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UNC will almost never pay you back if you use your own money. If they do, they will not reimburse taxes.

Rule 1: Talk to administrative or fiscal staff before:

  • buying anything with your own money,
  • promising money to a person or company, or
  • asking a person or company to start work.

Rule 2: Document everything (save receipts, packing slips, emails, etc.)

Rule 3: The magic number is $5000. If your purchase is more than $5000, or you plan to spend more than that in a month at a single vendor, see Purchase Order below.

Working from Home

If you are working from home and need office supplies or computer peripherals, Staples, CDWG and Lenovo can deliver to your home. Please contact Robin Whitley for exact instructions or assistance. This is the only way to deliver to your home address. No other epro vendors will do this, and we cannot use the pcard to deliver to your home. 

Supplies such as furniture for your home office cannot be purchased or reimbursed through UNC.

Common Requirements

Documentation – Each purchase must have:

  • a receipt or invoice. It must show every item/service bought and the total amount paid.
  • a signature and date. This can be on a packing slip or on a receipt.

You must provide these as soon as you have them, preferably in the same week you receive the item.

Accounting information – You must provide the funding for the purchase. This may be in the form of a cost code, a project ID, a program code, or a full chartfield string.

The Methods

There are several different ways to purchase things. If you’re not sure which method is correct, speak with Robin Whitley or your account manager. There is also a decision tree under Resources below. Methods are listed here in order of frequency (roughly.)

Buy Carolina / eProcurement

Buy Carolina (aka ePro) should always be the first place you look. It has vendors for scientific, computing, office, and industrial supplies. You get to it through Connect Carolina and use chartfield strings to pay for the orders.  Each lab places its own Buy Carolina orders, but the designated purchaser(s) must be trained and given access. The purchasing limit is $5000 for some companies and $25,000 for others; these are listed in one of the scrolling announcements on the main Buy Carolina page. If you need to go above that limit, see Purchase Orders below.

Buy Carolina details (including documentation rules)

Purchasing card

The purchasing card (Pcard) is used for allowable goods under $5000. It should not be used for items available through Buy Carolina. Each administrative assistant and some lab staff have access to a card. Give documentation to the cardholder as soon as you have it, along with a justification for the purchase. (In other words, please explain what you will be using your purchase to do.)


We use vouchers when a company or person invoices us for goods or services. Please do not agree to pay an individual money unless they have already gone through the Independent Contractor process. We must have received the goods or services to pay the invoice. Documentation should go to your administrative assistant.

Purchase Order

Some purchases must go through UNC Purchasing before you agree to buy anything or any work begins. To do this, we must create a requisition, which will become a purchase order.

Purchase orders are required for the following:

  • All orders over $5000 (or $25,000 for certain Buy Carolina vendors)
    • Orders cannot be split to get around this limit.
    • If you are spending more than $5000 at a single vendor in a short time period (1-2 months), we may need to create a standing order.
  • Any time an organization wants a signature or is arranging a contract
  • Any radioactive items

All purchase orders must go through Robin Whitley. She will need documentation for purchase orders.

Direct Billing

Some on-campus providers will bill the department’s accounts directly. This includes:

  • laundry
  • facilities
  • Carolina Copy
  • “core” facilities
  • Carolina Catering

Make sure to give the provider all the required accounting information. You must provide a copy of the charges to the ESE fiscal office. Otherwise it just appears as a mystery line item and creates accounting difficulties.

Cash Advances

We use cash advances for two purposes:

  • gift cards for study subjects and
  • non-travel costs associated with a trip (such as paying for supplies on-site).

Cash advances are deposited into an employee’s bank account. The employee must provide receipts for every purchase and return any unused money. To request an advance, you should contact your account manager.

Keep the original receipts for all expenses and turn them in to your account manager by the due date.

Official Cash Advance Policy


Procurement 101: Required Procurement Documents
Purchasing Method Decision Tree

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