Cash and Treasury Services

Effective: 1/1/14
Revised: 7/1/14

Related Procedure
Related Process

I. Overview
Incentive cards may be used as a tool to meet the business purposes of the University. They can be used to support research study participants and for awards or prizes to support student activities. As cash-equivalent instruments, incentive cards are governed by internal control requirements and may be subject to tax reporting. They must be distributed in accordance with the guidelines set forth in this policy.

II. Policy General
Incentive cards must be purchased through Buyways from the National Gift Card Company (NGC). (Exemptions may be available in situations in which external funding pre-dated this policy or required purchases cannot be accommodated by the NGC). Personal reimbursements and direct purchases outside of the established Buyways process are not allowed. Incentives cards must only be requested when disbursement of such funds are expected to occur within ninety (90) days from the time the cards are received. If the project or need to distribute continues beyond that time frame, multiple incentive requests must be made to provide for a reasonable and timely accounting of funds.

1. Research Participants
An incentive may be offered for research participation provided it was included as part of the grant proposal and Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval was obtained. This policy is intended to provide guidance as to the appropriate acquisition and distribution of research subject incentives.

2. Non-Research Participants
It is also common, based on the specific mission and goals of specific areas of the University, to utilize incentives to encourage or award individuals for participating in certain events. Unlike with research participants, these incentives are not bound by grant proposals and IRB approval. This policy is intended to provide guidance as to the appropriate acquisition and distribution of non-research subject incentives.

III. Allowable Uses and Limits
Incentive cards may only be distributed for the following purposes:

1. Incentive for Research participants in studies approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB)
2. Prizes, recognition awards or tokens of appreciation for students
3. Prizes, recognition awards for volunteers
4. Incentive for employees participating as a volunteer in a research study or event unrelated to their job
5. Individual incentive cards should be valued at $100 or less.

They cannot be used as a bonus, awards, honoraria, or other means of compensation to employees, these payments must be processed through the payroll system. If there is any question about a particular situation, please consult with Human Resources.

IV. Internal Controls
Incentive cards must be safeguarded at all times and accounted for as if they were cash. The Responsible Employee has primary responsibility for safekeeping, maintenance and proper usage and for advising faculty, staff or students of proper handling policy and procedure. For grants, the PI must maintain all records regarding the Research participants.

The following controls are required at a minimum:

A. Custody
The Responsible Employee holds custody over the cards and should always know where they are located. Custody may be transferred temporarily from the Responsible Employee to other departmental personnel for disbursement purposes, but the Responsible Employee still holds primary responsibility for the safekeeping of the cards.
B. Physical Access
Incentive cards must be secured at all times (e.g. in a locked box in a locked cabinet or drawer) with limited access. They must not be taken home or off campus for safekeeping.

V. Lost Cards
The Responsible Employee will be held accountable for any incentive cards in their possession that are lost or misplaced. Any shortage must be reported immediately to Internal Audit. Depending upon the circumstances, punitive action including loss of ordering privileges, termination and prosecution could result.

VI. Definitions

A. Incentive Card means a stored-value or similar instrument issued in lieu of cash or check. For purposes of this policy, “incentive card” includes gift certificates, cash cards, and online eIncentivecards (eCards).
B. Responsible Employee means the faculty or staff member in the department disbursing the incentive cards that is responsible for the documentation, internal control and other requirements of this policy.
C. Research Participant means an individual with whom an investigator conducts research and obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual.