Original Issuance Date: January 10, 2024

1. Purpose of Procedures

The purpose of this procedure is to outline Purchasing Card (PCard) protocols for cardholders in alignment with SYS 351, Purchasing Card Compliance Policy. Institutions must adhere to this procedure and the related policy.

2. Responsible UW System Officer

Senior Associate Vice President for Finance

3. Definitions

Cardholder: An authorized employee (permanent, project, LTE, or graduate student) who has been issued a PCard by their institution of employment.

Original Receipts: Written acknowledgement that goods and/or services have been received. All receipts should include the date of purchase, supplier name, items purchased, and prices. Any exceptions must be documented in writing.

Examples of original receipts are as follows:

  • Purchases in Person: Must have a detailed receipt, at the time of purchase, clearly identifying each item purchased.
  • Phone/Fax Orders: The original invoice, packing slip, or shipping confirmation sent with the goods purchased. If the packing slip does not have the itemized detail, write it on by hand.
  • Internet Orders: Print a copy of the order, confirmation screen, or invoice sent via email that shows what was purchased and the dollar amount.
  • Registration Fees: Attach the registration form and supporting documentation that includes actual event dates; location; title of the conference, convention, or seminar; amount of fee; and a breakdown of specific costs (meals, etc.) included in the fee. Note: This may require obtaining both a payment receipt and a copy of the applicable page from the brochure, application, or registration form.

Purchasing Card (PCard): A charge card issued to an authorized employee (permanent, project, LTE, or graduate student), by their institution of employment through the contractual agreement between the State of Wisconsin and Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA-NASPO) Contract.

Purchasing Card Program Administrator (PCPA): Individual(s) appointed by the institution to manage, coordinate, and control PCards within the institution.

Purchasing Card Program Manager (PCPM): Individual(s) appointed by the System Administration to be the liaison between the institutions and SBOP and PCard supplier. Responsible for overall planning and administration of the PCard Program.

Purchasing Card Record (PCard Record): Form used by the cardholder to maintain a record of purchases, including supporting documentation, business purpose, and approvals.

Examples include:

  • PCard Log reconciled to Statement with supporting documentation and approvals;
  • Statement with supporting documentation and approvals;
  • Transaction Detail Report or other report reconciled to Statement with supporting documentation and approvals.
  • Transactions loaded daily into an automated financial system with supporting documentation attached and processed through the automated approval workflow.

Statement: Detailed report of charges that is provided to the cardholder by the PCard supplier at the end of each biweekly billing cycle.

Supporting Documentation: Any record or information which verifies a purchase. This includes an itemized supplier receipt, agenda, or various travel-related items (see section 4.C.V).

4. Procedures

Institutional stakeholders participating in the PCard program will comply with the protocols indicated below.

