General Guidelines for Budget Officers and Purchasing Policies

Budget officers are responsible to insure that all purchases incurred by their department are made in accordance with the College’s purchasing policies and practices. Therefore, all budget officers and other departmental staff involved in purchasing should be familiar with the guidelines as set forth in this policy. These policies cover all purchases made by Lycoming College (i.e. purchases made from operating budgets, grants, endowed funds, etc.).

Table of Contents

I. General Guidelines

II. Methods of Payment

III. Purchasing Policies

I. General Guidelines

Budget Monitoring

Budget Officers are expected to monitor their respective budget(s). It is the Officer’s responsibility to periodically review their departmental budget reports online via the Budget Officer section of WebAdvisor. Additional questions should be directed to the Assistant Controller.

Should you wish to allow another person access to your departmental accounts via WebAdvisor you should send an email request to the Assistant Controller. Upon receipt, the Assistant Controller will give that person access to the designated account. Please note: Giving your WebAdvisor password to another person will allow that person to see all of your personal information in WebAdvisor- not solely your departmental accounts. For this reason, sharing passwords is strongly discouraged.

Budget officers are required to complete their annual budget requests. The Controller and CFO/Treasurer contacts budget officers each November or December with instructions and necessary forms. Any changes to operating budgets outside of the annual budget review cycle require approval from the corresponding senior officer and the president.

Capital Improvement Requests

The annual budget request cycle includes a process for budget officers to request funding for capital improvements. There are three committees that review and approve capital requests:

  1. Academic Equipment: Requests for equipment and improvements for instruction and academic programs are reviewed and approved for recommendation by the Budgets, Salaries and Benefits Committee.
  2. Computers and Printers: Requests for new or updated computers and printers are reviewed by the Computing Committee.
  3. Administrative Projects: Requests for non-instructional academic or administrative capital projects are reviewed by the president and the senior officers. Requests exceeding $25,000 require approval by the Board of Trustees.

Each of these reviews occur in the spring. Budget officers are notified by the Controller and CFO/Treasurer or Vice President for Administration and Planning in June regarding approval of their requests for the upcoming fiscal year.

II. Methods of Payment

Check Requests

Proper documentation (detailed original receipts) and signature by the appropriate budget officer must accompany all check request forms. To access the form, go to http://mylyco.lycoming.edu/Offices/businessoffice/Shared%20Documents/chkrequest1.pdf. Any check request for reimbursement to a budget officer must be signed by the appropriate administrative cabinet officer. Because there is a 3-5 day turnaround on such requests, please plan accordingly. Checks are routinely processed each Tuesday and Thursday morning. Manual checks are strongly discouraged and must be pre-approved by either the Controller or the Assistant Controller.

Effective 07/16/2012, all employee reimbursements will be processed and paid via direct deposit to the employee’s respective payroll bank account. Direct deposits for employee reimbursements will be processed and paid on Thursday of each week (with the exception of holidays or College closings when payments will be made the next business day.)  Information, including all appropriate documentation and approvals must be received by Friday at 12:00 noon to allow time for processing.

Direct Bill Policy

Whenever a department has a guest for which overnight accommodations must be made, the department should contact the President's Office to inquire about the availability of the Rich Hall Guest Suite. If the Guest Suite is not available, the College has established arrangements with some of the local hotels to direct bill the College (for accommodations only). The Direct Bill form is available on the Web (see links below by hotel). To request a reservation, the department simply needs to complete the form in its entirety and forward to the Accounts Payable Coordinator in the Business Office. The request will be approved, faxed to the hotel and an email will be sent to the requestor, providing a confirmation number. If a reservation would need to be canceled, the requesting department is responsible for contacting the hotel, with the confirmation number, and canceling the reservation. At that time, the hotel will provide the requestor with a cancellation number which should be forwarded to the Accounts Payable Coordinator to include in the Business Office file.

P-Cards (College Purchasing Cards)

The College participates in JPMorgan Chase’s Purchasing Card (PCard) Program. The PCard looks and acts just like a regular credit card; however, it is preferred over a credit card because restrictions as to the types/amounts of transactions may be implemented. This program includes an online reporting tool that allows cardholders and supervisors to access transactions securely over the internet. The PCard replaces the need for blanket purchase orders as well as some other general purchase orders. Most departments have use of a PCard through their respective departmental secretary; if a PCard is not available the Accounts Payable Coordinator can order items for you. Departments are encouraged to use PCards.

