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HOWARD UNIVERSITY PURCHASING CARD PROGRAM

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

 I.   OVERVIEW

          The purpose of the Howard University Purchasing Card Program is to process small purchases.  The Card will simplify the procurement process and reduce the costs by eliminating purchase orders and front end approvals for certain purchases.  The program will also help reduce invoice processing and check writing for these purchases.  A monthly summary billing statement will be sent to the Controller’s Office for payment from the issuing bank.  The card will be administered by the Card Administrator in the Materials Management Department (MMD).

         The VISA Purchasing Card Program is not intended to supplant the University's existing purchase order system.  It is intended to broaden the University's portfolio of procurement methods.   The maximum monthly transaction limit for Purchasing Card purchases has been set at $5,000.00 with a per unit transaction/price ceiling set at $1,500.00.  Equipment, and other items, valued at more than $1,500.00 per unit price will be procured through the issuance of a University purchase order. 

A.   GENERAL GUIDELINES

.        The Card is intended for low dollar items (under $1,500.00);

.        The Card is used only for purchases directly related to University business as Howard University is billed for the charges;

.        Employees must be authorized by their Administrator

         /Department Head to receive a card;

.        A monthly charge limit has been established for each 

         card.  The Administrator/Department Head may

         request to change this limit at any time by notifying

         the MMD Card Administrator, in writing and subject to

         the approval of MMD Director (see "Cardholder Account

         Change Form HUPC-C" attached);

.        Only University Employees may be issued cards;

.        No Employee may be issued a card without first attending 

         a brief workshop and executing the Receipt Agreement. 

         This document will be provided upon issuance of

         Purchasing Card.

B.   APPROPRIATE USES OF THE CARD

.        Delivery Services;

.        Graphic Supplies;

.        Maintenance Supplies;

.        Medical Supplies;

.        Miscellaneous Supplies and Repair Parts;

.        Office Supplies not stocked in General Stores;

.        Research Supplies/Chemicals;

C.   INAPPROPRIATE USES OF THE CARD

.        Advertisements;

.        Bus Services;

.        Capital Purchases (Furniture and Equipment);

.        Cash Advances;

.        Catering Services;

.        Clothing;

.        Compromising the card process for personal gain;

.        Computer Equipment;

.        Education Services;

.        Exceeding the authorized limit encumbered to fund

         card purchases;

.        Financial Services;

.        Home Furnishing and Supplies;

.        Liquor;

.        Manipulating the process to buy from blocked vendors;

.        Memberships;

.        Personal use or identification;

.        Printing Services;

.        Subscriptions;

.        Travel i.e. airfare, lodging, meals, rental cars, etc.   (These requirements should be on a Travel Request); 

.        The University is responsible for making payment to the issuing bank for any unauthorized purchases made by a Cardholder, and will seek repayment from the Cardholder.  The University purchasing card is Howard University property and unauthorized use of the University Visa Purchasing Card will result in the Cardholder losing all charging privileges, and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

D.   BLOCKED MERCHANTS

Some categories of merchants have been "blocked" from usage with the program.  If a Cardholder attempts to make a purchase from one of these vendors, the transaction will be declined.  Examples of blocked merchants include:  automobile rental agencies, hotels, temporary employment agencies, etc. 

E.   EXCEPTIONS

          The Director of Materials Management Department may increase the Purchasing Card threshold of commodity unit price, monthly limit and/or grant exceptions to blocked items, on an as needed basis to protect the interests of the University and satisfy emergency requirements of the end users.

  II.  PROCEDURES

            A.  MAKING THE PURCHASE

                        1.         Cardholder may phone, fax or visit merchants.

                        2.         Confirm that the merchant agrees to charge the

                                    Purchasing Card.  Provide merchant with card number

                                    and expiration date.

                        3.         Merchants should not charge sales tax to the card;

                                    Howard University is exempt from Federal, Maryland

                                    and District of Columbia sales tax.

                        4.         If the order is to be shipped, instruct the merchant

                                    to include the following information on the

                                    shipping label and packing list:

                                                .           Cardholder's name and telephone number;

                                                .           Complete delivery address;

                                                .           The words "Purchasing Card Purchase";

                                                .           The merchant's order number.

                        5.         Using the Card to Order by Telephone:

                                                .           Indicate that this is a Howard University

                                                            VISA Purchasing Card order;

                                                .           Confirm the price and availability of

                                                            specified item(s);

                                                .           Inform merchant not to charge card until

                                                            item(s) have been shipped;

                                                .           Provide the merchant with the VISA

                                                            Purchasing Card Account Number and

                                                            Expiration Date;

                                                .           Inform merchant that Howard University

                                                            is exempt from sales tax.

