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Payments & Purchasing

Upon receipt of an invoice from a vendor or an individual providing a service, the program or administrative office will assist you in processing payment. Please see the bottom of the page to find the contact person for your program.
1.0 Vendors
1.1 Paying New Vendors

Vendor Management (VM) is a unit within Columbia University’s Procurement Services responsible for maintaining the vendor file utilized for Purchasing and Accounts Payable transactions. The Finance Office assists program units in their efforts of requesting the creation of new vendor profiles.

Before doing business with a new supplier, GSAPP units are required to submit to the GSAPP Finance Office the usual necessary documentation (quote, invoice, requisition paperwork, etc.) along with the vendor’s completed W-9/W-8 tax form and the GSAPP Cover Sheet.

  • Foreign Vendors - If you are planning to pay a foreign individual, you must first confirm that they are legally able to accept payment. For visa requirements click here. For further information, please contact the Finance Office. If they are eligible, a W-8 tax form, visa, and passport must be submitted in addition to the usual necessary documentation.

All information provided to the Finance Office is to be up to date and accurate to ensure the timely creation of a vendor. Goods and/or service providers are required to complete an additional web-based vendor questionnaire and advised to sign up for ACH direct deposit. Vendor Management will send email notifications to the vendor with instructions on how to submit their information.

Upon receipt of each request, the VM team reviews, validates, and follows up with vendors/payees and requesting departments.

GSAPP units are urged to follow up with the vendor to ensure that the requirements are completed in a timely manner. It should be emphasized to the vendor that no transaction (payment) can be initiated until they submit all requested information.

All supporting documents containing sensitive information (copy of visa, passport, etc.) submitted via email to the Program Unit needs to be encrypted and password protected by the vendor. Please refer to CUIT’s file encryption tools and best practices sections at the below link: https://cuit.columbia.edu/handling-pii/file-encryption-tools

1.2 Current Vendors

Vendor Management also modifies current profiles. If you need to modify your own information in the vendor management database, click here.

To Request Payment by ACH or WIRE

Go to https://forms.finance.columbia.edu/vendor-request and proceed with the following:

  • Search for the vendor name or ID number by typing it in the field and click submit

  • Once name is found, select the circle next to it and click edit

  • Select Direct Deposit ACH Modification or Wire Modification from the drop down menu

  • Type in reason for modification and submit

Vendor Management will then receive your request and send you an email with a password that will allow you to submit the bank and contact information to them online.

2.0 Purchase Orders
2.1 Goods

A University-issued purchase order is required to place orders with vendors for all services, materials, parts, major equipment, repairs, construction, and construction-related items over $500.

All consulting services should be engaged through a purchase order. Please see the Competitive Bid Matrix for details on how many quotes are required for specific costs and services.

Please work with your program office to ensure that the following documentation is complete. See the bottom of this page for a list of program offices and contacts.

Documentation for Purchase of Goods

  1. Quote(s)/Invoice(s) - See Competitive Bid Matrix for details
  2. GSAPP Purchase Order Request Form

Please note that an invoice is a bill, submitted by a vendor, showing GSAPP Columbia University as the billing address, with an invoice number, an amount, and a description of services or goods provided. All invoices should be submitted with a GSAPP Cover Sheet, signed by the authorized individual within your program.

2.2 Professional Services

University schools and departments may contract for the purchase of professional services to accomplish the objectives of the University when such services are specialized, highly technical, and cannot be economically or satisfactorily performed by University employees as part of their normal duties.

Please contact your program office before engaging a service provider. The Finance Office will work with your unit’s program administrators to review the documentation and University processes to successfully hire a service provider. A University-issued purchase order should be in place before a service provider commences work.

Please note that faculty and staff may not sign any document presented by the service provider, i.e. Letters of Intent, Engagement Letters, Scope of Work (other than the University’s SOW template), agreements, etc. Please see section 2.3 Contracts for further details.

Payments to service providers are to be made in full compliance with all United States government laws, orders and regulations. Payment may not be made to the contractor without a fully executed University-issued purchase order.

Every vendor is required to be University-validated and approved before providing goods and services to the University. Once approved, vendors become part of the University’s vendor database. The more data the University has about its vendors, the easier it is for the University to identify quality, reliable sources who have established a relationship with us.

Commonly Used Service Providers
Graphic Designer
Interpreter (In Person Services)
Video/Audio Editors/Production

2.3 Contracts

Any contract or agreement that requires signature from Columbia University should be directed to the Finance Office. Under no circumstances may any contract or agreement be signed by faculty, staff, or student.

The authority to enter into and sign goods and services contracts on behalf of the University is limited to specific University personnel who have been authorized by the University Trustees or a specific written delegation. In most cases, the Vice President for Procurement Services is the officer authorized to sign goods and services contracts on behalf of the University.

Please submit event contracts well in advance of the event. Event contracts require a minimum of 7 to 10 business days to be reviewed by the Purchasing department.

