FAQ – After the Fact Purchase Order explanation (ATF)

March 15, 2017

Why do Purchase Orders (PO) need to be setup prior to receiving a good or service?

·       Purchase Orders are a contract with the vendor and they are useless if done after the fact.

·       After the fact purchase orders are a violation of university policy and create audit findings for the college if too many are created.

·       After the fact purchase orders put the employee at risk that ordered the item. If the university refuses the purchase, the individual employee would be responsible for paying the vendor.

The PO Number must be received prior to placing an order or confirming services with the vendor, otherwise the employee is liable for all expenses they commit to.

Purchase Orders are an important part of protecting the university and the employee from liability. It isn’t something that should be an afterthought in the planning process.


How to prevent After the Fact Purchase Orders:

·       Submit your requests early: eRequests need to be submitted and approved prior to the needed good or service. Usually allowing two weeks for processing, add an additional week if a vendor addition is needed.

·       Include the PO process in your pre-planning: Most of the things we do require pre-planning. When you have an event, you have to book a room, send out an advertisement or invitation, and prepare your materials. The PO request process MUST be part of that pre-planning process.

·       Purchase Orders don’t have to be perfect: POs can include terms that are estimates based on further confirmation from the unit. So even if you aren’t sure about the quantity or the amount, doing a PO ahead of time is still necessary. Not being sure of the amount isn’t an excuse for having an after the fact PO.

·       There are other buying tools for many items: A PCard, a personal reimbursement and occasionally the checking account can avoid the need for a purchase order if the commodity allows it. See the Purchasing restrictions page for commodities that have special buying processes.

·       Consider a vendor already on contract: Vendors that are in eStores are faster to purchase from than non-eStores vendors. Also some vendors won’t allow payment by PCard, by choosing a different vendor that is easier to work with you may be able to avoid the PO process.

Resources: Training Procurement

Questions: cfaesbusiness