Procuring Resources for Your Project

This section includes details on payroll administration, buying and paying for travel, goods and services.

Payroll Administration

Roles and responsibilities for payroll administration are set by each school or department. Most payroll administrative duties, including approval for changes in pay, are handled at the departmental level.

Stanford uses three systems to manage employee pay.

  1. A PeopleSoft Human Resources Management System record establishing the type of job held, the rate of pay, and the type of pay (salary or hourly)
  2. an Oracle Labor Distribution record establishing the account (PTA) or accounts to be charged for the employee's pay
  3. an Axess Timecard record used to track the employee's time worked and/or leave taken

Salary being charged to sponsored projects must be supported by documentation of a corresponding appropriate level of effort. Oracle Labor Distribution schedules must be completed accurately and salary charges certified quarterly through PI Certification.

View the Payroll Fingate Site

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Overview Purchasing Goods and Services

Stanford Financial Management Services supports and administers Staff financial activities, including purchasing goods and services and processing invoices.   The Buying and Paying module in Fingate, the Financial Management Services website, provides detailed information, resources and procedures to support you in the purchasing process.

Buying and Paying for:

Paying for:

Information about:

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Methods for Buying and Paying


Provides the fastest avenue to fulfilling your school or department's shopping needs, There is no dollar limit for orders placed in SmartMart or Stanford Express. When you shop  you take advantage of Stanford-negotiated pricing with preferred suppliers. Orders and invoicing are electronic and seamless.



P-Card (Purchasing Card)

Purchasing Cards are a tool for individuals making purchases under $5,000 on behalf of the University Payments for charges on a Purchasing Card are made directly from Stanford to the bank.

Purchasing card


Zip Purchasing Non-Catalog Requisition via the Stanford Express system over $5,000.

Zip Purchasing


Non-Purchase Order Payment Requests

There are times when you need Stanford to cut a check to pay a supplier or other type of payee directly for certain expenses that do not warrant a formal purchase order, or for which negotiation by the purchasing department adds no value, e.g., business meals, dues, government fees, permits, etc. These types of payments are made via Non PO Payment Requests in the Expense Requests system.

View the Site


Financial Support Center

A single point of friendly and professional service on Fingate for questions related to purchasing such as the following

  • SmartMart/ Stanford Express orders
  • Purchase requisitions/orders
  • Purchasing Cards (PCards)
  • Supplier invoice payments
  • Travel services including Stanford Travel MasterCard
  • Reimbursements, including expense reporting
  • Account (PTA) requests
  • Cash management

Financial Support Center

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Funding for equipment comes  from various sources including operating budgets, sponsored projects, and gifts. Equipment for which Stanford is accountable is intended to directly benefit the academic and research mission of the University and enable the associated administrative processes.

  • The capitalization threshold for Stanford-owned equipment is $5,000

  • Capital equipment must meet all of the following criteria:

    • Acquisition cost $5,000 or greater

    • Useful life of more than one year, and be an

    • Individual, stand-alone, moveable, tangible item 

  • Software acquisitions <$500,000 are not capitalized they are expense items.

  • Title to equipment vests with either the University or with the project sponsor, title does not reside personally with faculty or staff

  • Title to gifted or donated equipment vests with Stanford University

  • Accountability for Stanford-owned equipment resides with the Department

  • Accountability for equipment on Sponsored Projects resides with the Principal Investigator (PI)

  • The acquiring organization must screen for available items to minimize duplicative acquisitions

  • Responsibility for accurately coding acquisition transactions for equipment and approving funding sources rests with the originator and the approvers

All acquisitions must be allowable, reasonable, allocable, and consistent in accordance with University policy and applicable terms and conditions of sponsored agreements. If you are purchasing equipment using grant or contract funds read the terms and conditions regarding allowability prior to making a purchase.

There are a variety of methods by which equipment is acquired at Stanford. The method of acquisition used is determined by factors such as source of funding, type of project, and duration of need. In general order of frequency, acquisition methods are listed below.


Method of Acquisition Description
Purchase Acquisitions made using the Stanford Purchasing systems. Source of funding may vary.
Loan Equipment provided to Stanford, free of charge, by a third party for a specific period of time. Ownership is retained by the lender.
Incoming No-Cost Transfer Equipment to which ownership and accountability is transferred to Stanford by another entity.
Lease Contracts under which a Stanford has committed to make cash payments for use of an asset (e.g. equipment) for a period greater than one year and total payments of $5,000 or more over the lease period.

Contracts under which Stanford has agreed to cash payments meeting either: 

  1. a payment period greater than one year with less than $5,000 committed
  2. a payment period one year or less, regardless of dollar value
Fabrication Specialized equipment not commercially available which require design, development, construction, and Stanford labor over a specified period of time. Usually fabricated within the scope of work of a sponsored project. Aggregate cost of components is equal to or greater than $5,000.
Donation A gift of equipment to Stanford. No performance expectations associated with the gift.
Sponsor or Gov't Furnished Equipment provided by a sponsor for use on a specific research project. May be provided directly by the sponsor, or via a third party designated by the Sponsor. Ownership usually remains with the sponsor.  


