Office of Business and Finance

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information FAQ

What is a chartfield string, and how do I know what information to provide when I’m asked for one?

A chartfield string is the string ofaccounting information used to ensure that expenditures are coded to the correct source of money. We are always happy to provide you with the chartfield string, but please give us as much information on the purchase or expenditure as you can, including the funding source, if known.

For courses, you can look up the entire chartfield string in the SOG EventsDashboard (click the plus sign that appears when you hover over Chart Info).

The elements of the chartfield convey different pieces of information about the expenditure. Some of the key elements are:

Business Unit: UNCCH is used for purchases using University funds. CHGOV is used for purchases using SOG Foundation or SOG Services funds.

Source: The source code describes the source of the funding; all funds within the University are assigned a source code that conveys the intended use of the funding.

Department: Each department within the School is assigned a 6-digit department code that begins with 375. For example, the Business Office is department 375103.

Account: The account code describes what kind of purchase is being made, for example supplies, travel, software, etc.

Cost Code: The cost code describes the specific course, service agreement, or publication.

Project ID: The project ID is used only for sponsored projects and is assigned by the Office of Sponsored Projects.

I have a question and I’m not sure who can answer it. How do I know who to ask?

You do not need to address your questions to a specific member of the Business Office team. If you have a question and don’t know who to ask, just submit a help ticket and we will assign it to the most appropriate person.

How do I know what forms are required to make a purchase or hire a contractor?

In most cases, we do not expect you to know what forms to use for a purchase or expenditure. We ask that you let us know as soon as a business need arises and give us as much information as possible about the purchase and source of funding. We will review and let you know what forms need to be completed.

Credit Cards FAQ

How do I get a credit card?

If you do not have a credit card but feel you have a business need, please reach out to the Business Office staff to request a card. In most cases supervisor approval is required.

P-cards requests are reviewed and issued by the University P-card office. Credit cards for SOG Services and SOG Foundation are reviewed and issued by the Assistant Dean for Business and Finance.

How do I know what credit card to use?

We recognize it can sometimes be confusing deciphering what kind of credit card to use for various purposes.

For a detailed list of what is allowable on each kind of card, please see our Credit Cards at SOGresource.

In some cases, the funding source will dictate what kind of card you can use. For courses, you can reference the Event Master List to check the business associated with each program, and use the corresponding credit card. If you’re not sure which card to use, please reach out to the Business Office and we will help you make that decision.

What can I do if my credit card is lost or stolen?
  • For P-cards, call Bank of America at 1-888-449-2273 immediately, and then notify the P-Card Office.
  • For Ramp Cards, notify the Assistant Dean for Business and Finance immediately, so they can cancel the card and issue a new one.
  • For Civic Cards, call Civic Credit Union at 844-772-4843 immediately and notify the Assistant Dean for Business and Finance.
I accidentally made a personal purchase with my credit card. What should I do?

Work with the vendor to refund the charge immediately and notify the Business Office as soon as possible. You will be asked to write a letter explaining the misuse and provide other documentation, depending on the card used.

What if a vendor will not remove sales tax from my purchase?

Though we ask that you request all vendors remove sales tax from purchases made with an SOG credit card, we recognize that some vendors are unable to do so. You may still make the purchase; the University will work with those vendors after the fact to refund the sales tax charges.

What should I do if my purchase will exceed the single transaction limit or monthly limit?

Reach out to the Business Office as soon as you know you have a purchase that will exceed your limit. We may be able to provide an alternative purchasing method for a one-time purchase, or work with you to adjust your card limit if there is an ongoing need.

Can I purchase supplies with my credit card?

In general, we ask that you make every effort to find items at the lowest price available. In most cases, this can be achieved by purchasing through the University’s negotiated contract with major vendors such as Staples and Amazon, and not by using your credit card. If at all possible, you should request supplies through our online request form.

However, if you are not able to request supplies in advance (the need is urgent or there are other special circumstances), you may use a credit card to purchase supplies. Be sure to ask the vendor to remove sales tax.

Alcohol FAQ

We are hosting a reception at the Knapp Sanders building and would like to serve alcohol. What should we do?

