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University Guidelines and Policies

There are many potential methods to procure goods and services at Ohio State. The Office of Business and finance maintains "How to Choose a Procurement Method," a decision tree to help you determine the correct procurement method.

On the Administrative Resource Center, you'll find the Procuring Goods and Services job aid, which informs users of standard methods used to procure goods and services and is designed in order of priority consideration.

All employees involved in the use of university funds are responsible for compliance with all relevant university guidelines and policies:

Notes on Specific Purchases

Please see section below for detailed information on PCard purchases.


All purchases, including business meals and alcohol purchases, must include a business purpose justifying the necessity of the expenditure. Purchases involving food and beverage must also include a list of attendees.  Food may be purchased for the following events:

  • Student-focused events (recruiting, etc.)
  • Events that include non-OSU guests (conferences, business meals, etc.)
  • Employee celebratory/recognition events (limit of 2 per year)
  • New hire welcome receptions
  • Recognition of Service events (retirement/departure)
  • Training events

BuckeyeBuy Catering Marketplace

The Catering Marketplace is a multi-supplier catalog of drop-off and full-service caterers and event equipment rental suppliers. Menus, discounts and service details are available when submitting an order. See Catering Marketplace for a preview of the site and the Catering Marketplace User Guide.

Catering order requirements:

  • List of Attendees - please remember to attach information regarding attendees. If it is a public event, please attach a flyer or announcement.  If an invite list is unavailable at the time of the order, please add a comment that a list will be kept locally for audit purposes. For all orders, please comment if any department/college/university leaders could potentially attend so we can secure the appropriate approval.
  • Memo to Supplier – please include your contact info, the date of the event, as well as the event location.
  • Area Worktags – when adding the funding source worktags, please add an Area worktag (AR1440 - events exclusive to OSU attendees or AR1442 - if anyone attending is external to OSU) in the “Additional Worktags” field.

If you are planning to pay an individual, whether it be to pay an employee, pay an honorarium, pay for a service, etc., please submit your request at least three weeks in advance of work beginning.  This gives us sufficient time to process required forms, submit agreements/contracts for legal review or process any required hiring forms.

To figure out what kind of paperwork will be required, consult the Independent Contractor Agreement Workflow Process [pdf].

Required Documentation for Payments to Independent Contractors:

By Vendor:

By Ohio State employee making request:


Payments to employees: requests to compensate employees for work performed outside of their assigned duties should be emailed to the department's HR Associate for processing.  If approved, the payment will be included in the employee's paycheck the following month.

Faculty should apply for Arts and Humanities Support for Research Grants to fund these services.  If a faculty member obtains funds from the College or another unit to cover permission fees on the condition that the department match the award, the matching funds will be expensed from the faculty member's research fund.

All requests for department shipping and mailing supplies (i.e. labels & envelopes) go through our front desk staff.  Please remember the mail is for use of departmental business only and UPS should be reserved only for exceptional circumstances (where extra security or speed is essential). Any items requiring UPS shipping must be approved by Wayne and will be charged to the individual's research fund balance.

The purchase of books and digital media published by an academic press, or other material relevant to your research, is permissible from the annual travel allowance, up to $250 per year.  

Business cards can be ordered through Uniprint. UniPrint is updating its process following the Workday transition. Ordering process information will be published soon. The cost of having business cards printed will be charged to the individual's research fund.

Regarding Braille business cards, unfortunately UniPrint is not equipped for this.  Once you receive your single-sided business cards from UniPrint, we can send them to a vendor to be brailled.  The university's ADA Coordinator's Office suggests Access USA.

PCard Guidance

Using the PCard is strongly encouraged, as opposed to personal funds, when procuring items on behalf of the university. PCards are used to support university purchasing and payable processes and subject to the limits of the university’s PCard and Expenditures policies. Common purchases made with the PCard include professional memberships, books for research, gift cards for participants in workshops or research activities, conference registration, food for events, and various items from Amazon. 

