VIII. Purchase Contracts
A.   Purchase Orders
  A properly executed requisition, with appropriate signature approval, provides authority for the Purchasing Department to proceed with the procurement process.  Purchasing Department personnel will review the requisition, solicit bids (if necessary), select the vendor (in cooperation with the requesting department) and prepare a purchase order.
   
B. Procurement Cards
 

Sinclair’s Procurement Cards (also known as P-Cards) are issued, to individuals through the College, by an area bank in the name of the College and the employee.  Using a P-Card is the preferred method to purchase low-value, non-capital expense items.  Many items previously acquired by using Petty Cash, Purchase Orders or Check Requests should be targeted for the P-Card.

The P-Card Program is not designed to replace the current purchasing process.  Instead, the P-Card is simply another purchasing tool–-designed to provide the requester with an easier and faster method to purchase goods.  It can be used to make purchases in person; by phone, fax, or mail, and over the Internet.

From an accounting and purchasing viewpoint, the P-Card has good control, reporting and data interface features, which allow reduction in overhead costs.  In addition, suppliers benefit as they are paid in two to three days and do not have to prepare, send and track invoices, or wait 30 to 45 days for payment.

The Cardholder should purchase from College contract vendors, identifiable by contacting the Purchasing Department, whenever possible to take advantage of pricing and terms negotiated on a College-wide contract basis.

Please note that all purchases are subject to the rules and procedures contained in this Manual.

1.  Guidelines for Card Use

Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Deans and Directors should establish restrictions on card use for individuals within their departments.  Such restrictions must be monitored by the appropriate Budget Manager.

Purchases may be made at merchants and suppliers who accept Sinclair’s card type. Examples of the types of purchases the P-Card may be used for include:

  • Office and lab supplies
  • Equipment maintenance and repair
  • Books and videotapes
  • Purchases for which petty cash was formerly used
  • Dues/Memberships/Subscriptions
  • Approved Dues/Memberships/Subscriptions (renewals only)
  • Auto rentals through the fleet rental program
  • Certain registration fees and deposits
    • Registration for workshops/webinars/seminars, which are held online only, may be transacted on the P-Card.
    • Registration for workshops/seminars with a facilitator, either ON or OFF CAMPUS, is considered a travel expense and must be processed through the Accounting department.

Do NOT use your P-Card for these transactions:

  • Capital equipment
  • Telephone equipment
  • Off-campus printing
  • Off-campus postage
  • Dining at restaurants (unless the cardholder has travel expense authority)
  • Food items (unless classroom related)
  • Payment of invoices not originally ordered with the card
  • Any travel-related expenses, including registrations and hotel reservations, but excluding auto rentals (unless the cardholder has travel expense authority)
  • Luxury items
  • Consulting services
  • Appliances
  • Items for resale
  • Gifts or items of sentiment (gifts, parties, picnics, flowers, decorations, greeting cards, etc.) or anything that could be construed as 'personal'
    • This includes any type of Gift Card (eg American Express, Target, WalMart, etc).  The purchase of Gift Cards is strictly against SCC Purchasing Policies and Procedures and is considered an Unauthorized purchase
  • Cash advances
  • Donations
  • Employee relocation expenses
  • Fuel for a privately-owned vehicle
  • Purchases that involve signing of an agreement, license or contract
  • Purchases delivered to a non-College address
  • Purchases which represent a conflict of interest (e.g., purchases from a business in which you or a relative have a financial interest)
  • Any personal purchases

Please note that Services is not an allowable expense on the P-Card.

It is not the intent of the Purchasing department to prevent the efficient operations of any department within the college.  However, we are in an area that is highly scrutinized. The most recent Board approved policies are dated July 2008, so very little has changed in recent years.

  • Services, which include rentals, repairs, & labor, are not allowable expenses per board approved policy effective July 2008. This is because they are 1099 reportable expenses that must be tracked by accounting. Placing these types of transactions on the p-card, bypasses accounting's visibility to track this activity. Additionally this type of transaction typically involves the signing of an agreement or contract, which is also not an allowable expense for p-cards.