Any event serving alcohol on campus must be approved by the Provost’s office. Please see the University Procedure for Requesting Permission to Serve Alcoholic Beverages at University Sponsored Events.

Can we purchase wine or beer from a grocery store or Total Wine to serve at an SOG program?

No, all alcohol must be purchased and served by a vendor with a license and appropriate liability insurance, like a caterer, restaurant, or bartending service.

Hotel Contracts FAQ

How do I know what business name to use on a hotel contract?

For hotel contracts associated with programs, you’ll need to check the business listed in the Event Dashboard. The official corresponding business names are below:

  • UNC SOG:The School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • SOG Services:School of Government Services, Inc.
  • SOG Foundation: School of Government Foundation, Inc.
Who should sign my hotel contract?

Only the authorized signatories of each entity is able to sign contracts. The authorized contracts are below:

  • UNC SOG:an authorized purchasing agent in UNC Finance and Operations, via ConnectCarolina
  • SOG Services: School of Government Services, Inc.: SOG Services Director (Associate Dean for Operations and Finance)
  • SOG Foundation: School of Government Foundation, Inc.: SOG Foundation Director (Dean, School of Government)

If there is no financial commitment included in a hotel contract (for example to reserve a courtesy block), a Program Director may sign a contract.

Can we make a deposit up front?

University policy allows us to make a deposit no greater than 25% of the total contract amount. In limited circumstances, we may be able to increase the deposit depending on the nature of the funding.

Is the SOG Hotel Addendum required?

The hotel addendum should be included with hotel contracts whenever possible, but it is not required.

Teaching and Advising Services (Service Agreements) FAQ

Anytown, NC wants to pay me to teach a session for their staff. Do I need an agreement?

Yes, any time a client has agreed to pay the School for teaching or advising services, an agreement is needed to document a mutual understanding of the services provided and the compensation from the client. We would be happy to work with you and the client to create an agreement. For more information, see our page on How to Provide Training or Advising Services.

Anytown, NC wants to reimburse me for travel to attend a work session. Do I need an agreement?

If a client will reimburse you for travel directly, and you pay for all travel expenses out of pocket, an agreement is not needed.

If you pay for travel using University funds, whether through reimbursement or using a T&E card, an agreement is needed even if there is no payment for teaching or advising services.We would be happy to work with you and the client to create an agreement. For more information, see our page on How to Provide Training or Advising Services.

How much should I charge for my teaching and advising services?

The School has established standard daily rates for teaching and advising services. Please reach out to the Business Office for these rates or for assistance with creating a budget for more complex projects.

Who can sign service agreements for teaching and advising services?

All agreements should be signed by an authorized representative of the School. In general, faculty and staff are not authorized to sign agreements. Reach out to the Business Office for assistance in determining the appropriate signatory.

I am providing advising services for Anytown, NC, and they would like to use their own contract template. Can we do this?

Although we strive to use the SOG’s approved contract template whenever possible, in most cases, yes, we can use the client’s contract for teaching and advising services. Please submit the contract to the Business Office for review.

Gift Cards FAQ

I want to buy gift cards to use as an incentive in my research. How do I do that? I want to buy gift cards to use as an incentive in my research. How do I do that?

Gift cards used for incentives in research projects are considered cash advances, so you’ll need to work with the Business Office to seek approval and follow University procedures for Cash Advances. Please see full process here.

I want to buy gift cards to give to a client as a thank you for their partnership. Can I do that?

No, this is not considered an allowable use of University funds.

I want to pay a speaker with a gift card. Can I do that?

No, this is not considered an allowable use of University funds. All speakers must be paid as independent contractors; see process here.

Independent Contractors

Background Checks FAQ

When are background checks required?

Background checks are required for independent contractors who are paid through University funds, have an assignment longer than 10 days, or who have access to sensitive data.

Background checks are not usually required for independent contractors through our affiliated entities, SOG Services, Inc. and SOG Foundation, Inc, unless the contractor will have access to sensitive data.

What will the turnaround time be on criminal background checks? We often don't know we need to hire an Independent Contractor until a few days before a project begins.

The turnaround is seven (7) business days.

We have a speaker who will give a public lecture including students. Do we need a background check?

No, a background check is not required.