It is against university PCard policy to pay individuals, to pay sales or use tax, and to save the PCard number (hard copy or electronically) 

Workday does not enter the PCard process until after the purchase is made. Both english.fiscal@osu.edu and Wayne Lovely (.9) manage PCards for the Department of English. Please email them if you need to make a purchase and/or you are wondering if it’s possible to use the PCard. To make a PCard purchase, the following information is generally required: 

  • A description of what you need to purchase.
  • The estimated cost of the item(s).
  • A URL to the item or source where the item can be purchased.
    • This is essential because english.fiscal@osu.edu will need to review any potential purchases for Terms and Conditions.  If applicable, these require review and approval by the Business Service Center before the purchase can be made. 
  • A detailed business purpose.
    • The department needs to be able to justify every purchase made with university funds, so the more specific you can be here, the better. 
    • Examples of good business purposes include: 
      • “Conference registration for [your name] to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference to present on a panel about [research topic] and network with other scholars.  [Your name] will also be meeting with other collaborators on [grant project] to discuss the project’s current results and possible next steps.” 
      • “Annual professional membership for [your name] to the Modern Language Association (MLA).  This provides significantly reduced rates for conference attendance; is necessary for networking with and presenting research to the largest audience in the field; and includes a subscription to PMLA, the most widely circulated journal in the field.” 
      • “Four $25 Target gift cards were sent to participants of the ENGL 3004 usability ‘Message Test.’  The winners were chosen at random from the list of those who responded.  Recipients are William Shakespeare, Nikolai Gogol, Franz Kafka, and Mary Shelley.” 
      • “[Book title] is needed for my research on the history of the book.  This book discusses the impact of the printing press and how it has shaped the distribution of the written word today.” 
  • Funding source.
    • You don’t need to know your specific Worktags – “research fund,” “GAHDT grant,” “Undergraduate Studies Fund,” or “Kitty Locker Fund” is usually sufficient. 
  • english.fiscal@osu.edu typically turns these around within a business week.  If you need it more urgently than that, please let contact english.fiscal@osu.edu and let them know . 
  • All gift card purchases must include either a list of recipients or an IRB#. 
  • Almost any gift cards can be purchased. Some common choices are noted below: 
    • Amazon 
    • Barnes and Noble  
    • Bed Bath & Beyond   
    • Joann Fabric  
    • Kohl’s   
    • L.L. Bean  
    • Lowe’s  
    • Macy’s   
    • Old Navy   
    • Petco  
    • Sephora  
    • Staples  
    • Target   
    • Under Armour 
    • Williams Sonoma 
  • We cannot purchase Visa gift cards or other prepaid cash cards. 
  • Please know or have an idea of what you would like to order. 
  • Please include a list of recipients.  If this is an event that people have signed up for in advance, that list can be used.  If it’s an open event, a sign-in sheet can be sent to english.fiscal@osu.edu after the event. 
  • Please include documentation of the event. This could be an email invitation, a flyer, a webpage, or anything else that gives the details of the event. 
  • If the purchase includes alcohol (e.g. business meal), the alcohol must be charged to university discretionary funds. 
  • If you are attending the conference virtually, let english.fiscal@osu.edu know and the registration can be purchased using the information requested above. 
  • If you are attending the conference in person, an approved Spend Authorization will be required before the purchase can be made.  Please send the Spend Authorization number to english.fiscal@osu.edu when requesting the purchase. 
  • Conference registration often requires that the registrant log in to the conference website and make their registration selections.  Since this requires individual login credentials, there are a few ways these purchases can be made: 
    • You provide your login information to english.fiscal@osu.edu with instructions for what you’d like to select and english.fiscal@osu.edu can make the purchase on your behalf. 
    • You go through the registration process and then english.fiscal@osu.edu can provide the PCard information for you to input in the payment fields. 
    • You check one of the PCards out from english.fiscal@osu.edu in Denney Hall to make the purchase. This can be worked out via email when the purchase is requested.  

[.docx] - Some links on this page are to .docx files requiring the use of Microsoft Word. If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact english.communications@osu.edu.

[pdf] - Some links on this page are to Adobe .pdf files requiring the use of Adobe Reader. If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact english.communications@osu.edu.