Transactions that require special permission and must have written approval prior to the purchase include: 

  • Software/Computer Peripherals (except routine upgrades and supply items) – (contact the Manager of Information Processing & Technical Services in IT)
  • Audio-visual equipment – (contact the Manager of Information Processing & Technical Services in IT)
  • Furniture - (contact the Manager of Planning and Construction)
  • Hazardous chemicals/controlled drugs - (contact Pcard Administrator)
  • Radioactive materials - (contact Pcard Administrator)
  • Professional services - (contact Pcard Administrator)
  • Live animals - (contact Pcard Administrator)
  • Recreational establishments such as a movie theatres, bowling alleys - (contact Pcard Administrator) 

As previously noted, personal purchases may not be made with the P-Card, even if the requester's intent is to reimburse the College.

Should any personal charges be unintentionally charged on the P-Card, the user must immediately prepare a personal check made payable to Sinclair Community College. This check must be made for the amount of the personal charges and note the same account number that was used for the P-Card transaction. The check should be hand-carried to the Purchasing office which will make the deposit with the Bursar and will copy all documentation to attach to the Cardholder’s corresponding Transaction Review report.

THE P-CARD IS NOT TO BE USED IN THE CAMPUS BOOKSTORE. The Tartan Card is to be used for all purchases in Sinclair’s Bookstore.

THE P-CARD IS NOT TO BE USED FOR PURCHASES WITH ARAMARK.  A "Food Services Request" form, located under "College Forms" must be processed.

2.  Consequences for Failure to Comply with Program Guidelines

Cardholders who violate Purchasing Policies and Procedures as outlined in this Manual may be subject to:

  • Permanent revocation of card,
  • Deduction from wages, and/or
  • Disciplinary measures that may include termination, legal action and criminal prosecution.

A written notification will be sent to the cardholder and the signature authority on the account if P-Card privileges are to be restricted, suspended or revoked.  Notification will also be sent to the Cardholder’s supervisor if other than the signature authority. 

Some violations include:

  • Unauthorized expenditures
  • Repeated failure to turn in reports on time
  • Receipt documentation failure
  • Intentional use of the card for personal purchases (which will result in card cancellation and the employee being liable for the personal purchases)

3.  Control Mechanisms with the P-Card

A P-Card is a special type of credit card.  The Program Administrator has the ability to control its use in the following ways:

  • Number of times a cardholder can use the card per month. 
    (This control is not currently being utilized)
  • Maximum dollar amount of a single transaction.
    (This amount will generally be $500.00)
  • Maximum dollar amount that may be charged per month.
    (This amount will generally be $2,000.00)
  • Type of business where the card is used, as defined by the Merchant Category Code.

Credit card companies classify all merchants by a Merchant Category Code (MCC).  The College has chosen to block certain MCC codes for purchases on the P-Card. 

If you attempt to make a purchase with one of these merchants, your transaction will be declined.  Should a legitimate purchase be rejected, however, contact the Program Administrator to get the problem resolved.

4. General Instruction for use of P-cards

a.  Each card will be issued in the employee’s name.  Typically, only designated full-time employees of Sinclair Community College will be issued cards.  Part-time employee requests will be evaluated individually.

b. Each cardholder is required to sign an Agreement to Accept Procurement Card form prior to receiving a card.  This agreement will be kept in the Procurement Card file in the Purchasing Department.

c.  Sinclair is sales tax exempt in Ohio.  It is the Cardholder’s responsibility to ensure that sales tax is not charged.  The College’s tax identification number is printed on the front of the card.  The only valid sales tax would be an in-person transaction outside the state of Ohio.

Inform each vendor of our tax-exempt status.  The Purchasing department can provide a tax-exempt letter upon request from the vendor.

If sales tax is inadvertently charged to your card, you are required to dispute the charge.  Contact the merchant to have the tax removed.  If the merchant is uncooperative, call the 24-hour customer service number on the back of your card.  Tax credits should appear on your next Transaction Review report.

d.  When making a transaction, you MUST obtain an itemized sales receipt.

