Policy: Operating Purchases for Non-Personnel & Non-Grant Goods and Services

Memo From: Vice President of Financial Affairs and Chief Financial Officer

This memo is intended to clarify policies related to the expenditure of College funds. In order to achieve its strategic objectives, the College needs to continue to diligently manage its budget, especially by managing discretionary spending. The following procedures are intended to ensure that all expenditures are made against accounts with available budgets and that expenditures are controlled and authorized. Separate policy statements will be issued regarding travel expenses, payments to employees and payments made under grants.

Purchase Orders

Purchase orders must be obtained and properly approved in advance of all purchases. The only exceptions to the use of purchase orders are for emergency maintenance items that cannot be anticipated in advance (such as the cleanup of flooding), and the purchase of supplies through the online system. Purchases made prior to obtaining an approved purchase order will require the approval of the President or Chief Financial Officer, regardless of the amount, and the purchaser may be denied reimbursement. Invoices submitted for payment against a purchase order where the invoice is dated prior to the approval of the purchase order will be treated as purchases made without prior approval.

Authorization of Invoices for Payment

Purchase orders and invoices will be processed in accordance with the Business Office Purchase Order Approval Process Timeline and Invoice Processing Timeline (Attachment A).

All purchase orders must be approved by the Vice President responsible for the departments in her or his scope of supervision. The purchase orders must then be sent to the Controller for review. The Controller will forward all purchase orders that are acceptable to the CFO for approval. The CFO then forwards all purchase orders of $1000 or more to the President for final approval.

All purchase orders must have information included in the “explanation” field that explains the nature and business purpose of the purchase. Purchase orders with inadequate explanations will be returned to the issuer. In addition, the purchase order must be accompanied by a form of documentation that supports the cost (e.g. an estimate from a printer, an estimate for labor services, an order form).

Upon final approval, the Business Office will process the purchase order for payment and return the approved purchase order to the issuer. The Business Office will not deal directly with the vendors for processing the purchase order.

Invoices that are received in the business office with a matching approved purchase order will be entered into the Accounts Payable system to be paid in 30 days unless payment terms of the vendor specify otherwise.

Originals of all invoices will be maintained in the business office and copies of the invoices will be sent to the purchasers for authorization to pay.

The purchaser will review the invoice to determine that the goods/services have been received, the amounts charged are in agreement with any contracts, catalogs or agreements and the quantities charged are appropriate. Once satisfied that the invoice should be paid, the purchaser should mark the invoice approved for payment and sign and date the invoice. The purchaser should then return the approved invoice along with a copy of the purchase order (invoice packet) to the business office. The business office will not make payments from account statements for goods as this leads to over payment.

Invoices must be processed in a timely way to ensure that Trinity College is making payments in a timely way.

When disputing an invoice amount, the purchaser should copy the Accounts Payable clerk on the correspondence so that they are aware of the issue.

The Accounts Payable clerk will periodically review the invoices that have been sent to purchasers for non-returns and will follow up with those who have not returned invoices for payment. Where invoices are not being approved and returned on a timely basis, the business office will determine whether the purchasers’ manager or Senior Staff should be notified.

The Business Office will not initiate payments unless sufficient documentation of the receipt of goods or services (such as the invoice packet discussed above) is provided. The level of documentation that has been accepted in the past is not necessarily an acceptable level going forward.

 Use of Check Request Forms


For Prepayment

Check request forms should only be used for prepayment of expenses. Typical prepayments include registration fees, deposits and memberships. Sufficient supporting documentation or a memo should be attached explaining the need for prepayment.

 No Prior Authorization

If a check request is used where prior authorization of the purchase was not obtained through a purchase order, the purchase may be denied for reimbursement. The check request form must be completed and a cover note must be attached which describes the reason for the purchase and the reason for not using a purchase order. All purchases without prior authorization are discussed with the CFO and President before they are paid.

Check request forms should not be used when submitting an invoice for goods or services that were purchased under a purchase order.

Petty Cash

The College does not maintain a petty cash fund for the payment of trade transactions. All purchases should be planned in advance and authorized using a purchase order.

Use of College Credit Cards

College credit cards should only be used for College business. Failure to obtain prior approval for purchases made on the College credit card could result in the removal of credit card privileges and/or denial of reimbursement. Misuse of College credit cards may also result in termination from employment with Trinity.

Purchasing Office Supplies

Office supplies must be purchased through Office Depot online service. The College has negotiated very beneficial prices with Office Depot. Additionally, using one vendor allows for greater volume discounts and for less paperwork. A purchase order is not needed when using Office Depot, as all purchases are forwarded to the Assistant Controller for budget approval prior to being finalized. Any purchases of office supplies made from other vendors will require justification by either documenting a lower price was received or that the items were not available from Office Depot. Using a vendor other than Office Depot will require the use of a purchase order.

Federal Express Shipments

When sending a shipment via Federal Express,  the account code charge  for the shipment must be included  on the line marked Internal Account Code. Failure to supply this code more than one time will lead to the shipment NOT being reimbursed.

Attachment A



Noon, Wednesday Cutoff for submittal of properly completed purchase order with approved invoice and explanatory memo. Cutoff for submission of student refund requests.
Noon, Thursday Business office completes review and entry of items submitted.
COB, Thursday Business office runs checks and prepares for CFO and President authorization.
Noon, Friday Controller approves check run for signing.
1:00 PM, Friday Checks are available for pick-up at the business office.
4:00 PM, Monday Checks not picked up will be mailed.


It is very important that each department maintain a log of items submitted with copies where appropriate. This will allow for a more efficient review of your budget status reports and to detect errors.

It is extremely important that PO’s with Invoices and Student Refund Requests be clearly marked if they are to be picked up, rather than mailed (even if it is a standing process with a certain vendor).