SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has revised its procurement card violation policy to give cardholders a grace period of seven days to correct minor paperwork oversights related to the reconciling of monthly statements. The old policy enforced a three-strikes-and-you're out provision for violations and included no opportunity for correcting paperwork errors.
SRU updated the policy because the former policy resulted in too much red tape and the elimination of purchasing privileges for honest mistakes, said Mark Combine, SRU purchasing director. He said seven employees' cards have been canceled since 2006.
"Our goal is not to take your card away," Combine said. "The former policy is one that I would describe as a 'sledgehammer policy.' You were treated like a criminal because you didn't have that piece of paper, and I was having to be the judge, jury and executioner on the violation process."
Using the card is simple. The cardholder submits purchase receipts to Accounts Payable. Accounts payable makes payment. The receipts are audited and the findings are forwarded to Combine for a review. Users do not have to pay the bill and then seek reimbursement.
"If there is a violation, I notified the cardholder," he said. "Under the old policy, the cardholder could not correct any deficiencies. Under the new policy, the seven days would start when I notify them. In some cases, that could be a month or more after the purchase."
Combine said 50 employees have valid procurement cards, which they use for miscellaneous purchases such as library books or tractor parts. Procurement cards are not the same thing as travel cards that SRU employees use for business trips.
Under the old policy, any failure to provide a purchase receipt resulted in a strike. Cards were cancelled after three strikes, without a chance for reinstatement, even if strikes occurred years apart. The new policy allows employees to apply for reinstatement after a year and doesn't impose a strike for a minor violation such as not submitting a receipt, provided a valid receipt is found and submitted in seven days, Combine said.
If a receipt is not submitted after seven days, a strike is enforced. The new policy does not change major violations such as fraud or willful intent to disregard rules, policies and procedures. The key element of avoiding problems is keeping all receipts, he said. "The beauty of the procurement card is it eliminates the 27 steps for a purchase and cuts it down to the swipe of the card, keeping the receipt and giving it to us," he said.
All violations that have accumulated since the 2006 inception will be waived and all cardholders will start with a clean slate, Combine said.