MBP 271

SECTION 271:  Purchasing Card
Last Updated: August 2016

Purchasing Department
University Services Building
169 Service Rd 
East Lansing, MI 48824 
Telephone: (517) 884-6080 
Fax: (517) 353-9732 
Business Hours:  Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Purchasing Card
I. Purpose
II. Procedures
III. Reconciliation and Accounting 
IV. Responsibilities
V. Audits

I.  Purpose

The MSU Purchasing Card (Pcard), a MasterCard® product, is designed to allow for the direct procurement of low dollar purchases by the faculty and staff through the use of a credit card. The intent of the program is to increase efficiency by eliminating the need for small dollar requisitions, disbursement vouchers and petty cash funds. Pcard purchases result in quicker turnaround time, greater flexibility in ordering, and reduced paperwork. The Pcard is to be used for purchases up to or equal to $2,500. There are restrictions with the use of the P Card (i.e. personal use, travel, radioactive material, etc.). For a complete list of the restrictions, as well as other information regarding the Pcard, see the Pcard Users Manual.

The Pcard is a privilege granted to faculty and staff (excluding on-call, temporary employees, students and graduate students). It is to be used in a responsible and appropriate manner. Fraudulent or intentional misuse (including the use of the Pcard for personal purchases) will result in revocation of the Pcard, possible criminal charges and discipline up to and including termination. Periodic audits of each cardholder's transaction file and monthly statement reconciliations are conducted by Internal Audit. In addition, the Pcard Team conducts compliance reviews through the use of various reports and transaction audits to ensure that cardholders are adhering to MSU, MasterCard® and bank policies and procedures. Questionable activity is referred to Internal Audit for further investigation.

II.  Procedures

Completion of a Pcardholder application in the Finance System, approved by the authorized signers and attendance at a Pcard orientation are the requirements for obtaining the Pcard. (A new card request requires the approval of the Dean, Director or Chairperson (DDC). Fiscal Officer’s (FO) will need to ad hoc route the Procurment Card Maintenance Document (PCMD) to that person who should approve the request. Once approved by the DDC, the FO should then submit the PCMD for processing.) At the conclusion of the Pcard orientation, the Pcardholder is required to sign an attestation indicating that they understand the program policies and procedures and that the credit card is not to be used for personal use.
Individual transactions must not exceed $2,500 (including shipping/handling). Transactions at $2,500.01 and greater will be denied at the point of sale. It is not permissible to make multiple charges in the same day, or consecutive days, to the same merchant in order to facilitate a charge that exceeds $2,500 (with the exception of the payment of conference registration fees where a Pcardholder needs to register multiple attendees for the same conference). Pcards have a $2,500 single purchase limit, this amount cannot be changed.

Each card has a monthly spending limit that has been set by the departmental business office. All monthly spending limits are subject to final approval by Purchasing and/or Contract and Grant Administration. To request an increase to the monthly spending limit on a purchasing card, the Fiscal Officer (FO) or Pcardholder must submit a Procurement Card Maintenance Document (PCMD) edit in the Finance System. Spending limit changes to Contract and Grant accounts must be ad hoc routed to the CGA office for approval. (A monthly spending limit of $25,000 or greater requires the approval of the Dean, Director or Chairperson (DDC). FO's will need to ad hoc route the PCMD to that person who should make a note in the Notes and Attachments in the PCMD authorizing the change. Once approved by the DDC, the FO should then submit the PCMD for processing.) Please note requests made via the PCMD will not be changed with the bank until the Pcard Team has approved the e-doc. The Pcardholder and default account FO will receive an FYI for notification that the request was completed once the Pcard Team has approved the e-doc. 
In addition to the expenditure policies outlined in the Manual of Business Procedures, certain items are strictly prohibited from being purchased on the Pcard. For a list of restricted items, see the Purchasing Card User's Manual.
The MSU Federal tax identification number is embossed on the bottom line of the credit card (38-6005984). It is the Pcardholder's responsibility as the MSU purchaser to ensure that tax is not charged. In those cases where the supplier does not accept MSU tax exempt status at the time of purchase, request the tax credit for those purchases that exceed $1,000. Contact the Controller's Office if you need further assistance convincing a merchant of MSU's tax exempt status beyond the Sales and Use Tax Exempt Status Certificate (.pdf).

