Administrative Services

The Administrative Services team handles business and financial transactions for GSE faculty, staff, and students. Specifically, we manage purchasing, reimbursements, and payment processing. We hope the resources on this site will help you utilize our services effectively.

Please use the links below to navigate this page:

Commodity Matrix

The following abbreviated Commodity Matrix contains information on the products and services most frequently utilized by GSE faculty, staff, and students.

Product/Service Requirements

Object Code

Purchase Order

Purchasing Card (transaction <$1000)

Travel Card

Meeting Card

Alcohol (for Events)






Non-Alcoholic Beverages (for Meetings)







Books & Reprints






Box Lunches






Bulk Mail






Business Meals






Car Rentals






Computer Software






Conference Registration Fees






Dues & Memberships






Entertainment Business Expenses






Hotel & Motel Lodging






Human Subject Payment Cards






Lecture Fees







Magazine Subscriptions






Office Supplies






Temporary Staffing






Airline tickets






Amtrak tickets






Limo & Sedan services







The full Commodity Matrix can be accessed here. It can be used to determine the appropriate buying method and budget code for equipment, supplies, and services from external suppliers.

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Budget Approval Form


Honorariums are issued as a token of appreciation for participation in an activity or event, but not as a contractual obligation to pay for services rendered. View the Honorarium Matrix.

  • What to Submit: Honoraria Payments to U.S. Citizens and Residents
    • W-9
    • Flyer or memo that documents the person’s participation in the activity or event
  • Honoraria Payments to Foreign Nationals



Typically, it is a violation of current policies to provide gift certificates as awards or incentives. However, if the following conditions are met, the Senior Business Administrator and Dean may approve a policy waiver. This is rarely the optimal payment route, due to resultant difficulties with record keeping and taxable income.

Non-Employee Lecturers

Lecturers are non-employees who present to a class or other audience. The University employs many lecturers, and their salaries are processed through Payroll. The following information only pertains to non-employee lecturers, e.g. guest speakers.”

  • What to submit:
    • W-9
    • Flyer or memo that documents the person’s participation in the activity or event

PDA Payments Processing Guides

Comptroller’s Office

Independent Contractors and Consultants

Independent Contractors and Consultants are individuals who render a service and meet certain conditions established by the IRS. They generally have a separate workplace, are not supervised when they are working, and have a set of skills generally not available within the organization. They are usually paid a flat fee by the job or project and are not paid at an hourly or daily rate.

Human Subject Participants

Human Subject Participants are individuals participating as subjects in a scientific research project.


Ordering products and services from external suppliers via the BEN Buys purchasing system or MasterCard Purchasing Card must be conducted in accordance with the University Financial Policy.

Forms, documents, and online request websites can be found here.

At no time is a University faculty or staff member authorized to sign a supplier document. All supplier quotations, contracts, terms and conditions, or any other document related to a purchase require a signature from a University representative and must be forwarded to Purchasing Services. Please forward your documentation electronically to the Business office.

Shopper Role

Shopper Role allows faculty and staff to access the Marketplace from the Purchasing Services website without training (PennKey authentication needed).

BEN Buys Requistioner

BEN Buys Requistioner acts as an agent for the University and is required to ensure that all purchase requirements are initiated correctly in BEN Buys (training required).

Competitive Bidding Requirements

University financial policy #2308 requires competitive bids for all purchases with an aggregate value of $5,000 or more.

Purchase Order

  • General Info
  • Application Process
  • Invoice Payment: submit directly to Accounts Payable
    • Accounts Payable
      4th Floor Franklin Bldg – Room 440
      3451 Walnut Street
      Philadelphia, PA 19104

Purchase Card (only for orders <$1000):

Travel and Expense Reimbursements


Concur, an online travel booking and management tool, is available to all employees and students. In order to access the system and create your expense report, you will need to log in using your PennKey and password.

The Penn Travel Card

The Penn Travel Card is for faculty and staff who anticipate traveling or incurring qualifying business-related expenses on behalf of the University. The card helps to keep work-related travel/entertainment expenses separate from personal expenses. Transactions are automatically loaded into your Concur expense account, making it easy to generate an expense report without the need for manual entry.

Non-Affiliate Reimbursements

Non-Affiliate Reimbursements are processed using PDA-NA form and will be processed through Accounts Payable. In order to process travel reimbursement requests, non-affiliates need to submit:

Petty Cash

Reimbursements for expenses under $25 can be reimbursed through petty cash.


