Purchasing goods and services at the University is driven by state law and, if federally funded, by federal requirements. Depending upon the funding source the process for procurement may be subject to certain restrictions, conditions or procedures. Please contact ORSP Post-award before making any major purchases or retaining vendor services. We can also advise on sole source/sole brand requests.
Purchase Orders are required for the following purchases:
Ordering without a Purchase Order:
Some purchases may be made without the establishment of a purchase order. Typically these expenses:
Purchasing authority without the requirement of a formal purchase order can be delegated to authorized personnel via the following:
The P-Card is an authorized credit card issued by the campus (University or Research Foundation) to designated employees for the purchase of low-dollar value goods in person, by telephone, facsimile, Internet or mail order in accordance with the Procurement Card Manual guidelines.
Direct expense payments are made to a vendor for goods (services always require a PO for liability insurance reasons) purchased by the campus without prior purchase order. Reimbursements may be processed through direct expense payment, subject to the direct payment policy, when there is no added value to obtaining a purchase order.
Periodically, an emergency/critical purchase is necessary for a project at an inopportune time. In order to facilitate the purchase and to avoid having to make a personal expense for which reimbursement will be sought, a PI may phone in an order directly to the vendor. The PI will assign his/her own “PO number” (Use the fund number and last name of the person placing the order e.g. G1234-001 Jameson) to facilitate payment when the invoice arrives for payment.
It is important to note that appropriate use tax will be charged by the accounts payable department on any payment or reimbursement where the vendor did not collect such tax. This will be particularly apparent on Internet purchases. It is state law that the proper sales/use taxes are collected and remitted to the state.
In an effort to improve the efficiency of executing low dollar purchases and other routine activities and transactions on grants and contracts, operational principles have been developed based upon existing policies under the PeopleSoft grants management system related to signature routing and authorization of expenditures, reimbursements, issuance and use of P-cards, travel claims, hospitality expenses and payroll.
The changes confer privileges to fund holders that enable them to authorize certain activities on their grants and contracts. These changes are intended to improve the efficiency of operations without risking the integrity of the internal control necessary for accountability. Please note that the procedures outlined in this document pertain only to G-, RS-, C- funds.
Faculty PI account holders of G-, RS-, and C- funds have been assigned level 5 signature authority on their funds.
PI’s already assigned to the following levels will maintain that level:
Changes in organizational standing may result in a change in increased or diminished signature authority. To assign, change or cancel signature authority, a Signature Authority form must be completed and submitted to the Controller’s Office, including the signature of the applicant. Level definitions and other pertinent information related to the guidelines on signature authority and delegation of signature authority can be found on the CSULB website at:
Every transaction requires a requestor and an approver. Level 5 signature authority will allow PI’s to authorize the following transactions provided that they are allowable, reasonable, justified and appropriate for the identified funding source to be charged. Henceforth, PI’s and fund holders should route their authorized transactions directly to ORSP. ORSP will monitor and review PI-authorized transactions for allowability prior to processing payments of < $5,000. Authorization by the Department or College is not required.
PI’s and fund holders with signature authority are responsible for assuring the following:
ORSP staff members are charged with conducting the compliance review of all transactions on sponsored program funds (G-funds) prior to posting the expense/commitment. It is the responsibility of the Grants and Contracts Administrator (GCA) to verify and confirm the allowability, allocability and reasonableness of all financial transactions in accordance with sponsored program guidelines and prudent stewardship practices. The GCA will affix his/her signature to the transaction document signifying that the transaction may be processed. The GCA will:
If the sponsored program has restrictions which are stricter than Research Foundation/University accounting policies, the GCA will note the transaction documents of such restrictions (e.g., State of CA allowable mileage reimbursement rate is normally LESS than the IRS allowed rate. The GCA will note the transaction document that allowable mileage reimbursement is less than the Foundation’s current rate).
If the transaction is unallowable, the GCA will contact the PI/authorized administrator for an alternate chart field string.
The GCA will not:
ORSP and University Research Foundation accounting personnel will provide oversight of all transactions and will conduct transaction review to ensure compliance with granting agency, CSU and CSULB policies to provide a basis for completion of the transaction or for adjusting or discontinuing delegation of authority to individuals. It is the responsibility of the PI to cover the cost of all transactions and provide an alternate funding source for transactions that are denied by the funding agency.