3.0 Honoraria

An honorarium payment is a gratuitous payment to a lecturer or a professional person outside the University community (not a University faculty or staff member) as an expression of thanks. It is taxable income and is reportable to the Internal Revenue Service if the sum of annual payment(s) to the vendor is $600 or more annually.

If you wish to give an honorarium to an individual who has been on Columbia University payroll within the last fiscal year or calendar year (18 months), please contact Nicholas Roberts, Director of Faculty Affairs, for instructions on how to appoint this type of individual prior to making a commitment.

If the individual has never been on Columbia University payroll and the amount is not a fee for services, but rather a gratuitous payment as an expression of thanks, then they may be paid via an honorarium through Accounts Payable as outlined below.

3.1 Honoraria to U.S. Residents

Prior to engaging the individual, first confirm that they are legally able to accept payment. For visa requirements, click here. For further information, please contact the Finance Office.

In accordance with the Taxpayer Identification Number Form (W-9) Requirement policy, U.S. vendors doing business with the University are required to provide a completed and signed Form W-9. For instructions on paying new vendors and the vendor creation process, please see section 1.1 Paying New Vendors.

In addition to being approved as a vendor with the University, the following documentation is required when submitting honorarium payment requests:

  1. GSAPP Honorarium Form
  2. A flyer or a memo describing the event (if applicable)
  3. GSAPP Cover Sheet

Please note that a payment is not treated as an honorarium if it is for specified services rendered by an independent consultant, University student, or employee. Payments to University staff or faculty members are to be processed through the Human Resources Processing Center (HRPC) as additional compensation.

Under IRS regulations, honoraria payments are considered taxable income. Therefore, as a matter of policy, the recipient of an honorarium payment may not transfer the payment to another organization or individual. If the honorarium recipient wishes to transfer the payment to another organization or individual, he or she would receive the money first and then donate it. The only exception to this rule is employees of certain Federal Government Agencies.

3.2 Honoraria to Foreign Individuals

In accordance with the Payments to Foreign Nationals and Entities Policy, nonresident aliens doing business with the University are required to provide a completed and signed Form W-8 or Form 8233 along with evidence of immigration status.

Prior to engaging the individual, first confirm that they are legally able to accept payment. For visa requirements, click here. For further information, please contact the Finance Office.

Program units should obtain the following immigration status documentation from the individual depending upon the individual’s country of residence, as this will be required before the vendor is set up in the system and payment is issued:

Required document:

  • Passport (Identification page)

Plus one (1) of the below documents:

  • Passport page reflecting Homeland Security
  • ESTA
  • Copy of I-94 Departure Card (official documentation of immigration status)
  • Visa

Depending on the type of payment, all payments made to or on behalf of a nonresident alien or foreign entity are generally subject to income tax withholding unless specifically exempted, either by U.S. tax law or an income tax treaty.

Generally, payments not exempt from withholding, are subject to 30% federal income tax withholding, in accordance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. To claim an exemption from tax withholding under an income tax treaty, the payee should submit the appropriate exemption request form.

Prior to agreeing to pay an honorarium payment to a nonresident alien, you should confirm that the individual is present in the United States under an immigration status that allows him or her to perform an activity for which a payment may be made. Foreign individual visitors (including visa-exempt Canadians who enter with only a passport and who have declared their reason for visiting the U.S. is business or Mexicans with Border Crossing Cards) that meet certain criteria may receive honoraria payments, even though they are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States and are not eligible for a social security number (SSN).

Prior to agreeing to pay an honorarium payment to a nonresident alien, you should also confirm that the individual is not subject to U.S. economic or trade sanctions under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). A listing of sanction programs can be found on the OFAC website.

In addition to the above immigration status documentation requirements, the following paperwork will also need to be submitted:

  1. GSAPP Honorarium Form
  2. A flyer or a memo describing the event (if applicable)
  3. GSAPP Cover Sheet
4.0 Office Supplies & Printing
All purchases should be pre-authorized by the appropriate program or administrative office’s manager.
4.1 Office Supplies

The program or administrative office may order all office supplies from ARC, the University’s web-based financial system.   

Staples Advantage users were granted ARC access. Please refer to the Making Staples Purchases job aid for step-by-step guidance on how to make Staples purchases via ARC. You can also view a short video which will walk you through how to do this. The ARC Creating Requisitions Training Guide has also been updated to reflect the new functionality.

New Staples users will have to apply for the Requisition Initiator role by completing a Financial Systems Security Application (FSSA) in ServiceNow. Please reach out to the Finance Office for assistance with your Financial Systems Security Application (FSSA).

4.2 Print Services
Printing should be done through the University’s Print Services. Please work with your program administrator for instructions on how to request print jobs through Print Services. Exclusions: student printing should be printed through the Output Shop.

Darwin Eng, Assistant Director

Historic Preservation
Sarahgrace Godwin, Assistant Director

Real Estate Development
Thelma Collado, Assistant Director

Urban Design
David Smiley, Assistant Director

Urban Planning
Kian Goldman, Assistant Director