Travel Policy

Travel Tips

  1. Obtain and retain detailed receipts. Credit card summaries are NOT sufficient.
  2. Use the Concur iPhone app.
  3. Set up Purchase Orders for vendors. Do not use purchase cards for PO vendors.
  4. If you will be renting cars for travel, you must take the risk management training class. You can register for this class on KnowledgeLink.
  5. Use World Travel to book airline expenses directly to your department. You are still able to obtain frequent flyer miles by registering your card with World Travel or by using Concur.
  6. Do not purchase insurance for domestic travel when renting a car from one of our Preferred Partners (Enterprise/National and Avis Budget Group) when you are on University business. Penn rental rates with these four vendors include Collision and Liability coverage in the rates with domestic rentals. Important note: When renting internationally, always purchase basic insurance coverage. If you purchase car insurance domestically, it is considered non-reimbursable.
  7. If you plan on traveling 1x per month, it probably makes sense for you to apply for a Bank of America card. Receipts auto feed Concur for many (but not all) vendors, making the travel expense reimbursement process easier.

** Event Planners
Please reach out to Sam Frenkel for information on the Meeting Card.


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What does PDA stand for?

PDA refers to Procurement/Disbursement Authorization forms.

What types of Penn vendors exist?

There are three classifications of suppliers: Strategic, Preferred, and Approved.

  • Strategic suppliers are long-term, cooperative business partners that are committed to leveraging the strategic and operational capabilities of both organizations to achieve significant ongoing benefits for each party.
  • Preferred Suppliers are BEN Buys approved suppliers that have been awarded a University-wide discount pricing agreement by Purchasing Services to supply products and services required by the University. Competitive bids are not required for purchases from preferred contract suppliers, regardless of the total aggregate coast of the purchase order. Preferred suppliers are identified as the “least total cost source” for Penn purchase requirements in a particular commodity category and are the preferred contract supplier for those products or services.
  • Approved suppliers provide basic products or services. Pricing is generally comparable to market rate or may be preferred pricing based on a single purchase transaction. In order to issue a University purchase order to a supplier, the supplier must be approved and entered into the BEN Buys approved supplier database.

Where do I find a list of vendors?

How does a vendor become a Penn vendor?

Click on “Submit a request to add a new supplier.”


When should students use Concur?

Students can receive reimbursement through Concur if the expense supports the operation of the University (e.g. student is representing the University at a conference and travel directly supports a faculty member’s project or research program). Concur Expense should not be used to pay students for the following items: awards, scholarships, fellowships, study abroad programs, and internships.

Should non-affiliates use Concur?

No, all non-affiliate reimbursements will continue to use the PDA-NA form (previously known as the C-1 form), and be processed through Accounts Payable.

What receipts are required when traveling?

The University requires that travelers retain and submit any receipts that are $25 or more for reimbursement purposes. Your specific school/center or grant may have stricter expense requirements. Please contact your BA with questions on necessary receipts. An acceptable receipt is a document that contains:

  • Transaction date
  • Name of merchant
  • Transaction details (what was purchased)
  • Form of payment used
  • Amount of purchase
  • Indication that the amount was paid

I lost my receipt. What do I do to get reimbursed?

While in your expense report, select the Receipts button at the top of the screen.  Choose Missing Receipts Affidavit—it will appear near the bottom of the drop down.  Select the expense item by putting a check in the box. SAVE. A red X will appear on the line item expense. This indicates that you must put a full explanation of the expense in the Comment box of the entry. Once you have done that, the red exclamation point will disappear. Note: the Missing Receipts Affidavit is only available for transactions $25 or higher. Only the individual requesting the reimbursement can access the Missing Receipts Affidavit for their expense report; it is not visible to a delegate. If you need a Missing Receipts Affidavit for an item less than $25 or if the item is part of an itemization, such as a meal listed as part of a hotel bill, you can use this link [Missing Receipts Affidavit] to obtain an electronic form. Once it is filled out completely, signed, and scanned, upload it to the receipts button located at the top of the expense report.

How do I request a travel advance?

Travel advances are requested and fulfilled through Concur Expense. The instructional guide is available here.  

How long does it take to get my reimbursement?

Once an expense report has moved through the approval process, it is released for payment on a nightly basis. Deposit is made electronically into the same bank account as your payroll, normally within 4-7 working days from last approval. Students without a direct deposit bank account will receive their reimbursement on a paycard. If the student does not have an active paycard, one will be issued and sent to their local address on record, adding approximately a week to the reimbursement schedule.

Where can I see the status of my expense reimbursement?

Log onto Concur, click the Expense tab, then click Report Library on the far right side. Your reports and the status of each will be displayed.

After the report has been approved, to determine the payment date, open the specific report, click Details, and select Report Payments.

How do I direct bill my travel to the University?

Airfare is the only travel reservation for an individual that can be direct billed to the University. Car rental and hotel reservations require a credit card to reserve.