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Stanford Travel is the preferred travel management service for Stanford's travelers and arrangers. To arrange your travel or to learn more, call 1-877-219-1159 or 1-417-520-4735, or go to Stanford Travel's Online Booking Tool. To stay informed, read Stanford Travel News.

The goal of Stanford Travel is to enhance the user experience, while also managing risk and saving money. Stanford Travel offers an array of travel services that meet the University's specialized needs.

Among the features of Stanford Travel:

  • Special negotiated rates with airlines, lodging, and ground transportation providers
  • Designated agents, available 24/7, who are trained specifically to assist Stanford travelers
  • Specialized international agents, including an international rate desk

 travel Site

Foreign Travel on Federally Sponsored Projects

Generally, all flights charged to federal projects must be taken on U.S. flag air carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier on the flight taken. This includes flights within the U.S. If there is no U.S. carrier to your destination, you must travel on a U.S. carrier as far as possible. By law, additional cost for U.S. carrier flights is not sufficient justification to fly on foreign carriers. Please note that the same rules apply to a foreign visitor's flights when supported by federal funds.

See list of U.S. Flag Air Carriers and Code Share Alliances.

Open Skies Exceptions

The biggest exception to the Fly America Act is the Open Skies Agreement. On October 6, 2010, the United States and European Union (EU) "Open Skies" Air Transport Agreement was published by the U.S. General Services Administration providing full explanation of the multilateral agreement in place so that qualifying travelers, whose travel is supported by federal funds, may travel on European Union airlines as well as U.S. flag air carriers. A list of current member countries of the European Union is available at the Europa web site (plus Norway and Iceland). There are also Open Skies agreements with Australia, Switzerland and Japan.

What does the Open Skies Agreement mean to Stanford Travelers?

When air travel is supported by federal funds, travel to the following destinations must either be on a U.S. carrier or, for specific destinations, may be on a European Union (EU) (plus Norway and Iceland), Australian, Japanese, or Swiss airline.

Claim Unidentified Receipts Workflow

Important Note:  The Open Skies Agreements do not apply if travel is funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) or by a department of the U.S. Military. Travel funded by the DOD or by a U.S. military department must be on a U.S. flag air carrier.

If travel includes stay in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria, travel plans must be reviewed by the University Export Control Officer. See Policy Notes: Export Control/Trade Sanctions Compliance Requirements for more information.

Follow the International Travel Policy issued by Provost Persis Drell

Additional Exceptions

Other strictly limited circumstances in which an exception may be allowed include:

  • a U.S. flag carrier does not provide service on a particular leg of your trip,
  • the use of a U.S. carrier will unreasonably delay your travel time
  • you are involuntarily rerouted, or
  • medical or safety reasons.

Refer to the Certification of Exception to Fly America Act Form to help identify legitimate exceptions for use of a non-U.S. carrier.


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Special considerations, government regulations, and Stanford policy pertain to hiring service providers, contractors, and consultants.

A Stanford contract must be issued for all construction-related projects (including architectural services) of any dollar amount, and for other projects performed by contractors, consultants, and service providers where the total amount to be spent is greater than $25,000. It is in the best interest of the university to have the following items clearly committed to by the supplier:

  • the scope of services or deliverables
  • use and ownership of data
  • acceptance criteria
  • guarantees/Warranties
  • identification of who specifically will provide the services
  • payment terms
  • insurance requirements
  • commissioned work when the results for the work may be copyrighted
  • performance schedule
  • terms and conditions from funding sponsor required to "flow-down" to a subcontract

A contract generated by an outside firm is usually not acceptable, and if one is presented to your department for the contemplated services/work, please do not sign it, instead attach it to your requisition.

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A subaward is a formal written agreement between Stanford University and another party to perform a portion of the statement of work under a Stanford sponsored project. 

A subaward must include a clearly defined, intellectually significant Statement of Work (SOW) to be performed by the Subrecipient. The Subrecipient's SOW is performed by its personnel, using its own facilities and resources. Work is usually performed at the Subrecipient's site.

The PI, assisted by the administrator, integrates the subrecipient’s statement of work into the proposal, and includes the full amount of the subrecipient’s budget (including the subrecipient’s F&A) as a direct cost line item in the Stanford budget. The subrecipient’s proposed costs must be separated from Stanford’s costs. 

When calculating Stanford’s budget, it is important to apply the F&A based on the sponsor’s inclusion/exclusion criteria.  While the federal  government includes the first $25,000 in its F&A base, other sponsors may have different criteria.

  • Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) Base: Stanford’s indirect costs (F&A) are applied to the first $25,000 of each competitive segment of each subaward.
  • Total Direct Cost (TDC) Base: Stanford charges indirect costs on the whole subaward amount.

Approving Subrecipient Invoices

PI's must approve a Subrecipient invoice for payment and review expenditure statements or otherwise ensure that payments to Subrecipients are made in a timely manner, consistent with the terms of the subaward and approved invoices.  The Stanford PI’s signature on the invoice is required to certify that he/she approves payment of the invoice, attests that the charges appear reasonable and that progress to date on the subaward is satisfactory and in keeping with the statement of work. Subaward invoices require the following statement to accompany the PI’s signature:  “In signing below I approve payment of this invoice and attest that the charges appear reasonable, and progress to date on this project is satisfactory and in keeping with the statement of work.”

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