Mechanical Turk Information-Institute for Software Research - Carnegie Mellon University

Requirements for PCard transactions* to purchase AMT services

Before the transaction...

(1) For purchases of $1000 or more, a formal exception must be approved by the ALG rep and by the PCard office. For purchases less than $1000, the DDFR must be advised in advance by the cardholder as described below. It may be necessary to obtain approval for an increase to the single purchase limit for a PCard, which can be requested simultaneously. For purchases $2500 or more, a Bid Checklist must be completed.

(2) The researcher (with assistance from his or her support person) should use the Amazon Mechanical Turk cover sheet to describe the HIT in detail to the DDFR before the HIT is setup or funded incrementally. The DDFR will need to sign the cover sheet. This description should address each of the following:

  • The design of the HIT, its research purpose, the volume of expected/hoped for responses, and the length of time the HIT will be active.
  • Identify a funding source and planned amount to be funded.
  • Will PII be collected during or after the completion of the HIT? If so, describe how this data will be safeguarded.
  • Does the hit represent a study involving human subjects? If so, please provide an IRB approval number. If not, explain why not.
  • Is there any risk that CMU or faculty IP will be exposed through this HIT? If this exposure is of no concern, explain why.
  • Is there an expectation that additional responses requiring additional funding will result from this HIT? Is this HIT related to a previous HIT?

After the transaction...

(3) The HIT description (from (2) above) and DDFR approval should be included with the PCard verification or expense report, along with the transaction receipt. If above $1000, the PCard exception approval should also be included as an attachment when verifying the transaction.

(4) A copy of the current AMT Participation Agreement should be included with the PCard verification or expense report with the receipt. Additionally, a copy of the approval sheet from the University Contracts Office for Amazon Web Services must be included as well. This can be downloaded from the UCO's "Click Through Agreements" webpage.

(5) The initial AMT transaction setting up the HIT will result in an online receipt. This receipt should be used when verifying PCard transactions. In addition, if the duration of the HIT is less than 30 days, it should be possible to also include the AMT transaction record for the HIT, which is evidence that 100% of the initial funding for the HIT have been used. This transaction record ususally includes sevral entries which are described as “payments to workers.” If the duration of the HIT is longer than 30 days, then the PCard transaction should be verified using the initial receipt and as much of the HIT transaction record as is available, and submit the receipt packet as usual. Then later when the HIT is completed, that receipt packet should be replaced with a copy that includes the whole transaction record for the HIT. Expense reports should be submitted only after the HIT has been completed and should include the initial payment receipt and the whole transaction record.

(6) It is permissible to fund only a portion of the total expected volume of a HIT in order to avoid residual balances on a HIT. In order to protect against the appearance of splitting transaction on a PCard, the cardholder should identify the possibility of additional funding on the same HIT at the time of requesting approval from the DDFR. If the HIT is likely to cost, in total, more than $1000, but funding increments are each planned to be less, approval through the ALG member and the PCard office is necessary. If you are not sure of the eventual total, either seek the PCard exception approval ahead of time just in case, or pay for the HIT using personal funds and seek reimbursement when the HIT is completed.

(7) Receipts for every HIT, including both the initial purchase receipt and the transaction record showing all the funds have been exhausted, must be submitted in hard copy to the SCS Receipt Coordinator, even if the HIT is set up for less than $75.

* Another option is to have the researcher pay, then reimburse through an expense report. In this case, item 1 above can be disregarded, but all other steps must be completed and included with the ER.

If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please contact Nick Frollini.


Amazon Mechanical Turk approval documentation must now include a copy of the approval for the use of Amazon Web Services from the University Contracts Office. This can be downloaded through their "Click Through Agreements" webpage.