You must make the reservation using Concur online. Choose the default payment type “direct bill” or contact one of our preferred travel agencies and inform them that you want to direct bill the airfare.

How do I book travel for speakers, guests, interviewees, and other visitors?

Sign onto your own Concur account and select “Book for a Guest” on the left side under the Trip Search section.

As a Penn student, can I book travel on Penn’s travel booking engine, Concur?

Yes, all students have a profile already created in Concur and can book travel arrangements. Visit the Make Travel Reservations page and select the Concur icon to log into the online booking system.

What is the role of a Travel Management Company (TMC) and what are the booking fees for our preferred TMCs?

TMCs are Penn Preferred partners that provide full service travel consulting and booking. They can assist you with the entire booking process. Their experienced travel agents provide consultation and information available to them through in-house travel information systems that monitor and advise you of everything from airfares to special weather or ground conditions that may affect your travel itinerary.

Our preferred TMC is World Travel.

 Concur/World Travel Booking Fees:

  • Concur Online Air: $8
  • Concur Online car and/or hotel: $5
  • Full service, Agent assisted: $39
  • Started online, finished with agent: $25
  • Agent-assisted, hotel-only booking: $0
  • Agent-assisted questions on itineraries: $0 

Premier Travel Booking Fees:

  • Domestic booking: $35
  • International Booking: $50


What is the best way to book airfare?

Best practice for faculty, staff, and students traveling on University business is to book airfare through one of the two methods below, and have it automatically charged to the University BTA airfare credit card (also known as Direct Bill). This eliminates the need for a traveler to incur the cost of airfare when traveling. When you reach the payment page when booking in Concur online, select the default “Direct Bill.”

  • Use the Concur online booking tool ($8 fee).
  • Contact World Travel directly ($39 fee) to work with an agent:

* Note: Airfare charged to the BTA credit card is allocated to Schools/Centers monthly based on the 26-digit code that accompanied the approval.

Can I book Business Class or First Class airline tickets?

While the University policy is that the lowest logical fare should be selected, the decision to allow business or first class travel is made by departments based on their policy, budget, and other considerations. Fares booked outside policy require a statement of business justification from a qualified member of the department.

Should I sign up for frequency programs with the airlines, rental car agencies, and hotels?

If you travel for business or pleasure, any frequency points you gain are yours to use as you wish. You can load all of your frequency program numbers into your Concur profile. They will automatically show on any reservation/booking made on the Concur online booking tool or with a World Travel agent.


What are the current mileage reimbursement rates?

Standard Mileage: 57.5 cents per mile
Moving Expenses Only: 23.0 cents per mile

Do I purchase insurance when renting a car for university-related travel?

Do not purchase insure for domestic travel when renting from one of our Preferred Partners (Enterprise/National and Avis Budget Group) when you are on University business. Penn rental rates with these four vendors include Collision and Liability coverage in the rates for domestic rentals. Important note: When renting internationally, always purchase basic insurance coverage. Note: if you purchase car insurance domestically, it is considered non-reimbursable.

Are we exempt from car rental taxes?

The only exemption is for a car rental of more than 29 consecutive days. Otherwise, the rental vehicle tax must be paid. There is no specific exemption for not-for-profits.

How can I access the Fundamentals of Safe Driving course—the course required before any Penn faculty, staff, or student can use a rental car for University-related travel?

You can access the course at any time by logging into Knowledge Link, using your Pennkey and password. Search for “driver safety,” and two course names will appear (Fundamentals of Driver Safety, and Driver Safety Training for Van Drivers).

Does the University have any special arrangements with taxi services?

No. Taxis are available all around campus and can be paid in cash or credit card.


How do I get a ticket for Amtrak?

Amtrak tickets may be purchased at the Amtrak Website or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.


Where can I find current per diem rates from Domestic and International cities?

Concur Expense has a built-in tool that figures your per diem rates for locations throughout the world. By using the Travel Allowances section located under the Details button of an open Expense Report, the user creates an itinerary which then is used by the system to calculate Per Diem rates.

Alternately, you may visit the GSE website for domestic rates and international rates.

What is the best way to book a hotel when traveling away from the University?

On the Concur booking system, you can access thousands of properties in regional, national, and international locations. You can book these properties in Concur at the Penn negotiated rate, which is already loaded into the system, for your convenience. You may also call World Travel 24/7 for assistance (1-888-641-9112), or Premier Travel during regular business hours (215-893-996x427/8).

Penn Travel Card

What are the benefits of having and using the Penn Travel Card?

