After you have delivered your goods and services to schools, all you have to do is follow the right steps for payment from the New York City Department of Education.
The Department of Education is the largest portfolio of the New York City government. It’s budget is well over $30 billion. It operates with lots of checks and balances in place and can be very frustrating for vendors. However, if you know what to do, life becomes easier in terms of getting paid.
This section covers all things related to requesting payment from Accounts Payable.
How to get paid quickly from NYC Department of Education
The most important thing to know is that payments for purchase orders are handled by the Accounts Payable department, not the schools. In fact, if you request payments from the school it only slows down the payment process and takes much longer for you to get your check. The best approach is to send your request directly to Accounts Payable.
Where to Request Payment
Send your invoices and related documents to one of the following Accounts Payable inboxes based on the school location:
- Brooklyn Locations: BrooklynAP@schools.nyc.gov
- Bronx Locations: BronxAP@schools.nyc.gov
- Manhattan Locations: ManhattanAP@schools.nyc.gov
- Queens Locations: QueensAP@schools.nyc.gov
- Staten Island Locations: StatenIslandAP@schools.nyc.gov
How to Send Request
Send one email for each invoice to Accounts Payable. The email must have one attachment, the file name and email subject line must be titled as follows:
Vendor Name-Purchase Order Number-Invoice Number
The documents you send are not the same for all. It depends on the type of order. See below for more about supporting documentation.
All payment requests must include an invoice. Other documents might be required based on the type of the order. The table below provides a summary of the documentation required by Accounts Payable.
Invoice Must-Haves or No Payment
Accounts Payable will not process payment if it does not have a complete invoice package. All requests for payment must include an invoice. What should an Invoice have? See below for the specific items in bold.
It is amazing what some vendors submit as invoices for payment to Accounts Payable. For starters, the document must state “Invoice.” Some have all the elements needed, except it says “Quote” or “Estimate.” Those are not invoices and cannot get paid.
Some of the obvious must-have include information about the vendor. The vendor name, don’t get cute, state your business name. This is not a marketing document, it is a formal request for payment. Other obvious ones are address, phone number or email. Who doesn’t have an email? Put it on, it’s the best way for Accounts Payable to contact you.
The smaller vendors are known for this, although some large vendors are guilty of this one too. The invoice must have some identifiers, such as the invoice date and a unique invoice number.
The next set of required information addresses the work performed. Purchase order number — to be safe, put it on all documents. It is the social security number for the Department of Education, the Comptroller’s Office and all other agencies. The purchase order number is the only identifier where the different agencies communicate with each other. Make sure you have it. Always ask schools to send you a copy of the purchase order by email. Mistakes are made over the phone and Accounts Payable will pay another vendor for the work you have done, because the wrong purchase order number is on the invoice.
State the date(s) of service or delivery and itemized list of services or commodities with unit price or service fee. I remember helping a vendor who sells online access to its content. On the invoice, the vendor wrote its internal code of products. Accounts Payable asked for a brief description of the product on the invoice. There was a lot of back and forth, the vendor did not expand on its description, and instead sent a brochure of its products. The vendor asked me what exactly should be written on the invoice. Frankly, the vendor is in a better position to describe its products. I did not reply and stepped away from helping. To this day, the vendor still did not get paid. Write your product description so a reasonable person can understand it.
The other information covers financials: credits if applicable, the total amount due, and payment remittance address.
Finally, the delivery address – usually a school address.
The above-highlighted items might seem trivial, but it is necessary for you to get paid. There are many eyes looking at the documents as it goes through the payment process and all the pieces must be present.
What to Submit When Requesting Payment (Goods)
The largest number of orders placed by New York City public schools are for goods. Unfortunately, not all vendors are on the same page. For vendors who know, they understand the process and are able to successfully navigate through the process. For those that don’t, it can be frustrating getting payment.
Two documents are required when requesting payment: invoice and proof of delivery. It is the responsibility of the vendor to provide both.
