Short Term Operating Advances (STOA)

A short-term operating advance (STOA) account is set up to accommodate short (six months or less) projects carried out by Harvard personnel where a petty cash fund is not appropriate (ex: remote field work abroad). A STOA should be used for specific cash-related circumstances when all other payment options have been thoroughly exhausted. Review the STOA Policy before requesting a STOA. For questions about STOAs, please contact Joshua Dunn, Procurement Administrator,

Funds are disbursed by check to a Harvard employee (custodian) who manages the project. Every short term operating advance must be authorized by a Financial Dean or designee (FAS Procurement).

Advances are for expenses which cannot be purchased with the corporate card, Purchasing Card or vendor invoice. Operating advances may not be used for service payments in the U.S. or made to U.S. citizens abroad.

Department Responsibilities for STOAs

  • Authorizes advance, determines termination date, and assigns responsible individuals
  • Reviews expenses
  • Maintains receipts subject to periodic review by Risk Management and Audit Services
  • Creates Payment Request for the advance
  • Processes reconciliation

Requesting a STOA in Buy2Pay

  1. The Custodian (Individual to the receive the funds) will complete the STOA Authorization Form and submit it for approval to the department’s approver.
  2. Department’s approver will sign the STOA Authorization Form and submit it to the FAS Procurement ( via email. Wait for FAS Procurement approval before proceeding to the next step.
  3. In Buy2Pay, a department’s Requestor will submit a supplier maintenance request through B2P Supplier Portal. Select Site Add as the maintenance request type with the following supplier details:
    1. Supplier Name: STOA
    2. Address line 1: “OR Custodian name” (i.e., Or John Harvard)
    3. Staring with address line 2 and 3: enter the reminder of custodian mailing address.
  4. Once your STOA site is added in Buy2Pay, initiate the payment by processing a Payment Request in B2P:
    1. Select STOA as the Supplier Name
    2. Choose the name of the custodian as the site (or John Harvard)
    3. Enter the following Chart of Accounts coding: Locally responsible tub and org, 0501 for object code, and other segments as appropriate.
    4. Enter the following for Business Purpose: "STOA for (name of project), (beginning and end dates)” along with a complete and descriptive business purpose
    5. Attach a copy of the approved STOA Authorization Form to the requisition
    6. Submit the Payment Request into workflow for approval
    7. Once approved in B2P, payment will be issued as a check payable to the custodian

Settling a STOA

STOAs must be settled by 30 days after the end date of the project.

If a STOA is not settled by 90 days after the end of the project, the amount of the STOA will be treated as taxable income to the custodian. Harvard may pursue disciplinary action against noncompliant custodians as well as legal action to recover the funds.

  1. Departments will reconcile STOA expenditures by processing a journal voucher to the appropriate object codes in the General Ledger, and credit the original STOA coding used (0501). The settlement must account for the total STOA funds disbursed and may include a journal voucher as well as a credit voucher form.
  2. The department will send the check and credit voucher form to the Cash Receipts Office, 1033 Mass. Ave., 2nd Floor.
  3. The STOA custodian must write a check payable to Harvard University for any unused STOA funds.
  4. The reconciliation must be in U.S. dollars. If receipts are in foreign currency, use the currency converter on the website and document the exchange rate(s) used. The best practice is to use the exchange rate as of the date on the receipt, if available. Using the monthly average exchange rate is also acceptable.

Recommendations for settling a STOA:

  • The tub should keep a copy of the journal, detail of the expenditures, and all original receipts for auditing purposes.
  • If receipts are in foreign currency the settlement should be accompanied by a cover sheet itemizing the receipts and the exchange rates used.
  • We recommend that settlements be reviewed by a program administrator who understands the research project.