February 2017

Emergency or Pressing Need Purchases

Q:  My department was just given some additional money but needs to spend it within the next several days.  Can this be considered an emergency purchase?

A: No, your circumstances do not fit the emergency or pressing need criteria as listed above.

For further details, see:
Policy 1240 – Emergency or Pressing Need Purchases

Previous Tips

2-Step Verification (DUO)

Q:  What is 2-Step Verification and why is the university using it for W-2 forms?

A:   Two-step verification is a security method that uses two methods of identity verification to ensure that you are “you” before allowing you access to personal or sensitive data from a website.   Traditionally, when accessing information on the web at UNC, employees would use their Onyen and password to gain access.  The two-step adds a second verification:  by registering your mobile phone, landline or tablet in the system, the system then sends you a link to the device you registered with a code.  Using the code, you can then access the system with the sensitive information that you are trying to obtain.

UNC is using it for W-2 forms to provide extra protection from online hackers who are trying to access financial or personal information.

For more information see: http://ccinfo.unc.edu/featured-resources/online-employee-tax-forms/

Graduate Student Health Insurance Program (GSHIP)

GSHIP is a separate plan from the UNC system-wide mandatory student health insurance plan.

Q: If a student is not eligible for the Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan, is there other insurance available?
A: If these students are degree seeking, enrolled in at least one credit hour, and eligible to pay the Campus Health Services student health fee, they can participate in the student health insurance plan. More information about this plan is available through Campus Health Services.

Policy 1112 – Graduate Student Health Insurance Program (GSHIP)

Independent Contractor

The determination that an individual is an independent contractor is to be made prior to the individual’s performance of service.

Q: Is a single-member LLC (limited liability company) an independent contractor?

A: Yes. An LLC can be one of four types – 1) a single-member, 2) C corporation, 3) S corporation, or 4) P partnership. If the LLC is a single-member LLC, they are an independent contractor and UNC will issue form 1099. Single member LLCs can use either their social security number or an employer identification number (EIN) for tax reporting and form 1099.

Policy 708 – Independent Contractor


Mobile Communication Devices

Policy permits the University to issue a monetary stipend to select employees who meet the policy criteria pertaining to the use of wireless devices for University business purposes.

Q: The stipend I receive is not enough to cover my entire phone bill.  May I request a reimbursement for the balance?

A: No. The intent of the stipend is to provide compensation for business-related activity on a personal MCD without the user having to submit documentation for business-related calls. The allowance is not intended to cover personal use of the device.

For more information, see Policy 1269 – Mobile Communication Device Business Expenses.

Q: May an employee be reimbursed for home internet expenses?

A: No, this is a personal expense. The state budget manual allows for internet connectivity while traveling, but not from home. If a Dean believes that reimbursement is permissible due to health reasons or if regular on campus work space has been temporarily unavailable (such as in a remodel), this would be allowable. A memo justifying this reason from the Dean specific to the individual and stating the time period permitted must be attached to every voucher.

For more information, see Policy 1227 – Unauthorized Purchases

Q: Should I use the payroll suspense chartfield string to fund a new hire or give a salary increase?

A: No. Payroll suspense is not designed to be an intentional funding source. Payroll suspense is designed to capture transactions created by a system funding error such as an expired funding source, etc.

For more information, see Policy 1124 – Payroll Suspense.

Q: When is an account receivable considered delinquent?

A: An account is generally considered delinquent if it is at least 60+ days in arrears or past due, and no arrangements have been made by the debtor to satisfy the obligation.

Policy 503 – Accounts Receivable

Q: Does a gift certificate or gift card qualify as “de minimis” when considering the taxation of an employee’s gift?

A: No, cash and “cash equivalents” such as gift certificates and gift cards do not qualify for the “de minimis fringe benefit” exception even if the cash or cash equivalent is for less than $100.

For more information, see Policy 1123 – Taxation of an Employees’ Gifts, Prizes and Awards.

Q: What should I do if I fail to notify a vendor about the University’s tax-exempt status and I am charged sales tax?

A: Contact the vendor, provide a copy of the University’s tax-exempt number and obtain a credit for the charged tax

See Procedure 1252.2 – Using a Purchasing Card.

Q: How difficult is it to suspend purchasing from a vendor because of poor quality work?

A: It is not difficult. Departments need to document the problem, the conversations with the vendor about improving their performance, and the mutually established deadlines for improvement. Provide this documentation along with the Vendor Complaint form, and the State Purchasing Officer will take appropriate action to remedy the problem. The vendor could possibly be debarred from doing business with the State of North Carolina.

See Policy 1216 – Complaints about Vendors.

Q: How often should my department’s business continuity plan be updated?

A: Business continuity planning is a continuous process and a robust plan needs to be flexible to deal with changing situations. Departments should review their plan at least annually to address changes in personnel, critical functions, facilities and other infrastructure needs.

See Policy 101 – Business Continuity Planning.

Q: I accepted a piece of equipment for evaluation and now the vendor wants to be paid. The cost of the equipment is $8,000. Why is this considered an unauthorized purchase?

A: Any equipment brought onto campus must first have an established purchase order that specifies the terms and conditions of the evaluation/purchase. See Policy 1227 — Unauthorized Purchases.

Q: How many signatures are required to process documents for disbursing funds?

A: One (1) authorized signature is required to process requests for non-personnel funds. One (1) or more (2 maximum) authorized signatures are required for personnel funds.
Policy 102 – Disbursing Authority

Q: Whose responsibility is it to pursue collection of funds pertaining to returned payments?

