The University of Chicago
The University of Chicago

Local Business Center, Division of the Physical Sciences

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GEMS

Who Uses GEMS

GEMS can, in theory, be used by both benefits eligible and non-benefits eligible employees. Only benefits eligible employees can receive GEMS cards, but all active employees can use the system for out-of-pocket travel and non-travel reimbursements.

That being said, benefits ineligible employees in the PSD are not encouraged to use GEMS. Students, postdoc fellows, visitors and others who are not in the payroll system cannot use GEMS. Some students may have active payroll records because of a campus job (library, TA, etc.), but as a rule students should use the paper forms.

Faculty (and some other full-time academic appointees) have assigned delegates who can generate card reconciliation reports and reimbursement reports on their behalf. Any report generated by a delegate must be approved by the card holder or reimbursement recipient before it is forwarded to the financial administrator.

GEMS workflow basics

    For GEMS card transactions...
  • The card holder makes a purchase with the card.
  • The amount of the purchase is debited from the University's clearing account assigned to that card.
  • To reconcile the purchase, an expense report is generated by the card holder or delegate and sent to the approver.
  • The approver is notified that an expense report is awaiting approval.
  • The expense report is approved.
  • Automated transfers credit the clearing account and debit the allocated expense account.
  • Reconciliation should be resolved within 2 days of expense approval.
    For out-of-pocket expenses...
  • The buyer makes a purchase with his/her own funds.
  • An expense report is generated by the buyer or delegate to request reimbursement and sent to the approver.
  • The approver is notified that an expense report is awaiting approval.
  • The expense report is approved.
  • Payment processing through payroll is triggered.
  • If the reimbursement is approved by the Tuesday before the end of a bi-weekly pay period it should be processed and distributed in that payment cycle otherwise it will be distributed during the following bi-weekly pay cycle.

All GEMS card transactions (even refunded ones) and credit balances must be reconciled within 90-days. Travel expenses paid for with a GEMS card in adavance of a trip (e.g. airfare, hotel booking) can be reconciled soon after the time of purchase, so the traveler does not need to wait until after the trip is completed. If such expense are paid out-of-pocket, then the traveler must wait until after the trip to seek reimbursement.

Approving

The approver will receive an email notification that an expense report is pending and in need of approval. Try to approve/review these within 24 hours. If the report is not approved after more than a week, a second notice will be sent.

When approving expense reports, the approver must ensure that the requestor has allocated expenses properly. This means both the account number and subaccount numbers. The expense report should never be allocated to a GEMS clearing account.

Like with the former paper forms, it is still important to carefully review attached receipts to ensure that the appropriate accounts are charged and that there are no unallowable expenses being charged to sponsored awards.

Card Applications

GEMS card applications are done online at https://gemsapply.uchicago.edu/. The financial administrator/approver will need to approve the card application for the card holder. This is followed by Dean's Office approval. The financial administrator can make modifications to the application if needed (e.g. billing cycle limits), but should only do so after communication with the card holder.

Cards come in two varieties: travel cards and procurement cards. The former is intended for use with travel and small dollar amount (< $500) general purchases. The later is intended for travel and large dollar amount general purchases. The typical travel card has a spending limit of $10,000 per billing cycle and a $500 per transaction purchasing limit for general purchases. The typical procurement card has a spending limit of $10,000 per billing cycle and a $4,999 purchasing limit per non-travel transaction.

Limitations

GEMS cards should not be used to purchase equipment (i.e. single items over $5,000). GEMS should not be used to pay sponsored consultant invoices, independent contractor invoices, subawards, or other contract invoices. GEMS should not be used to circumvent the normal purchasing/procurement mechanisms at the University. The best use of the card is for frequent, time sensitive, or particularly complex purchases for which a purchase order would be too slow or otherwise unable to accommodate. However, transactions which would be inappropriate for a purchase order or a personal reimbursement would likewise be inappropriate for a GEMS card.

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Chemistry Business Center

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