For telephone orders, please request that a sales receipt be faxed directly to you or mailed with the package to your attention per the instructions below.

If ordering on-line, please print the order summary to capture the information about what you are buying and how much it costs.  Receipts are required to be retained in your office, matched with monthly Transaction Review reports and forwarded to Purchasing for auditing purposes. Cardholders are cautioned to only use known, reputable suppliers when placing orders on the Internet.

The Cardholder must obtain receipts or other acceptable documentation.

Cardholders are required to submit original receipts with each Transaction Review report.  Receipts are necessary to substantiate your transactions.  Acceptable receipt documentation includes a credit card slip, sales receipt, packing slip or cash register tape as long as it contains all of the information below:

  • Name and location of vendor
  • Itemized list/description of goods purchased and quantities
  • Purchase amounts
  • Date of transaction

Remember that receipts obtained from P-Card purchases are the only original documents that the College possesses to substantiate these financial transactions. Therefore, they are subject to the same record retention policy that is required for all College payments. 

The State of Ohio requires that state institutions enforce statutory regulations regarding records retention, and as such, these records will be retained up to a minimum of four fiscal years plus the current year for most transactions.

For orders which will be shipped to the College, Cardholders should direct the merchant to include the following on the shipping label and/or packing slip:

  • Cardholder name
  • The words CREDIT CARD
  • The complete delivery address, including department and room number. 

For example, an order placed by John Doe should be addressed to:

Sinclair Community College
ATTN:  John Doe CREDIT CARDPE Dept. – Room 8023
444 West Third Street
Dayton, OH  45402

e.  In the unusual circumstance that a receipt is lost or not available, a Missing Receipt Affidavit form (found on the Purchasing website) must be completed and attached to the monthly Transaction Review report.  Any substantiating documents available should also be attached to the Transaction Review report as appropriate. 

This option should be used infrequently and must include an explanation and signature plus the signature of the individual having budgetary approval of the account.    Excessive use of this form could result in sanctions and loss of card privileges.

f.  An e-mail will be sent to each cardholder by the Program Administrator at the end of each billing cycle.  Each Cardholder must reconcile the Transaction Review report and attach all original corresponding receipts. Copies of monthly reports should be retained in the Cardholder’s files.

The Budget Manager (or Supervisor) should review, approve and forward the report to Purchasing by the report due date mentioned in the monthly e-mail. The Budget Manager or Supervisor’s review of the Cardholder’s monthly transactions is necessary to ensure cards are properly used in accordance with the College’s established purchasing policies.

The Budget Manager or Supervisor is ultimately responsible for verifying that all charges against the Cardholder’s account are appropriate and permissible according to the College’s policies and procedures, are backed up by supporting documentation, and are forwarded with documentation to Purchasing.

The Cardholder and Budget Manager must sign off on each original P-Card report prior to submitting the report to Purchasing.  If the Cardholder is the Budget Manager, the appropriate Supervisor must sign off on the report.  No signature stamps will be accepted.  Purchasing will review all purchases for appropriateness and forward to Accounts Payable for filing with the bank invoice.

g.  Each card is assigned an appropriate Sinclair General Ledger account number.  If a charge made on a card needs to be allocated to a different account, it must be changed on-line by the Cardholder prior to the 2nd due date identified in the aforementioned e-mail. (NOTE: Changes made to the account number will not be activated unless the SAVE button is selected. Please consult documentation received during P-Card training).

    h. If changes to the information on the P-Card account are necessary i.e. changes to spending limit, account number, etc., the Supervisor of the Cardholder should contact the P-Card Administrator in writing or fill out a new Procurement Card Account Application Form, obtain the appropriate signatures, and file the form with the P-Card Administrator. 

5. Audits

To ensure the continued success of the P-Card Program and meet Sinclair’s audit requirements,a stringent periodic review of each Cardholder’s transaction file and monthly summaries will be conducted by the Purchasing Department.  An outside auditing firm will also conduct a yearly audit of the P-Card program.