G- Funds. Allowability on grants and contracts (G- funds) will be determined by the policies of the specific funding agency or the grant in question. If federal funds are to be charged, directly or indirectly, then the requirements of OMB Circular-A-21 for Cost Principles for Educational Institutions must be met.
C- Funds. Accrued through fee for service, occasionally from gifts and donations. Can be used for the operations of sanctioned Centers and Institutes. Typically not as restrictive as either G- or RS- funds.
RS-Funds. As per policy, research stimulation funds (RS- funds) can only be used to support the University’s research mission. All RS- transactions authorized by PI’s and account holders will be approved by ORSP staff according to these principles before processing for charge or payment.
Sanctions: Employees who make unauthorized or prohibited purchases or procure goods or services outside of their delegated authority assume the risk of personal liability for the payment of goods or services including transaction fees. Failure to adhere and comply with the conditions of the delegated authority may result in revocation of delegation and cancellation of their P-card. Items that require additional processing for purchase or are prohibited from being purchased are listed in Appendices A and B respectively under the Delegation of Purchasing Authority Guideline.
Please note that additional restrictions and sanctions on purchases may be imposed by the granting agency. It is the responsibility of the PI to understand these restrictions, stay within budget allocations and comply with funding agencies' policies. PI’s should contact their grants and contracts administrator in ORSP to clarify allowability before making any purchases to be paid from an award.
Due to liability concerns, the purchase of alcohol will no longer be permitted on G- C- or RS- funds without the expressed authorization of the Provost, Vice President or higher on the Hospitality Expenses Form. Exceptions will only be permitted for official, University sanctioned, research-related, events.
PI’s are classified as requestors for the following activities and transactions that are commonly associated with the conduct of research on and off campus. As such, these transactions require approval and cannot be authorized by a Level 5 PI or grant holder. These activities require approval by authorized individuals within ORSP, the College or appropriate Academic Unit.
The following requests must be authorized by appropriate individuals in the respective College or Academic Unit: ORSP approval is not necessary.
State Employee (Faculty/Staff) Payroll:
Facilities and Property:
The following requests must be authorized by the appropriate level individuals with the ORSP. College approval is not necessary.
Cards and Petty Cash:
Hospitality and Gifts:
# Claims above the authorized amount will be routed to the College/Academic unit for review and signature approval before processing for payment by ORSP.
|G, RS and C Funds (LBFDN Business Unit)||Requires Level 5 Approval Only1||Requires College Approval (Level 4 or Above)||Requires ORSP Approval (Level 4 or Above)||Requires ORSP Allowability|
|Employment Status Forms||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Student Employment Status Forms||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Student Time Card||Yes||No||No||No|
|Independent Contractor Agreements||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Independent Contractor Invoices||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Foundation Employee Time Cards||Yes||No||No||No|
|State Side Staff Employee Time Cards||No||Yes||No||No|
|Job Request Form||No||No||No||Yes|
|Faculty Additional Employment Authorization||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Faculty Additional Employment Reporting||No||Yes||No||No|
|Staff, Faculty & Student Mileage||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|In/Out State Travel Authorization||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|In/Out State Travel Expense||Yes*||Yes**||No||Yes|
|Purchases, Procurement and Miscellaneous Forms|
|State Side Work Orders|
|Fdn Property Survey (Asset Retirement/Disposal/Transfer)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Petty cash Set-up||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Petty cash reimbursements||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Hospitality Expense Forms||No||No||Yes||Yes|
(paid via financial aid office only)
|P Card (authorization)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|P Card (reconciliation)||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Participant or Subject Incentives||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Procurements/Payments*** < $5,000||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Procurements/Payments*** ≥ $5,000||No||No||Yes||Yes|
* if within authorized amount (+10% variance allowed)
** If claim exceeds authorized amount >10%)
***includes purchase orders, P card purchases, direct payments, online requisitions, reimbursements)
1 In accordance with the internal controls for the delegation of authority, delegates may not approve transactions for themselves or their relatives. They may not approve transactions that directly benefit themselves or their relatives or, in any way, create a conflict of interest with the Delegate's responsibilities to the University. Such transactions must be countersigned by an individual with higher signature authority.