A. Institution protocols

  1. Develop internal policies and procedures within the parameters formed by SYS 351, Purchasing Card Compliance Policy.
  2. Monitor the use of PCards by individual cardholders to ensure that all purchases are made in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, state statutes and UW System and institution policies and procedures.
  3. Perform periodic audits of cardholder records, including the purchasing card record, original receipts, and reconciled billing statements, to ensure compliance with all the guidelines, policies, and procedures governing this program. Guidelines are derived from the State Procurement Manual, the State Accounting Manual, UW System Policies and Procedures, the institution’s PCard Policy and Procedures Manual, and Pcard supplier requirements.
    1. Institutions will work with the UW System’s Office of Internal Audit to review continuous audit reports of PCard use. The objectives of continuous auditing are as follows:
      1. Risk-based identification of PCard expenditures that may not be allowable using automated techniques.
      2. Determination and evaluation of whether systemically-identified expenses are allowable.
      3. Ensure consistent testing methodology for institution data submitted to UW System Administration.
    2. The institution purchasing office and/or accounting office will conduct random audits of PCard use to ensure that:
      1. Policies and procedures are being followed.
      2. Purchase volume appears reasonable.
      3. Transactions are appropriate.
      4. Purchases were not made from ineligible suppliers.
      5. Documentation is complete.
      6. Proper internal controls exist regarding the program.
      7. Credit limits are reasonable.
    3. The institution PCPA or the cardholder’s supervisor will determine if a cardholder has made personal or other unauthorized charges on their PCard. If misuse of a PCard occurs, item(s) must be immediately returned to the supplier for full credit or the cardholder must repay the institution amounts, including any applicable state, county, or city sales taxes. Even if the supplier does not charge applicable taxes, the institution must collect and remit the taxes to the State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
  4. Determine personalized individual cardholder authorizations in the areas of credit and single purchase limits. The single purchase limit may not exceed $5,000 per transaction without prior approval from the State Purchasing Card Contract Manager except when used, where indicated, on authorized state contracts OR when the purchases are for business-related travel.
  5. Payment is the responsibility of each institution. The PCard Billing Cycle End Date Calendar provides the billing cycle end dates based on the calendar year. Billing Cycle Calendars are available online and maintained by the PCPM in the UW System Office of Finance.
  6. Institution payment transactions must arrive at the bank in time to be posted prior to the close of the subsequent cycle. Any exceptions to this requirement due to holidays or major system issues will be announced as needed.
  7. Pcard supplier provides a bi-weekly billing files that includes all transactions that were charged by the institution during the billing cycle.
  8. Transactions should be reviewed against the reconciled statement and any discrepancies resolved with the accounting office.
  9. Transactions that are rejected in the automated financial system must be corrected and approved by institution staff.
  10. Institution purchasing offices have the responsibility to:
    1. Regulate procurements.
    2. Record and report to the State Bureau of Procurement purchases made with Wisconsin-certified minority business enterprises on a monthly basis.
    3. Ensure the institution uses DOA Minority Business Enterprise to compare against the Wisconsin certified minority business enterprise listing and include those suppliers in the Minority Business Enterprise Procurement Activity Report.
  11.  All PCard fraud must be reported to the institution PCPA and the institution PCPA’s supervisor in accordance with SYS 304, Fiscal Misconduct and the associated procedure.

B. PCPA protocols

I.  Facilitating Cardholder Setup

When facilitating the cardholder setup process:

    1. Obtain, process, and retain a completed electronic PCard Application and Use Agreement from each cardholder applicant.
    2. Provide training to cardholders, supervisors, and site managers as established in SYS 351, Purchasing Card Compliance Policy. 
  1.  II.  Account Maintenance

Card and single purchase limits and other information such as name change, address, and phone may be changed by the appropriate departmental authorized person.

Before an institution authorizes cardholders to make purchases over $5,000, except when used on authorized state contracts OR when the purchases are for business-related travel., the PCPA must submit a request to the PCPM explaining the need for an increased limit, the duration of the need, and steps to be taken to ensure controls will be maintained. The PCPM, if in agreement with the need and support for the request, will forward the request to the State PCard Contract Manager.

Each institution PCPA should monitor card expiration dates and work with the Pcard supplier Account Coordinator on reissues. Review the previous year’s card usage and, if necessary, make cancellation recommendations.

Note: Suppliers with embedded credit card numbers will have to be notified each time new card numbers or expiration dates are distributed.

III.   Card Usage

PCards remain the property of the Pcard supplier and must be surrendered immediately upon termination of employment, transfer to another department, or upon request for any reason by an authorized person (such as the institution PCPA or the cardholder’s supervisor).

Timely cancellation of a PCard is an integral part of maintaining the integrity of the program. Whenever possible, complete the application forms to obtain a card for the new employee or an interim replacement cardholder prior to the current cardholder’s departure date.

The cardholder must acknowledge any outstanding orders when returning the PCard to their supervisor. The supervisor is responsible for contacting the institution PCPA, who will cancel the PCard. The supervisor should cut the card into pieces and dispose of it. Surrendered PCards are not reissued to other employees for use.

Note: If there are established accounts with suppliers that relate to specific PCards, these will also need to be canceled and reestablished as a new account with the successor’s information.

IV.  Record Retention

For information on records retention, see Regent Policy Document 3-2. Electronic files containing all relevant documentation, including the statement signed by the cardholder and supervisor/site manager and all required supporting documentation, will be considered the official record.

Note: Record disposition may not take place if there is an open records request, or if there is pending litigation or an audit involving the records.

V.  Procurement Regulations

See Appendix C. Procurement Regulations for information on State of Wisconsin Bureau of Procurement policies and procedures, Statewide Contracts, Minority Suppliers, and Ineligible Suppliers.