We will have a contractor who performs her services in her NY office and has access to the student files. Do we need a background check?

Yes, because she will have access to sensitive data.

If I hire an independent contractor to work only at UNC-CH for twelve days continuously or over an extended period of time, does the individual need to have a background check?

Yes, because the assignment will last longer than ten (10) days.

Will we have to run a new criminal background check each year for contractors we use from year-to-year (i.e. photographers for our magazine, freelance writers, etc.)?

Yes, if the Independent Contractor has not had a background check in the past twelve (12) months.

How will Independent Contractors who work for various departments on campus be treated? Will each department have to complete a background check?

Yes, multiple forms will need to be filled out if the work is different and/or performed for another department.

Independent Contractor Policy FAQ

Can we pay an individual who formerly worked for the University but has since retired or moved to another company as an independent contractor?

There must be a 365 daybreak in employment for any former UNC employee, including students. Please reach out to the Human Resources team to determine what options you have to hire a former UNC employee.

Professor John Q. Smith had a party and paid a piano player to provide entertainment for the event. He is now requesting reimbursement for this expense. Is this possible?

No, the piano player is considered an independent contractor and must be paid directly by the University to ensure all tax obligations are met

Are independent contractors obligated to follow state travel policies relating to per diem rates and lodging?

Yes, independent contractor service agreements require that State travel policies for per diem and lodging rates are followed.

I want to work with a colleague at another institution who has a company that provides consulting services. Should that be treated as an independent contractor?

It depends on how that person’s business is structured. A company (LLC) can be one of four types:

a single-member,
C corporation,
S corporation, or
P partnership.

If the LLC is a single-member LLC, they are an independent contractor. LLCs that are C corporations, S corporations, or P partnerships are not independent contractors. Those potential vendors should be regular vendors and a purchase order is necessary for amounts over $5,000.

Are photographers and videographers considered independent contractors?

Yes. Photographers and videographers work with sensitive information and are considered independent contractors. >Yes. Photographers and videographers work with sensitive information and are considered independent contractors.

Advance Payments for Vendors FAQ

A vendor is requesting payment up front for services or goods. How do I do that?

Please reach out to the Business Office and provide as much information as possible, including a quote and the desired funding source. We will work with you to issue a requisition and provide a check to the vendor.

We are planning a catered reception for our department. The caterer requires a deposit and then will bill us after the event for the balance due. How do we obtain a check for the deposit?

Please reach out to the Business Office and provide as much information as possible, including a quote and the desired funding source. We will work with you to issue a requisition and provide a check to the vendor.

Sales and Use Tax Exemption Policy FAQ

When I travel on University business within the state, do I have to pay taxes on my room?

Yes. The University is liable for the tax because the University is not paying the hotel directly but reimbursing you for the expense.

Does the tax on prepared food and beverage mean I must pay tax on catered meals?

The only tax we must pay on prepared food and beverage is a county tax required by certain counties in North Carolina. This tax is usually one to two percent. Orange County does not collect this tax.

The only tax we must pay on prepared food and beverage is a county tax required by certain counties in North Carolina. This tax is usually one to two percent. Orange County does not collect this tax.

When making the room reservation be sure to mention that the University will be paying this bill. You will be charged only for the occupancy tax on the room.

When making the room reservation be sure to mention that the University will be paying this bill. You will be charged only for the occupancy tax on the room.

Yes. Merchandise that is purchased in another state and received in that state, is subject to the sales tax laws of that state. The sales tax exemption only applies for goods or services received in North Carolina.

I have an invoice from a vendor that includes state sales tax. Do I have to pay this tax?

No. You should submit the invoice for payment for the amount minus the tax.

Professional Memberships FAQ

I can get a really good rate on a membership in the ZXY Society if I pay for three years up front. Is this permissible?

No. You may pay for only one year at a time with University funds.

I need to renew my professional membership. Can I pay for this using grant funding?

Unless the agency from which you received the research dollars specifically provides for the cost of this membership in the award, it cannot be paid from your research funds.

How should I pay for my North Carolina State Bar dues?

The School of Government pays for North Carolina State Bar dues for faculty and staff attorneys. Please pay for your bar dues online using a T&E card if you have one, or using a p-card (reach out to the Business Office if you need one).

