November 2020

Published monthly, the Fiscal Administrators' News is where you can find the latest information regarding the Office of Procurement Services.

Table of Contents

Grants & Contracts Accounting

Topic Highlight: Online Training Opportunities

This month, we will be highlighting videos and/or webinars to help the research community understand the National Science Foundation’s updates. This online seminar is from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Advance Index

Grants and Contracts Accounting is responsible for creating Pool indexes, Program Income indexes, and Sponsored indexes. The links below provides forms and/or additional guidance regarding creating the indexes described above:

Chart of Accounts Sponsored Programs

The “Chart of Accounts Sponsored Programs” report is available in the VCU Reporting Center's Finance folder for departments. This report is similar to the existing Chart of Accounts report with the exception of additional data related to sponsored indexes. This report also includes a listing of subdepartments (i.e. predecessor orgs) and the indirect cost distribution codes that can be used when completing Advance Index Requests.

Fall Research Administration Training Opportunities:

The Grants & Contracts Post Award Basics training sessions will start back up in September. This is a great opportunity for fiscal administrators, research administrators, and or grant specialists interested in revisiting general topics in post award sponsored project management.

Online Training Resources - Updated:

Updated Banner training resources have been posted to the University Controller’s website training page and more post award online resources are in the works:

Please contact Cathy Short (Training Manager, OSP/G&C, ( with any questions or assistance with registering for upcoming fall opportunities.

Current and Upcoming Certification Periods

  • The Quarterly Effort Period 06/10/20 - 09/09/20 recently opened for certification on October 15, 2020 and will conclude on December 14, 2020.
  • The Summer Semester Effort Period 05/10/20 - 08/09/20 will conclude on November 14, 2020.

Prior Certification Periods

  • The Quarterly Effort Period 03/10/20 - 06/09/20 contains effort statements awaiting certification. Effort Reporting will be in contact with the appropriate parties.
  • The Semi-Annual Effort Period 12/10/19 - 06/09/20 recently ended on October 21, 2020. There are still effort statements awaiting certification and the effort team will be in contact with the appropriate parties.
  • The Semi-Annual Effort Period 06/10/19 - 12/10/19 still has effort statements awaiting certification. Effort Reporting will be in contact with the appropriate parties.

On behalf of Grants and Contracts Accounting and Effort Reporting, we appreciate your continued partnership and assistance. Thank you. Take care

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Procurement Services

VCU SWaMSearch – A New Way to Find SWaM Vendors – Has Launched

Procurement Services is excited to announce the launch of SWaMSearch, a web utility that provides a searchable database of all registered small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses. Users can search SWaM vendors by the commodities and services they offer and narrow their search by a number of filters, including location and SWaM type.

Visit SWaM Search here

You can also find SWaMSearch on the Procurement’s “I Want To” section, and in Quick Links page in RealSource.

Procurement Invites Early HEETF requests

It is not too early to start working with us in VCU Procurement on your HEETF-funded purchases. Particularly if you have been approved for a large purchase, we encourage you to reach out to us sooner rather than later. By starting the procurement process early, you may avoid problematic delays once funding is approved.

Prior to SCHEV approval, departments could take the following steps:

  • Determine the appropriate procurement method
  • Complete the appropriate procurement process (Sole Source, RFP, etc.)
  • Negotiate contract terms and conditions with the vendor
  • Look for opportunities to save money on specific orders

To move forward with early HEETF requests, please send the applicable materials (e.g., quotes, Sole Source forms, etc.) to Please be sure to identify it as a HEETF purchase in your email.

Early Payment Discounts (EPD)

In October, Procurement Services launched the Early Payment Discount (EPD) initiative, allowing departments to receive payment discounts from participating suppliers. EPDs offer vendors the option to receive payment sooner they otherwise would in exchange for a small discount. This accelerates cash flow to the vendor and reduces the risk of late payment. EPDs can range from pennies to thousands of dollars. Those savings are returned directly to the department’s index. We estimate total annual savings for the initial wave of vendors at approximately $250,000.

In the future, you may notice discounts applied to your orders in RealSource and Banner. These temporary balances occur when Accounts Payable short-pays a supplier invoice in consideration for paying the invoice promptly. The remaining purchase order encumbrance will be liquidated after each check run.

To view a list of vendors and contracts currently offering EPDs, and to see if one was applied to a specific purchase, please visit the RealSource Departments Only tab.

Timely Receiving in RealSource, Vendor Payment, & Early Payment Discounts

Timely receiving in RealSource is an essential part of the payment process. All receipts should be processed in RealSource within (3) business days of the university's receipt of products or services. When receipts are not processed timely, payment to our valued vendors is unfortunately delayed. It is important for the university to ensure all vendors, including small businesses, are paid in a timely fashion especially given current economic conditions. Also, if receipts are not keyed on time, departments may miss out on early payment discounts.

If a receipt cannot be processed because a purchase is in-dispute, it is important that you promptly communicate the dispute to the vendor and, if there are invoices pending, notify Accounts Payable.

For instructions on how to process receipts or search for POs with missing receivers, please go to the RealSource Help-Guide or contact the RealSource Help-Desk.

Small Purchase Threshold Increased

Effective July 1, 2020, the small purchase threshold for Higher Education Institutions increased from $100,000 to $200,000. Purchases not expected to exceed the competitive threshold, now $200,000, will be made in accordance with VCU’s small purchase policies and procedures. With the exception of sole source and emergency declarations, small purchases do not require public bid openings or newspaper advertising of competitively negotiated procurements.

Procurement Services’ website has been updated to reflect these changes. Please see the links below for additional information.

Thank you for your attention to this notice. If you have any questions regarding the small purchase procedures, please email or call us at (804) 828-1077, Option 6.

Contract Review Deadline is December 1, 2020

Any contracts received after December 1 of 2020, regardless of value, cannot be guaranteed to be finalized and executed prior to Winter Break.

RealSource Contracts+ Module Launched

As of October 26, all contracts for $10,000 or less should be submitted using the Contract Request form. Users can access training materials about the Contract Request form and Contracts+ in general from Quick Links on the RealSource homepage, the RealSource Help-Guide or the RealSource "Departments Only" webpage.

Manage Contracts Web Site

The Contracts team is excited to announce that we have created a contract-specific web page on the Procurement web site.

You will find general information about contracts, how to identify contracts, when to get the Contracts team involved, guidance about the review process, and contract administration.

We are also very happy to say we have created quick guides and checklists to assist you with purchasing in general and contract reviews. The checklists and guides are in pdf form so you can print them out or download them to your computer. You can find them in the Document Library within Procurement Services website.

FY21 GSA Rates

As of October 1, 2020 the GSA rates for lodging and meal expenses were updated. The GSA rate for lodging within the City of Richmond increased to $145/night making the university allowable rate up to $290/night. The rates have been updated in Chrome River accordingly. GSA rate information can be found:

For additional questions, please email

New CorpCard Approver Functionality

Approvers can now view cardholder authorization logs! As some approvers may have noticed, cardholders now appear in the “Accounts Dashboard” section of the Home screen in Works. This view allows you to check for declines as well as see cardholder limits and balances. Directions on How to check the authorization log in Works is available in our Document Library.

If you have questions please contact

Procurement Services Year-End Closing Schedule

As 2020 comes to a close, please be aware of Procurement Services Year-End schedule, which is available on Procurement Services website within the document library.

The schedule includes deadlines by transaction type for processing in 2020 as well as other useful information as you plan your financial priorities.

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Edit | Last updated: 12/08/2020