C. Cardholder protocols

I.  To Obtain a PCard

    1. Complete and electronically sign a PCard Application and Use Agreement that includes a statement acknowledging their understanding of the restrictions on the use of the card and the possible actions if they violate the conditions of statewide and institution policies on use of the PCard. Electronically route the signed PCard Application and Use Agreement to the appropriate Approving Officials (Supervisor, Dean’s/Director’s Office) email address for their review and signatures.
    2. Receive training as established in SYS 351, Purchasing Card Compliance Policy. 
    3. When picking up the new PCard, the cardholder must sign to acknowledge the receipt of the PCard from the PCPA. Each cardholder is required to activate the card by calling Pcard supplier at the 1-800 number printed on the back of the card.
  1. II.  Compliance

    1. Always keep PCards and account numbers in a secure place. The PCard should be treated with the same level of care you use with your personal credit cards. Each cardholder is directly responsible for the physical security of their PCard and account information.
    2. A statement will be provided biweekly to the cardholder directly.
    3. The cardholder must maintain a PCard record, attach all supporting documentation, a business purpose, and forward these source documents biweekly to the supervisor/site manager for signature, review, and approval. The signed PCard record and supporting documentation must be submitted within 60 days from the billing cycle end date and filed with each institution’ designated central storage area, either in electronic file format or original hard copies, for audit and retention.
    4. Cash Advances (ATM machines) are strictly prohibited.
    5. Cash Equivalents (Gift Cards, Gift Certificates, etc.) are strictly prohibited. Except, Gift Cards are allowable when used for prizes or awards in amounts of $50 or less, unless provided to research subjects, then allowable up to the amounts provided in related grant agreements. Gift cards may not be awarded to employees or Non-Resident Aliens and cannot be used for the payment of services or other tax reportable transactions. Prior to purchasing gift cards, a Gift Card Approval Form must be completed and signed by the cardholder’s business office (see Appendix F). The name and contact information of each gift card recipient should be documented on a Gift Card Recipient Log (see Appendix G).
    6. Purchases of non-business (personal) items or services are strictly prohibited.
    7. Individual reimbursable meal costs are not allowed to be charged on the PCard; however, food purchases for group meetings and events are allowed. Supplemental documentation must be retained with the PCard record for all food purchases that identifies the name and purpose of the function and who attended it, by name or affiliation. Refer to SYS 435, Headquarters City and UW-Sponsored Events Policy which provides details on all UW sponsored events attended by the public or by UW employees.
  2. III.   General Procedures

    1. Follow UW System, institution, and departmental procedures to obtain authorization to make a purchase.
    2. Determine whether the PCard is the most appropriate tool for the purchase (check to make sure it is not a restricted item and determine whether a State or UW System contract is mandatory). See the Frequently Asked Questions page and Appendix B. Commonly Questioned Items.
    3. Be certain that the total amount (including all shipping, handling, postage, freight, etc.) will not exceed the PCard’s single purchase limit or any other limits that the institution of employment may have set.
    4. Request any UW System, government, or contract rates and discounts.
    5. Advise suppliers that the UW System is exempt from Wisconsin sales and use taxes. Provide a copy of the Certificate of Exempt Status.
    6. Obtain a detailed receipt, at the time of purchase, clearly identifying each item purchased.
    7. Follow internal departmental policy regarding recording and documenting business purpose for purchases. All original receipts must be kept with the PCard record.
    8. Shipping Items: Give the supplier the recipient’s name, department name, phone number, and complete delivery instructions. The goods must be shipped directly to a campus address by mail or parcel services.
    9. Receiving Items: The cardholder is responsible for verifying the quantity and condition of the goods upon arrival.
  3. IV.  Purchases by Telephone, Internet, Fax, or Mail

