Penn Purchasing Logo Image with Penn Shield
About News Recent Alerts
Recent Alerts

Frequently Asked Travel & Procurement Questions

Related to the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Please be aware that the most up-to-date guidance on travel and other university related business can be found on Penn’s Coronavirus website. We encourage all members of the Penn Community to consult this website before making travel and other arrangements.

Travel and Procurement Services continue to maintain all operations and are working closely with internal Penn partners, suppliers, and service providers as the University collectively manages the delivery of supplies and services during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. In doing so, there are certain questions that have been common among many stakeholders. Those questions and associated answers are included below. For any other questions or support needed, please contact our Purchasing and Travel Services teams.

 

Procurement Services

Staff Responsibilities and Contact Information

Office Phone Number: 215-898-7216

 

Travel Services

Website Including Staff Contact Information

World Travel Phone Number: (888) 641-9112

 

Procurement FAQs

Q. I am supporting returning operations. Where can I find guidance on how to source critical PPE and related items?

A: In collaboration with Penn's research community, Environmental Health & Radiation Safety, and Facilities & Real Estate Services, we have prepare sourcing guidance for those items and categories that are critical to supporting a safe operations. Please visit Procurement Services' PPE sourcing guidance page to learn more.

Q. What is Penn's policy regarding remote work needs?

A: The University has established Policy #2330 Expenditures for Remote Work to address remote work expenditures.  If supplies are needed virtually and approved per University and School/Center policy, it is urged that existing departmental inventory be considered first.  If supplies are unavailable through existing inventory, approved purchases can be made through Penn’s preferred suppliers through the Penn Marketplace.

Shipments may be directed to a campus location for physical pickup, or they can often be set up for home delivery. To enable shipments to a home address, a request with written approval from the recipient’s business office must be submitted to PurchasingSupport@upenn.edu.  Schools, Centers, Programs, and/or Departments may require additional escalation.

While it is recognized that it can be convenient for individuals to shop for supplies and seek reimbursement, this generally diverts from the utilization of Penn’s local, small business suppliers; can result in unnecessary sales tax; and subjects Penn to expense report burden and fees that may otherwise be able to be avoided.

University-paid purchases establish Penn's ownership of the goods purchased. Those goods must be consumed for University purposes and/or returned to the University for further use.

Q. I’ve planned an event and now need to cancel. Can I do so without incurring fees?

A: There is no single answer to this question as each situation is different depending on the location, nature of the event, and final contract terms for the arrangement.  The best advice is to contact the venue and/or service provider as early as possible to avoid any cancellation fees that may apply.  If you require assistance in accessing or interpreting contract language, or would like support in negotiating a resolution, please contact Procurement Services’ Sourcing & Contracting team at sourcing@upenn.edu.

Q. I need to facilitate a refund due to a cancelled Penn event. What is the best way to process refunds?

A: If the original payment was made via credit/debit card, refunds should be facilitated directly through that card. In instances where the payee must be refunded directly by check, that refund should be processed through a Non-PO Payment Request. It is important to note that if new supplier/payee onboarding is required, it is not necessary to collect and upload a completed Form W-9 or any other tax documentation, as long as the requester answers "No" to the question "Are you acting as a proxy on behalf of this new payee/supplier?".

Q. Does the novel coronavirus represent a force majeure event, and can it be used in our favor (or against us) with respect to Penn’s contracts?

A: The most accurate answer is it depends. In many instances the outbreak of the novel coronavirus does not directly impede a supplier from performing its obligations under a contract. In those cases, force majeure would not apply. There are however certain instances in which the outbreak has impeded (or will impede) a supplier or Penn to meet its obligations, and may be cited by either party as a reason for termination or other action under the contract. It is important to note that even in cases whereby the outbreak has affected the ability of either party to fulfill its obligations, it does not necessarily mean that force majeure would apply. In all cases the nature of the procurement and language in the contract need to be considered in the resolution process.

Procurement Services in coordination with the Office of General Counsel can help in resolving any major disputes related to the novel coronavirus outbreak. For assistance please contact sourcing@upenn.edu.

Q. I need to buy technology hardware, but I understand the supply chain is strained. What should I be considering as I plan my purchase?

A: Penn’s Information Systems & Computing team has offered the guidance included below with respect to the impact of the novel coronavirus to the technology supply chain. Procurement Services supports this guidance, and is available to assist technology buyers as needed. To reach the team for support, please contact sourcing@upenn.edu.

