Learn the Basics

Accounts Payable processes payments for all purchases of goods and services at the university. State rules require payments to be made within 30 days of receiving the goods or services or the invoice, whichever is later.

Departments are responsible for forwarding all documents required for payment to Accounts Payable in a timely manner.

Technicians in Accounts Payable are assigned to process payments according to alphabetical groups of vendors.


State Rules and Limitations (Section 20310 CAPP Manual)

The Commonwealth Accounting Policies and Procedures (CAPP) Manual dictates that all expenditures of State funds be considered essential to the operation of the University.

Under the general rule set forth in Section 2.2-1822 of the Code of Virginia, the Department of Accounts may question any State-funded expenditure. As a result, all State-funded expenditures (including grants and contracts) are subject to public scrutiny. Any Mason employee authorizing a purchase should not only determine that the benefit to the university justifies the use of State funds, but should consider the appearance of unusual purchases on the university and on State government in general.

George Mason University’s Purchasing Department has developed detailed guidance in the Mason Purchasing Made Easy Manual. Since individual circumstances vary widely, adequate documentation for unusual purchases should always be included.

Improper Expenditures Examples

The following list contains examples of expenditures determined by George Mason University to be improper uses of State funds. This list is intended to provide general guidance in judging the appropriate use of State funds. However, any State-funded expenditure may be questioned, including those that are not included on the following list.

  • Single-use plastic items such as bottles, cutlery, and others.
  • Gifts.
  • Flowers (exception for commencement ceremonies and specific Admissions events).
  • Charitable contributions.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Snacks for employees.
  • Coffee service, machines or supplies for personal use. Coffee machines only may be purchased using State funds provided the machine services community use. The coffee machine becomes and remains property of the university.
  • Retirement parties, employee going-away parties.
  • Group luncheons for employees.
  • Holiday cards or decorations.
  • Subscriptions (such as periodicals, services, software, etc.) except for bona fide business purposes, NOT TO EXCEED ONE YEAR.
  • Non-business related newspapers or magazines.
  • Books for classes (unless they remain the property of George Mason University).
  • Picture framing (unless the item remains the property of George Mason University).
  • Framing of award certificates.
  • Replacement of stolen or lost employee personal articles.
  • Personal items, such as fans or heaters, for employees.
  • Employee clothing (non-uniform).
  • Tuxedos or formal wear.
  • Cash advances.
  • Digital books or other digital materials downloaded to personal devices.



Items for Personal Use

The following items may be purchased for communal use and not personal/private use. The purchases must be approved in advance by the approving official for the fund/org.

Communal Use

Communal use is defined as being available for use by an entire department and visitors to that department.

Personal/Private Use

Personal/private use is defined as being used exclusively by a single individual (as in a private office).

A statement citing the reason for the purchase and that the items are for communal, not personal use, must be prepared and signed by the approving official for the fund/org prior to the purchase. This approval statement should be submitted with the monthly P-Card statement or retained with the receiving documents for other payment methods.

  • Band aides, First aid kits.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Tissues.
  • Coffee makers (household quality). The coffee maker becomes and remains property of George Mason University.
  • Paper plates and paper napkins (only for student groups in support of a particular event, reimbursed with food and beverage items through the Food and Beverage process.)
    • Please note that in accordance with Executive Order #77, departments and organizations are not allowed to purchase or supply any single-use plastics including straws, bottles, utensils, and others. Additional information can be found on the Sustainability Council website.

Student Clubs & Organizations

Student clubs and organizations are defined as those student activities that are funded by student fees, self-generated revenue, or both.

The following additional purchase/payments, which enhance student life, are permitted for student clubs and organizations:

  • Balloons for events.
  • Sound equipment.
  • Food for events that directly support the club’s mission.
  • Decorations.
  • Bands.
  • DJs.
  • Flowers for events.
  • Refreshments (non-alcoholic) for club meetings.

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