PCards are issued primarily to employees who travel frequently on College business as stated in their job description. PCards are also issued to other employees as needed. If a Budget Officer feels there is an ongoing need for a PCard, he/she should contact the Staff Accountant in the Business Office. Upon approval, the Program Administrator will request the card. All cardholders must attend training to receive the PCard and are subject to the policies outlined in the Lycoming College Purchasing Card Guide (distributed upon completion of training). For questions regarding the PCard program, please contact the Staff Accountant at ext. 4030.

Petty Cash Fund

The Business Office maintains a Petty Cash Fund for advances or reimbursement of incidental and small dollar (less than $50) purchases related to the operation of your department. For both advances and reimbursements, receipts must be submitted to the Business Office (within 5 business days of receiving the advance). Written approval by the departmental Budget Officer is required at the time of advance or reimbursement. Petty cash advances are not meant to be a substitution for a check request and the petty cash fund is not meant to be an emergency fund. Only one petty cash advance can be outstanding for an employee at any given time.

Purchase Orders

Purchase orders are required before making purchases of goods and services. Purchase orders encumber funds against departmental budget lines which allows for more accurate and more current budget monitoring. Purchase orders also provide authorization to outside vendors to deliver the goods or services to the ordering department. Finally, use of the purchase orders provides the necessary accounting trail to more efficiently track orders through receipt of goods and services and payment of invoices.

Purchase Orders are recommended for items such as:

  • Equipment approved during the budget process
  • Nonbudgeted/approved equipment purchases
  • Routine repairs to office equipment
  • Office supplies
  • Memberships
  • Subscriptions

Purchase Orders should not be used for items such as:

  • Non-routine repairs to office equipment
  • Travel advances
  • Employee advances
  • Items purchased with a Lycoming College Purchasing Card (PCard).

For training or questions related to purchase orders, please contact the Accounts Payable Coordinator at ext. 4025.

Purchasing Items for Personal Use

Using the College’s purchasing system to purchase materials, supplies, or equipment for personal use is strictly prohibited.

Reimbursement for Employees – Direct Deposit

Employee reimbursements by direct deposit (ACH credits) to the employee’s bank instead of issuing Accounts Payable checks. Employees will automatically begin receiving all reimbursements due to them after July 16, 2012 via direct deposit, to the same bank account into which their net pay is deposited. More information about how to sign-up, timing of payment and verification of payment may be found in the Frequently Asked Questions summary.

III. Purchasing Policies

Computer Hardware (including peripherals) and Software

All computer requests should be made during the annual budget request process. These requests are reviewed and prioritized by the Joint Computer Budget Task Force and final recommended purchases submitted to the President for approval.

Minor software requests are submitted with the annual budget for review by the Joint Computer Budget Task Force. In special circumstances, other purchases may be funded during the year by special approval from the Associate Dean/ Chief Information Officer and these are purchased through the Computer Replacement Budget.

The purchase of low cost printers is not permitted since College policy provides for the purchase of centralized, networked printers under IT Services’ budget only.

Annually, IT Services issues a letter included with the budget package explaining the process for purchasing computers and related equipment. To view a copy of the current year’s letter, go to: http://mylyco.lycoming.edu/Offices/ITS/Procedures/annualITBudgetLetter20122013.pdf.

Computer hardware and software purchases should follow the College’s Policies as stated, whether the purchase is made using operating budget funds, grant money, endowed funds, etc.

Consulting Fees and Contracted Services

All paid consulting arrangements are considered contracts, which must be signed by any of the following College employees: the President, Vice President Planning and Administration, Controller and CFO/Treasurer, or Assistant Controller. Under no circumstance should consulting be paid for by funds available in other line items. The “Consultants” budget line (#55102) should be used when requesting funds for such contractual arrangements during the regular budgeting process.

Contracts/Grant Applications

All contracts and grant applications should be signed by any of the following College employees: the President, Vice President for Administration and Planning, Controller and CFO/Treasurer, or Assistant Controller as decided by the Board of Trustees.

