General Buying FAQs
What items can I purchase to give out?
Promotional items given to donors, visitors, alumni, study participants, students and potential students are allowed. The promotional item must be inscribed or imprinted with words and/or pictures identifying the University or in the case of study participants the Grant Study. The individual cost of a promotional item should not exceed $25.* In limited circumstances, appreciation gifts (not to exceed $25), holiday cards, plaques, and awards may be allowed if it is determined that these expenditures are in the best interest of the University and promote the purposes of the University.
*IRS Publication 463 (2014), Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses places a $25 per person per year business gift allowance. Items exceeding $25 would require the department to obtain a W-9 from the recipient and provide the information to the Controller’s Office annually in order to include in yearly 1099 tax reporting.
Can I reimburse students for purchases made on behalf of UAB?
Students should never be asked to purchase any supplies/items on behalf of UAB. Students are not UAB employees. Only UAB employees should purchase items on behalf of UAB.
What method can I pay for something?
The current payment methods include Payment Requests, Purchase Orders, and P-cards.
- To generate an Oracle Purchase Order(PO), the Oracle Purchase Order is entered into the system via a Purchase Order Requisition.
- All Oracle Purchase Order Requisitions require at least two approvals at the department/school level before the system will forward to Accounting Services for review/approval.
- The review and approval process is generally completed within four days of receipt of the request in the Accounting Services department. Upon approval the purchase order is assigned in Oracle.
- Printed purchase orders will include the signature of the Director of Procurement Contracts who is vested with the sole authority to issue a Purchase Order and obligate UAB funds. Learn more about creating a PO.
- The Oracle Payment Request is used to process payments not handled by an Oracle Purchase Order (travel, consultant fees, contract payments, refunds, etc.).
- All Oracle Payment Request require documentation. Documentation varies with each payment request type, however, proof of payment or an invoice showing the amount owed is always required.
- To generate an Oracle Payment Request the Oracle Payment request is entered into the system via the UB FN Document/Entry Approval Oracle or Requisition Input responsibility. All Payment Requests (with the exception of SUBJECT_FEES) require supporting documentation.
- A bar code page is used to scan the required documentation. The bar code page is created at the Requestor lever when the Payment Request is entered into the system. The bar code page, along with applicable supporting documentation (receipts, invoices, contracts, agreements etc.) must be faxed to Central Scanning (fax number 6-4701). The documentation that is faxed to Central Scanning is automatically loaded into Optidoc. A check is processed the night of complete approval. All checks are mailed with the exception of those that list a call extension.
- Learn more about creating a Payment Request.
What do I need to know before buying items from a vendor?
If the item is a commodity that is required to be bid per state law, you must purchase the item from the contracted vendor UNLESS it is an emergency need and the approved vendor is unable to provide the item in the timeframe required. Documentation that the contract vendor cannot provide the item is required.
If the item is a commodity that is not required to be bid per state law, you may use any vendor.
Once a vendor has been awarded a contract, you must purchase the item from the contracted vendor. Price cannot be used as an "exception" to policy.
How is the determination made about whether a commodity must be bid?
Briefly, whenever the University (as a whole) purchases items or like-items of $15,000 or more in a fiscal year, we are required to competitively bid the items. Read the full policy.
How can I reimburse a UAB employee when they use their personal credit card to pay vendors such as SurveyMonkey.com, ConferenceCall.com, web domain name registration hosts, etc.?
The Access Services template should be used with object code 8607012. Note that only employees can be reimbursed for this expense. This object code is not used for payments to vendors.
Can I buy items from any vendor that I wish?
If the item is a commodity that is required to be bid per state law, you must purchase the item from the contracted vendor unless it is an emergency need and the approved vendor is unable to provide the item in the timeframe required. Documentation that the contract vendor can not provide the item is required.
If the item is a commodity that is not required to be bid per state law, you may use any vendor.
There is a contracted vendor for an item that I wish to purchase, but another vendor has it at a substantially discounted price. Can't I buy it from the cheaper vendor?
Unfortunately, no. Once a vendor has been awarded a contract, you must purchase the item from the contracted vendor. Price can't be used as an "exception" to policy.
If a department receives a quote for an item where a signature is required, who is authorized to sign the document?