    1. Telephone
      1. A written record, including the name of the person taking the order, must be documented when placing a telephone order. The PCard Log may be used to record this information, or a separate record may be kept.
      2. Only the cardholder is authorized to place a phone order. When necessary, someone else may pick up the goods (the person picking up the items should only sign shipping or receiving papers, not the credit card slip).
      3. When calling, the cardholder should state that they are from a UW System institution making a credit card purchase, and then give the supplier the PCard number and expiration date.
      4. Request that an itemized receipt and/or packing slip with itemized pricing be sent with the purchase. Retain this receipt/packing slip with the PCard record. Advise the supplier not to send an invoice to Accounts Payable.
    2. Internet, Fax, or Mail
      1. For internet purchases use extreme care when sending card numbers over the internet. Make sure the web site has some type of security alert box OR a secure site statement on the order page before submitting the final order.
      2. Retain a copy of the order and indicate whether mailed or faxed and the fax confirmation (if available) for the record.
  4.  V. Business-related Travel Purchases

A state-issued charge card can be used for official business-related travel expenses purchased in accordance with UW System Travel Policy, including:

    1. Airline tickets
    2. Travel agency service fees
    3. Lodging and any applicable taxes
    4. Rental car reservations (Note: A charge card in the name of the driver must be presented for payment of rental vehicles)
    5. Car rental gas
    6. Hotel and airport parking
    7. Hotel business communications (internet service)
    8. Commercial transportation, including trains, such as Amtrak; buses; taxis; and shuttles
    9. Campus parking passes for non-employees/guests
    10. Training and conference registrations

The  UW TravelWIse portal is the most up-to-date and complete resource for current travel policies. Information on the Travel Card is also available on the website.

VI.  Specific procedures

In addition to the General Procedures listed above, follow the specific procedures for:

1.  Lodging
      1. When making reservations, be sure to check the hotel’s cancellation policy. Except in unusual circumstances, which must be justified in writing, an employee will be held personally responsible for additional costs for failure to cancel a guaranteed reservation or comply with posted checkout hours.
      2. Only room, lodging facility parking and lodging facility business communications charges for UW System employees may be put on the PCard and must be supported by an original machine-printed or handwritten receipt furnished by the hotel/motel. All other expenses such as meals, porterage, telephone calls, room service, laundry, etc., must be paid separately and appropriate reimbursement claimed on the Expense Report.
      3. If required by the lodging facility, a 1-night deposit may be paid at time of reservation in accordance with SYS 415, Travel and Expense – Purchase & Payment of Lodging.
      4. Receipts which exceed the maximum daily rate allowed must be accompanied by an explanation of the reasonableness of the expense, i.e., conference site.
      5. The following supporting documentation must be included:
        1. Date(s) of stay
        2. Name and address of hotel/motel
        3. Business purpose of trip
        4. Number of nights
        5. Single room rate
        6. Total cost of transaction
      6.  When using the Expense Module, enter the room expense information and select the Payment Type as ‘University Prepaid’ to indicate that it was paid for by a PCard. Itemize all other expenses as appropriate.
      7. Provide a Wisconsin Tax Exempt Certificate or Out of State Tax Exemption Certificate at the time of reservation.
    1. 2.  Air Travel
      1. When making airline reservations, ask for the lowest appropriate airfare available as defined in the SYS 410, Travel & Expense – Purchase & Payment of Business Air Travel.
      2. Receipts provided should be the highest form of receipt issued by the airline/travel agency indicating a $0 balance.
      3. The following supporting documentation must be included: traveler’s name, destination, departure/return dates, amount of fare, routing, class of travel, and purpose of trip.
      4. When using the Expense Module, enter the airfare expense information and select the Payment Type as ‘University Prepaid’ to indicate that it was paid for by a PCard.
    2. 3.  Car Rental
      1. When making reservations, make sure to book under the available contracts as defined in the SYS 425, Travel & Expense – Use of Personal Vehicles, Rental Cars and Fleet for Business Transportation.
      2. Payment for the rental is due upon return of the vehicle and must be paid with a charge card in the driver’s name.
      3. The following supporting documentation must be included: rental agreement and receipt as provided upon vehicle return and any additional receipts for gas. The UW System will not reimburse supplier refueling or prepay fuel packages and these options should be declined by the renter at vehicle pickup.
      4. Employees and students must be prepared to provide UW System identification and the UW System’s tax-exempt wallet card to receive tax exemption on qualifying rentals (i.e. rentals originating in Wisconsin or participating States).
    3.  4.   Foreign Emergency Major Medical Expenses
      1. The Foreign Emergency Major Medical Expense PCard is a separate component of the contractual agreement between the State of Wisconsin and WSCA Contract. Each campus has the option to implement this component. This type of PCard is issued to a foreign traveler and is acceptable for only foreign emergency major medical expenses as limited by selected MCCS.
      2. Employees traveling outside the country, on official business, should consult the campus Risk Manager in advance of leaving for specific instructions on what to do in the event of a medical emergency.
      3. Information regarding Traveler’s Accident Insurance is available on TravelWIse.
  1. VII.   Returned Goods

    1. If goods purchased with the PCard need to be returned, the cardholder should work directly with the supplier. Avoid suppliers that do not give credits on credit card purchases. Returns should be full credit with a separate charge for restocking fees; do not net the transactions for the full credit and restocking fees together.
    2. To facilitate compliant return processes, cardholders should practice the following:
      1. Always retain boxes, containers, special packaging, etc., until certain the goods will be kept. Some items, such as software or fragile pieces, cannot be returned without the original packaging materials.
      2. Read all enclosed instructions carefully. Often a phone number and other instructions are included on the packing slip and/or receipt.
      3. Many suppliers require a “Return Authorization Number” before returns will be accepted. Make sure to get this number, when it is required, so that the package will be accepted and credit issued to the account.
      4. In some cases, there may be a restocking fee (usually a percentage of the purchase price). If the supplier is completely responsible for the error or problem, the cardholder should not have to pay this, or any other fee. However, if the supplier is not fully responsible, the cardholder may have to pay the fee. The PCard may be used to pay this fee if it does not exceed any of the card limits.
      5. When reviewing the statement, make sure a credit was issued for the returned item. Any item(s) purchased with the PCard must be returned for credit. Do not accept a refund in cash, check , or as an in-store credit. Make sure to keep documentation of credits, returns, and exchanges with the PCard record.
  2. VIII. Supplier Debit Cards/Supplier Rebates

    1. 1. Supplier Debit Cards
    2. Some suppliers issue refunds on a debit card instead of a credit to the cardholder’s PCard. The supplier debit card must be noted on the PCard record and must be forwarded to the cardholder’s supervisor. This card should be used for purchases within the department.
    3. 2.  Supplier Rebates
    4. If a transaction includes a rebate, it should be noted on the PCard record. The check must be deposited to the original funding string where the purchase was charged to. All rebate checks must be forwarded to the accounting office for deposit.
  3. IX.  Disputed Transactions

Disputed transactions fall into two categories. The first is disputes with the supplier, where a supplier refuses to take back a defective or mis-shipped item; if there is a problem involving a dispute with a supplier (such as defective items or is a cardholder is claiming that an item was not ordered and the supplier claiming that it was), every effort should be made to resolve the problem directly with the supplier. The second are disputed charges; in a disputed charge, there is a discrepancy between the cardholder’s records and the statement.

If the cardholder is unable to resolve the dispute, they must complete the Statement of Disputed Item and forward it to the campus PCPA. Be sure to describe the problem and efforts made in attempting to resolve the dispute. The campus PCPA will review the form and submit it to Pcard supplier. This written notice must be received by Pcard supplier within 60 days of the date on the statement that contains the disputed transaction. It is recommended that such items be reported immediately upon receipt of the statement in question.

Transactions may also be disputed using the Pcard supplier portal. Refer to the Pcard supplier Cardholder Reference Guide, Disputing Transactions section.

During Pcard supplier’s investigation, they will issue a credit to the PCard account in question for the disputed amount. When the investigation is complete, the cardholder will be notified of the resolution. If the cardholder is not satisfied with this resolution, they must contact the campus PCPA immediately.

5. Related Documents

SYS 351, Purchasing Card Compliance Policy

SYS 410, Travel & Expense – Purchase & Payment of Business Air Travel

SYS 415, Travel & Expense – Purchase & Payment of Lodging

SYS 425, Travel & Expense – Use of Personal Vehicles, Rental Cars and Fleet for Business Transportation

SYS 435, Headquarter City & UW System Sponsored Events Policy

Purchasing Card Contacts

Appendix B. Commonly Questioned Items

Appendix C. Procurement Regulations

*For other appendices and supporting documents, see the guidance page.

6. History

First approved: January 10, 2024