Standard Operating Procedures

The links below will connect you with the most current versions of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) developed by the College of Human Ecology. As with the Cornell University Policy Library—the policies of which these SOPs ultimately refer—these on-line documents may at times be revised. Any SOP that has undergone substantive revisions will be noted as “Revised” with the revision date next to its listing.

Contact Us

Volume 1, Financial transaction processing:

1.1: Account Set-Up December 1, 2006
1.2: Account Distribution and Adjustment Form August 1, 2005
1.3: Procurement Card Policy August 1, 2005

1.4: Small Dollar Purchases August 1, 2005
1.5: APPS Purchasing August 15, 2005
1.6: Cash Receipts August 19, 2005

1.7: Journals August 19, 2005
1.8: Travel Advance and Reimbursement August 19, 2005
1.9: Accounts Payable Voucher System August 19, 2005

Business Service Center

Standard Operating Procedure


Volume 1, Transaction Management Chapter 1, Account Set-Up December 1, 2006


According to Cornell University Policy Library, Policy 3.7:

An account is a place to record financial activity in the general ledger. An account is identified by its unique seventeen digits: a three-digit department number and a four-digit subledger number, four digit object code, three digit project code and a 3 digit duo code. Each account has specific characters (attributes) that govern its use and presentation in financial reports. An account is set up and attributes are assigned based on a request containing specific information including source of funds and purpose of account.


The Business Service Center will establish new accounts, by request of the department. The Requesting a New Account form may be used to submit a request to the Business Service Center. The form is optional.

Account titles and sources will follow the structure established by the College Finance office. T:\Finance-Policies\June 2006 new account scheme\che acct title matrix 06 2006.xls.

  • The BSR will include the department representative and BSC Manager in the notification field of the new account request.

  • The BSR will also include the Director of Finance in the notification field of the new account for Deans, State Funded and Gift Accounts.

  • The department representative will forward supporting documentation to the BSR. For Sponsored Funds, a copy of the signed agreement with the approved budget and any financial restrictions will be forwarded to the BSC.

  • Federal Appropriated Funds: Smith Lever and Extension funded accounts will continue to be established in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Extension Office. Hatch funded accounts will continue to be established in the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 2, Account Distribution and Adjustment Form (ADAF) August 1, 2005


Occasionally adjustments are needed for labor charges made to accounts. This requires the completion of an Account Distribution and Adjustment Form (ADAF), which may be found through the following link: . A department may electronically request an ADAF, or may send a hard copy of Report 189 to the Business Service Center (BSC). A BRIO Labor Distribution report is an acceptable substitute for Report 189.

For more information about account adjustments, refer to “Procedures” under Cornell University Policy 3.20 (Costs Transfers on Sponsored Programs):

Required information

  • Employee Name.

  • Effective Date (Part III) or Dollar Amount (Part IV).

  • Account Distribution (must add to 100%).

  • Reason for adjustment request.

Process and Follow-Up

  • The BSC will process request, verifying the permissibility and sufficiency of funds.

  • The BSC will verify that the ADAF was processed correctly.

  • If an error occurs, BSC to send an email to:, and include the individual’s name, employee ID number, and an explanation of the problem.

Additional Information

  • ADAFs must reach Payroll by 10:00 a.m. on the 20th of each month for changes to be reflected on that month’s 189 report.

  • Effective February 15, 2003: The following adjustments are considered low priority and will be processed only when time permits.

    • Retro’s in which ONLY the DUO code is changed.

    • Retro’s that include dollar adjustments under $100.

    • Retro’s with adjustments 90 days or older.

    • Retro’s for bi-weekly employees who could have been adjusted in COLTS.


Volume 1, Transaction Management

Chapter 3, Procurement Card Procedure Revised January, 2009


This procedure is a combination of Cornell University Policy 3.12 Procurement Card and best practices developed by the university.    

For information regarding relevant university policies, see:

•    CU Policy 3.12, Procurement Card:

•    CU Policy 3.14 Business Expenses: 

Frequently used information and forms are linked below: 

•    Prohibited transactions

•    Charge dispute form

•    Business meal details form

Obtaining a Procurement Card  

The procurement card is a tool designed specifically for staff whose position requires frequent business-related purchases. The application process has several steps, as outlined below.

