COVID-19 Contingency Planning and Key Considerations

September 02, 2020

As outlined in President Bollinger’s announcement on Friday, March 13, the University has asked non-essential employees to work remotely as of Monday, March 16. Most financial processes, including payments to employees and vendors, will continue as they do in the normal course of business.

If needed, please contact the parties you would normally contact when seeking assistance. Following is guidance on financial processes. This guidance will be updated as the situation develops.

[ Last updated: 06/04/2020 ]

Departments should request electronic payments — online giving via credit card or wire transfers — whenever possible.
Departments receiving checks should periodically forward these, together with completed gift transmittals, to Gift Systems’ lockbox. The address will differ, depending on whether you’re sending via USPS or via private courier, such as FedEx or UPS.

If sending by USPS, address to:

Columbia University—Gift Systems

P.O. Box 1523
New York, NY 10008

If sending by USPS, address to:

711 Executive Blvd, Ste. H
Batching Department—1523
Valley Cottage, NY 10989

Notify Gift Systems ([email protected]) that you’ve sent a parcel of checks.

[ Last updated: 07/01/2020 ]

Payroll will be processed as usual in the PAC system. Questions can be directed to the HR Service Center at 212-851-2888 or via ServiceNow. Please submit all documentation as early as possible in advance of deadlines to allow the teams who are processing remotely more time.

Electronic Personnel Action Forms (PAF)

Please refer to the guidance from Human Resources regarding the Paper Transaction Processing Contingency Plan.

Paycheck Distribution

Payroll periods before March 16: Departments are in possession of these checks if employees have not picked them up. Please mail directly to your employees based on information in PAC or information received from the employee.

As of March 21st, payroll checks can no longer be picked up from the mailrooms. All checks that remained in the mailroom at the end of the day on March 20th will be mailed to employees at the home address in the system. 

[ Last updated: 09/02/2020 ]

Procurement Services has been in collaboration with Columbia’s research community and facilities organizations on a project aimed to ensure we have a secured supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for when operations start to gradually resume. As a result of that, we have prepared sourcing guidance for those items and categories that are critical to supporting safe operations. It’s important for everyone to work together in order to ensure our supply chain stays intact. Please visit COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Purchasing to learn more.   

Requisitions, purchase orders, invoices, and travel and business expense reimbursements (TBERS) will be processed as usual in the Accounting and Reporting at Columbia (ARC) system. Questions can be directed to the Finance Service Center at 212-854-2122 or via ServiceNow.

Modifying Off-Site Events

For Columbia schools and departments seeking to update their plans as it relates to off-site University events, please use the following guidance for off-site events already contracted:

  • If you are seeking to change the date (reschedule) for an upcoming off-site event, please contact the event space directly for a revised event date.
  • If you are seeking to change the date (reschedule) for an upcoming off-site event and the event space is unwilling to provide assistance in rescheduling, please contact Purchasing, specifically Wendy Johnson ([email protected]) to discuss your request.
  • If you are seeking to outright cancel an upcoming off-site event, please reach out to Purchasing, specifically Wendy Johnson ([email protected]) to discuss your request.

The above guidance would also be applicable to any other services (e.g. AV, catering, hotel room blocks, etc.) in support of your event.

A couple of important points on modifying your upcoming events:

  • At present, cancellations cannot be considered under the premise of Force Majeure and as such we recommend rescheduling your event where possible to mitigate financial impacts.
  • When seeking to reschedule it is best to select a date(s) that are further out to avoid any additional scheduling changes.

For those that are considering an upcoming event, but not yet contracted, please be sure to review your date(s) carefully to avoid a potential event rescheduling. We have proactively reached out to all University-wide contracted hotels to let them know that we expect them to be as flexible as possible to assist with the various University group requests during this time.  

Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please reach out to Hugh Horowitz, AVP, Procurement Services: [email protected].

Check Pick-Up

We ask for your concerted assistance in reducing the volume of checks requested for manual pick-up. Most vendors will be accommodating in these unique circumstances, and desired enclosures should instead be relayed over email.

In addition, ARC voucher initiators can request additional identifying information to be included on the check, such as our client or account number with the vendor. This can be done by including that information in the message box within the payment screen.  Up to 70 characters can be populated (see the screenshot of ARC below).

In the limited instances when a department must have a physical check, there are newly designated pick-up locations at CUIMC and Morningside. When creating the voucher in ARC, under Payment Options, Handling (also visible in the ARC screenshot below) please select one of the two designated locations from the drop-down box: 

  • Call for Pick Up - CUIMC
  • Bursar (this selection will route to Morningside facilities)

Please do not select “Call for Pick Up - Studebaker” during this period as this mailroom will not be serviced and you will not be able to pick up the check.

The department will be responsible for picking up the check from the location selected.

Employees should bring the departmentally approved Check Pick up Form, service now. incident number, ARC check reference number, and ID. 

The addresses and hours of opening for each are noted below:

Selecting “CUIMC” results in the following drop-off location:
Mailroom 1-420
Columbia University Facilities
630 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
Pick-Up Hours: Thursday, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Selecting “Bursar” results in the following drop-off location: 
Columbia University Facilities
1202 Amsterdam Avenue (cross street: 119th)
101 Service Building
New York, NY 10027
Pick-Up Hours: Thursday, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Screenshot of the ARC Portal

Procurement Cards (P-Cards)

All new cards will be sent to the cardholders address provided on the application. For replacement cards and renewal cards, the cardholder should contact the bank directly as per the normal process. The bank will distribute the replacement or renewal card to the address provided by the cardholder. Bank of America’s contact number is 888-449-2273.

Travel and Business Expense Reimbursement (TBER)

We recognize that many individuals do not have access to software that supports electronic signatures, therefore we are accepting email confirmation evidencing the supervisor's approval. The supervisors' approval must come from a Columbia email address and should explicitly state what is being approved as well as the specific TBER voucher number. Simply noting "Approved" will result in the TBER being put on hold.

As an alternative, voucher initiators can add the supervisor to the ARC approval workflow as an AdHoc approver. This is an option only available if the approver is set up with a voucher approval role in ARC. 

Supporting Documentation

In the event a scanner is not available, photos of receipts can be uploaded.

To upload electronic documents please continue to use the Procurement EDM Upload Form.

[ Last updated: 04/07/2020 ]

In light of the recent announcement for remote work, we are requesting all checks related to Sponsored Projects Finance (SPF) be forwarded to the SPF lockbox address along with all original documents. Additionally, we request you to advise your sponsors who pay by checks, to send payments and supplementary payment information to the SPF lockbox directly.

The lockbox address is provided below. Note that the lockbox only accepts U.S.P.S. and will not accept express services like FedEx or other air couriers. If you have any questions, please reach out to [email protected].

Mailing Address:
The Trustees of Columbia University
Sponsored Projects Finance
P.O. Box 29789
General Post Office
New York, NY 10087-9789

[ Last updated: 06/08/2020 ]

In the event you have a student experiencing financial hardship, please direct them to their School’s financial aid office. Financial aid offices have ways to advance refunds from pending financial aid or provide limited emergency loans.

[ Last updated: 03/19/2020 ]

For unique circumstances around payments to or from the University, please contact Mark Hawkins at [email protected] or Patricia Reid at [email protected]