1227 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Unauthorized Purchases



This policy is to ensure that all purchases of goods or services made by faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") are in compliance with North Carolina law (§ 143-58) as enacted by the legislature and implemented by the State Department of Purchase and Contract. It is a violation of North Carolina law (§ 143-58.1) and University policy for an individual to be reimbursed for any merchandise or service acquired for their own personal benefit.

Scope of Applicability

Applies to all University Faculty and Staff.


Policy Statement

All purchase contracts entered into on behalf of the University are the exclusive responsibility of the University's Department of Procurement Services. Additionally, all expenditures of University funds for goods and services must adhere to the regulations established by the North Carolina State Legislature and enforced by the Office of State Budget Management (OSBM). These funds are managed at the University by the Department of Accounting Services, which is required to monitor, approve, and report all expenditures on a monthly basis to OSBM. The Purchasing Services division of Procurement Services processes the purchases of all goods and services except for those listed in the Exclusions section below.

The University has multiple procedures in place for procuring goods and services which eliminate the need for individual faculty, staff and students to expend their personal funds. If a purchase is deemed by Purchasing Services to be unauthorized, a misuse notice will be sent to the department contact. This notice allows the purchaser to justify the purchase and provide any additional details pertinent to the purchase. Purchases charged against University funds not made in accordance with University policies as stated in the Finance Policies and Procedures Manual will be the personal responsibility of the individual placing the order.


  1. Purchases that fall under UNC-Chapel Hill Finance Policy 1251: Small Order Policy.
  2. Rental or purchase of real property, administered through the University Property Office.
  3. Construction projects, administered through Facilities Planning Office.

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am a researcher here on campus with my own grant money. Why can't I spend it as I choose? Why do I have to go through Purchasing Services for permission?

A: All funds received by the University are considered the property of the University and are subject to State purchasing regulations.

Q: I accepted a piece of equipment for evaluation and now the vendor wants to be paid. The cost of the equipment is $26,000. Why is this considered an unauthorized purchase?

A: Any equipment brought onto campus must first have an established purchase order that specifies the terms and conditions of the evaluation/purchase. See UNC-Chapel Hill Finance Policy 1278: Policy on Departmental Evaluation of Equipment.

Q: I ordered some equipment online and didn't realize that the shipping and handling charge would make the order exceed the Small Purchase Benchmark as defined in Finance Policy 1251: Small Order Policy. Is it necessary to do a requisition now that the order is placed and the items received?

A: You must submit a requisition to pay for the equipment and include an explanation. All charges must be taken into consideration when placing orders to ensure that the overall cost will not exceed th Small Purchase Benchmark.

Q: If my dean or director ordered me to purchase equipment, why is this considered an unauthorized purchase?

A: The rules and regulations of the State of North Carolina require the procurement to be handled by the purchasing division of a state agency for any order in excess of the Small Order Benchmark.

Q: Can we buy flowers for a staff member of our department to congratulate their newborn baby?

A: No. flowers for employee life events are a personal expense and cannot be paid from University funds.

Q: I have a professor who wants the University to purchase Google Glass for their research. How do I purchase this?

A: Google Glass is considered a personal device and as such cannot be purchased by the University.

Q: A professor in my department/school purchased a laptop computer for work at an Apple store using his personal funds. Is this purchase allowed, since it was not purchased with University funds?

A: No, this type of purchase is not allowed because it was not purchased using the appropriate procurement process for work-related purchases. Additionally, the purchaser is not eligible for a University discount, nor will they receive a reimbursement for sales tax.

Q: May I be reimbursed for parking while I work at the University?

A: No, purchasing a permit to park at the University or paying for parking elsewhere is not required as a condition of your employment.

Q: I am required to attend a conference on behalf of the University that requires I attend in business attire each day for seven days. I need to purchase new clothes and wish to be reimbursed since I have no choice about the trip. May I be reimbursed?

A: No, clothing purchases are a personal expense since the University derives no benefit from the purchase, nor does the University take ownership of the clothing.

Q: I am required to maintain an office in my home; may I be reimbursed for a portion of my utility bills and a portion of my mortgage for the square footage?

A: No.

Q:  May an employee be reimbursed for home Internet expenses?

A:  No, this is a personal expense. The state budget manual allows for Internet connectivity while traveling, but not from home. If a dean believes that reimbursement is permissible due to health reasons or if regular on campus work space has been temporarily unavailable (such as in a remodel), this would be allowable. A memo justifying this reason from the dean specific to the individual and stating the time period permitted must be attached to every voucher.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Unauthorized Purchases/Reimbursements Purchasing Services 919-962-3774 919-962-0636 purchasing_team@unc.edu



  • May 10, 2022
  • January 19, 2022
  • March 16, 2020
  • February 28, 2018
  • June 28, 2016: Added FAQ about home Internet expense.
  • December 11, 2015: Clarified information in FAQ section about parking purchases.
  • October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisitions.
  • August 10, 2014: Added information to Policy Statement about reporting to OSBM; added to FAQ section.
  • March 27, 2014: Added information in FAQ section about personal purchases for work purposes.
  • January 29, 2014: Added information in FAQ section about purchase of Google Glass.
  • January 26, 2012
  • July 12, 2010
  • November 12, 2003


Article ID: 131421
Thu 4/8/21 9:08 PM
Sat 8/27/22 10:07 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Purchasing Services
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2025 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
03/01/1998 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget