Purchasing and disbursements procedures

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WMF Purchasing and Disbursement Process

Note, this document includes 2 sections which look very similar. The first section contains basics about purchasing policy and process. The second section repeats what is in the first section but includes additional information that is relevant for supervisors and/or budget owners.

Purchasing-Values/Philosophy of the WMF

At WMF, we strive for the proper balance between appropriate safeguards and controls related to assets and spending and undue bureaucracy. We assume that the staff is professional, has the best intentions and does not intend to spend Foundation funds (essentially donor contributions) recklessly.

We aim to provide a framework for purchasing that allows staff a fair amount of autonomy. In return, we ask for your cooperation in following the procedures we have set forth. We ask that staff exercise good judgment when making purchases with Foundation funds. We want staff to be able to make purchases that help them with their work and to feel supported in their work, at the same time, we need to adhere to reasonable standards. Our spending threshold is not the same as other top ten websites or Silicon Valley in general. When in doubt, one should err towards more frugality and not less.

How to Make a Purchase

There are 3 main methods (subject to approval level-see approval levels below):

  1. Order it through the Administrative Services Team-Head of Office Administration/Office Assistant/IT Manager or Admin Support person in your department -(many purchases can be made this way; examples include: office-related purchases, phones, cell-phones, mi-fi, tech equipment, desks, chairs, general office supplies, as well as travel-related purchases — such as conference attendance, airfare, hotels, etc.- see below for additional procedures related to travel). If you are not sure about where to start regarding a purchase, start with the Administrative Services Team.
  2. Order it directly from an existing WMF vendor.
  3. Pay for it with personal funds and seek reimbursement via an Expense Report (this should be a last resort).

If you don’t have your own budget, you must seek written approval from the budget owner before incurring costs to their budget. It is up to each department to determine the logistics of spending within the department-however, invoices and expense reports must ultimately be approved by budget owners and will not be paid without proper approvals.

Travel

Travel in most cases is subject to pre-approval independent of one’s approval threshold (see Travel Policy and Travel Approval Policy)

Please complete a Travel Request Form in order to obtain pre-approval, then complete a draft travel itinerary using Egencia. (See Admin Services team for access/training for Egencia.) The travel will be finalized by the Admin Services team provided they have received the proper pre-approval.

Note, the Travel Approval Policy states that the Executive Director must approve travel in writing, in advance; the Executive Director has delegated this approval to c-level staff who can and should provide the written approval for staff travel in their departments. C-level staff must obtain written pre-approval for their own travel from the ED or DD.

Contracts

Purchases that involve contracts need to go through contract review; please allow time for this process. A Contract Review Form should be completed and signed by the requestor and the C-level supervisor. It should then be routed to the CFOO. Once the CFOO has reviewed it, the CFOO will determine if legal review is required, and if so, will forward it on. Finally, the actual contract must be routed (with the Contract Review Form) to the C-Level staff or ED for signature based on their approval levels. Once the contract is signed by all parties, a copy needs to be forwarded to Accounting. (Note: If you are contemplating hiring an independent contractor, see HR.)

Meals

In addition to the guidelines regarding meals during travel, please note that peers are not authorized to approve meals with one another. For example, the manager of one department cannot take a manager from another department to lunch and expense it. If there is a legitimate work reason to do so, prior written approval must be obtained by the supervisor of the person who will be expensing the lunch.

Approvals and Approval Levels

Approval levels are:

  • Non-Budget owner-Purchases of any amount must be approved by the budget owner
  • Budget owner-$1,000
  • C-Level staff-$10,000
  • ED or DD must pre-approve expenditures over $10,000.

Budget owners must sign off on invoices charged to their department via a direct signature on the invoice or an email approving the purchase. Additionally, the person who initiated the purchase should sign off on the invoice to acknowledge receipt.

If the purchase amount is higher than the budget owner’s limit (typically $1,000), the department C-level needs to sign off, and, if the amount is over $10K, the purchase needs to have been pre-approved via email by the C-level, the C-level’s boss (ED or DD) with cc to the CFOO.

Expense reports must be reviewed and signed by one’s supervisor and the budget owner if they are not the same. If the total is greater than $1,000, the report must also be signed by the department C-Level. Expense reports, expense codes and instructions on how to complete them can be found on the Office Wiki-Finance Corner.

Invoice and Expense Report Submission

Properly approved invoices and expense reports should be submitted to Accounting by 5 pm on Tuesday for payment on Friday. Invoices and expense reports should clearly mark the department and account code(s). Account codes can be found on the Office Wiki Finance Corner. Invoices that are related to a contract or have a blanket pre-approval should be signed to acknowledge receipt of the goods/services but do not need to be signed by all approvers since they signed the contract summary and/or initial contract.

If you have been given a Wikimedia Foundation American Express card in your name, you should pay the bill directly and seek reimbursement per an expense report.

WMF Purchasing and Disbursement Policy and Process for Budget owners and/or Supervisors/Managers

Purchasing-Values/Philosophy of the WMF

At WMF, we strive for the proper balance between appropriate safeguards and controls related to assets and spending and undue bureaucracy. We assume that the staff is professional, has the best intentions and does not intend to spend Foundation funds (essentially donor contributions) recklessly.

