suppliers require you to obtain a “Return Authorization Number” before they will accept a return. If you neglect to get this number when it is required, the package may be refused and/or no credit be issued to you account.
- Request a credit receipt for returned items. Some companies may not provide this receipt unless requested.
- In some cases there may be a restocking fee (usually a percentage of the purchase price). If the supplier is completely responsible for the error or problem you should not have to pay this, or any other fee. However, if they are not fully responsible you may have to pay.
- Under no circumstances should an employee accept cash in lieu of a credit to the account.
Fiscal Year End Processing. In order to prepare for year-end, all PO/Check Requests for the current fiscal year must be submitted to the Business Office by mid-May. This allows you time to place and receive your order so that the invoice will be paid in the current fiscal year. If you have orders outstanding, you should contact the vendor and confirm that the items will be delivered prior to June 30 of this fiscal year. Any orders received after June 30 will be paid from the next fiscal year budget. PO requests for non-emergency items received after this date will be held and processed in the next fiscal year. Please remember that all current fiscal year Purchase Orders expire and will be closed on June 30.