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) maintains a list of countries with which economic trade sanctions have been imposed. The sanctions pertain to the importing and exporting goods and services to and from countries whose practices are inconsistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security. Under no circumstances should a shipment or purchase be made to or from a country that appears on the sanctioned list regardless of the funding source. Sanctioned countries are listed at http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs

Federally funded contracts further restrict purchases from certain parties who are deemed excluded from receiving federal contracts, subcontracts, etc. These individuals and/or businesses can be viewed at: http://www.epls.gov. Under no circumstances should purchases be made from these listed parties using a Pcard tied to federal funds.
Only the authorized Pcardholder may use the Pcard. Delegation of authority is not permitted. Merchants require that the signature on the credit card match the signature on the receipt. Sharing the Pcard with others is prohibited as it increases the likelihood of fraud. The Pcardholder is held responsible for all charges made against his/her Pcard.

III. Reconciliation and Accounting

The Pcard billing cycle is from the 25th of the month through the 24th of the next month. When the Pcardholder makes purchases using the Pcard, all purchases must have itemized back-up documentation and a business purpose to support the expense. If you are using the Finance System to maintain all of your Pcard documentation, remember that the Fiscal Officer is now reviewing the appropriateness of the transactions as well as the accounting lines. FO's should review existing delegates for Pcard transactions to ensure that the delegate is the appropriate person to completely review these transactions now that all e-docs will route to the Pcardholder first and that they are aware of university policies relating to Pcards. Pcard transactions (PCDO) are routed to the Pcardholder’s action list for approval and reallocation, and grouped by bank posting date. These daily Pcard e-docs consolidate all purchases from a common Pcard number into one e-doc. Reallocation by the Pcardholder is optional. If the Pcardholder is only being requested by their unit to approve the transactions, please refer to section below on approving e-docs or to the EBS website. The Pcardholder will have fourteen (14) calendar days from document create date to approve the PCDO transaction before it is routed (i.e. auto approved) on to the default FO’s action list. If the Pcardholder does not approve the e-doc, the system will add a note text “PCDO exceeded the allowed days and was auto approved for Pcardholder.” in the applicable PCDO Notes and Attachments tab. If it is the policy of the unit for the Pcardholder to approve the e-doc in the system, the FO should then ad hoc route the document back to the Pcardholder for approval or request that the Pcardholder login to the system and add a note to the e-doc stating their approval of the transaction(s). Either by Pcardholder approval of PCDO or Pcardholder auto approval, the Fiscal Officer can then edit the accounting lines and approve the e-doc. In cases where the Pcardholder is the FO, a warning message will appear, after the submit button is clicked, reminding the Pcardholder to ad hoc route the e-doc for approval to a supervisor. The Fiscal Officer has up to 45 days after the e-doc create date to approve or the PCDO e-doc will auto-approve to the currently saved account(s) and object code(s).

Pcardholders should indicate on their original itemized receipt

1) the transaction number in the e-doc,

2) note the business purpose for each transaction (either on the receipt or in the “Notes and Attachment” tab of the e-doc),

3) reallocate the charge to another account, split the transaction between multiple accounts, add sub accounting elements, assign the correct object code (the default Pcard object code is 6559), or

4) leave the transaction to post to the default account and/or object code.

The notes and attachment tab of the e-doc allows the Pcardholder to attach a scanned image of the receipt directly to the e-doc. After 14 days, if the Pcardholder has taken no action, the transaction will auto-approve on to the Fiscal Officer’s action list. The Fiscal Officer can then review the appropriateness of the transactions as well as edit the accounting lines. It is preferable that the Pcardholder or the Fiscal Officer apply the correct object code and any sub accounting that might apply in order to properly record the expense in the accounting system. Units may determine the requirement of attaching receipts by Pcardholder. Receipts can either be maintained with the related e-doc within the Finance System or can be physically attached to the “Procurement Card Statement – Pcardholder” report found in BI, with related signatures. It is the recommendation of MSU Purchasing to scan and attach receipts for each PCDO transaction. It is important for your unit to determine a process, by Pcardholder, and follow it consistently. For all Pcardholders, it is recommended that units perform a periodic (approximately every four to six months) review for each Pcardholder. This will help you to determine that university policies are being followed on a collective basis, as opposed to the daily review completed by e-doc.

If your unit is approving e-docs and attaching receipts in the Finance System, maintaining any paper documentation is not necessary. The following information only applies to Pcardholders whose units have determined paper reconciliation.

The statement is printed through BI. There are several ways to print a paper statement. The report can be run by Pcardholder, account number or Fiscal Officer.

Purchasing recommends department-wide procedures for printing statements.

Steps for Approving E-Docs 

If you received an email notice with the subject “E-Doc in your Action List to APPROVE, DISAPPROVE or CANCEL…” this means that there is a document in the Finance System that requires you to take action. Open the email and click the link in the body of the email. This will open your web browser to a login screen where you can login to the Finance System. Once you enter your MSU NetID and password, the e-doc that you need to approve will open. Review the e-doc making sure that everything is correct. If there are notes or attachments related to the e-doc, they will be in the tab labeled “Notes and Attachments.” Scanned copies of receipts may be attached to the Pcard e-doc using the Notes and Attachments tab and selecting “Receipt” as the attachment type. This step is optional at this time, unless required by your Unit. Scanned copies of receipts are strongly recommended by MSU Purchasing. The receipts can be added by the Pcardholder, Fiscal Officer or anyone who is a Financial Document Preparer. (If receipts are not attached, the paper reconciliation process must be followed for audit purposes.) To approve the e-doc, click the Approve button at the bottom of the page.

Once you click the approve button the e-doc continues through workflow. There will not be a confirmation page. You will immediately be redirected to your action list page that may or may not contain more items to take action on. If you do not have other e-docs to take action on, the message on the screen will read “No values match this search.”

IV.  Responsibilities

Although the Pcard has many built-in controls, there are certain steps that the P Cardholder must take to ensure the responsible use of university funds. The Pcardholder is expected to adhere to both university expenditure policies and the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP) Code of Ethics. Purchases made on the Pcard must be in accordance with the established university expenditure policies and be made in an ethical manner.

The Pcard is a privilege granted by the university and it is expected that it will be used responsibly.

The Pcardholder is responsible for retaining receipts, packing slips, etc. for all Pcard purchases. Receipts must be itemized. When placing an order over the phone, remind the merchant that MSU is tax exempt and that an itemized receipt is required with the shipment. Consult the departmental business office as some departments require more extensive expenditure reviews. All purchases must have itemized back-up documentation supporting the expense as specified in the expenditure policies and guidelines detailed in the Manual of Business Procedures. The Pcardholder is responsible for ensuring receipt of materials as well as any follow up efforts required to resolve delivery problems, discrepancies, damaged goods, billing problems and returns.

Internal Audit, Contract & Grant Administration, or the Purchasing Department may request backup documentation on a particular transaction or group of transactions. The cardholder must provide the information by the date requested or the Pcard may be suspended. Additionally, department administrators can request that a Pcard be suspended or canceled at any time by submitting a PCMD through the Finance System. For urgent requests, please notify member of the Pcard Team immediately.

If the Pcard is lost or stolen, it is the cardholder's responsibility to notify the bank and the Pcard Team. The credit card will be canceled immediately, and a replacement credit card issued. If the Pcard is stolen on campus property, contact the Police and Public Safety Department. The department/account will be liable for any charges that may have occurred prior to the Pcard being canceled.

Bank of America

(888) 449-2273 (24 hours/day; 7 days/week)


Purchasing Card Office:

(517) 884-6080, or (517) 355-0357


Police and Public Safety Department:

(517) 355-2221 

There are specific duties and responsibilities for the Pcardholder and Fiscal Officer.

Pcardholder Responsibilities:

  • Ensure that the university's resources are spent in a responsible and ethical manner in accordance with the Manual of Business Procedures.

  • Never share a Pcard; only the authorized Pcardholder may use the Pcard.

  • Be aware of prohibited items.

  • Never use the Pcard for personal use.

  • Immediately report a lost or stolen card.

  • Obtain original itemized receipts for all purchases. Note business purpose on receipt.

  • Notify the merchant that MSU is tax exempt and provide the tax ID number or Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate if requested by the merchant.

