Financial Policies

FN18 University Approval Authorization Policy

Policy Status: 

Active

Policy Steward: 

Office of the Corporate Controller

Contents:

PURPOSE:

In order to expedite the business of the University, this policy establishes the minimum approvals required on University expenditure, budgetary, and personnel documents, while assuring a proper level of administrative control. The policy pertains to all such transactions, no matter the media (paper or electronic), for all administrative systems of the University, including IBIS, eBuy and ERS.

GENERAL:

The intent of this policy is to provide for adequate oversight and control while assuring efficient operational effectiveness. The budget executive, budget administrator and Financial Officer may delegate approval authority to others as outlined in this policy, but are ultimately responsible for the proper management and oversight of the operation of the unit. 

Budget executives, budget administrators and budget assistants are stewards of the financial accounts under their authority, and have a responsibility to assure that all financial transactions posted to these accounts are appropriate and reasonable, based on various criteria:

  • The transactions support or advance the unit’s mission and goals
  • The transactions are aligned with budget priorities
  • The transactions are compliant with legal requirements and stakeholder expectations

Budget executives, administrators and assistants are accountable for judgments and decisions made regarding expenditures on accounts for which they are responsible.

The Financial Officer and Financial Assistant are responsible for assuring that adequate and appropriate funds are available and that the transaction is compliant with University policy and procedure, especially to assure compliance with external laws and regulations.

Budget executives and budget administrators retain the option of requiring that all documents, or only selected documents in addition to those required in this policy, be brought to their attention for approval. This policy specifies minimum approval requirements; setting a higher level of approval lower dollar thresholds) is permissible. Multiple documents may not be processed for the same transaction in order to avoid the dollar limits established in this policy.

This policy applies to all University funds (all fund types), unless otherwise specified.

DEFINITION OF TERMS:

Budget Executive - Those individuals who are responsible to the President, Executive Vice President and Provost, or a senior vice president for the management of an administrative area. These individuals are normally the President's administrative staff, academic Deans, and Chancellors.

The budget executive approves transactions at the upper dollar levels and specified categories, affirming the action meets the mission and goals of the unit and the University, demonstrates good stewardship of University resources, and that the action is appropriate within University Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures.

Budget Administrator - Those individuals designated by the budget executive as being responsible for operating and controlling specific budget areas within the budget executive's administrative area. These individuals approve documents in their own name within the limits of the authorization policy stated below. This group normally includes associate deans, division heads, and department heads.

The budget administrator approves transactions at the specified dollar levels and categories, affirming the action meets the mission and goals of the unit and the University, demonstrates good stewardship of University resources, and that the action is appropriate within University Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures.

Budget Assistant - Those individuals delegated by the budget administrator (with the concurrence of the budget executive and Financial Officer) to approve transactions in their own name for the budget administrator within the limits of the authorization policy stated below. Budget assistants are typically regular staff positions with knowledge of the unit's mission and goals and a level of judgment suitable for making decisions regarding transactions, as determined by the accountable budget administrator.

The budget assistant approves transactions at the specified dollar levels and categories, affirming the action meets the mission and goals of the unit and the University, demonstrates good stewardship of University resources, and that the action is appropriate within University Policies and Guidelines.

Financial Officer - Those individuals who represent the Corporate Controller in the various budget executive areas. This position has the responsibility of assuring that expenditures are budgetarily controlled, assets of the University are protected, and that all actions are in compliance with University Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures. The Financial Officer is also responsible for ensuring the accuracy of all documents/actions through all financial.

Financial Assistant - Those individuals delegated by the Financial Officer to approve transactions in their own name for the Financial Officer within the limits of the authorization policy stated below. This position aids the Financial Officer in assuring that expenditures are controlled, assets of the University are protected, and that all actions are in compliance with University Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures. The financial assistant also ensures the accuracy of all documents/actions through all financial systems.

Financial assistants are typically regular staff positions with knowledge of University policy and procedure and a level of judgment suitable for making decisions regarding transactions, as determined by the accountable Financial Officer. The individual delegated authority must have the concurrence of the Assistant Controller.

Authorized approver - A budget executive, budget administrator or Financial Officer.

Designated approver - An individual authorized to serve in the budget executive or budget administrator role with full authority for transaction approval.

Delegated approver - Budget assistant or financial assistant.

Proxy approver - An individual authorized by a budget executive, budget administrator, or Financial Officer to approve actions (documents) when the budget executive, budget administrator, or Financial Officer is unavailable to perform their approval duties for a period of time that would be disruptive to the normal business process. The proxy may not approve actions (documents) when the budget executive, budget administrator, or Financial Officer is present.

Expenditure document - Transactions (documents) resulting in a direct * central encumbrance or expense primarily to the allotment portion of a budget and not personnel or budgetary actions.

Budgetary document - Transactions (documents) resulting in a direct * permanent or temporary transfer or reallocation of funds between/among budgets, or resulting in the establishment, closing, or change to a budget/allocation.

