Business Purpose Guide

Definition: A business purpose statement justifies how an expense is appropriate and reasonable, and how it supports and/or advances the goals and objectives of the University. 

Per Arizona Constitution, Article 9, Section 7, public funds are to be expended only for public purposes. The University must ensure that all disbursement transactions (e.g., supplier invoices, travel authorizations, travel expenses/reimbursements, purchasing card payments, requisitions, internal billing transactions, etc.) have written information within the transaction documentation to justify the public purpose served by the expenditure. Financial Services therefore requires clear documentation of this justification. If not clearly documented, the department may be asked to provide additional details, and/or the expense may be disapproved or identified as non-compliant (PCard). 

Purchases and/or reimbursements made on behalf of the University must include a business purposes statement that addresses the following: 

  • What is being purchased?
  • Why is the purchase necessary and is it reasonable and appropriate for the University?
  • Who is the person that requested or needs the purchase? For events, this will include the audience or list of attendees.
  • How does the expense benefit the University? Expenses that appear to be personal or provide a benefit to an individual must include a written explanation of how they are business related.
  • Where is the event/activity taking place? If travel is included, provide the benefit to the University for sending the individual(s) to the event/activity.
  • When is the event/activity taking place? Include all dates associated with this event/activity expense, especially when including travel time.

A business purpose statement must provide reconcilers, approvers, and auditors the information required to fully understand the intent of the purchase or service and how it relates to the overall mission of the University. The information is the basis for a determination of allowance or non-allowance of the expenditure. Financial transaction approvers are both responsible, and accountable for determining whether expenses comply with the business purpose provided and if they are necessary to conduct University business. 

Type of ExpenseInsufficient Business Purpose DescriptionInformation to Include for the Type of PurchaseAppropriate Business Purpose Description
Meal for job candidateCandidate for Assistant Dean of Students dinnerName of candidate, list of attendees and their affiliation to University, and the job posting number should be included.Interview dinner for candidate Mary Smith for Assistant Dean of Students Job #XXXXXX.  List of attendees attached to backup documentation.
Research suppliesSupplies needed for analysisClarification of the supplies and project where the supplies will be used.Focus 3ml 60mg cartridge needed for analysis on PROJECT NAME.
Purchase100 custom imprinted toy cars to use as swag for Department NameThe reason for needing the items must be clear, along with the flyer/program that shows these are for the event and not purchased to be given away as gifts.  The cost of these items should be minimal with no monetary value. 100 custom imprinted toy cars to be used as promotional items for the NAME OF EVENT to be held by DEPARTMENT NAME on DATE to promote department to AUDIENCE.  Flyer/program is attached to backup documentation.
Membership fees2018 NACADA  membership for EMPLOYEE NAMEWhy the membership is necessary for the individual and how it benefits the mission of the university.2018 NATIONAL ACADEMIC ADVISING ASSOCIATION membership for EMPLOYEE NAME to increase his/her ability to assist students as an academic advisor.  
ConferenceAMA ConferenceInclude the attendee, travel authorization number for the traveler, and start and end dates of travel.  If a student is traveling, it is necessary to provide an explanation of how the University benefits.EMPLOYEE NAME to attend the 2017 American Marketing Association Conference in San Francisco, CA, August 4-6, 2017 for professional development.  Travel Authorization NUMBER.
Business meetingPizza for monthly lunch, 02/28/17Provide the agenda/details of the meeting, the date and location where the meeting took place, and a list of attendees.Monthly meeting on MM/DD/YYYY to collaborate on SPECIFIC RESEARCH and UP COMING ITEMS within the department.  List of attendees attached to backup documentation.
Business entertainmentPizza for student participation 2/28/17A flyer/program should be included along with a description of the event and how it benefits the mission of the University.Pizza will be provided to encourage participation in a survey to assist the Student Union with feedback regarding what events would be beneficial for students for academic year 2017.  The goal of this event is to hear from students on what types of events they would like to see at the Student Union in order to bring students together and provide them with an activity to allow themselves an opportunity to meet and network with other students.   MM/DD/YYYY.
SuppliesCoffee, bottle water, creamerThe purpose and intended consumers of these items should be clear since University funds can generally not be used to purchase these items for break room employee only consumption.  Purchase coffee, creamer and bottled water for meetings with visitors and customers to DEPARTMENT NAME.    
DecorationsDecorations for employee appreciationInclude the attendees and the flyer/program for the event as backup for purchasing decorations to clarify the event is not personal in nature. Decorations for employee appreciation event to be held on MM/DD/YYYY at LOCATION. Flyer/program and list of attendees attached to backup documentation.

Business purpose details must be included on the transaction within UAccess Financials utilizing any of the following options: 

  • Document Overview Tab > Explanation Field. 
  • Notes and Attachments TAB > Add notes detailing business purpose.
  • Notes and Attachments TAB > Supporting documentation may be attached containing business purpose details.