Does the School pay for local bar dues or other professional memberships?

No, the School does not pay for local bar dues. If you would like the School to support membership dues for any other professional organization, please seek permission from the Senior Associate Dean.

Are subscriptions included in Professional Memberships?

No. You should submit the invoice for payment for the amount minus the tax.

Travel & Concur FAQ

How do I login to Concur?

You can login to Concur directly via this link, or access it through ConnectCarolina via the link on your dashboard. You will login with your onyen username and password. All active faculty and staff automatically have access to Concur.

How do I download the mobile app?

Search for the SAP Concur Mobile app on your smartphone. You can submit travel requests, book travel, and submit expense reports for reimbursement using the mobile app, and it allows you to scan receipts while you’re on the go. Do not make your own account. You must access the app using your Oneyn, and your username will be ONYEN@unc.edu. See the Concur Mobile set up guide for more information.

Is pre-approval for business travel required?

Travel that involves an overnight stay and associated per diem, hotel/lodging, or airfare expenses requires pre-approval within Concur. As soon as you know the details of your trip, you should submit a travel request in Concur. Approvals are routed internally within the SOG, and we will strive to approve travel requests as soon as we are able. If you have an urgent request that requires approval, please reach out to us via email so that we can review and approve your request as soon as possible. The pre-approval requirement is being implemented to enable the University to meet requirements of the State of North Carolina.

Travel that does not require an overnight stay, i.e. mileage only requests, does not require pre-approval. In other words, if you are simply driving to an off campus meeting, and the trip does not require overnight travel, you do not need to submit a travel request. After your travel is complete, please submit a reimbursement request with the details of your trip in Concur. You can submit mileage reimbursement requests in batches (weekly or monthly), if desired.

When employees are traveling on a trip that includes both University business travel and personal elements, who confirms the nature of the travel as business?

The employee’s supervisor or designated department person confirms travel as being business in nature.

How do I document my manager’s confirmation that the trip is primarily for business?

The employee’s supervisor or designated department person should include their approval in the comments section in Concur Request. If your department has an established travel form that shows managerial approval, that form may be uploaded into Concur Request as an attachment.

What are examples of acceptable proof that a trip is primarily for business?

Examples of suggested language that is acceptable in the comments in Concur Request:

  • This business trip is attended by a member of staff yearly and this year [INSERT EMPLOYEE/FACULTY NAME] represented our department.
  • This trip is required for UNC-Chapel Hill to maintain certification or accreditation.
  • The primary purpose of this trip is for [INSERT FACULTY NAME] to attend this conference, which contributes importantly to [INSERT FACULTY NAME]’s research agenda.
  • I am mandating this trip by [INSERT EMPLOYEE/FACULTY NAME] for the purpose of business.
If I am traveling on behalf of another department, what steps should I take to make sure I am reimbursed properly?

Please reach out to the department that requested you to travel on their behalf. Faculty and Staff will enter the department ID for the reimbursing department on their Expense Report Header to ensure proper routing of workflow and approvals.

Can you give an example of a third-party expense?

If someone attends a conference in which the vendor has paid for airfare, hotel and meals, this is considered a third-party expense and therefore, the traveler cannot also be reimbursed for airfare, hotel or receive a per diem from UNC, as it is already being paid for by the outside party.

How do I book travel?

Concur is designed to make booking travel reservations, including airfare, rental cars, and lodging, simple. The site functions very similarly to a travel site like Travelocity and will allow you to search multiple options to find the solutions that best meet your needs.

  • If you have a T&E card: all travel expenses booked in Concur will be charged directly to your T&E card.
  • If you do not have a T&E card: you will charge the airfare and rental car to the University’s direct bill card that is prepopulated in Concur so that you can avoid incurring the cost on your personal card. You can also contact World Travel Inc to book your airfare on your behalf. Other expenses, like lodging, can be reserved on your personal credit card and added to your reimbursement request within Concur.
Who is the University travel agent, and how do I contact them?