Personnel document - Transactions (documents) having a direct * affect on positions, appointments, reappointments, terminations, or an employee's gross compensation across all classes of employees, including wage payroll.

* "Direct" infers that this is the final time in which the action will be brought before the required approvers to approve/disapprove the action before the stated results become effective. Certain University documents exist that secure the preliminary approval for an action. These preliminary documents then become support documents that accompany, or are referenced by, one of the classes of documents defined in this policy. Such preliminary documents are excluded from the guidelines of this policy.

TYPES OF APPROVAL AUTHORITY:

AUTHORIZED APPROVALS:

An individual functioning as a budget executive, budget administrator or Financial Officer has inherent approval authority granted to him/her by this policy. Documentation relating one of these functions to an actual individual is discussed under "Documentation of Approval Authority," below.

DESIGNATED APPROVALS:

A senior administrator, Chancellor or Dean may designate another individual to approve as the budget executive for transaction approval.  This individual must be at a higher level of authority within the unit, with knowledge of the mission and goals of the unit and a high level of integrity and judgment.  Those designated to approve as budget executives must be approved by the Corporate Controller. Designated approvers may also be established for Budget Administrators with approval from the Budget Executive and Financial Officer.

DELEGATED APPROVALS:

A budget administrator or Financial Officer may identify one or more individuals as a delegated approver to approve certain documents on his/her behalf on an ongoing basis. This delegated approver shall approve paper documents by using his/her own full name, or approve electronic documents by using his/her own userID. Documents excluded from delegated approvals are those from categories that specifically require a budget executive's, budget administrator's or Financial Officer's personal approval (as previously listed), and certain other forms as stated on the forms themselves.

The individual delegated approval authority by the budget administrator is known as a budget assistant. The individual delegated approval authority by the Financial Officer is known as a financial assistant.

NOTE: Budget assistants and financial assistants may not identify delegated approvers. In the absence of the budget assistant and financial assistant, approval reverts to the authorized approver.

Financial Officers, or the proxy approver in their absence, must personally approve all documents specifically requiring the budget executive's approval. (This may not be delegated approval.)

PROXY APPROVAL:

The following authorized approvers should identify one or more individuals to approve documents by proxy in their absence from the University:

  • budget executive,
  • budget administrator,
  • Financial Officer.

It is recommended that these proxy designations be on-going in nature rather than issued/rescinded each time the authorized approver is absent/present.

On paper documents, the proxy approver will approve a document in his or her own full name and print the initials of the budget executive, budget administrator or Financial Officer. For IBIS documents, a proxy will be shown in an approval path by the userID of the person authorizing a proxy, followed by the userID of the person assigned as proxy. (e.g., "ABC1/XYZ2" where ABC1 is the absent budget executive, budget administrator, or Financial Officer, and XYZ2 is the authorized proxy.) Other administrative systems will reflect proxy approval as designed for that system.

NOTE: Budget assistants and financial assistants may not identify a proxy for purposes of approving a document in their absence. However, when there are multiple delegated approvers at one level of an approval path, of which one approver is the default, the primary way the other delegated approvers can get to the forms awaiting the default is to be listed as a proxy for the default.

Some forms do not permit proxy approvals - those forms will be identified in the signature area of the respective form.

ASSIGNMENT OF APPROVAL AUTHORITY:

An authorized approver may not assign authority to a proxy or delegated approver that goes beyond the authority specified in this policy. However, the authorized approver may choose to limit the authority of a proxy or delegated approver, or assign authority any way he/she sees fit within the bounds of this policy. For example, a budget administrator or Financial Officer may identify two or more budget or financial assistants and have them all approve documents equally (to handle the volume of forms), or to split approvals functionally (one for general funds and one for miscellaneous funds). All assignments must be documented per the following:

DOCUMENTATION OF APPROVAL AUTHORITY:

While this policy defines the authority and responsibilities for those individuals identified as budget executive, budget administrator, Financial Officer, budget assistant, financial assistant, delegated and proxy (where permitted), it recognizes that only the term "Financial Officer" reflects an actual position title. The remaining identifiers exist only to delineate differing levels of authority and responsibility necessary to properly administer this policy. Therefore, the level of FN18 authority may not always be clearly derived from a person's actual position title, particularly at the lower levels of authority. While a dean usually functions as a budget executive by the inherent responsibilities of the position, the same cannot be said of individuals functioning as budget assistants, for example.

To provide a reasonable level of control and to satisfy any auditing requirements within the University and by external agencies, the Financial Officer must maintain evidence of approval authority of all FN18 approvers for their respective administrative area. Such evidence must identify the name of the approver, the approval function (role) to be performed (budget executive, budget administrator, budget assistant, Financial Officer, financial assistant, delegate or proxy), and the scope of the approval authority.

Budget Executive authority must be approved by the Corporate Controller.