A: It is the the responsibility of each department or school to pursue collection of funds pertaining to returned payments. Departments must follow collections guidelines articulated by the Office of the State Controller. For more information, see Policy 502 – Returned Payments.

Q: What should we do if a vendor calls us with questions about a bid?

A: During the bid process, there should not be any communication between a vendor and the department. All inquiries should be directed to Purchasing Services. The responsible purchasing agent will answer any questions and forward the questions and answers to all bidders. For more information, see Policy 1215 – Correspondence with Vendors.

Q: How can we assure that the department receives credit for prompt payment discounts?

A: On the day the item arrives or the service is complete, enter the receipt of the item or service into the Purchasing module in ConnectCarolina. The system will not permit payment until the receipt of the goods or services has been recorded.

The University accepts all discounts offered by suppliers for prompt payment. For more information, see Policy 702 – Cash Discounts for Vendor Payments.

Q: I rented a car for my business trip and the agency added insurance. Why is this not reimbursable?

A: As a University employee you are covered by the State’s master policy. Additional insurance costs are strictly prohibited by state regulation. University faculty, staff and students may be reimbursed for transportation expenses incurred while traveling on University business. Excess costs, indirect routes and services unnecessary, unjustified or for the convenience or personal preference of the employee in the performance of official University business are prohibited. For more information, see Policy 1310 – Transportation Expenses.

Q: Can a coworker borrow my P-Card to purchase items they need quickly?

A: No. The bank requires that only the cardholder utilize his/her P-Card to purchase goods. P-Cards are issued at the request of department heads, who set a dollar limit per billing period at the lowest level consistent with expected usage. The P-Card is assigned to a specific cardholder and becomes the cardholder’s responsibility.

Before using a P-Card, both the cardholder and the card reconciler (who cannot be the same person) must attend a mandatory training session. The P-Card cardholder is the only person authorized to make purchases with the card. Items purchased using the P-Card are delivered directly to the department and not to Central Receiving or to a personal residence. The cardholder must obtain and retain a receipt for all P-Card purchases. For more information, see Policy 1252 – Small Order Purchase via Purchasing Card.

Q: What restrictions exist for endorsement of checks received by the University?

A: Check items received by the University must be endorsed with the following restriction either in writing or by stamp:

  • For Deposit Only
  • To the Account of
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Check items must be endorsed by the payee in order for the bank to transfer funds from the payor. The restrictive endorsement directs the bank to only deposit the funds to the University’s bank account. If the payor makes a check to the University payable to an individual, the individual must endorse the check and then add the above restrictive endorsement.

This step is an important internal control and helps safeguard assets, which in this case are check items belonging to the University. For more information, see Policy 302.2 – Restrictively Endorsing Checks for Deposit.

Q: A vendor that is fulfilling a purchase order for the department called and wants us to sign an agreement changing the terms of the purchase order. Can we sign this agreement?

A: No. All vendor-initiated correspondence should be forwarded to Purchasing Services for resolution. Purchasing Services is the official representative for all vendor contacts for the purchase of goods and services. The purchase order is one of many methods to communicate with vendors. It is the official document to establish a contractual relationship with the vendor. Purchases of less than $5,000 can be initiated by the campus customer in communicating their requirements to the vendor. All other purchases, as well as any necessary correspondence, are handled by Purchasing Services. Purchasing Services staff must be included in problem resolution arrangements between the requesting department and the vendor. For more information, see Policy 1215 – Correspondence with Vendors.

Q: Will I be reimbursed for the full amount of my purchase if I buy an item at a store from a contract vendor?

A: No, if you purchased an item from a contract vendor without utilizing the appropriate purchasing method then (1) the tax amount will not be reimbursed, (2) shipping costs will not be reimbursed and (3) the University’s contract discount will be deducted from the reimbursement amount.

All goods and services are to be procured using the University’s procurement systems – eProcurement; University Storeroom; or directly from the vendor using a Campus Voucher, Purchasing Card or a Requisition. See Policy 1218 – Purchasing Method for more details.

Q: Which departments should have a business continuity plan?

A: All campus departments should maintain a written business continuity plan and update it on an as-needed basis. Campus departments have discretion as to the organizational level for which they write their plan. For example, some departments may develop individual plans for each unit or location while others may develop one overall plan. The important thing is that the plan (or plans) is effective, practical and current.

The University requires that all campus departments prepare and maintain a current, written and tested plan of action for unexpected events which may disrupt their normal business operations. Examples of these types of disruptive events include, but are not limited to, fires or natural disasters, information technology and telecommunications interruptions, utilities outages, communicable diseases on a pandemic scale, environmental emergencies and human-related disruptive events. For more information, see Policy 101 – Business Continuity Planning.

Q: If an employee of the University owns a business, would the employee be allowed to sell a product or service to the University?

A: No, the University does not purchase from University employees.

To avoid conflicts of interest issues, the University does not purchase from University employees, or from companies in which a University employee may have a greater than 50 percent financial interest, either directly or indirectly. See Policy 1211 – Avoiding Vendor Conflicts of Interest.

Q: Should you allow a sales representative to pay for your lunch or take you to a baseball game?

A: No, do not accept such personal invitations.

It is unlawful for a State employee to willfully receive or accept gifts or favors from vendors. This includes travel coordinators who are prohibited from accepting free tickets or other personal benefits from travel agencies. For more information, see Policy 1213 – Prohibition of Gifts or Favors from Vendors.

A monthly meeting with employees is a great time to promote the importance of internal controls.
Understand each transaction reflected on the P-Card (purchasing card) statement and ensure it is proper.
Communicate system security errors and/or controls concerns with newly implemented systems.
Create an environment in which it is acceptable to ask questions.
Tip of the Month