Petty Cash Fund General Guidelines

Policy No: 
1.5.1
Type of Policy: 
Administrative
Effective Date: 
February 2011
Last Revised: 
October 2014
Review Date: 
October 2017
Contact Name: 
Carol Gibson
Contact Title: 
Controller
Contact Email: 
cgibson@gatech.edu
Reason for Policy: 

To provide guidance to schools, colleges, departments or units of the Institute as it relates to purchasing items and receiving reimbursement for such purchases via Petty Cash funds. This policy and procedure will detail the authorized use of petty cash funds and restrictions on purchases.

Policy Statement: 

Petty Cash Fund
A petty cash fund is used by campus departments to reimburse employees for small dollar purchases. Funds may generally be classified into one of two types:

  1. Departmental Petty Cash Funds
  2. Bursar's Office Petty Cash Fund

Allowable Transactions
The transactions are allowable using petty cash funds:

  1. Purchases for small dollar needs
  2. Purchases for which the goods are received at the time of purchase

Typical allowable transaction types include office supplies, lab supplies, telephone reimbursements, local parking reimbursements, mailing services, copy and photo services.

No single petty cash fund transaction should exceed $250. Reimbursement exceeding $250 must be made via the Institute’s Travel and Expenses system. For more information, please see policy 5.2.1.5 – Reimbursement for Purchases Made Using Personal Funds.

Unallowable Transactions
The following transactions and purchases are not allowed to be processed with petty cash funds:

  1. Items covered by State or Institute contracts
  2. Entertainment
  3. Travel reimbursements (meals, lodging, taxi, airfare)
  4. Per diem and fees and other service payments
  5. Gifts, awards, prizes
  6. Memberships
  7. Personal check cashing and loans
  8. Food, beverages, catering (for more information related to purchasing food, please see the policy 5.2.1.9 – Procurement of Group Meals for Employees, Students and Official Visitors.

Any items that are unallowable via the Institute's Purchasing department are also unallowable to be purchased using petty cash funds. Please see the Institute’s Allowable Cost Matrix at www.controller.gatech.edu/allowable-cost-matrix for additional information on allowable and unallowable Institute purchases. Also, items that are required to be purchased through the Purchasing department may not be purchased with petty cash funds even if the shipment of the item has been delayed or it is out of stock. Violations of petty cash policy may result in non-reimbursement or fund closure.

Scope: 

This policy applies to all schools, colleges, departments, and units of the Institute.

Policy Terms: 

Departmental Petty Cash Funds
Departments may request approval to establish departmental petty cash funds to reimburse petty cash expenditures. Change Funds are used to give change to customers when they are paying for goods or services. Please refer to "Departmental Petty Cash Fund Procedures" for specific information regarding departmental petty cash procedures or "Departmental Petty Cash Fund Checking Account Procedures" for specific information regarding petty cash checking account procedures.

Bursar’s Office Petty Cash Fund
Departments that do not have their own petty cash funds may use the Bursar's Office petty cash fund for reimbursement of petty cash purchases. Please refer to "Petty Cash Reimbursement Procedures" for specific information regarding the use of the Bursar's Office petty cash fund.

Procedures: 

Petty Cash Guidelines
Petty cash must be held in a locked cash drawer or locked cash box. (Security recommends a smooth metal finish box for fingerprinting purposes.) A primary key to the drawer or box must be held by the custodian while a secondary key should be held by the department head or delegate for emergency purposes.

In the event the fund custodian has a scheduled absence, a temporary custodian can be assigned by the department head. The funds must be counted in the presence of the authorized custodian before the leave period begins and again once the custodian returns. This procedure is used when the petty cash fund is greater than $200.

In the event the fund custodian has an unscheduled absence, a temporary custodian can be assigned by the department head. The funds must be counted in the presence of the department head or his designee before the funds are used. A similar cash count must be performed upon the return of the regular fund custodian. The department should maintain the cash count verifications until the next cash count is performed. This procedure is used when the petty cash fund is greater than $200.

The total amount of the petty cash fund should always equal the cash on hand plus any unreimbursed amounts. If the Department Head or Financial Services feel it is warranted based on circumstances surrounding a shortage, Internal Auditing may be contacted for investigation. Internal Auditing will notify Risk Management. If Internal Auditing determines the custodian was negligent in their duty to safeguard the petty cash, the custodian may be held liable for replacement of uninsured losses. Shortages exceeding $200.00 should always be reported to Internal Auditing.

Unannounced cash counts should be performed quarterly by someone other than the custodian. The individual should be selected by the Department Head, preferably not the same person each quarter. The cash count should be recorded on the Cash Count Form. The completed forms should be retained in a Departmental file. Unannounced cash counts may be performed by Internal Audit. Account balance verification will be performed at year-end by the Controller's Office.

Department petty cash "change funds" should be counted daily.

Petty cash funds should always be kept separate from other cash receipts. To discourage thefts, avoid dispensing money from the petty cash box in the presence of the person requesting money.

Where possible, keep locked box in limited access locked drawer, safe or file cabinet. Funds must be secured each time the custodian leaves the office. The keys to the box and file cabinet, safe, or drawer should be kept in the possession of the custodian, not left in desks or in the office overnight. The custodian and department head may be held jointly liable for uninsured losses that occur as a result of negligence.

In the event of a theft of petty cash funds, the custodian should immediately notify the Georgia Tech Police Department and the Internal Audit Department. Police Department incident reports will be distributed within three days of the theft to the Department Head, Risk Management, the Controller's Office, and Internal Auditing. The Internal Audit Department will communicate to the Controller's Office whether loss is insured or loss is a result of negligence.

Upon departure/termination of custodian or department head, keys to secured petty cash area must be returned to the appropriate departmental authority. A change of custodian requires submission of a new Petty Cash Fund Request/Maintenance Form. A final count and submission for replenishment should occur prior to the new custodian assuming responsibility. The new custodian receipts the cash at the Bursar's Office and signs Section Five of the new Petty Cash Fund Request/Maintenance Form.

Criminal Background Checks and Credit Checks
New Petty Cash Custodians are required to have criminal background check and credit check prior to becoming the custodian of any cash funds.

Existing Petty Cash Custodians as of October 1, 2010 are required to have a criminal check if they do not have one on file. Once the results of the criminal and consumer credit checks have been emailed to the department the email should be forwarded to accounting.ask@buisness.gatech.edu. If the employee does not pass the criminal and/or consumer credit check the department will need to submit criminal and consumer credit checks to the Office of Human Resources for the replacement custodian. The Petty Cash Fund Request/Maintenance form will need to be submitted to the Controller's Office for the new custodian. The department is responsible for the cost of the criminal and consumer credit check.

If an applicant is a current employee and the background investigation report reveals adverse information which constitutes grounds for termination, OHR will initiate the appropriate termination procedure. OHR’s Employee Relations unit will draft a formal letter to the employee notifying him/her of the circumstances. The formal letter will include the rationale for the actions taken and information regarding the employee's option to contest the accuracy of his/her background investigation report. The employee will be given an appropriate and reasonable amount of time to contest the accuracy of his/her background investigation report before formal termination is initiated.

Please also see OHR Policy 8.1 Pre-Employment Screening for further information on the background check process.

Reimbursement Requests
Please see Petty Cash Reimbursement Procedures, Departmental Petty Cash Fund Procedures, or Departmental Petty Cash Fund Checking Account Procedures for reimbursement requirements.

Policy History: 
Revision DateAuthorDescription
10-03-2014Controller’s OfficeUpdates to verbiage
Map of Georgia Tech

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