                                                            Most merchants, with whom the university

                                                            conducts business will be knowledgeable

                                                            of our non-tax status.  D.C., Maryland and

                                                            Virginia Tax numbers are as follows:

                                                            D.C. - 8200-32408-09

                                                            Maryland - 3108387 7

                                                            Virginia – SE530204707F07252012

            6.         Using the Card to Purchase in Person:

                                                .           Present merchandise and card to the

                                                            merchant's cashier;

                                                .           Inform cashier that Howard University

                                                            is exempt from sales tax and provide

                                                            cashier with the above tax number, if

                                                            required;

                                                .           Cashier should then process the

                                                            transaction and present cardholder

                                                            with a receipt to sign for merchandise;

                                                .           Receipt will be retained to document

                                                            the transaction.  The receipt may also

                                                            be needed should it be necessary to

                                                            return or exchange the merchandise or

                                                            resolve any billing disputes.

            B.  MERCHANT DOES NOT ACCEPT VISA

If a cardholder finds that a merchant does not accept VISA, the cardholder should notify the Materials Management Department (MMD) Card Administrator.  Acceptance of VISA generates a small charge for the merchant although the early payment advantages may offset this surcharge.  The issuing bank will assist the merchant in determining whether VISA is a viable option for the merchant.  The Purchasing Card Program is not restricted to retail merchants only.  In fact, many large wholesalers and manufacturers accept charge cards.  Once established as a merchant that accepts VISA, that merchant may participate in the University's VISA Purchasing Card Program.  Although the University does not endorse VISA, or any of its associated banks, we encourage merchants to become involved in the Purchasing Card Program so that purchasing cards may be used widely and effectively.  Merchants may contact their own bank to become VISA capable, or they may contact the provider of the University Purchasing Card.  Merchants do not have to use the issuing bank to process their VISA transactions from the University's VISA Purchasing Card Program.

            C.  CARD DECLINED/RAISING CHARGE LIMIT

If your card is declined by a merchant, complete the following steps:

                        1.         Ask the merchant to re-key your card number.

                                                2.         If card is still declined, contact the MMD Card Administrator for an explanation at 806-1300/04.

                                                3.         If charge limit is exceeded and you want to increase the limit, have the Administrator/Department Head fax or Mail the "Cardholder Account Change Form HUPC-C" to the MMD Card Administrator for review and approval by MMD Director.

                                                4.         Charge limit can be raised if necessary.  New limits can be effective the next business day for requests made by 3:00 PM.

            D.  LOCAL MERCHANTS

Materials Management Department (MMD) has negotiated favorable price agreements with several local merchants based upon volume leveraging of our total purchase of commonly-used items.  Cardholder should contact MMD to determine the best source of supply for routinely purchased items.

            E.  RECONCILIATION MONTHLY STATEMENTS

Each cardholder will receive a monthly VISA statement from  the issuing bank.  This statement will identify each transaction made with the card during the previous billing cycle.  If there has been no activity on the card during a billing cycle, no statement shall be received.

Items should not appear on the VISA statement that have not been shipped by the merchant.  The merchant has been instructed by VISA to enter an item for payment only after it has been shipped.  Each month, the cardholder should reconcile his/her statement with the receipts and reconciliation summary of VISA Purchasing Card transactions.

            CARDHOLDERS’ MANAGERS APPROVAL OF MONTHLY BANK

            STATEMENTS

            Cardholders’ mangers are responsible for approving, signing

            and dating cardholders’ monthly activity statements.

            However, Senior Administrators and Deans of Schools and

            Colleges may delegate reviewing and approving authority to an

            office employee who they deem appropriate.

