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InfobITS logo, volume 7, number 2, winter 2001.


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P-Card Makes Purchasing Easy
by Jaime Yago

Purchasing is now a lot easier thanks to a new procurement tool called the Purchasing Card (P-Card). The P-Card is a credit card with built-in spending limits and accounting features that offers an alternative to existing procurement methods. If an item being purchased is within the limit set for an employee's P-Card (maximum amount is $2000 per transaction) the item can be charged to the P-Card and if available, the item can be picked up on the spot. Mainland or e-commerce vendors can ship orders immediately. There is no need to fill out requisitions, chase people down for authorized signatures, generate purchase orders, or cut checks. This makes ordering and the delivery of items much more efficient since paperwork and processing are drastically reduced. In addition, just as a single check is written to pay for charges to a personal credit card, a single check is cut once per month to pay for all the P-Card transactions of the UH system over the past month. Since there are no individual invoices and checks for each transaction, there is a huge cost saving for the University.

There are some restrictions. Normal purchasing guidelines related to pricelists and contracts still have to be followed. Also, the P-Card cannot typically be used to pay for travel items such as hotel, transportation, or food. Even with these restrictions, the P-Card offers an efficient way to make purchases.

The P-Card was first introduced to UH Manoa departments in the spring of 2000. Use of the card has since been expanded to all departments across the UH system. Faculty and staff who make purchases are generally chosen by deans, directors, VPs, etc. to hold P-Cards. The Office of Procurement, Real Property, and Risk Management (OPRPRM) provides ongoing training on the use of the card. They are the lead in the University's P-Card effort and are also the liaison between the University and First Hawaiian Bank, the P-Card provider. Contact your department's fiscal officer or OPRPRM (phone: 956-8687, e-mail: Gwen Won or Joyce Teraoka) if you are interested in acquiring a P-Card.

Those who have P-Cards are required to keep logs of purchases. There also is an Internet reporting system in place. First Hawaiian Bank provides a secured Web site where transactions can be viewed. Transactions are posted online two to three days after purchases are made. The Web site can be checked to verify that the transaction is correct, and that the correct account and object codes have been specified.

The Financial Management Information System (FMIS) team from ITS is involved with the technical and programming portion of the P-Card project. The team worked with First Hawaiian Bank and ProCard on the technical requirements. Software was written to interface the P-Card transactions with FMIS. Programs were written to edit, post, and report on P-Card activity in the Financial Accounting module of FMIS. These transactions charge the proper accounts and credit a clearing account. When the First Hawaiian Bank invoice (bill) is received, a single check is issued from the clearing account via the FMIS Accounts Payable module.

The P-Card saves both time and money for the University. And since it no longer takes "forever" for small purchases to arrive, UH faculty and staff have what they need sooner to get their jobs done.


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