The new Penn Travel Card provided by Bank of America has been developed based on community feedback received through surveys and focus groups of Penn travelers. The University has worked with Bank of America to ensure that the credit card is easy to obtain and convenient to use wherever your business travels take you. The credit card integrates with Concur Expense, part of Concur’s online Travel and Expense Management (TEM) application, to facilitate automatic payment of approved travel and business related expenses.:

  • Keep work-related travel and entertainment expenses separate from personal expenses.
  • Widespread merchant acceptance anywhere Visa is accepted.
  • Chip and PIN technology, particularly important for international travelers.
  • Applying for and using the Penn Travel Card will not impact your credit or credit score.
  • Penn Travel Card transactions are automatically loaded into your Concur expense account, making them easily available to place in an expense report without any need for manual entry.
  • Unique Penn branding on the card.
  • Reduced fees on international transactions.
  • No annual fee.
  • Best-in-class fraud protection and other special benefits, including lost luggage and AD&D insurance.

I already have an American Express travel card. Do I need a Penn Travel Card provided by Bank of America?

The Penn Travel Card, provided by Bank of America, is the recommended University-sponsored travel card and all eligible applicants are encouraged to apply.  Should you decide to cancel your American Express card once you receive your new Penn Travel Card, you may do so by calling the telephone number listed on the back of the card or your may complete this form. If you are an American Express cardholder and wish to keep your card for special reasons, please contact Travel Card Administration at to have your transactions integrated with Concur.

Who is eligible to apply for a Penn Travel Card?

Full-time faculty and staff who anticipate traveling or incurring qualifying work related expenses on behalf of the University are encouraged to apply for the Penn Travel Card.  A valid Social Security Number is required as part of the application process.

Does the application process have any impact on my personal credit score?

This is another advantage of the Penn Travel Card for cardholders. Per Bank of America, there is no impact to a cardholder’s personal credit. Bank of America will perform a “soft” credit check as part of the application process and only as a way to suggest an initial limit. Only the applicant will be able to view this inquiry on his or her credit report. The inquiry cannot be seen by others such as potential lenders performing a credit check and does not impact an applicant’s FICO or credit score.

Does the Penn Travel Card offer a reward program?

The Penn Travel Card is not a rewards card. However, cardholders are entitled to all frequency points they directly receive through participation in programs such as those offered by hotels, airlines, and Amtrak.

How should I report travel expenses? Should I wait for the monthly bill?

You need not wait to apply charges to an expense report.  All credit card transactions, whether the charges are reimbursable or not, will automatically feed into Concur on an ongoing basis once the transactions are processed by the merchant and bank. This could be as quickly as within a 48- to 72-hour period, but international transactions may take longer. Cardholders are encouraged to then apply the reimbursable charges to expense reports as soon as practical. However, the request for payment need not be submitted for approval and payment until later, such as at the end of your trip when all your expenses have been incurred.

Who is responsible for any late fees and finance charges?

The cardholder is responsible for any late fees or finance charges incurred on his or her account. Such charges should be paid directly to Bank of America.

What happens if I am late in reconciling my expenses?

You may incur a late fee if your bill becomes past due. If your account remains delinquent or unreconciled, Travel Card Administration will contact the cardholder and/or a financial officer from his or her School or Center. It is the cardholder’s responsibility to submit an expense report promptly in order to obtain the necessary approvals to ensure that payment is made prior to the payment due date.

International Travel

What is the Global Activities Registry (GAR)?

The Global Activities Registry (GAR) is Penn’s central resource for collecting information about the travel plans and activities of faculty, staff, and students preparing to travel abroad for academic, educational, extracurricular, clinical, research, or University business purposes. This information is Pennkey protected, and is used to:

  • Contact travelers in emergencies,
  • Assist individuals and groups, as needed, with pre-travel preparations, and
  • Identify opportunities for closer collaboration on international research and operations. 

What is the University of Pennsylvania Assistance Program and International SOS?

The University of Pennsylvania Assistance Program provides Penn students, faculty, and administrators worldwide with international medical, security, and travel assistance, managed and administered by International SOS.

International SOS is the world’s largest medical and security assistance company, with more than 3,000 professionals in 24-hour Alarm Centers, international clinics and remote-site medical facilities across five continents. International SOS is the leader in their field, ready to help you with all of your medical and security needs. For comprehensive information on the program and all available services, please visit the International SOS Penn website. 

Whenever you travel away from your country of residence, make sure you have your International SOS Card handy. You can print out the card from the International SOS Penn website. You may also print the card after entering travel data in the Global Activities Registry. Best of all, the card and services of International SOS are provided free of charge for all Penn students, faculty, and administrators traveling internationally on Penn-affiliated trips.

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General Questions


Sam Frenkel
Assistant Director of Fiscal Operations

Leonor Tendido
Financial Coordinator

Sherriann King
Financial coordinator