            F.  IF A CARDHOLDER'S RECORDS DO NOT AGREE WITH HIS/HER

                 MONTHLY STATEMENT

There may be occasions when purchase transactions listed on a cardholder's monthly statement do not correspond with the cardholder's records.  Should such an instance occur, the cardholder should first contact the merchant involved to try to resolve the error.  If merchant agrees an error has been made, the cardholder's account should be credited.  If merchant does not agree that an error has been made, the cardholder should contact the issuing bank Customer Unit by completing a cardholder "Dispute Form HUPC-D" and faxing it to 1-302-458-3615.  The item in question should be circled on the statement and an explanation of the discrepancy should be given.  The cardholder must notify the issuing bank in writing within 60 days of the first statement on which a disputed charge has occurred.  The issuing bank will research the disputed charge and make any necessary adjustments.  The disputed charge shall be deducted from any payment due, but will remain a part of a cardholder's account balance until the dispute has been resolved.  The issuing bank will acknowledge your dispute charge within 30 days, unless they have already corrected the error.  Within 90 days they will correct the error or explain why they believe it is correct.  It is the responsibility of the cardholder's manager to approve the monthly activity statement.  The manager must sign and date the statement indicating review and approval.  Any statement reflecting an error should be reported to Accounts Payable.

            G.  RETURN OF SHIPPED ITEMS PROCURED WITH PURCHASING

                 CARD

If an item shipped to you is not satisfactory, received wrong, damaged and/or defective, duplicate order, etc. the following steps should be followed:

                                                .           The cardholder should call the merchant to obtain   a return number (Every merchant has different       return policies - make sure your return meets their  criteria without incurring a restocking fee);

                                                .           The item(s) should be repacked in the original manufacturer's carton;

                                                .           The "Merchandise Return Form HUPC-E" should be completed in its entirety;

                        .           Enclose one copy of form in box being returned;

                        .           Keep one copy of form for your records;

                        .           Attach one copy to box(s) being shipped out.

                        .           A credit voucher should then be received at the

                                    University and reflected on your next monthly

                                    statement.

            H.  RESOLVING ERRORS/DISPUTES

If item(s) purchased are found to be unacceptable, the cardholder is responsible for contacting the merchant to obtain replacement or correction of the item as soon as possible.  If the merchant has not replaced or corrected the item by the date the cardholder receives the monthly statement, then the purchase of the item will be considered in dispute (See Section IIF, page 2.5).  If the cardholder's monthly statement lists a transaction for goods that have not been received or some other discrepancy, the cardholder should resolve these items.  Most exceptions can be resolved between the cardholder and the merchant.  If the dispute cannot be settled at this level, the cardholder should notify the MMD Card Administrator.

            I.  RECORD RETENTION

As purchases are made, the cardholder will maintain a reconciliation summary of all transactions.  This summary will be kept along with all receipts and packing slips provided by merchants.  This information will be helpful in keeping track of all purchases made using the VISA Card, should it be necessary to return any supplies, or resolve any billing disputes.  In addition, each month the cardholder will be provided a statement from the issuing bank summarizing all purchases made with the card, and identifying any balance due.  The departmental custodian of the records should insure that all cardholder statements/receipts are received in a timely manner.  A sample "Reconciliation Summary Form HUPC-F" is attached for review.  All statements, receipts, reconciliation summaries and other supporting documents should be placed in the reconciliation envelope for the month indicated, filed as a permanent record and safeguarded for audit review at anytime.  The custodian should insure that these records are available for review by the MMD Card Administrator or Auditors.

            J.  CANCELING A CARD

            The Administrator/Department Head shall be responsible for notifying MMD regarding any change in employment status of a cardholder by submission of the "Card Surrender Notice Form HUPC-G".  Upon receipt of such notification, MMD shall contact the issuing bank and have the card canceled immediately.  The Administrator/Department Head shall also be responsible for cutting the card in half and returning it to the MMD Card Administrator. 

            If the Administrator/Department Head wishes to have a cardholder's card canceled for any reason, this may be done immediately by calling the MMD Card Administrator.

            K.  LOST OR STOLEN CARDS

            The card is University property.  However, the cardholder should sign the back of the card.  The card and account number should be secured as one would secure his/her personal credit cards and pertinent information.  DO NOT GIVE CARD OR CARD NUMBER TO OTHERS TO USE.  If a card is Lost or Stolen, it is the responsibility of the cardholder to notify the issuing bank and the Materials Management Department (MMD) immediately.  The issuing bank customer service may be reached at 1-877-399-1685, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.  Upon verbal notification of a lost or stolen card, the issuing bank will block any further use of the card until a replacement may be provided.  A replacement card with a new account number will be mailed within a few days.  The University/Cardholder will not be held liable for any purchases or charges incurred by use of the card following verbal notification to the issuing bank.  Written notification (see "Lost/Stolen Card Notification Form HUPC-H" attached) of the loss or theft should be sent to the issuing bank and MMD immediately.  If a card is stolen, the University's Security Office will be notified as well.

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