For proposal submission, please contact Ran Zhao.


Purchase Requests will be processed within 1 business day after final submission to Physics Department. Additional processing time may be needed depending on the responsiveness. Due to the complexity of contracts and maintenance agreements, more time may be required to process these requests. However, the initial process will begin in 1 business day. Emergency orders must be received no later than 2pm to be processed within 24 hours. 

P-Card and CU Purchase Orders

P-Card purchase orders can be placed immediately and apply to most orders under $2,500 not including maintenance contracts or on-site labor (other restrictions apply per the CU P-Card Policy).

P-Card Order Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Do not split or stagger orders to stay under the $2500 threshold.
  • Make sure that the vendor accept US credit card payments.
  • No orders from “Big Box” vendors (Target, Home Depot, Walmart, etc.)
  • Regarding orders through If an order incurs taxes during submission and they cannot be reversed, we will ask you to resubmit using a different vendor.
  • Always use the group order bot for submitting orders. Orders using project IDs from other departments must be submitted to that department for processing. 

CU Purchase orders are required for all maintenance contracts, onsite work, and orders over $2,500. These orders require additional time for processing.

Central Purchasing will process purchase orders from University Preferred Vendors (Fisher Scientific, Dell, Tech Air, and VWR) within 2 days, excluding contracts and agreements.

For all other vendors the process can take up to 6 weeks.

Provide Proper Documentation

The following should be included prior to submission:

  • Goods and Services Purchases up to $9,999 require one quote/proposal
  • Goods and Services Purchases between  $10,0000 to $249,999 require multiple written quotes obtained from an adequate number of qualified sources
  • Goods and Services Purchases $250,000 or more requite multiple written formalized public bids through either a sealed bid or competitive proposal process depending on the goods or services being procured solicited from an adequate number of qualified sources
  • Quotes must be valid for at least 15 days
  • Insurance Certificates- certificates of insurance (COI) ensure that vendors are properly covered in the event of any incident
  • If work is being conducted on site, a copy of the companies COI must be provided prior to work commencing. This is a university requirement.
  • COI must not expire within 3 months of request

Provide Accurate and Detailed Information

Item Descriptions: It is important to be as detailed as possible regarding the goods/services being purchased to avoid any discrepancies with the items being ordered

Quotes should be provided with all orders

All orders must be submitted through OrderBot. 


The order form must be filled out completely with the following information:

  • Vendor address, phone, and fax number, contact person
  • Purchase Justification in detail
  • Item description and part number (review carefully)
  • Shipping method and cost must be included (estimated cost)
  • Complete accounting information must be listed
  • Requestor must include their name and email on request
  • Authorized signature/email from PI needed to process the order

Sole/Single Source Justification

Proprietary Purchases- goods and services only provided by one vendor are considered proprietary and do not require competitive bids. For these purchases, please provide Sole Source Justification Form and a redacted quote/invoice from vendor for comparison. 

Competitive Quotes- required for non-proprietary orders greater than $10,000 (with the exception of onsite maintenance and UWPA vendors). If the lowest bid is not accepted, a Sole Source Justification Form must be provided.

Proper Business Justiciations: The short description is not a business justification. It should include specific information relating to the purchase including but not limited to the following:

  • Why are we making this purchase?
  • Why is the expense necessary?
  • What is the benefit of this purchase?
  • The short description is not a business justification

Provide Proper Approvals: Please make sure the PI is cc’d on the email and/or a PDF copy of an email approval is attached to all order requests.

Chemical Orders: For safety, please direct all Chemical Order to be delivered to Chemical Receiving located in 200 Pupin Hall.

Vendor Creation Process:

Timeline for New Vendor Creation: 1-2 Weeks (depending on the responsiveness of the vendor)

Documentation Required: W-9 Form, Billing Contact Information

New Vendor Questionnaire: Five Day Response Time Required


Please remember that orders submitted through the Purchasing office are not forwarded to the company the same day you hand it in. Purchasing assigns a purchase order number within 5-7 business days. However, depending on the complexity of the order, it could take longer.