Departmental Memberships

Requests for memberships should be submitted with your annual budget package under the “Memberships” budget line (#51005). The College will pay for reasonable departmental memberships; however, individual memberships (e.g. AAA, Sam’s Club, professional organizations, etc.) will not be purchased with College funds.

Departmental Parties, Gifts of Appreciation & Related Purchases

The cost of staff parties, either on or off campus, and related gifts are not an authorized expenditure from College departmental budgets. (Examples include but are not limited to: holiday parties, retirement parties, administrative assistant’s day celebrations and gifts, parties and gifts for student workers and graduating seniors, welcoming baskets for new employees, etc.)

Equipment (Non-Computer) and Office Furniture Purchases

The guidelines for purchasing non-computer movable equipment are as follows:

Major Equipment - Movable equipment and furniture with a unit cost (including shipping, tax, etc.) of $2,500.00 or more and with a useful life of two or more years is considered major equipment (account XX-XXXXXX-69010) and must be capitalized and depreciated as well as be assigned a fixed asset number.

Minor Equipment - Movable equipment and furniture with a unit cost (including shipping, tax, etc.) of $200.00 to $2,499.99 is considered minor equipment (account XX-XXXXXX-51010) and will be assigned a fixed asset number.

  • Office Furniture - All office furniture purchases should be coordinated through the Business Office to ensure best price, reputable vendors, etc. A number of furniture options and configurations for all academic and administrative departments have been pre-selected and approved. All office furniture must be approved by the Treasurer and be purchased through the Accounts Payable Coordinator. For information concerning the Approved Office Furniture Listing including dimensions, configurations and prices, contact the Accounts Payable Coordinator. Office furniture is not considered a supply and should not be charged to the supplies account.

Requests for movable equipment and office furniture should be included with the submission of your annual budget package. Such requests are then reviewed, prioritized, and approved/disapproved by the President and his administrative cabinet (administrative department equipment and all office furniture requests) and BS&B Committee (academic department equipment requests) during the budget process using dollars allocated for non-computer equipment only and office furniture.

Unanticipated needs for non-computer equipment and office furniture occurring during the year should be submitted to your administrative cabinet officer.

Electronic Devices: Items of $200 or less

FAX machines: New FAX machines are to be requested in the annual budget process along with related phone line installation and monthly usage charges. Approved FAX machines will be expensed in the Telecommunications’ budget (as well as their replacement and repair) while phone line installation and monthly charges will be expensed in the user department’s budget.

Answering machines: Answering machines are not authorized purchases. The College maintains a centralized voice mail system.

Smart Phones and other Handheld devices - The College provides each employee with a computer and related office productivity software. Because smart phones and other handheld devices normally require regular replacement like most electronic equipment, they are typically considered to be an individual’s personal purchase preference and, therefore, are required to be purchased with personal funds. Only in limited situations will purchases be made from College funds for individuals who do extensive traveling or require extensive classroom use. See the Cell Phone Reimbursement Policy for more information.

The College system works with many personal handheld devices (see http://www.lycoming.edu/its/knowledgebase/accessingEmailFromHandheldDevices.aspx). IT Services will give basic support for your phone configuration based on instructions found on our web site. Anything further will require specific support from the respective vendor.

Electronic Devices Purchased and Maintained By The Media Services Department (TVs, VCRs, DVD Players, Projectors, Cameras, Camcorders, etc.)

Every effort should be made to contact Media Services when a need arises. Media Services maintains an inventory of various media equipment. By contacting Media Services, an assessment can be made of your department’s need, suggest other locations on campus where the requested equipment is available for your use or delivery to your area. (For a listing of Media Enhanced Classrooms, see http://www.lycoming.edu/its/mediaTechnology/mediaEquippedClassrooms.aspx. If a purchase is deemed necessary and subsequently approved, Media Services’ budget will fund the purchase.) Regardless of where the funding for the purchase is coming from (i.e. operating budget, grant money, endowed funds, club accounts, etc.), all purchases must comply with the College’s Purchasing Policies.

Data Projectors and other Electronic Equipment - Some computer equipment is paired with electronic units to perform specialized functions that may have not involved a computer in the past. These items and media equipment, such as data projectors, should be submitted in the Major and Minor Moveable budgets. Data projectors are purchased and maintained collectively through Media Services.

TV/VCR - Requests are to be submitted in the annual budget process under Minor Movable Equipment. All equipment must be inventoried by Media Services in order to be maintained and repaired by Media Services.

Cameras, DVD players, camcorders, etc. - A full inventory of media items are maintained by the Media Technology department. A request for such items is available at http://www.lycoming.edu/its/mediaTechnology/avResources.aspx.

IT and Media Services Borrowing Policy - The College has a limited number of laptops, projectors, and other electronic equipment that it uses frequently for daily campus events. Legitimate use for off campus includes College-related business such as academic conferences, presentations, and other events. The borrower or department bears the responsibility for the replacement or repair of damaged or missing items. IT and Media Services are normally unable to provide equipment for extended periods, such as a semester sabbatical or for summer breaks. Priority is given to support faculty and employee technology requests on campus. Software is licensed on campus equipment only. Employees requiring frequent mobile computing for College business and research are encouraged to request laptop computers.

Flowers for Approved Occasions

The College has guidelines in place regarding the purchase of flowers for certain approved occasions (birth, get-well, death, etc.). All requests must be submitted to the President's Office for approval and processing on behalf of the entire College Community. The use of departmental funds for this purpose is prohibited.

Lodging for College Guests

Whenever a department has a guest for which overnight accommodations must be made, the department should contact the President's Office to inquire about the availability of the Rich Hall Guest Suite. If the Guest Suite is not available, the College has established arrangements with some of the local hotels to direct bill the College (for accommodations only). The Direct Bill form is available on the Web (see links below by hotel). To request a reservation, the department simply needs to complete the form in its entirety and forward to the Accounts Payable Coordinator in the Business Office. The request will be approved, faxed to the hotel and an email will be sent to the requestor, providing a confirmation number. If a reservation would need to be canceled, the requesting department is responsible for contacting the hotel, with the confirmation number, and canceling the reservation. At that time, the hotel will provide the requestor with a cancellation number which should be forwarded to the Accounts Payable Coordinator to include in the Business Office file.

Recruiting Costs for Prospective Employees

For expenses involved in recruiting candidates, the use of a personal credit card is discouraged. First, it leaves open the possibility to a finance charge to the cardholder, if reimbursement is not made within 30 days of the charge. Secondly, in the case of air travel, buying a ticket in the name of the candidate exposes the College to risk in the event the candidate does not show. It is, therefore, preferred that the candidate arrange for their own travel which eliminates the possibility of the College absorbing the cost of an airline ticket if the candidate is a no show. The College would, of course, reimburse the candidate upon their arrival and upon submission of their airline ticket invoice/receipt.

Supplies

Supplies (line item XX-XXXXXX-51001) are defined as items with a unit cost of $200 or less regardless of their useful life or items with a useful life of less than one year regardless of the unit cost. Examples of supplies are as follows:

Office Supplies - The Business Office can assist with the acquisition of office supplies via outside vendors. Departmental supply requests can be submitted to the Accounts Payable Coordinator by using a Purchase Requisition Form. To access the form go to http://mylyco.lycoming.edu/Offices/businessOffice/Shared%20Documents/Purchase%20Requisition%20Form.pdf

Simply complete the form, have it signed by the Budget Officer and send it via email to the Account Payable Coordinator at bickel@lycoming.edu or via campus mail to Box #161. The Business Office will place orders once a week, with delivery to the requesting department once a week (delivery days may vary depending on staff availability).

Printer Toner Cartridges - The Business Office can assist with the acquisition of printer toner cartridges via outside vendors. Departmental printer toner requests can be submitted to the Accounts Payable Coordinator by using a Toner Requisition Form. To access the form, go to http://mylyco.lycoming.edu/Offices/businessOffice/Shared%20Documents/Toner%20requistion.pdf. Simply complete the form, have it signed by the Budget Officer and send it via email to the Accounts Payable Coordinator at bickel@lycoming.edu or via campus mail to Box #161. The Business Office will place orders once a week, with delivery to the requesting department once a week (days may vary depending on staff availability). The return of unused toner cartridges is strongly encouraged. Used cartridges should be returned to the Accounts Payable Coordinator for recycling.

Printer/Copier Paper - A complete listing of Printing Services products and services can be found on the College’s website, under Offices, Printing Services, Products and Services. To obtain any of these items, an email (which can also be found on the College’s website, under Offices, Printing Services, Contact Us,) should be completed and submitted to Printing Services. Deadline for requests is Friday afternoon, with orders processed, and then delivered by Buildings and Grounds on Wednesday.