  • Review the PCDO in action list in the Finance System within fourteen (14) days of e-doc creation date. If required by Unit, scan and attach receipt into the e-doc prior to submitting it for approval by the FO. Ensure receipt of materials and resolve any delivery problems, discrepancies. damaged goods, billing problems or returns with merchants.

  • Submit a Statement of Questioned Items Form (.pdf) to the bank for disputes that cannot be resolved directly with the merchant.

  • Notify the Pcard Team of any changes in address, phone, email, ect. using the PCMD e-doc.

  • When transferring to a new unit, notify the Pcard Team, submit a PCMD in the Finance System of the change prior to the effective transfer date. Once in the new department the employee should submit a new Pcardholder application that has been ad hoc routed to  the new dean, director or chair. If the cardholder transfers to a new department under the same unit (meaning there was not a change in the DDC as a result of the move), a PCMD edit can be submitted requesting a change to the account number. In either case, all receipts for outstanding purchases should be turned over to the Fiscal Officer so the final e-docs can be reconciled.

  • Upon leaving the university and prior to your effective termination date, the Pcardholder is required to notify the Pcard Team to cancel the purchasing card using a PCMD edit in the Finance System. The card should then be cut up and disposed of. Do not leave your card behind. You are responsible for all purchases up to the point of cancellation.

Fiscal Officer Responsibilities:

  • Units should determine the requirement via a written plan kept on file in their department of attaching receipts by Pcardholder. Receipts can either be scanned and attached to the related e-doc within the Finance System or can be physically attached to the “Procurement Card Statement – Pcardholder” report found in BI, with related signatures. It is the recommendation of MSU Purchasing to scan and attach receipts for each PCDO transaction.

  • Verify a PCMD has been submitted notifying the Pcard Team when a Pcardholder terminates from the university or transfers to another department.

  • A FO may not provide oversight for his/her own transactions. It is the recommendation of both Internal Audit and the Purchasing Department that an appropriate separation of duties exist. In the event that the Pcardholder and the FO are the same, the following warning message will be displayed after the approve button is clicked: Pcardholder and Fiscal Officer are the same. Please ad hoc to supervisor for approval. Yes/No.Review all transactional e-docs and receipts and verify the accounting lines and that the transactions are appropriate expenditures of university funds and are in compliance with university policy.

    • Yes – continues with routing PCDO (if applicable).
    • No – returns to PCDO for additional actions. (Allows users to ad hoc route to a supervisor)
  • Complete final transactional e-doc  reconciliation for employees whose last e-docs arrive after they have left their position (the Pcardholder is required to  leave all outstanding receipts with the FO in this case).

  • Attend a Pcardholder orientation session in order to better understand the program and ensure compliance. Advise the Pcard Team of any address, telephone number, and/or monthly spending limit changes for Pcardholders using the PCMD in the Finance System.

  • Changes to an account number, address and/or monthly spending limit on a Pcard must be processed using a PCMD edit in the Finance System. A monthly spending limit of $25,000 or greater requires the e-doc be ad hoc routed to the unit administrator, DDC, or Assistant/Associate DDC for approval.

V.  Audits

Internal Audit, Contract & Grant Administration, and/or the Purchasing Department will conduct periodic audits of Pcardholders' transactional e-docs and monthly statements. Additionally, the Pcard Team performs compliance reviews to ensure that Pcard procedures are being followed properly. Questionable transactions will result in a memo to the Pcardholder requesting detailed information on specific purchases. If the activity still appears questionable after receiving the pcardholder's explanation, a follow-up memo is sent to the Pcardholder and copied to the appropriate DDC as well as Internal Audit. The Pcardholder must provide the information by the date requested or the Pcard may be suspended. The university will seek restitution for any inappropriate charges made to the Pcard. Fraudulent or intentional misuse (including the use of the Pcard for personal purchases) will result in revocation of the Pcard, possible criminal charges and discipline up to and including termination.

All administrators, faculty members, support staff, and other employees are to promptly report any known or suspected fiscal misconduct by contacting the director of Internal Audit at http://www.msu.edu/unit/intaudit/hotline.html or by phone (517) 355-5030. The university has also established a toll-free hotline (800) 763-0764 that can be used to anonymously report known or suspected misconduct.