•    Based on expected usage and required roles, Department Administrative Managers make a recommendation to the Business Service Center Manager on p-card issuance.

•    An application will be sent to the Department Administrative Manager from the Business Service Center Manager.  In completing the application, the applicant’s Supervisor will be required to provide specific examples of the types of goods and services that the staff member needs to purchase and the frequency the purchases will be made, and sign the application.  The Unit Chair or Business Manager must also sign the application and return it to the Business Service Center Manager.

•    The default account number for a procurement card cannot be a sponsored grant or contract, state or federal appropriated account.

•    The Office of Credit Card Programs will contact the applicant directly for approved applications, and provide steps necessary to complete the process. If Credit Card Programs rejects the application, all parties who signed the application will be informed.

•    Applicants who are approved will be instructed to take the following steps:

o    Review University Policy 3.12, Procurement Card

o    Take the Procurement Card Online Tutorial

o    Pass the Tutorial Exam (score at least 85% by answering 13 of 15 questions correctly)

o    Sign the “Cardholder Agreement” portion of the procurement card application and return it to Credit Card Programs

o    Attach the email confirmation generated by the Tutorial Exam to their application and return it to Credit Card Programs.

Making Purchases Using a Procurement Card 

•    P-card holders should check with their Department Administrative Manager for unit specific procedures.

•    Submit sufficient documentary evidence including original receipts and explanation to support the business purpose of each purchase to the appropriate BSR within 10 calendar days of the transaction. Include account number to charge.

•    Lending or sharing a p-card is not allowed. 

•    Never split the cost of one single item into multiple payments in order to circumvent the per-transaction limit of the p-card.

•    Purchases made with the p-card are exempt from New York State sales tax. If the vendor will not grant a sales tax exemption, note the vendor’s refusal with the documentation. 

•    When purchasing food or beverages, the cardholder will complete a business meal details form (or provide all the information requested on the form) and attach it to the receipt.  Note: Use of the p-card for meals while traveling is prohibited, if that travel includes an overnight stay.

Policy Non-Compliance

The following non-compliance procedures were put into effect April, 2008.

The following violations of procurement card policy will result in a minimum 60-day suspension of the procurement card (depending on the circumstances, certain violations of university policy may also warrant immediate suspension of the card and/or disciplinary action):

More than two instances of non-compliant events during any 12-month period, such as:

•    failure to submit to the Business Service Center adequate documentation, including cardholder name, original receipt, account to charge and business purpose of the purchase within 10 calendar days of the transaction,

•    a prohibited transaction (see Prohibited transactions)

•    splitting the cost of a single item into multiple payments

Documentation should be mailed to the BSC, MVR.  If hand delivering, we are located in the second floor of Mann Library, however campus mail is addressed to MVR.

As a courtesy, the Business Service Center will try to send one email to the card holder as an alert that documentation is missing within 10 calendar days of the transaction.  Please contact us with any questions or concerns.  

Reconciliation of Purchases with Statements

•    Cardholders review monthly procurement card statements from the bank for accuracy. Cardholders are encouraged to sign and submit the statements to their BSR.

•    If a cardholder questions a charge, it is his or her responsibility to resolve the situation. If appropriate, the cardholder will prepare a charge dispute form and alert their BSR of the issue.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 4, Small Dollar Purchases August 1, 2005


Small Dollar Purchases are those purchases made without the use of the Procurement Card or Purchase Order system. Reimbursement is being sought for expenses paid with personal funds, and a receipt is the proof of purchase.

Petty Cash

  • Faculty/Staff/Student

    • Receives verbal approval to purchase from "account owner" (if not own funds).

    • Purchases goods/services with personal funds - gets receipt.

    • Obtains account owner's signature on completed reimbursement request form.

    • Present receipt and completed request form to BSC for reimbursement.

  • Business Service Center

    • Under $25.00: Person receives money immediately (if petty cash funds permit).

    • Over $25.00: Payment Request process initiated.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 5, APPS Purchasing Revised August 15, 2005


Cornell's Automated Procurement and Payment System (APPS) is Cornell's online system for the processing of requisitions, purchase orders, and vendor invoices.


  • Initiator requests purchase through Cornell WebForm; includes sole source justification if necessary (may be via email in exceptional cases).

  • WebForm may be forwarded to official “account owner” for approval (if required by department) or sent directly to BSR for processing. Training will be provided for those individuals that will be responsible for purchasing in each department.


  • If approval from account owner is required the account owner will receive an automated email with a link to the WebForm to approve (or reject) which will then be forwarded to the Business Service Representative (BSR).

  • The BSR reviews and edits the order for appropriate authorization, allowability, allocability, and coding.

  • The APPS order is forwarded to the appropriate signature authority.

  • An automated email is sent to the requestor .

  • The order is authorized and forwarded to Purchasing for release to vendor.

Receipt of Goods

  • Faculty/Staff/Student

    • Initiator verifies that the order is received.

    • Packing slip/receipt is signed, dated with account number and any comments added.

    • Packing slip/receipt is forwarded to BSC.

  • Business Service Center

    • If purchase is not capital equipment (i.e., not greater than $5,000):

      • BSC releases payment in the Automated Procurement Payment System (APPS).

    • If purchase is capital equipment (i.e., greater than $5000) BSR will work with initiator to:

      • Record make, serial and model number and location.

      • Assign and record bar code number.

      • Default insurance coverage to “no” (can be changed later).

    • BSR sends copy of “receiver screen” to initiator with bar code tag for reference and to initiate insurance if required.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 6, Cash Receipts August 19, 2005


This procedure applies to all monies received by the Business Service Center (BSC) with the exception of gift revenues processed by Alumni Affair and Development (Information Services).


  • Cash or checks are submitted to the BSC by the department or the individual recipient of the monies.

  • The BSC issues a receipt to the department or individual.

  • The BSC prepares and processes weekly deposits.

  • The BSC reconciles deposits to transaction statements.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 7, Journals August 19, 2005


A journal is the means of preparing a set of transactions for posting in the general ledger. Here you will find tutorials, a glossary of terms, a history of the software versions, and direct access to the Journal Entry Management System (JEMS). JEMS is an online system designed to improve the speed and efficiency of processing accounting journals for the university, developed by the financial systems group of the Division of Financial Affairs. Journals may be prepared by the department or the Business Service Center (BSC).  All JEMS are approved by the BSC.

Department Prepared

  • The department will enter a journal into JEMS indicating BSC as approver, providing a business purpose that to an outside auditor would answer the questions who, what, and why.  Please see Cost Transfer Policy for sponsored funds journal.

  • The department will forward back up to their BSR to scan and attach documentation

  • The BSC will approve the journal and retain the record.

BSC Prepared

  • The department requests via email, a journal be prepared; or the BSC identifies a need for a journal and prepares it using JEMS.

  • A Business Service Representative (BSR) will prepare the journal and submit it to an authorized approver.

  • The journal will be retained in the BSC.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 8, Travel Advance and Reimbursement August 19, 2005


The purpose of this document is to give the traveler and departmental staff a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for handling work-related travel expenditures. This is not intended to replace the University Travel Policy (3.2), but rather, to accompany it to help the traveler understand the basic procedures to obtain a travel advance or be reimbursed for travel expenses. These procedures are not intended to be a troubleshooting guide for travel policy questions. The SOPs are intended to give the traveler a basic outline of who to talk to, when to talk to them, and what they will need.

Before you travel, please review University Travel Policy 3.2 which lists many important travel expense restrictions and several websites that contain per diem and other critical information. Failure to read and understand this policy may result in non-reimbursable expenditures and an unnecessary financial loss to the traveler. Travel forms are available on the following web page (

Prior to Travel

  • Department Funded Trips

    • Check with your Department Representative (DR) who may be an Office Professional, Administrative Assistant, Account Representative or Administrative Manager, to be sure that approval has been granted for the use of department funds.

  • Grant/Faculty Account Funded Trips

    • Traveler should check with their DR to be sure that he or she has approval to use the funds.

    • The DR may need to check with the Administrative Manager to gain approval for the proposed travel expense.