The most common mistake is the invoice does not have the purchase order number on it. To see all the required details of an invoice see article Invoice Must-Haves or Not Payment.
Proof of Delivery
Again, it is the responsibility of the vendor to provide Proof of Delivery. Proof of delivery can be the tracking details from UPS, FedEx, USPS or freight carrier. UPS only goes back 120 days.
If the tracking information is not available, you can submit a completed packing slip.
The packing slip should have the delivery address and date of delivery, and completed by someone at the school with their name, signature, and date. Some schools might submit to the packing slip Accounts Payable, but to ensure payment, you as the vendor should provide these documents. Some schools don’t even know how to complete the packing slip with the required information.
The delivery date must be before July 1st for each fiscal year. If you sent the goods out on June 28th and the school received them on July 1st, payment will not be processed for that purchase order, because it crossed over to the next fiscal year.
You will either have the school return the goods and ask it to create a new purchase order, with its new budget and go through the request for payment all over again.
What to Submit When Requesting Payment (Software)
The invoice for software is a little different. It should include a brief description of the product. Don’t use codes that only you and the school can read. It should be readable by the general public. Accounts Payable, the Comptroller’s Office and auditors need to be able to tell what was purchased.
In addition to the description, the invoice must state the licensing date. Put the actual start and end date, for example, 9/1/2020 to 6/30/2021. If the dates cross over fiscal years, payment will not be processed. See the examples below.
What to Submit When Requesting Payment (Admission Fee or School Trips)
These types of orders cover all things related to admissions and trips, such as tickets to a performance, admission fees to an amusement park, transportation, etc.
The invoice must include the date(s) of service. It cannot go beyond June 30th. It is a good idea to send a copy of the invoice to the school as well as Accounts Payable and nudge the school to certify delivery in FAMIS and send the roster to Accounts Payable.
The school is responsible for two things:
- Certify delivery in FAMIS
- Send a copy of the roster to Accounts Payable. The school might not want to send you a copy of the student roster, because of privacy concerns. Unfortunately, you are at the mercy of the school to respond in a timely manner.
What to Submit When Requesting Payment (Food)
Most restaurants that deal with the Department of Education are very frustrated, because they are busy doing a lot of time constrained, physical work and have little time for administrative or clerical work. Unfortunately, with the attention to the clerical work, restaurants will not get paid by the DOE.
Because the folks in the foodservice industry are so busy, here is a concise guide of what is required for payment.
Vendor needs to provide the following documentation:
- Invoice with the purchase order number on the invoice, and date(s) of service or delivery.
- Proof of delivery – delivery slip needs to have date, name, and signature of person receiving delivery.
Send both documents together in one file to Accounts Payable. The subject line should be Vendor Name-Purchase Order Number-Invoice Number. It is a good idea to send a copy to the school and ask it to do its part.
School needs to do the following:
Certify Delivery in FAMIS (the New York City Department of Education purchasing portal)
Provide related documents to Accounts Payable. Payment will not be processed, until the school provides related documents.
Example 1, if the food is for a Parent Association Meeting, the required documents are the agenda and sign-in sheet of the parents or a flyer/announcement about the event.
Example 2, if the food is for students, the student roster is required.
Example 3, if the food is for staff, the agenda and sign-in sheets are required.
What to Submit When Requesting Payment (Service – Educational Consultant)
Educational consultant orders are directly related to the students. Examples are a speaker at an assembly, art workshop, after-school dance program, college advisory, etc.
The invoice must have the date(s) of service and a brief description of the services provided. In addition to the invoice, the work order, signed by the principal or designee, should be included in the payment request. In most cases payment is still processed without the work order, but there are many cases when Accounts Payable ask for it. See the note below regarding the roster of students.
It is a good idea to send a copy of the invoice to the school and ask it to do its part. Schools are required to do the following:
- Certify delivery in FAMIS
- Send the roster of students to Accounts Payable. (Note: in some cases, the vendor is given the roster of students due to the nature of their work, which can be submitted along with the invoice and work order. This bypasses the dependency on the school, which takes longer for payment.)