Subject:                               MSU Alcohol Purchase               

Policy:                                   Alcohol Purchase Policy          

Effective Date:                      June 1, 2004

Review Date:                        Biannually

Responsible Party:              VP Administration and Finance

100.00  Introduction and Purpose

MSU has an obligation to manage its funds in a manner consistent with the best interests of the citizens of Montana.  Purchasing certain items may cause the public to believe that the institution is not exercising its responsibility in an appropriate manner.  Alcohol is one such item that comes under great scrutiny. 

Although MSU has a well defined policy on Alcohol Use in the Facilities Use Manual /policy/facility_use/facuse1000.html#1080.00, discussions with various members of the University community and work performed by Internal Audit have indicated that MSU does not have a well-understood policy that outlines permissible funding for alcohol purchases.  With this in mind, the purpose of this policy is to establish clear rules for units and departments that must purchase alcohol for personal consumption or cooking/catering.

200.00  Policy

On limited occasions, it may be appropriate to serve alcoholic beverages when entertaining university guests or when hosting a university- related conference. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased with University funds- OTHER THAN STATE APPROPRIATED FUNDS- if established University and grantor guidelines are followed and all state and local laws are observed. 

This policy is applicable to both on-campus and off-campus events.

300.0 Funding Sources

If University funds are to be used, ADVANCE approval of EVERY alcohol expense must be obtained via either of the two procedures discussed in section 400. 

Alcoholic beverages may never be charged to any funds that preclude such expenditures because of donor or grant restrictions, and may never be charged to state-appropriated accounts (funds in sequences 41xxxx and indices in sequences 40xxxx, 41xxxx, and 4alpha)xxxx). 

Only the following types of accounts, with indicated limitations and prior approval, may be used to purchase alcoholic beverages:

300.10  Designated Funds

Designated funds (those in sequences 43xxxx) may only be used to purchase alcohol if they are either
  1. Specifically established for conference expenses for which the attendees pay a fee that includes reasonable meals and alcohol. 


  1. Otherwise approved in instances where the purchase of alcohol is reasonable to achieve a business outcome.

NOTE: Facilities & Administrative (IDC) funds and funds that recharge all their costs to other departments may never fund alcohol.  Facilities & Administrative funds are those funds within the sequence 436xxx and 437xxx.

Certain restricted gift funds (funds beginning with 423), may in rare instances be used to purchase alcohol, provided that the gift was given for the express purpose of funding a conference that the donor understands is to include the provision of alcohol.

300.30 Auxiliary Funds

Certain Auxiliary funds (those beginning with 443) that are used in provision of catering and conferences held on-campus may be used to purchase alcohol.  University Catering is the only allowed provider of alcohol purchased and served on-campus, and must procure alcohol through the approved University contract vendor awarded through the University purchasing RFP process.  

300.40 Other Funds

Certain funds held on behalf of other organizations may be used to purchase alcohol.  An example is funds for a conference for which a non-University Society is the owner of the funds, and the University merely the paying agent. (Funds in the sequence 40xxxx, indices in the sequence 484xxxx).

400.00 Procedures

400.10 Approval

400.11 On-campus events: 

When a department or unit wishes to serve alcohol at an event on the MSU-Bozeman campus, the first step is to contact University Catering.  University Catering will provide an Alcohol Request/Approval Form that must be completed at least 3 weeks prior to the event.  After obtaining approval, University Catering will supply the alcoholic beverages at an event. Serving alcohol on campus requires the signature of the Auxiliaries Administrative Services and Budget Managers. (If alcohol has been donated, it may be brought on-site, but only after securing the approved Alcohol Request/Approval Form). If your department will be billed for alcohol by University Catering and intends to pay through the University's accounts payable process, pre-approval for the payment must be secured in accordance with this policy.  Consult the Controller's Office website at to obtain an Alcohol Purchase Approval Form, which must be submitted at least three weeks in advance of the event.  If you will be paying with Foundation funds, the Alcohol Purchase Approval Form is not necessary.
(Revised June 9, 2005)
400.12 Off-campus events:
When a department or unit wants to purchase alcohol for an off-campus event, such as a conference, the first step is to consult the Controller's Office website at and fill out a Alcohol Purchase Approval Form, which must be submitted at least three weeks in advance of the event. If you will be paying with Foundation funds, the Alcohol Purchase Approval Form is not necessary. The University Controller or Vice President for Administration & Finance must approve every purchase.
(Revised June 9, 2005)
400.20 State and local laws and regulations

All State and local laws and regulations regarding the purchase, serving and consumption of alcohol must be observed.

400.30Use of State Vehicles

Alcohol consumption is not permitted by persons driving a State car to attend an event at which alcohol is served.

400.40 Student-Related Events

Division of Student Affairs units or related student services units follow these procedures, but also obtain approval from Student Affairs before purchasing beverages. 

400.50Approval is NOT guaranteed

Items to be considered when granting or denying approval include, but are not limited to, the following:

Is the purchase of alcohol a necessary and reasonable business expense?

Is the funding source appropriate to the event?

Would the purchase make it appear to a reasonable person that the University is acting responsibly?

400.60 Payment

A copy of the pre-approved alcohol purchase form must accompany the BPA submitted to the Controller's office when it is time to pay for the event. For on-campus events, the expense may only be recorded in the catering index 443102 and account 629AL, Resale Alcohol for Catered Events.  Food Service Areas can purchase alcohol in indices in the sequence 443xxx and account code 622AL, Alcohol purchased as cooking supplies for food service areas.  Purchase of alcohol for off-campus events must be charged to the index from which funds are expended, and recorded in account code 628AL.

Alcohol may NOT be purchased with a University-issued purchasing card, with the exception of University Catering. Purchase of alcohol with a University-issued purchasing card is grounds for immediate card revocation.

500.00 Unconsumed Alcohol

After the event, remaining unopened bottles of alcohol must be returned to the provider.  The department may not pay for unopened alcohol, and attendees are not allowed to remove unused alcohol from the event for personal consumption.

600.0 Effective Date and Review

This policy is effective May 24, 2004.  The VP Administration and Finance will review this policy biannually.