6. Credit Card Security

The card should always be treated with the highest level of care.

a. The Cardholder should:

  • Sign the card as soon as it arrive
  • Keep the card in a secure location.Guard the card number carefully; it should be accessible only to the Cardholder.
  • Save receipts and statements in a secure area. (Receipts may contain the card number.)
  • Keep an eye on the card during the transaction and retrieve it as soon as possible.
  • Always know where the card is located.  If misplaced or lost, assume the worst and cancel the card.  Request a new card.
  • Be aware of what is being signed.  A signature can copy through to other slips deliberately placed underneath.
  • Audit all monthly purchases closely.  Make sure all charges shown are legitimate charges.
  • Visit reputable, familiar merchants.
  • Report possible fraud immediately.  Call the P-Card Administrator at x3020.
  • Guard all account numbers with care

b. The Cardholder should not:

  • Discard credit card slips in public areas or discard them without shredding.  Thieves can acquire the card number from receipts, slips and statements
  • Lend the card to ANYONE.
  • Give a card number to anyone over the phone unless the recipient is known to be a reputable vendor.

c. Sharing the Card (or use by someone other than the Cardholder)

The only person entitled to use the card is the person whose name appears on the face of the card. The card should never be lent to anyone. The P-Card is not transferable and may not be shared. NOTE:  There can be multiple cards within a department.  Each card is assigned to an individual employee.  These are not department cards.

The Cardholder is wholly responsible for the use of the card according to the terms and conditions of the agreement that the Cardholder has previously signed with the Purchasing Department.  If the Cardholder permits someone to use the card or the card number, Purchasing will treat the transaction as if the Cardholder has authorized the transaction and the Cardholder will be responsible for any improper fees assessed and for any transactions initiated by such persons.

Each Cardholder is also responsible for turning over all original receipts from all transactions to the Purchasing Department along with the Cardholder’s monthly Transaction Review report.

When an employee is absent from the office for an extended period of time, the Supervisor may request that the absent employee’s card be inactivated and a new card be issued to the person assuming the responsibilities of the absent employee.

Additionally, employees have a responsibility to report instances in which the College’s policies and procedures are not being followed.  If an employee becomes aware of such an instance, the Budget Manager or Supervisor and the P-Card Administrator should be notified immediately.

d.  Lost or Stolen Cards

As with personal credit cards, a lost or stolen P-card must immediately be reported to the bank by the Cardholder.

Contacting the bank is very important, unlike a personal credit card, there is no $50.00 maximum liability for improper use of the stolen card.  Sinclair is liable up to the card’s limit – usually $2,000.00 per month. 

When a card is lost or stolen, the Program Administrator must be notified immediately at ext. 3020.  The card will automatically be suspended and a new card will be sent to the P-Card Administrator within one work week.

e.  Fraudulent Use of the Card

If fraudulent use of a P-Card is suspected, the incident should be treated as though it has been stolen and the directions in 6d above apply

7.  What if the Cardholder Leaves the College or cannot Process the Report?

When the Cardholder leaves Sinclair, the user’s card must be turned in to the P-Card Administrator along with all receipts of transactions purchased to date. The P-Card Administrator will cancel the card by notifying the bank.

If an employee has to be out of the office temporarily, regardless of the reason (e.g., vacation, business travel, conference, illness, etc.), all P-Card report deadlines still apply. This is also true for employees who have been given the responsibility to process someone else’s report (e.g., for an employee who has resigned or retired but still has outstanding transactions on the card).

In addition, nine-month employees must make arrangements for turning in all reports on-time during the summer – regardless of whether the Cardholders are on campus or not. Failure to turn in a report can result in suspension of the card.

