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New commercial card program allows for expanded purchases and travel

June 3, 2019

The Division of Administration and Finance is enhancing the university’s commercial card program to create more flexibility for faculty and staff who are authorized to purchase supplies for their departments or travel for business purposes, and graduate student employees who are authorized to travel for business purposes. The new program is designed to eliminate redundant and outdated paper processes and put more purchasing power in the hands of departments.

Cardholders will have expanded purchasing capabilities with the new commercial card program. The policy is being updated to allow purchases that have traditionally been prohibited – such as advertising for position postings and vehicle rentals. And, in what many are calling the most welcomed change, deans and division heads will have the option to activate a travel function that allows cardholders to purchase airfare and lodging on their cards. This will eliminate stipulations that require cardholders to pay for travel up front and seek reimbursement later.     

“NIU faculty members are engaged in cutting-edge research that is recognized around the world. Currently, they are covering the initial costs of this work out of their own pockets. This can create unnecessary financial pressures and lead to missed research and learning opportunities,” said Sarah McGill, vice president and chief financial officer. “This new program will allow us to think differently about how we work. It will allow us to support the bigger mission of the university – investing in our students and fueling research that impacts global change.”

Changes to the commercial card program reflect feedback received from cardholders and administrators who expressed concerns about duplicate logging procedures and system reporting limitations. The new program mitigates these concerns.

The changes will go into effect in July. In the coming weeks, deans and division leaders will be engaged in conversations about changes to the program and how the new card will be implemented in their units. Cardholders will receive additional information, along with an invitation to attend an in-person training session. Cardholders will receive a new card once they have completed training.

New cardholder application processing has been suspended during the transition but will resume on Tuesday, July 16. For immediate needs or questions, please contact the P-Card Administration at [email protected].