ISC expects continuing delays in technology fulfillment for the next quarter, with the major contributing factor being the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Though various entities at Penn will work to manage these shortages, they will manifest themselves in many cases as both restricted availability and extended lead times for technology products relevant to the University and its constituents.

Procurement Services, our preferred providers, ISC, and various other constituents across campus have been working to understand and mitigate these issues . In some ways, matters related to COVID-19 are an extension of the already existing Intel processor shortages (which continue) and tariff-related challenges that we’ve been tracking since 2018. However, it is affecting portions of the entire technology supply chain—examples include memory, storage, networking equipment, accessories, and mobile devices.

University constituents have communicated with AMD, Apple, Dell, Graybar, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, and other companies about these issues. The Computer Connection has modified several of its stocking strategies, and the University is moving forward with identifying where there is meaningful differentiation in upcoming products and where it makes sense to proceed with what is currently available. We’re also mindful of buying patterns driven both by new product releases and by the timing of Penn’s fiscal year.

There remain many unknowns, as there are with anything related to COVID-19. What seems inevitable is that the availability of specific products will continue to be unpredictable, influenced by assembly locations, component availability, and other factors.

Where possible, ISC suggests planning for purchases with a more extended time window than usual. Also, where possible, notify others in the supply chain of your purchasing plans.

Q. With the extraordinary activity in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, I'm finding the need to purchase beyond the transaction limit for my P-Card.  What's the best way to extend my transaction limit?

A: For transaction limit increases on the P-Card, please continue to complete and submit the Purchasing Card Single Transaction Exception Request Form, which will be quickly routed for approval and processing.

Q. I have submitted a P-Card/Meeting Card application and understand those cards are normally delivered to the cardholder's campus address. How do I ensure I receive my card if I am working remotely?

A: Penn has worked with its P-Card provider, JP Morgan Chase, to default all new card deliveries for the P-Card/Meeting Card to the cardholder's home address until further notice.  It should be noted that Penn Travel Cards, provided by Bank of America, are already defaulted to home delivery.

Q. My current P-Card/Meeting Card is expiring soon, and I have not yet received a replacement card. How can I be assured that I will be receiving the replacement card at my remote location?

A: As your expiration approaches, Penn's card administrator will be reaching out to confirm desired delivery location. If you need to reach Penn's card administrator, contact PurchasingCardSupport@upenn.edu.

 

Supplier Information

Important information for suppliers seeking to make deliveries or provide services on campus:

All suppliers visiting Penn's campus must comply with the latest COVID-19-related safety protocols per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the City of Philadelphia. This includes the requirement to wear protective face coverings at all times other than eating or drinking. Additional details on Penn's requirements for those visiting campus, including information about PennOpen Pass, can be found at Penn's Environmental Health & Radiation Safety website in the Penn Vendor Policy section. If you have any questions about safely fulfilling goods and service deliveries, please contact Procure@upenn.edu.

 

Important information for local small businesses:

Penn's procurement team is working with area partners to help offer guidance to local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of organizations and programs supporting area businesses can be found in the Supplier Resources section of the Doing Business with Penn section of the Procurement Services website.

 

Travel FAQs

Q. I need to cancel travel.  What are the steps that I should be taking?

A: If you booked your travel through Concur or directly with World Travel, simply contact World Travel’s 24x7 service center by phone at 888-641-9112 or 610-458-5554, or by email at: uofpenn@worldtravelinc.com. For travel booked outside Concur/World Travel, you will need to contact the service provider through which you booked.

 

Q. Will I be charged fees for canceling my travel?

A: For travel that was booked through World Travel, its agents will be able to assess your ticket and determine if fees will apply.  They can also help facilitate an exchange or refund if such a service is available. World Travel can be reached by phone at 888-641-9112 or 610-458-5554, or by email at: uofpenn@worldtravelinc.com.

 

Q. I did not book through World Travel, but have a return travel requirement and would like support.  Can World Travel help me?

A: While World Travel cannot service bookings that were made through other agencies, including online booking sites, if you do wish to book new, return travel through World Travel, agents are available to support you and can be reached by phone at 888-641-9112 or 610-458-5554, or by email at: uofpenn@worldtravelinc.com.