World Travel, Inc is the sole travel agency for UNC. For simple travel (domestic airfare, lodging, etc.) you can search and book online using Concur (this functionssimilar to a site like Travelocity). If you would like help making your reservations, or for more complex travel (international, traveling with a group, or traveling with a companion who is not a UNC employee), please call or email World Travel at: 877-602-4950 or uncch_travel@worldtravelinc.com

Can I use my personal credit card for travel expenses?

If you have a T&E card, you are required to use it for all travel expenses. If you do not have a T&E card, airfare and rental car are direct bill booked in Concur, but you will need to use a personal card to pay for lodging, parking, etc. These expenses can be added to Concur when you submit your reimbursement request/expense report.

When should I use the T&E card versus the P-card?

Please see this helpful guide on when to use your T&E Card versus the P-Card. Some items, like conference registrations and professional development dues, can be charged to either card.

How do per diem and mileage reimbursements work?

The process for per diem and mileage reimbursements is largely the same as before, but you will enter the reimbursement request directly in Concur. See the UNC Travel website for the latest per diem and mileage rates.

I am driving my personal vehicle on university business, how do I calculate my mileage reimbursement?

Please visit Travel Allowances, Mileage and Per Diem Rates for current reimbursement rates.

How do I submit mileage for multiple-day trips?
I am at a conference and have other business meetings, can I rent a car?

University travelers should use the least expensive method of ground transportation to meet their business needs. If the traveler chooses to rent a car, they may be asked to provide a justification that the total cost of the rental (including parking, gas, tolls, etc.) was less expensive than alternative options. Please visit 1501.4 – Procedure on Ground Transportation Expenses Including Mileage Rates for additional information.

If I am staying on-site at the conference hotel, can I be reimbursed for ground transportation expenses (i.e. rental, ride share, taxi, etc..) for non-business excursions away from the hotel?

No, these are personal expenses and will not be reimbursed without a written justification to explain the benefit the University derived from the expense.

When I rent a car within the United States, should I add on any of the optional insurance offered by the rental car company?

No, as a University employee, you are covered by the State’s master policy. Additional insurance costs are strictly prohibited by state regulation.

Do the meal per diems apply to out-of-country travel?

The answer depends upon the funding source. If the trip is to be paid from State-appropriated or Facilities and Administrative funds, the maximum per diem amount allowed for meals is set by the University (see Travel Allowances, Mileage and Per Diem Rates). Trips funded by discretionary funds are reimbursed at the out-of-state per diem rate. Some federal contracts and grants allow meal reimbursement based on the U.S. State Department allowances.

Do meal per diems include the tip?


Are we allowed meal reimbursement for day trips?

No. Meal per diem is only allowed when the travel requires an overnight stay.

Can we receive meal per diem if the conference or workshop provides meals?

No. University employees cannot be reimbursed for meals that are paid for or provided by a conference, workshop, or seminar.

May I claim my actual expense for meals if I keep my receipts?

No, meal expense is an allowance and may not exceed the per diem amounts as determined by the NC General Assembly.

Why does the OSBM publish a lodging allowance?

To inform all employees of the State what the State will cover for their lodging. All employees should request State rate when reserving lodging. If it is not possible to obtain clean, safe lodging within a reasonable proximity of the business site, an exception will be made and the entire receipt will be reimbursed with appropriate written justification. See 1501.5 – Procedure on Per Diem Rates under Excess Lodging Expenses.

How do we submit a student travel request?

Complete the Student Non-Employee Travel Agreement and submit it to the appropriate card office (P-Card or T&E Card) to request permission to use the payment card for student travel costs.

The conference is offering sightseeing tours of areas of interest at a huge discount if I include the payment with my registration fee. May I pay for this on my T&E Card or Departmental P-Card?

No. These are personal expenses and will have to be paid for with your personal funds.

May I pay for my own conference registration and seek reimbursement afterward?

As per 1501.2 – Procedure on Travel Advances, employees should either pay on their T&E Card, work with their department to pay via P-Card or pay the vendor directly if the vendor is set up in Accounts Payable. Employees must provide a justification for paying with their own monies if they wish to receive a reimbursement for the costs for the registration.

What if I am leaving from or returning to an airport other than the one closest to my primary workstation?

