Coronavirus/COVID-19 Fiscal Guidance

Fiscal Services is actively supporting the Mason community and will continue operating in a modified format. Most Fiscal Services staff will be working remotely and all offices are closed to visitors until further notice. Departments who need assistance with check deposits should email Information for student payments is available on the Student Accounts webpage. 

All fiscal training and walk-in assistance will take place virtually (as scheduled). Information about upcoming trainings, walk-ins and registration is available on the Training Page.


COVID-19 Safety Supplies and Equipment

As faculty, staff, and students increasingly return to campus Mason continues to centralize the acquisition, storage, and distribution of safety supplies and equipment. Centralized procurement allows strategic sourcing, product standardization, favorable pricing, and ensures safety standards are met.

Departments are not permitted to order the following safety supplies directly with vendors (including Amazon):

  • Plastic Barriers (to separate office spaces or customer service counters)
  • Reusable Face Coverings
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Hand Sanitizer Dispensers
  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Door openers (hands free or foot activated)
  • Disinfectant

The following are considered specialized items and should not be ordered unless part of the units’ existing medical/research related activities:

  • N95  or other Medical Grade Masks
  • Disposable Face Coverings including all types of surgical masks
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Air Purification Systems
  • Thermometers
  • Non-latex disposable gloves

The following are prohibited items and should not be ordered under any circumstances:

  • Latex Gloves
  • KN95 Masks

Department expense report reviewers should not approve expense reports requesting reimbursement for supplies noted above. Health and safety items such as hand soap or other cleaning supplies usually purchased during the course of normal, routine work are still allowed. However, units are strongly encouraged not to purchase items that are not needed or essential to their operations.

Purchases will be consolidated in Central Receiving and distributed by Safety, Emergency, and Enterprise Risk Management (SEERM).  Distribution of supplies will begin upon each unit’s completion of their Unit/Department Return to Campus Plan.

For additional questions related to safety supplies and equipment needs please contact SEERM at All purchasing related questions should be directed to the Purchasing Department at

Direct Expenditure Cost Reduction

Now more than ever, we must be vigilant stewards of university resources, as cost management is everyone’s responsibility. We will be incurring substantial financial losses, and the timeline for recovery is unknown.

We recommend units consider the following questions prior to authorizing any purchase for FY21:

  • Can this purchase be eliminated or temporarily suspended?
  • Are all aspects of the purchase essential at this time, or are components ancillary to the core purchase, and potentially not necessary?
  • Can the estimated quantity or frequency of the purchase be reduced or deferred to a later date?
  • Is there already a negotiated contract that can be used? Exceptions to standardized contracts will be flagged for additional review.
  • Is this item available in surplus located at Central Receiving or available elsewhere in the university?

For existing contracts, Procurement is following up with contract owners to determine if current services can be reduced.

Possible considerations for reducing certain discretionary commodities:

Advertising and Printing: Media purchases and printing for promotional items should be reviewed to ensure that there is a clear need or return on investment.

Consultants: Consulting projects not already in progress should be considered for deferral, with exceptions for projects that provide a critical strategic benefit.

IT Hardware, Software and Audio/Visual: Purchases and/or replacements should be deferred unless essential for operations. Existing equipment that is sufficient should not be replaced or upgraded at this time. All new purchases should align with ITS standards.

Travel, Conferences, Catering and Business Meals: Consider whether business can be performed remotely to avoid the cost of in-person travel. Catering and business meals should be considered essential for the participants if incurred.

General Office Equipment, Furniture and Supplies: Upgrades to existing functional equipment should be deferred at this time. Only those items that are essential to conducting day to day operations should be purchased.

Please contact your unit/division financial manager with additional funding or budget questions.

Telework Expenses

Telework activities should be conducted in an electronic format. When not practical, units may purchase supplies that are essential to ensure business continuity. All purchases remain the property of the university and must be returned to campus once the teleworking period has concluded. We are relying on the sound judgment of office administrators, P-Cardholders, and Org approvers as stewards of Commonwealth funds to ensure all purchases are reasonable and economical.