Travel Advance

  • Traveler

    • Option 1: Use of Diners Club Card: Please note that when the traveler is using a Diner’s Club card for a cash advance there is an additional fee of $6.00 on their credit card statement in addition to the $1.50 that is on their receipt. Travelers with a Diner’s Club card can access their accounts on-line and print off a copy of the transaction report showing this additional fee. Using this option the traveler does not have to wait for a statement to come in the mail in order to be reimbursed for this fee.

    • Option 2: Work with your DR to fill out a Travel Advance Form (PDF), which will be used to obtain a travel advance.

  • Department Representative 

    • DR will send the completed forms to the Business Service Center (BSC) via campus mail for processing.

    • It is important to remember that an Advance Account needs to be cleared within 30 days from the date of return from travel.

  • Business Service Representative 

    • If the BSR has questions about the Travel Advance Request Form, he or she will work with the DR to get the issues resolved. The BSR will confirm approvals have been obtained, form is complete, and submit a payment request.

    • Once the request has been approved, the traveler will receive a check or direct deposit.

  • Tickets Purchased From Cornell University Travel Office

    • The traveler should work with their DR to fill out an Air Travel Requisition form on the web.

    • The DR should forward the Air Travel Requisition to their Team Lead or Senior BSR via the web for transaction authority.

    • This form will then be submitted directly to the Travel Office and a ticket will be generated.

Post Travel

  • All the pertinent receipts should be given to the DR for processing within 30 days after the trip.

Travel Voucher

  • Department Responsibilities

    • The DR will submit a Travel Reimbursement Request that is used to generate the reimbursement.

    • The completed request must be approved by both the traveler and the account owner. If the Travel Reimbursement Request is a paper form signatures should be on the form. If the Travel Reimbursement Request is generated through the on-line form, approvals will be requested electronically by the BSR.

    • The Travel Reimbursement Request needs to have an account number noted on the cover sheet before sending it to the BSR for processing.

    • If there are questions regarding the reimbursement, please check with your BSR.

    • The Travel Reimbursement Request backup documentation (original receipts, etc.) should be sent to the BSR via campus mail. Please include documentary evidence of the business purpose of the trip (i.e. meeting agenda, copy of conference agenda).

    • The business purpose of the trip should answer the questions what, why, when, where in terms an external reviewer could understand.  Acronyms should be spelled out.

  • BSC Responsibilities

    • BSR reviews and edits the requisition for allowability and allocability (any form changes will be communicated back to the DR).

    • Once the travel request has been reviewed and all signatures and approvals have been obtained the reimbursement request will be submitted to DFA.


Volume 1, Transaction Management
Chapter 9, Accounts Payable Voucher Processing August 19, 2005


Note: Purchasing Policy #205 provides guidance on Operating and Institutional purchasing authority as well as a complete list of commodities or services that should be processed for payment using the electronic Accounts Payable Voucher.

As of August 1, 2004, all departments are required to use the On Line Payment Request System to process Accounts Payable Vouchers at the following link Paper exceptions are required for payments over $500,000, payments on State funds, payments issued in foreign currency, moving, house hunting, and electronic funds transfers (wires).

The payment request system enables authorized Cornell employees to initiate and approve payments and reimbursements to vendors and subcontractors. It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to expend funds in a manner consistent with the mission of the university and the conditions specified by external sources.

Each request will be routed to Signature Authorities and Disbursement Review and Tax for review. Depending on the accounts, the payment request may be routed to Sponsored Funds Accounting for additional review.

Department Responsibilities

DR initiates payment request through the University Payment Request System. The Business Purpose should answer the questions what, why, when, where in terms an external viewer could understand.  Acronyms should be spelled out.

Once all required information is entered on the Payment Request System, the DR should forward the request to the reviewer (BSR).

Print the Payment Request Cover Sheet and forward it with the original supporting documentation (original invoice) to the reviewer (BSR) via campus mail.

BSC Responsibilities

  • BSR reviews and edits the requisition for allowability and allocability (any form changes will be communicated back to the DR).

  • BSR scans and attaches supporting documentation.

  • Upon successful review, The Payment Request System Form is forwarded to an authorized account signature authority. Once all signatures and approvals have been obtained the reimbursement request will be submitted to the Division of Financial Affairs.