You will need to submit both the actual cost of the airfare plus any additional transportation costs required to/from travel to the airport and the comparable airfare which is closest to your duty station. The University will pay the lesser.

If I book a flight outside of the University’s Authorized Travel Agencies, can I be reimbursed booking fees?

Booking outside of the University’s Authorized Travel Agencies is only permitted in limited circumstances, as outlined in 1501.3 – Procedure on Air Travel. If a traveler qualifies for an exception, outside agency booking fees will only be allowed in limited circumstances.

Can I book a bundled package of flight, hotel, and transportation?

It is recommended that you book them separately. If you do choose to purchase a bundled package, make sure the details are itemized and the receipt reflects how much the flight, hotel or transportation cost separately.

How are fees charged by commercial airlines reimbursed?

Fees charged by commercial airlines, including baggage fees, main cabin seats within the coach class section, or airport service charges are allowable charges and may be paid/reimbursed as a part of air transportation expenses. However, the number of bags should be reasonable in relation to the business purpose. For example, if the number of bags checked exceeds two (2), the purpose of the trip should justify the additional bags. Other fees, such as early/priority boarding or extra leg room are personal and will not be reimbursed.

If a flight is canceled and the traveler used personal frequent flyer miles, can I get the amount reimbursed?

No. If personal frequent flyer miles are used to purchase a flight, the fare is not reimbursable if the flight is canceled. We recommend booking with the University’s Authorized Travel Agency instead of using personal frequent flyer miles.

Is economy plus, main cabin plus, premium economy, or preferred seating allowed?

No, UNC will only reimburse main cabin; all other preferred seating will be considered as personal charges.

I have a medical condition that causes me extreme discomfort when I sit for long periods. May I be reimbursed for upgraded airfare?

Travelers may request a medical accommodation through the University’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC). The request must be presented prior to travel and, on average, the request will take approximately 30 days to complete. If approved, the EOC will provide the employee with an accommodation notice detailing the approved accommodation. Questions regarding the accommodation process may be sent to accommodations@unc.edu.

If I am traveling out of the country can I upgrade my seats?

All intercontinental travel is eligible for cabin class upgrades, up to and including Business Class airfare. All flight segments may be upgraded if the final flight destination is to a different continent. As a reminder, the continent of North America includes the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Non-stop flights which exceed 8 hours in duration may also be upgraded, up to and including Business Class Airfare.

My flight was canceled, and the airline company would only give me credit for a future flight. Can I have the University reimburse me?

Yes, but the traveler must use the credit toward a future university business trip. When flights are booked through the University’s Authorized Travel Agency, they will assist with managing the credit provided by the airline.

How soon should I submit the reimbursement request/expense report after travel?

You should submit the expense report within 30 days of the last day of your trip.

Who is eligible for a T&E card, and how do I get one?

All permanent, full time employees of UNC are eligible for a T&E card. They are required for frequent travelers. If you travel infrequently, but would still like a card, please contact the business office and we will submit the request on your behalf.

How soon will I receive reimbursement once an expense report is submitted?

Approvals may take up to three weeks, but once your request is approved both at the SOG and by the UNC Travel office, you can expect to receive the funds within one week. The funds will be deposited via ACH to the same bank account that your payroll is deposited into.

Who do I contact with other questions?

You are welcome to reach out to Su Dong, or Timberly Leake with any and all travel questions. If you are having trouble with Concur, please contact the Travel office at concur@unc.edu.


What is Research Administration?

SOG Research Adminstration works to support its faculty, post docs and graduate students in policy, adminstrative and budgetary aspects of seeking external funding through sponsored research.

Who do I contact regarding research proposal submissions and questions?

Please contact the SOG Grants Manager, Sherrie Baldwin with any and all research administration questions. As your SOG Grants Manager, Sherrie will be able to assist with the following areas of research administration.

  • Develop and/or oversee research proposals, awards, and transactions in contract and grant management.
  • Maintain records in compliance with institutional and research sponsored policies
  • Manage grant, contract and award administration work
  • Act as liaison between departments and UNC central offices
How to submit a Grant Proposal?

When you have identified a funding opportunity, please contact our SOG Grants Manager Sherrie Baldwin. Shewill be able to explain and guide you through the grant submission process.