8.  What if errors appear on the statement or are otherwise discovered?

Accounts Payable will pay all charges on all cards on a monthly basis, issuing one check to the bank.

a. Disputed Items

In the case of an exception or disputed charge, the Cardholder must try to resolve the issue. If the Cardholder has a problem with a purchased item or billing resulting from the use of the P-Card, the Cardholder should:

  • First try to resolve the matter with the supplier or merchant. If the merchant agrees that an error has been made, the merchant will make an adjustment (credit) to the account. The merchant should be requested to fax a copy of the credit to the Cardholder’s attention. This will help ensure that the credit is processed. The adjustment should appear on the next Transaction Review report.

In most cases, disputes can be resolved directly between the Cardholder and the supplier within 7-10 days. The Cardholder is responsible for verifying that the credit appears on a subsequent statement.

  • If the merchant does not agree to make an adjustment, the Cardholder should dispute the transaction by completing the Purchasing form entitled Procurement Card Statement of Questioned Item (found on the Intranet) and forward it to the bank.

This form must be received by the bank within 60 days of the date the charge first appeared on the monthly statement. A letter may accompany this form, if appropriate. A copy of the form (and letter, if applicable) must be attached to the monthly Transaction Review report and sent to the P-Card Administrator in Purchasing. A copy must be retained for the Cardholder’s records.

b. Returns/Credits

The Cardholder is responsible for contacting the merchant when merchandise purchased with the P-Card is not acceptable (e.g., incorrect, damaged, defective, etc.) and for arranging a return for credit or an exchange.

The Cardholder should request that the merchant/supplier issue a credit to the P-Card account. The credit should appear on a subsequent statement. A copy of the credit receipt should be requested and attach to the monthly Transaction Review report. The Cardholder is responsible for obtaining a credit receipt from the merchant. Receiving cash or a check to resolve a credit is prohibited.

 
     
C. Purchases Requiring Prepayment  
 

There may be rare situations when it is necessary to make payments in advance of receiving goods or services although this practice is not generally appropriate. Examples may include membership fees, registration fees, professional fees, subscriptions and personal services such as speaker honorariums, etc.

The Purchasing Department must review and approve all transactions requesting advance payment and will be the final authority in this determination. The Requisition to the Purchasing Department form is to be completed and prominently marked Check Request. Correspondence from the organization indicating that no material or service will be provided without prepayment should be attached.

Any requisition requesting prepayment must have attached to it evidence of the cost of the item (e.g., a price sheet or Proforma Invoice).

   
D. Blanket Purchase Orders
 

Blanket Purchase Orders typically cover a specified time period with an established dollar limitation. Capital equipment may not be purchased on blanket orders.

A request for a blanket order should identified by the initiating department through the requisitioning process. Persons authorized to purchase from the order and the dollar limit must be identified.

Generally, Blanket Orders may not be issued for any period beyond the current fiscal year and may not be for more than $25,000. Often, Blanket Orders for construction projects may extend past the fiscal year and exceed $25,000.

   
E.  Check Requests
 

The vast majority of purchasing activity for the College should be done via Purchase Orders or P-card transactions. In the rare event that a purchasing transaction does not justify a formal Purchase Order or cannot be processed by credit card, a Check Request may be processed.

The transaction would typically involve the following to qualify for a check request:

  • Non-contractual personal service payment, (e.g., game officials, speakers, honoraria, certain stipends).
  • Memberships/dues.
  • Subscriptions.
  • Contest/award winners.
  • Purchases which cannot be charged on a P-Card.
  • Routine payment of contractual obligations not subject to Purchasing Review, (such as reimbursements required by terms of a grant where Sinclair acts as the paying agent).
  • Payment of emergency purchases as defined in Section H.
  • Reimbursements of small dollar expenditures subject to all restrictions herein.

To initiate a check request:

1.  Complete the form Requisition to the Purchasing Department.

2.  In bold letters across the description section, write Check Request.

3.  Forward the form along with appropriate back-up information (invoice, application, etc.) through the usual approval process.

All such requests must include the complete detail of goods and services received. Credit card slips or cash register receipts lacking specific, itemized detail will result in the request being rejected.

Since a check request does not result in a purchase order being printed, there will not be a copy returned to the department. Special care must be taken by the person initiating the request not to duplicate the request. It is common for the businesses involved in some of the above transactions to send a stream of requests or notices to their customers. 