We aim to provide a framework for purchasing that allows staff a fair amount of autonomy. In return, we ask for your cooperation in following the procedures we have set forth. We ask that staff exercise good judgment when making purchases with Foundation funds. We want staff to be able to make purchases that help them with their work and to feel supported in their work, at the same time, we need to adhere to reasonable standards. Our spending threshold is not the same as other top ten websites or Silicon Valley in general. When in doubt, one should err towards more frugality and not less.

As a budget owner and/or Supervisor/Manager, you have an added responsibility to ensure that expenditures are made per the guidelines, that proper approvals are obtained, to lead by example and to support the policy in general.

How to Make a Purchase

There are 3 main methods (subject to your approval level-see approval levels below):

  1. Order it through the Administrative Services Team -Head of Office Administration/Office Assistant/IT Manager or Admin Support person in your department (many purchases can be made this way; examples include: office-related purchases, phones, cell-phones, mi-fi, tech equipment, desks, chairs, general office supplies, as well as travel-related purchases (such as conference attendance, airfare, hotels, etc. see below for additional procedures related to travel). If you are not sure about where to start regarding a purchase, start with the Administrative Services Team.
  2. Order it directly from an existing WMF vendor.
  3. Pay for it with personal funds and seek reimbursement via an Expense Report (this should be a last resort)

Charges should not be made to your budget without your approval. Within your budget departments, you can decide how you’d like non-budget owner staff to make purchases. For example, you can decide that they can make purchases of up to $100 without your pre-approval but ultimately, invoices and expense reports must be signed by budget owners and will not be paid without proper approvals.

Travel

Travel in most cases is subject to pre-approval independent of one’s approval threshold (see http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Travel_Policy and http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Travel_Approval_Policy)

Please complete a Travel Request Form in order to obtain pre-approval, then complete a draft travel itinerary using Egencia. (See Admin Services team for access/training for Egencia.) The travel will be finalized by the Admin Services team provided they have received the proper pre-approval.

Note, the Travel Approval Policy states that the Executive Director must approve travel in writing, in advance; the Executive Director has delegated this approval to c-level staff who can and should provide the written approval for staff travel in their departments. C-level staff must obtain written pre-approval for their own travel from the ED or DD.

Contracts

Purchases that involve contracts need to go through contract review; please allow time for this process. A Contract Review Form should be completed and signed by the requestor and the C-level supervisor. It should then be routed to the CFOO. Once the CFOO has reviewed it, the CFOO will determine if legal review is required, and if so, will forward it on. Finally, the actual contract (with the Contract review Form) must be routed to the C-Level staff or ED for signature based on their approval levels. Once the contract is signed by all parties, a copy needs to be forwarded to Accounting.

Meals

In addition to the guidelines regarding meals during travel, please note that peers are not authorized to approve meals with one another. For example, the manager of one department cannot take a manager from another department to lunch and expense it. If there is a legitimate work reason to do so, prior written approval must be obtained by the supervisor of the person who will be expensing the lunch.

Approvals and Approval Levels

Approval levels are:

  • Non-Budget owner-Purchases of any amount must be approved by the budget owner
  • Budget owner-$1,000
  • C-Level staff-$10,000
  • ED or DD must pre-approve expenditures over $10,000.

Budget owners must sign off on invoices charged to their department via a direct signature on the invoice or an email approving the purchase. Additionally, the person who initiated the purchase should sign off on the invoice to acknowledge receipt.

If the purchase amount is higher than the budget owner’s limit (typically $1,000), the department C-level needs to sign off, and, if the amount is over $10K, the purchase needs to have been pre-approved via email by the C-level, the C-level’s boss (ED or DD) with cc to the CFOO.

Expense reports must be reviewed and signed by one’s supervisor. If the supervisor is not the budget owner, then the budget owner must also sign it. If the report is more than the budget owner’s approval limit, then it must be signed also by the department C-Level but in general, expense reports should not involve high dollar amounts.

When reviewing expense reports, it is the reviewer’s responsibility to ensure that they agree that the expenses are properly reimbursable by the organization. For example, travel dates on the report should coincide with the dates previously approved. If meals include persons other than the staff person, it should be agreed that there was a valid business reason for including the other person(s). Costs should be reviewed for reasonableness; if an expense seems high (i.e. a meal for one person that costs $100), the supervisor should get more details from the staff person. If the supervisor doesn’t agree that an expense should be charged to the organization, they can and should omit it from the report. If they are not sure, they can contact Accounting to learn whether WMF has reimbursed similar charges in the past.

The Accounting department will check the basic math, will check for general policy adherence (i.e. WMF does not reimburse mini bar expenses), and will check for proper currency exchange rates. Expense codes and instructions on how to complete them can be found on the Office Wiki-Finance Corner.

Invoice and Expense Report Submission

Properly approved invoices and expense reports should be submitted to Accounting by 5 pm on Tuesday for payment on Friday. Invoices and expense reports should clearly mark the department and account code(s). Account codes can be found on the Office Wiki-Finance Corner.Invoices that are related to a contract should be signed to acknowledge receipt of the goods/services but do not need to be signed by all approvers since they signed the initial contract summary and/or contract.