Using a Purchasing Card (P-Card) for Sponsored Projects

P-Card Guidelines

Research Foundation P-Cardholders are required to adhere to Sponsor policies & RF purchasing guidelines. Project expenditures are subject to specific restrictions depending on funding sources. Projects funded by New York State and New York City often have restrictive reporting timeframes and budgets. Federal projects have restricted budgets that require evaluation by RFCUNY before expenses are incurred. Agency funded P-Cards are governed by CUNY All Funds Matrix which serves as guidance for determining how funds may be used. It is essential for cardholders not to charge unallowable costs or costs generally considered indirect. For further details on the specific restrictions applicable to federal, state, city and agency funded P-cards, please consult with your Project Administrator team.

RF's Purchasing Card functions as a reloadable declining balance card, offering the Principal Investigator (PI) or authorized cardholder a convenient way to purchase on accounts with a budget of $2,000 or more. P-Cards are designated exclusively for project-related expenses and are not permitted for personal use and cannot be transferred between individuals. In the event of non-compliance, P-Card privileges may be terminated or suspended. The PI assumes responsibility for all purchases made with the P-Card and will be required to reimburse unallowable transactions.

P-Card Application Process

The P-Card Application tool is integrated with DocuSign, streamlining the application process for greater efficiency. Use the link below, to Log onto RFCUNY's website and navigate to the Electronic Tools section then choose P-Card Request from the menu. For detailed instructions, please review RF’s Training website page where you can find, Requesting a P-Card application guidance. The P-Card will only remain active until the end of the budget year for the corresponding project for which the PI has applied for. If the Project Investigator intends to use the P-Card for the following budget year, a new application is required. The PI may submit multiple applications, each tied to the cardholder’s multi-project P-Card.

P-Card Prohibited Usage

The P-Card is not to be used for unauthorized purchases including:

  • Contract Agreements - ICA’s/MOU’s and Consulting. (Payments for “Services”). For guidance, please refer to Requesting & Amending an ICA or MOU.
  • Purchase of items with a cost of $5,000 or more. For guidance, please refer to Initiating Procurement Transactions.
  • Alcohol is strictly unallowable, regardless of the situation.
  • Personal Expenses
  • Late fees, fines, and penalties. Moving violations, toll fines or parking tickets.
  • Chemical, hazardous, radioactive, or other hazardous materials. Controlled substances, restricted enzymes, or biological organisms.
  • Gift Cards & Prepaid cards & Cash advances. For instructions on subject fees or participant incentives, please follow up with the Procurement and Payables Management Team for guidance.
  • Gifts to CUNY Employees, gift certificates or gifts for employee morale or services.
  • Donations or contributions in support of alumni activities or fundraising activities.
  • Entertainment costs include amusement, recreation, and social activities and any costs directly associated, such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities.
  • Lodging or meal expenses that exceed GSA per diem rates when in travel status. For guidance, please refer to GSA Per Diem Look Up.
  • Gas for personal vehicles. For guidance, please refer to Submitting Reimbursement for Post-Award Travel.

P-Card Sales Tax Exemption Status

The Research Foundation's P-Card is exempt from sales tax in New York state and the corresponding sales tax-exempt number is printed on the purchasing card. When making in-person purchases, present the sales tax-exempt number at the time of the transaction. For online purchases, it is necessary to provide RF's Sales Tax-Exempt Certificate to the vendor before completing the purchase. In situations where items are being shipped out of state or if you are traveling, please contact the Procurement department to determine whether RF is sales tax exempt in the destination state. If sales tax is billed on a transaction, it becomes the responsibility of the cardholder to seek a refund or reimbursement for the sales tax. In cases where a vendor refuses to grant sales tax exemption, it's important to document this refusal on the receipt.

Transactions Limitations & Amount

The maximum limit for a single transaction on the P-Card is set at $4,999.99. Transactions of $5,000 or more require compliance with RF’s Procurement procedures. RF’s P-Card should not be used to circumvent the purchase order (PO) process which is mandatory for all items priced at $5,000 and above. The P-Card provides a convenient method for purchasing nominal and frequent expenditures. Any attempt to split transactions to bypass RF’s Procurement procedures is strictly prohibited. The P-Card allows a maximum of 8 purchases per day. However, special circumstances may warrant an increase and in such cases, a request can be made to the PA/APA team for consideration.

How the P-Card Available Credit & Encumbrance Works

Funds from the project account are encumbered as an advance using expense code 8260 and then allocated to the P-cardholder's available credit. As purchases are made, the P-Card available credit decreases and the encumbrance decreases upon approval of Concur expense reports by the PA/APA team. When either the P-Card available credit or encumbrance decreases to a low amount, the PI can reach out to the PA/APA team for the project to request additional funds to be added to the P-Card. In addition, if multiple projects are associated with a single P-Card and the amount of the expenses to be allocated to project exceeds the remaining encumbrance (code 8260), the PI is required to contact the PA/APA team(s) to redistribute previously encumbered funds among projects.

Reconciling the P-Card

Project Investigators, Cardholders, or Delegate Reconcilers must submit any outstanding transactions at least once a month but is recommended to reconcile outstanding transactions at least twice a month. To effectively reconcile transactions in Concur, Cardholders, and Reconcilers should follow these steps: Review the P-Card guidance for Acceptable Receipts, allocate the expenses to the appropriate account, provide a business purpose along with the required expense justification. For detailed instructions on completing the reconciliation process in Concur, please consult the P-Card Reconciliation Quick Start Guide. Project Investigators are responsible for ensuring that all P-Card transactions are reconciled within 35 days of their occurrence. Failure to reconcile transactions within 60 days may lead to the suspension of the P-Card.

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