Only Board-authorized signatories can sign documents on behalf of UAB regardless of the cost of the items. If a vendor quote requires a signature, the quote should be faxed into Optidoc for review by Procurement Contracts. If it is determined that there are no terms and conditions in addition to the quote, the director of Purchasing is authorized to sign the quote and will do so prior to a purchase order being issued.
If a quote has terms and conditions associated with it, what should I do?
All quotes with terms and conditions should be routed through the University Contracts Office for review. A contract routing form should accompany the documentation and should be submitted to University Contracts (AB 921). See also the Contracting FAQ for additional information related to this topic.
What should I do if I am unable to obtain a receipt or lost my receipt for a purchase on a P-Card?
Contact the P‐Card Office to obtain a Purchasing Card (P-Card) Detailed Receipt Justification Affidavit. Document the purchase and the circumstances that prevented obtaining a receipt or why the receipt was lost.
What kind of supporting documentation do I need for a purchase?
Supporting documentation will include an invoice or receipt sent by the supplier. Packing slips or other documentation is optional but helps to determine the validity of the purchase. A valid invoice/receipt will include the following:
- Vendor Name
- Order Date/Delivery Date
- Items Purchased
- Cost for each item
- Total Transaction amount
If used for a registration fee, the conference agenda/itinerary (including dates, where the conference is being held and a detailed schedule of events) is required.
If used for Ent/Business Meals, a list of attendees is required.
What should I do if I accidentally make a personal charged on my P-Card?
Notify the P‐Card Office of the mistake. Attempt to have the charge credited back to the card. If the vendor will not cooperate, we will have this charged to our unallowable account. You will write a check payable to UAB, fill out a deposit slip to account number 333644.01.01.2018232 and send it to AB 990 for deposit. Keep a copy of the check attached to the invoice.
Can the P-Card be used for travel expenses?
Yes, the P-Card can be used for travel expenses. The university travel guidelines still apply.
Can I use the P-Card to make purchases on the Internet?
Yes. Make sure you use a secure website, and that the commodity being purchased is allowable according to the UAB policies and procedures.
What can I not use a P-Card for?
- In-state per diem expenses
- Professional services
- Cash advances
- Capital items
- Controlled substances, including radioactive materials and pharmaceuticals
- Laboratory animals
- Equipment maintenance or service agreements
- Software without University Purchasing and IT approvals
- Avoid all apps or websites that require storage of the P-Card number
Receipt Requirements FAQs
When paying a company, can a statement report suffice as proper documentation?
No, you must submit an invoice for proper documentation.
What needs to be provided for proper documentation if an individual needs to be reimbursed and they paid in cash?
An original register receipt or an original vendor invoice/ticket indicating that it was paid in cash needs to be provided.
What needs to be provided for proper documentation if an individual needs to be reimbursed and they paid by check?
If payment is by check, a copy of the cancelled check will suffice, along with the original vendor invoice/ticket. Please be sure not to conceal the encoded confirmed payment amount that appears in the lower right-hand corner of the check, as this is an indicator that the check has actually been paid/cancelled.
What needs to be submitted if a copy of the cancelled check is not available?
If a copy of the cancelled check is not available, a copy of either the paper bank statement or online banking records indicating the payer's name and the specified payment circled can be submitted.
Can I conceal my account number on my banking statements if I am not comfortable with having it displayed?
Yes. This information may be blackened out with a marker.
What needs to be provided for proper documentation if an individual needs to be reimbursed and they paid by credit or debit card?
If payment is by credit or debit card, a receipt that indicates the cardholder's/payer's name along with the original vendor invoice/ticket must be provided.
What needs to be submitted if the actual credit or debit card receipt isn't available?
If the receipt isn't available, a copy of the paper or online card account statement may be submitted that indicates the cardholder's name and the specific charge circled.
Can I conceal my account number on my credit or debit card statement if I am not comfortable with having it displayed?
Yes. This information may be blackened out with a marker, but the cardholder's name, vendor's name, and the transaction date and amount must still remain visible.
What is supposed to be submitted as documentation if the cardholder's name doesn't appear on the receipt?
You must submit:
- The receipt that displays at least the last four digits of the account number and
- A copy of a recent account statement that displays the cardholder's name and the last four digits of the credit card account number.