Circumstances may arise on both federal and non-federal awards in which the PI wants to begin incurring costs to initiate project activities prior to the sponsor issuing the award. In such cases, the PI may request the creation of a G-fund via a Prior Authorization to Spend form .
The risks, liabilities, and restrictions associated with the creation of a pre-award spending account must be carefully considered prior to requesting authorization to spend funds in advance of receiving the award. Approval of the Prior Authorization to Spend to create a pre-award spending account is contingent upon the following requirements:
If a PI would like to request the creation of a pre-award spending account, the PI should submit to ORSP (firstname.lastname@example.org) a completed and signed Prior Authorization to Spend request form that includes the requested pre-award start date (no more than 90 days prior to the anticipated award start date), a justification for the request, and documentation of the satisfaction of the four requirements listed above.
PI’s have the authority to make certain purchases on their G-, RS-, and C-funds using P-cards, verbal PO’s, direct payments or reimbursements and on-line requisitions. However, appropriate financial approvals AND allowability (compliance review) by ORSP must be provided before any request can be processed by Purchasing. Evidence of allowability from ORSP must be indicated on the requisition upon submission to Purchasing. Any requests not including appropriate approvals and allowability review will be returned to the requester for appropriate follow-up action. General campus guidelines for the purchasing process.
A purchase order starts with the purchase requisition .
Three (3) quotes are required for purchases of $5,000 or more. The $5,000 threshold includes taxes and shipping. If 3 quotes are not obtained, purchasing will obtain the competitive quotes but the generation of the PO may be delayed.
Federal grantees are to make positive efforts to utilize small businesses, minority-owned firms, women’s business enterprises and Disabled Veteran’s Business Enterprises (DVBE). Whenever practicable, efforts should be made to use these types of firms. The Purchasing Office can assist with identifying these vendors.
Vendors who are not currently within PeopleSoft/CFS require a vendor 204 form which should be attached by the requestor to the requisition.
Sole source/brand documentation is required to be submitted by the end user and signed by the fiscal approving authority for purchases over $10,000 for commodity and $50,000 for services that cannot be competitively quoted.
Regardless of the dollar amount, any request for services must be by purchase order. Insurance is required for any on-site services. Purchasing will request insurance coverage from the vendor prior to issuing the Purchase Order. In an emergency situation where immediate serview are required, please contact your GCA.
Account codes may be changed by ORSP and/or Purchasing if the requisition is not appropriately coded upon submission.
Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) compliance requires that all computer and technology purchases be reviewed for the impact it has on the campus prior to purchase. Those with greater impact will have more requirements. If a technology purchase is being considered, partner with Purchasing early in the process to consult on options to streamline/reduce the amount of paperwork and time to acquire the goods.
It is important to note that applicable sales or use tax; shipping; and other ancillary charges may not appear on the purchase order, but applicable and appropriate charges will be paid by the accounts payable department. It is state law that the proper sales/use taxes are collected and remitted to the state.
A Direct Payment Request form is used to pay a bill or an invoice (if a telephone order was placed without a written Purchase Order being established), or to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses.
This form is used for common expenses including consumable supplies, overnight courier, registration, etc. If you find you have a large amount of out of pocket expenses for reimbursement, consider applying for a P-Card.
The following are prohibited transactions:
Periodically, an emergency/critical purchase is necessary for a project at an inopportune time. In order to facilitate the purchase and avoid having to make a personal expense for which reimbursement will be sought, a PI may phone in an order directly to the vendor.
When placing the “verbal order,” the PI is assuring that the purchase is:
In order to facilitate payment of the invoice when it arrives at the Foundation, the PI should give the vendor a “verbal PO number” as follows:
The University has existing policies and procedures regarding the extent to which the University may extend hospitality for business purposes. These policies apply to all hospitality expenses irrespective of the source of funding. However, in the context of expenses to be charged to G- , C- and RS- funds, claims have the added proviso that they must provide justification on how the expenditures advanced the funded research project, promoted the research agenda of the Center or supported the research mission of the University, respectively.
Travel authorization associated with research activities to be charged to G-, C- or RS- funds must conform to general CSULB policies and procedures for requesting authorization to travel to conduct official University business.
Travel authorizations must be processed in the normal manner through the appropriate administrators within the employee's department as determined by the University’s identified delegation of signature authority. Individuals traveling on official University business are responsible for ensuring they have documented authorization in advance. Employees should review specific procedures with their management.