The “Supplies” line (XX-XXXXXX-51001) specifically excludes the following items:

  • Office Furniture - See Office Furniture details in the Minor Equipment section below.

  • Electronic Devices - See the Electronic Devices section below for details.

  • Small Software Purchases - Requests for software purchases must be submitted during the annual budget process (using the “Computer Equipment” budget request form) for review by the Joint Computer Budget Task Force. In special circumstances, other purchases may be funded during the year by special approval from the Associate Dean/Chief Information Officer. All approved software purchases are made with IT Services’ budgeted funds only.

  • Low Cost Printers - The purchase of low cost printers is not permitted since College policy provides for the purchase of centralized, networked printers and computers under IT Services’ budget only. See below for College policy regarding the purchase of computer hardware.

  • Laser Printer Chargebacks - The College has developed a process which provides an automatic monthly chargeback to departments for the cost of all printing done via networked printers. Effective December 1, 2005, printing sent to black & white printers will continue to be charged back to the appropriate department at five (5) cents per page. Printing sent to color printers however will be charged back to the department at fifteen (15) cents per page.

  • Custom Printing - All custom printing must be done by Printing Services. This includes jobs such as letterhead, envelopes, business cards, etc. Any exceptions must be authorized by the President.

Travel

The College’s complete policy regarding travel can be found at http://mylyco.lycoming.edu/Offices/humanresources/Pages/AdministrativeStaffHandbook.aspx

While traveling on College business or student field trips, renting a vehicle is recommended. Should there be an accident, all vehicles which are leased, whether locally or out of the country, are covered by College insurance. Anytime a vehicle is leased, an insurance card should be obtained from the Human Resources Office. Additional insurance from a car rental company is not necessary. The Human Resources Office can recommend the car rental company with the best lease price for cars and vans. The advantage of using the pre-selected companies is that arrangements can be made for delivery and pick up.

If employees are injured during the course of traveling on College business, they are covered under workman's compensation regardless of the location. If an employee becomes ill while traveling, the employee's health insurance would cover the illness.

Students are not covered by the College insurance plans. All students should have their own health coverage when traveling just as they do when they are on campus.

If a student uses his/her own vehicle to transport students on a field trip, his/her insurance is the primary coverage. It is important for the faculty member in charge to verify the student's driver's license and auto insurance card to make sure they are valid and current.

For field trips, student trip release forms must be requested from the Human Resources Office. For more information concerning field trips, go to http://mylyco.lycoming.edu/Offices/humanresources/Documents/Admin%20Handbook%202011/Field%20Trips.pdf

The College has developed a required van training course for anyone, including students, responsible for driving a 15 passenger van. The Director of Safety & Security should be contacted about the need for any training. For further information about vans and requirements, go to http://www.lycoming.edu/safetyAndsecurity/vanPolicy.aspx.

Although employees are strongly encouraged to use rental vehicles while on college related business, the following rate should be used to request reimbursement for the use of a personal vehicle when a rental vehicle is not practical. The College’s current rate for the business use of personal vehicles is $.48 per mile.

Travel Advances

Policy for Advanced Purchase of Travel Expenses Related to College Travel

Lycoming College’s purchasing policy requires that employees use a College Purchasing Card (P-card) to make advance purchases for travel associated with College business (airline tickets, hotel reservations, conference registration, etc.).  If the employee does not have access to a College P-Card, they should contact their departmental secretary or the Accounts Payable Coordinator in the Business Office for assistance.  In many cases this kind of advance purchase will allow the employee and the College to obtain the lowest purchase price.

Employees who elect to use their personal credit cards for this kind of advance purchase for travel associated with College business will not be reimbursed for these charges until after the trip has occurred and upon submission of a Travel Reimbursement Form with supporting receipts. 

The only exception to this policy is when the supervising senior officer approves advance reimbursement.  Written approval is required prior to purchase with a personal credit card.  This written approval must be submitted along with the supporting receipts in order to obtain advanced reimbursement.  

Unexpected Items

Any unexpected budgetary needs occurring during the fiscal year should be directed to the senior officer who supervises your division.