Supplies should be purchased from their current sources following existing procedures, except for office supplies. Until further notice, units may order most essential office supplies through their Amazon Business Account without sending in a waiver request (these items are typically ordered through The Supply Room). These and most other purchases can be made by your Mason P-Card and shipped to an alternate location when approved by your supervisor. In circumstances where orders cannot be placed on a P-Card, and an alternative address is necessary, units can request to have an address changed in eVA by sending a request to Please do not purchase items with personal funds and seek reimbursement.

Generally, home office equipment should not be funded by state funds (i.e., standing desks, office chairs, lamps). If an accommodation is needed, please see guidance at

Items that may be purchased for teleworking:

  • Limited quantities of consumable items- pens, pencils, toner, paper
  • Computer hardware that is essential to provide business continuity and will be able to be used in your department on an ongoing basis. Please order through Dell, Patriot Tech (Barnes and Noble) or CDW
  • Microphones, webcams or headphones (standard and economical)

Items that should not be purchased for teleworking:

  • Furniture, like chairs or desks
  • Personal items- cushions, tissues, lamps, privacy screens, sound machines
  • Items that will not be able to be utilized by your department once operations return to normal
  • Phones
  • Purchase costs or maintenance expenses associated with employee-owned items or related services
  • Upgrades to existing home infrastructure- new routers, antennas, internet enhancements
  • Printers or scanners (unless department head has determined there are extenuating circumstances)

Financial Impacts - Expense Tracking and Journal Vouchers

George Mason University will be tracking the financial impact of the COVID-19 preparation and response for reporting to university leadership as well as to the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the event that funding is available to compensate for the impact of the pandemic. To enable the tracking of COVID-19 costs, campus departments should use Banner Activity Code “CORONA” on transactions to capture extraordinary costs that would not have otherwise been required in the normal course of business. Click here to view the full memo.

Departments must review and ensure that expenses tagged with the “CORONA” activity code adhere to the following eligibility requirements:

  • A clear business purpose and justification as to how the expense transaction relates to the COVID-19 outbreak must be specifically stated in the supporting documentation. This tie to COVID-19 must be explicitly stated and not left to inference, assumption, or interpretation.
  • The expense must be both necessary and reasonable. Consider if the purchase was absolutely required and clearly justifiable? If so, would less expensive alternatives have sufficed? If it had been your money, would you have purchased?
  • The expense must be directly tied to the pandemic. It cannot be questioned as relating to COVID-19. Items that would have been purchased regardless of the outbreak or that have a future use at an event or activity would not qualify.
  • To avoid “double-dipping”, the expense cannot be claimed if it will be subsequently refunded, credited, or funded by another source. Take into account any grant or other funding, airline credits, potential reimbursements or refunds.

Journal Vouchers

As a reminder, reconcilers must submit a JV for any expense that adheres to the above requirements but was not previously tagged with the “CORONA” activity code. Supporting documentation, including invoice copies, as described above must accompany the JV. If any items were previously tagged and do NOT meet the above requirements a JV to remove the activity code should be submitted. This review should be performed each month as part of the reconciliation process and JV’s submitted right away to ensure the system is updated for reporting. Please utilize the modified JV CORONA Guide for instructions on completing these electronic vouchers.

Business Travel

Units should strongly consider their individual needs and the necessity of non-refundable obligations before they are made. Reimbursements for prior business travel will be processed as usual. Questions regarding future business travel plans should be directed to Fiscal Services recognizes that previously planned business travel may need to be cancelled and we advise travelers to cancel airfare and request a full refund, or if not possible to cancel airfare and request a credit for a future date. Since the situation is fluid and airlines appear to be regularly reassessing their policies, travelers might consider waiting closer to their travel date before canceling if a refund will not be offered. Travelers should make a reasonable attempt to receive a refund for all other travel-related expenses. Trip related expenses that cannot be refunded, may be reimbursed with approval from their department.

Contractor Expectations

George Mason University (Mason) recognizes the challenges and risks associated with performing its academic, research, and scholarship activities among the COVID-19 pandemic. The university has implemented leading practices to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 for faculty, staff, and students, as well as those who serve our campus.
Mason expects those contractors, including all of their employees, independent contractors, and subcontractors (collectively “Personnel”), who serve on any university campus to follow university expectations regarding employee public health and safety precautions, testing, quarantining, and reporting. Click Here to review these expectations.

Research and Sponsored Programs

Please visit the Office of Sponsored Programs webpage for the most up to date information regarding research and sponsored activities.