Travel claims, with the necessary supporting documents, should be submitted directly to ORSP for review, processing and payment.
Reimbursement for approved overnight travel within the continental United States (48 contiguous states) will be made based on actual documented expenses for transportation, lodging and business related expenses (e.g., supplies, copies, etc.).
Related expenses must be ordinary, reasonable, not extravagant, and necessary. Travel expenses not directly related to official University business are not reimbursable. Actual expenses for meals and incidentals will be reimbursed up to a maximum daily limit. The daily limit is published in the CSULB procedures and will be reviewed and adjusted periodically.
Read the CSULB Guidelines for travel as of 4/1/11.
The University assumes no financial responsibility for expenditures incurred by individuals who fail to adhere to policy.
Foundation issued Procurement Cards (referred to as P-Card) are available to all G- and RS- account holders if approved by ORSP. Upon obtaining a P-Card, it is the responsibility of the P-Card holder to ensure all guidelines and procedures are followed.
Purchases may be made using the P-Card providing the item is not prohibited or restricted. Information on P-card requests, payment, restrictions and resources can be obtained at the following websites:
Each month, holders of the P-Card will receive an email requiring them to complete a Monthly Procurement Card Purchase Report using Access Online and submit the report to ORSP for processing for payment.
If necessary, transactions may be disputed. The P-card holder will be held personally liable for all purchases for prohibited or unallowable items, or expenses that cannot be covered by existing funds. Failure to comply with P-card policies will result in a loss of P-card privileges.
Training on Access Online is required through the Purchasing department.
Note: The Foundation P-card limit is $5000 (including tax and shipping). ORSP has the right to assign a lower limit as deemed necessary. Under exceptional circumstances, but only with compelling justification, a P-card limit can be raised to $10,000. Cardholders with a limit greater than or equal to $10,000 have an annual responsibility to complete a conflict of interest filing. Also, single item purchases above $5000 may require three quotes prior to purchasing and must be approved by ORSP.
Although many sponsored awards allow flexibility in areas such as re-budgeting, carry-forward of unobligated balances from year to year, and pre-award costs, sponsors expect expenditures to be reasonably consistent with the proposed scope of work and budget. Many federal agencies have chosen to delegate authority to CSULB for certain prior approvals. The PI should refer to the sponsored award terms (see the Notice of Award or contact Post-Award) to determine the authorizations that apply to each award.
Sponsors often require PIs to request prior approval for significant changes that affect the scope of work and budget. For most federal grant awards, advanced sponsor approval from the grants officer is required in certain circumstances. It is the responsibility of the PI to initiate any prior approval request by forwarding the request to Post-Award or starting the process in a sponsor’s web portal (e.g., FastLane). The request must include a project-specific justification and plan. ORSP will forward this notification to the sponsor’s grants officer.
No-cost extensions are usually requested by the PI due to project delays, where additional time is needed to carry out the approved scope of work but no additional funding is required. The fact that funds remain at the end of a project is not sufficient justification for an extension. The PI should describe the reason for the extension along with the spending plan for the unexpended balance. Expanded Authorities on most federal grants and cooperative agreements allow ORSP to approve a single no-cost extension.
Note: The project is required to update all required certifications, including conflict of interest, financial disclosures, human subjects and animal welfare to cover the additional time period. The request should be made no later than 30 days before the current end date of a project.
Advanced written sponsor approval is required when a PI intends to transfer to another institution, plans to be absent from the project for three months or more, or reduce his or her level of effort by 25% or more from the awarded level. The PI, working with the GCA, is responsible for Key Personnel reductions in effort requiring the need for prior sponsor approval.
Any change in the proposed scope of work requires sponsor approval. The PI should describe the scope change needed and the impact the change may have on the budget.
Certain sponsor awards may not allow automatic carry-forward of unexpended funds for each budget period. The PI must review the sponsored award terms closely to ensure whether the award requires advance sponsor approval for carry-forward of unexpended funds to the next budget period.
Re-budgeting of awarded costs may be considered significant when the change results in re-budgeting a single direct cost budget category by more than 25% of the total award. Depending on the terms of the award, the PI may be required to submit a revised budget to the sponsor explaining the need for significantly re-budgeting project costs. Significant re-budgeting may indicate a change in the scope of work.