For any other questions or concerns regarding purchasing, please contact Jennifer Chiu.


Open House Reimbursement

To request Open House reimbursement please click here.

Other Types of Reimbursements

For Columbia visitors and employees, please follow the following guidelines for reimbursement. 

Which reimbursement form to use?

Columbia University students and employees use the Reimbursement Form (xls)
Non-employees and visitors use the Non-Employee Expense Work-Sheet (xls)

Which Form, W-8 or W-9?

  • Original receipts must be provided related to business and travel expenses
  • All receipts must be taped to an 8.5 × 11 piece of paper- NO staples
  • Number each receipt to match the expense number on the reimbursement form
  • Proof of payment on all receipts. If an item was paid in cash, provide the receipt given to you and indicate you paid in cash.

Segregated or Unsegregated?

Most of your items will be “Unsegregated” and should be placed in this column. Place items in “Segregated” column if they are alcohol, entertainment, flowers, gifts or other charges a grant or contract would deem unallowable. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Please remember that alcohol CANNOT be charged to sponsored projects)

  • List each meal per line item, and indicate which meal it is (breakfast, lunch or dinner).
    • Do not group meals together as one line item. Please separate each meal type per expense line.
  • Limit: Breakfast - $25, Lunch- $35, Dinner- $75 (BEFORE tax and tip)
  • Names of people eating if under ten people (over ten give number of people)
  • Expenses for business meals involving external parties should not exceed $100 per person, excluding tax or tip. Such events include fundraising, recruitment or speaking engagements that are hosted and paid for by a University employee and attended by business colleagues, donors, students, or prospective employees, which result in a business benefit to the University.
  • Provide itemized receipt for all meals along with proof of payment

  • Always take the cheapest flight/train/car/hotel possible, no first or business class
  • Flight/hotel dates need to correspond to conference dates, no extended stays (note purchases i.e. meals for non-conference related dates cannot be reimbursed)
  • Itemized hotel receipt needs to be obtained from the hotel upon check-out
  • If travel expense is being charged to a Government grant please make sure to book it through a US airline. Check with your PI before booking.
  • Hotel limits: $350/night in the US, $400/night in international locations

Car Rental

Always try to rent Hertz and DO NOT purchase the insurance. Columbia University has their own rate with Hertz and insurance is covered. Insurance will be reimbursed for all other vendors.

Personal Vehicle Use

Instead of a car rental, you may want to use your own personal vehicle. Reimbursement rates are based on total miles traveled and you cannot be reimbursed the cost of gas when using this method. The personal vehicle mileage rate for travel: 

$.580/miles for travel on or after January 1, 2019

  • Provide an online printed map indicating the total mileage between your home and conference/trip destination
  • Place the total number of miles on the first page of the reimbursement in the “Personal Vehicle Mileage” section
  • Write the total amount as a new expense number with the business purpose, “Personal Vehicle Mileage”
  • Please note Gas is not reimbursable by Car Rental or Personal Vehicle.

Foreign Currency Conversion

Expense Reports can only be submitted in US dollars. Receipts of foreign currency must be accompanied by a translation of text and their conversions. For the conversion, you can find the appropriate rates by using Please print and submit the conversion rates for the travel dates used. You can either print and use the conversion rate for each expense date, or take the conversion rate average of the first date and the last date of the trip and use that number for all expenses within this date range. Please use the “Avg_Rate” or “Daily_Rate” tab on the Reimbursement Form accordingly.

Missing Receipts

Receipts for all items over $25 are required. If you are missing a receipt, please fill out the Missing Receipt Worksheet. Include the item number from the Reimbursement Form on the Missing Receipts Worksheet, and sign the document before submission.

Official Columbia University Policy

The complete travel and business expense reimbursement policy for Columbia University can be downloaded here.

For any other questions or concerns regarding travel reimbursement, please contact Sonnia Andrade.

CAL contact Idrija Ibrahimagic

Nevis contact: Amy Garwood