Purchasing & Reimbursements


The Blue Cluster Business Office staff are happy to assist with any purchases needed to aid your teaching and research.  All purchasing requests can be directed to blueclusterbuy@ucdavis.edu, and the appropriate business office staff person will respond. 

Purchasing items

When requesting the purchase of an item, please provide a link for the item(s) you need and indicate whether you would like to pick up the item at our offices on campus or if you would like to have it shipped to your home address. If the latter, please provide your home address.  Business office staff can purchase items from a variety of vendors, as long as the vendor in question provides the lowest cost and no conflict of interest exists. Many larger vendors (including Amazon, Office Depot, Steelcase, etc.) have special purchasing agreements with the University.

Purchasing services

If you would like to pay for a service or an outside contractor for work relating to your teaching or research, please contact blueclusterbuy@ucdavis.edu as early as possible, before beginning any such service or work. Such payments will require setting up the payee as a vendor in our financial system and creating a purchase order or agreement. This process can often take 4-6 weeks, and use of the service or contractor in question cannot begin until the purchase order or agreement is in place. Step-by-step independent contractor instructions.

Purchasing Computing Equipment, Software, and IT Services

Due to the need to mitigate cybersecurity risks, ALL purchases of computing equipment, software, and IT services need to be initiated by contacting Letters & Science IT (email: lshelp@ucdavis.edu). Please note that "computing equipment" includes peripherals such as monitors, hard drives, printers, etc., and "software and IT services" includes online subscription-based services such as DropBox, Grammarly, AirTable, etc. In some cases, IT will refer such purchases back to the Blue Cluster for completion after completing the required risk assessment. However, all purchases still need to be initiated by contacting IT. 


Employees must report travel, entertainment and, professional expenses within 30 days of the end of the trip or event. Faculty and staff are eligible to be reimbursed for select expenses that they incur on behalf of the University. Students (including graduate students) can only be reimbursed for travel and entertainment expenses.

Paying professional expenses (i.e. any teaching or research related expense that is not travel or entertainment) out-of-pocket is never the best practice, and all purchases should be made through the Business Office staff as described above. The only exception is memberships that require logging into a faculty or staff member's personal account in order to enter payment information; in these cases, we ask that faculty or staff members pay the membership cost out-of-pocket and request reimbursement, but only after obtaining permission from the department chair. If you incur an out-of-pocket professional expense, please submit receipts no later than 30 days after purchase date. 

There is a $499 limit on professional expense reimbursement. Please note that in order to be reimbursed, purchases must comply with all UC Davis policies and have all required documentation. 

Receipts and Documentation

The following information must be shown on a receipt in order for it serve as documentation for a transaction: 

  • Dollar amount 
  • Date of transaction
  • Identification of what was purchased
  • Proof of Payment

Proof of payment is generally shown by the last four digits of a credit or debit card on the receipt. 

Documentation must show that the faculty or staff member requesting reimbursement is the same person who incurred the expense. Faculty and students cannot be reimbursed for expenses incurred by family members or other individuals. 

If a receipt does not include the required information, staff may ask you for further documentation before completing the expense report. This can include a copy of your credit card or bank statement showing the expense. All sensitive information (including full account numbers and other transactions) should be redacted before submitting. Staff can assist you with redaction, if needed.