In the Spotlight Archive

GEMS Chip Card

The new GEMS chip card issued in February 2016  contains a small, embedded microchip, which will help improve the security and acceptance of the card in the U.S. and around the world. This new card will allow you to make purchases at merchants with chip-enabled terminals, as well as merchants with traditional terminals.

What Cardholders Should Know

  1. Existing GEMS cardholders are not required to reapply to receive the new card
  2. Departments and /or local units distribute GEMS cards in mid-February.
  3. Changes to the card include
    *The card is blue in color
    *New expiration date and security code
  4. To Learn More About GEMS chip-enabled cards see our FAQs

Once you receive your new GEMS chip card

  1. Instructions will be enclosed with your card, providing guidance on how to activate and set your pin.
  2. Please activate your card upon receipt of your card. Old GEMS cards will be deactivated by JP Morgan in March.
  3. Provide the new expiration date of your card to suppliers that have recurring charges such as (subscriptions, or membership, etc.).

 GEMS Best Practices

If you've logged into the UChicago GEMS website in the past few weeks, you've had the chance to experience our new expense reporting site, hosted by Concur. The new site helps simplify the reconciliation and reporting process with new tools and a clean, user-friendly interface.

In addition to the site's makeover, we're providing users with some tools and reminders on GEMS Best Practices — a list of guidelines and advice meant to save you time and help ensure accuracy.

A few GEMS Best Practices include:

Avoid submitting multiple expense reports – create one expense report and continue to add transactions to it throughout the month. Travel should be reconciled and submitted for approval within 30 days of purchase – this includes airfare, hotel deposits, conference registrations, etc. Supporting documentation should be well organized – scanned receipts should be legible and all facing the same direction.

View all of the GEMS Best Practices here, or download this helpful [PDF] and post it at your desk.

If you have any questions about GEMS Best Practices, please contact the Shared Services Help Desk at 773.702.5800, email, or submit an Ask a Procurement/Payment inquiry form available on the online portal.

GEMS data is now available in Business Objects

Comprehensive GEMS reporting has arrived. Procurement Services and Business Information Services are pleased to announce that 14 reporting packages with 62 different reports on GEMS data are now available through Business Objects.

This new reporting capability will allow users to perform end-to-end reporting - from credit card swipe to final FAS reconciliation through newly unbundled transactions in subaccount 9913. We are also excited to offer broad analytic functionality including GEMS expense summaries, aging reports, turnaround reports, historical, and point in time reporting on your GEMS data, including the following updates:

  • GEMS transactions are no longer summed into a single line item on ledgers. Each individual transaction is now displayed for easy tracking and reconciliation.
  • Starting with the July ledgers, the new Trans Ref ID number began appearing on the ledgers. The Trans Ref ID number makes it possible to do the end-to-end reporting. The format of the FAS ledgers was slightly modified so the number is visible. Read more regarding the modification of the FAS ledgers.
  • This newly expanded reporting capacity eliminates the current reporting system limitations and provides ad-hoc reporting that integrates FAS and GEMS data.

For more information, please visit

Click the link below to view a 5 minute Video on the New GEMS Reports

Introduction to GEMS Reporting

  • What does the GEMS data warehouse contain?
  • How is it secured?
  • When is it updated?
  • What reports are recommended?
  • What reports are available?


Southwest Airlines New Discount Program

The University entered into a new Preferred Supplier Agreement with Southwest Airlines offering the following discounts for travel to/from Midway Airport, effective March 15, 2013:

8% Discount on Business Select Fares
5% Discount on Anytime Fares
(Wanna Get Away fares are not eligible for the discount)

To ensure your trip is credited as a University booking, and to receive the discount, your reservation must be booked through one of the following channels:

University's Southwest Airlines SWABIZ custom site
GEMS Concur Travel
Tower Travel Management

For additional program information, please visit the University's Southwest Contract Announcement.


United Airlines Renewed Discount Program

The University renewed its Preferred Supplier Agreement with United Airlines for travel effective April 1, 2013. Discounts vary per itinerary, depending on the city and the ticketed fare class. The discount program reduces the published rates by 2% to 15% on all U.S. domestic air fares and between 13% and 24% on many international itineraries.

To ensure your trip is credited as a University booking, and to receive the discount, your reservation must be booked through one of the following channels:

GEMS Concur Travel
Tower Travel Management

For additional program information, please visit the University's United Airlines Contract Announcement.

American Airlines Business ExtrAA Program

The University participates in the American Airlines Business ExtrAA program. This program is a complimentary business travel plan to help the University reduce its travel costs. Travelers will continue to earn individual AAdvantage® miles while the University builds its leverage with American Airlines. Travelers must add the Business ExtrAA account number 146114 on reservations booked directly through For more information, please visit the University's American Airlines Business ExtrAA Program Announcement.

New Tower Travel Management Fees

Effective August 20, 2012 through July 31, 2015

Concur Travel Online Booking Fee - No Charge
Agent Assisted Reservations @ $20.00

Process Change for Bookstore Purchase Orders

Beginning on Monday February 20, 2012, a new process for management of BuySite purchase orders for the Barnes and Noble Campus Bookstores will go into effect:

  • Barnes and Noble purchase orders will need to be created for the value of the merchandise being purchased – a 10% tolerance will be allowed
  • The individual picking up the merchandise at the Bookstore will be asked to provide identification and sign for the receipt of the merchandise

Full details regarding these changes are provided in this attached [Memo].

Please remember the GEMS card remains the preferred purchasing method for the bookstores. BuySite purchase orders should only be utilized when a GEMS card transaction is not possible.

Recent Change to Open Skies Agreement for Travel to Europe

The Fly America Act affects which airlines you are allowed to utilize when traveling on U.S. federal grants and contracts.

Recent international treaties referred to as "Open Skies Agreements" provide a limited exception to the Fly America Act. In the United States-European Union Open Skies Agreement, travelers may use a U.S. flag airline or any European Union (EU) airline when traveling from the United States to EU countries.

The following link Fly America Act provides updated information on the federal regulation.

View the news archive for past announcements.


New Electronic Payment Initiative 

Procurement and Payment Services has partnered with JPMorgan Chase to provide new electronic payment options of ACH and credit card to the University's suppliers. This will provide suppliers with real-time access to their funds, including payment details and downloadable remittance information, via a secure, online portal.

If you receive a supplier inquiry or have any questions or concerns regarding this program, please contact the Shared Services Help Desk at 733.702.5800, email, or submit your inquiry via the Ask a Procurement/Payment Question Form available on the online portal, for supplier enrollment assistance. Additional information about the supplier enrollment campaign is provided via the FAQ.

Check Printing Process

FAQ - New Check Printing Process

New Preferred Dry Ice Supplier

Continental Carbonic Products has been selected as the new Preferred Supplier for dry ice. For detailed information about Continental Carbonic Products as well as ordering and payment options click here.

New Preferred Livery Service Providers

Procurement and Payment Services has awarded new Preferred Supplier Contracts effective December 5, 2010 through November 30, 2013. For detailed information about our selected vendors and their services click here.