   
F. Unscrupulous Business
  There are unscrupulous businesses which prey upon inexperienced purchasers. Purchasers should order only from known, legitimate businesses in order to avoid unscrupulous businesses. Contact with the Purchasing Department is recommended when in doubt.
   
G. Modification or Cancellation of Orders
 

Once a purchase order is received and accepted by a vendor, it becomes a binding contract between the vendor and the College. The only persons who may institute cancellation or changes to the order are Purchasing Department personnel.

Requests for a change on an order by the requisitioning department can be initiated verbally but must be immediately confirmed in writing. All contact with the vendor on these matters will be made by the Purchasing Department.

Vendor requests for price changes on a purchase order may be approved/rejected by the Purchasing Department if the net change does not exceed $500.

Changes of more than $500 require the initiating department to submit a requisition amending the original order. Normal signature approvals are required. The Purchasing Department will then issue a purchase order addendum to the original order. 

   
H. Emergency Purchases
 

Emergency situations arise which may not allow time for normal purchasing procedures to be completed. These situations may include the following:

  • Injury or life threatening situations.
  • Damage threatening situations to College buildings or equipment.
  • Breakdowns, breakages, or malfunctions of equipment necessary for normal operation of campus.

If, for any of the above reasons, an immediate commitment of funds is required or if the emergency must be handled during non-business hours, the requesting department must deliver the necessary documentation to the Purchasing Department during the next regular business day.

   
I. Unauthorized Purchases
 

The expenditure of College funds for certain items is prohibited and requests for these items will be rejected by the Purchasing Department.  These items include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Items which may be construed as personal (gifts, donations, parties, picnics, flowers, decorations, greeting cards, etc.). Expenditures related to sympathy, congratulations, illness and appreciation may be authorized by the President’s and/or Human Resources’ Offices.  Expenditures for employee incentive initiatives (e.g., gift certificates) are not authorized under this policy.
  • Sponsorship type payments to outside organizations (e.g., banquet table at non-profit annual event) requires advanced approval by the President.
  • Appliances, large or small, other than when used in a classroom/laboratory setting which are appropriate for the subject matter being taught.
  • Luxury type items or expensive models of acceptable lower cost items.
  • Items purchased with College funds to be re-sold to individuals.
  • Alcoholic beverages, other than for instructional use in an educational environment.
  • Food and beverages, other than for instructional use in an educational environment, or hospitality to official visitors and approved official functions of Sinclair as approved by the President or the appropriate divisional Senior Vice President or Vice President.
  • External departmental luncheons or events, unless approved by the division’s Senior Vice President or Vice President in advance.
  • Individual certification or accreditation, such as certified public accountant, etc. and any testing fees associated.  (Exceptions occur only when such certifications or accreditations are required of an individual to provide an official function to the College, e.g., Notary Public).
   
J. Memberships/Subscriptions
 

Most institutional memberships and subscriptions are an appropriate use of College funds if there is a direct benefit to the College and respective department.  Rarely, would a personal membership or subscription qualify as an allowable expense. 

In the event that the personal membership or subscription met a public purpose (e.g., notary, CPA, etc.), approval may be warranted through the President or a Senior Vice President.

Payments for memberships in social organizations (e.g., golf clubs, fitness clubs) are strictly prohibited.

   
K. Problem Orders
 

Responsibility for the purchasing process does not end until the goods are received in satisfactory condition and all conditions of the contract have been completed.  It is imperative, therefore, that the Purchasing Department be contacted when any vendor follow-up is required.  Reasons for follow-up may include the following:

  • Reviewing status of orders for delivery
  • Incomplete or incorrect shipments
  • Damaged goods
  • Price changes (including freight/handling charges)

The Purchasing Department is responsible for all vendor contact once a purchase order has been issued.

   
L. Complaints
  The Purchasing Department handles all complaints or questions addressed to vendors and involving purchase order transactions.  College employees should communicate with the Purchasing Department at the earliest possible time when problems or questions arise.