Budget Administrator authority must be approved by the Budget Executive and Financial Officer.

Financial Officer authority must be approved by the Assistant Controller, University Financial Officers.

IBIS APPROVAL PATH GUIDELINES:

The following requirements must be observed by Financial Officers when establishing or maintaining approval paths (mandatory approvals within IBIS:

1) It is the responsibility of the Financial Officer to ensure that the required approvers for a particular IBIS form appear in the corresponding approval path for that form.

2) The user-ID of the individual authorizing proxy approval or delegated approval must appear on the same level of an approval path as the proxy or delegated approvers.

3) The Financial Officer (or his/her delegated approver) must appear in the default column on the final level of all approval paths PRIOR to a document/action routing to a central office.

4) No proxy approver may appear in the default column of any path. (Refer to Electronic Approval Paths.)

5) Because the approval paths have no symbol for permitting two or more budget assistants or financial assistants to have EQUAL approval access to the default column to process awaiting forms, the Proxy symbol "/" must be used in setting up the path. The budget administrator and Financial Officer must create delegated authorization via the Authorized Approval System or through completion and approval of the Workflow ROLE form, establishing identical approval authorizations (rather than completing Proxy authorization).

6) Approval paths may also contain additional individuals not performing any of the roles required by this policy. Typically, such individuals will appear on level 9 of departmental paths, but may appear elsewhere in the path as long as the provisions of this policy are met. These individuals perform no officially-recognized approval function and therefore require no documentation of approval authority.

POLICY:

1. The budget executive role MUST approve:

a) all expenditure actions (documents) of $100,000 or more,

b) all permanent budget actions of $100,000 or more except those Budget Amendments generated automatically through IBIS personnel actions (documents) affecting General Funds.

c) all actions required by other University policies.

NOTE: THE ABOVE BUDGET EXECUTIVE APPROVALS, EXCEPT WHERE NOTED, MAY NOT BE DELEGATED TO A LOWER LEVEL. (Budget Administrator or Budget Assistant)

2. The budget administrator role (unless otherwise restricted by the budget executive) MUST approve and may not delegate approval of:

a) all expenditure actions (documents) from $10,000 to $99,999 inclusive,

b) permanent budget actions up to $99,999, and all temporary budget actions of $10,000 or more,

c) Budget Amendments generated automatically through IBIS personnel actions,

d) personnel actions involving all Standing Appointments, Fixed-Term Multi-Year appointments and Fixed Term I appointments, including supplememental pay, and

e) all actions required by other University policies.

The budget administrator role (unless otherwise restricted by the budget executive) MAY approve or delegate approval of:

a) all other expenditure, budgetary, or personnel actions not restricted above.

3. The budget assistant role, (unless otherwise restricted by the budget administrator) may inherently approve the following actions:

a) personnel actions involving fixed term II appointments, Graduate Assistants, Post-Doctorals, and Scholars,

b) expenditure and budgetary actions (documents) UNDER $10,000,

c) Budget Amendment for Restricted Accounts (BARA), regardless of the dollar amount,

d) Request For Cash Advances UNDER $5,000, and

e) wage payroll transactions ("WAPP" and "WAGC").

All other approval rights must be explicitly assigned to the budget assistant by the budget administrator via the Authorized Approval System or Workflow ROLE form.

4. The Financial Officer role must establish appropriate approval paths or approval roles in all administrative systems as determined by this policy and approve all expenditure, budgetary and personnel transactions (documents) that directly affect a budget through an encumbrance or an immediate expense that the budget executive and budget administrator are required to approve (as specified in #1 and #2 above).

a) Wage appointments ("WAPP"), wage terminations ("WTER"), and IBIS ROCRs need not be approved by the Financial Officer or financial assistant, and

b) all actions required by other University policies.

5. The financial assistant role, (unless otherwise restricted by the Financial Officer), MAY inherently approve the following:

a) Expenditure and budgetary actions (documents) UNDER $10,000 (except budget executive's travel settlements),

b) Personnel actions involving Non-Standing Appointments (except Fixed-Term Multi-Year),

c) Personnel actions involving nonexempt staff and technical-service Standing Appointments (i.e., overtime shift differential),

d) Budget Amendment for Restricted Accounts (BARA) regardless of dollar amount, and

e) Wage payroll actions ("WAGC").

All other approval rights must be explicitly assigned to the financial assistant by the Financial Officer via the Authorized Approval System or Workflow ROLE form.

MISCELLANEOUS:

6. None of the approvers specified in 1-5 are permitted to approve a document that pertains to themselves. For example, a budget administrator may not approve travel settlements for his or her own travel. In such circumstances, an approval must be obtained at the next higher level. A budget assistant would defer approval to the budget administrator; a budget administrator would defer approval to the budget executive; the budget executive would defer approval to a senior level position (generally the Corporate Controller); financial assistant would defer approval to the Financial Officer; and a Financial Officer would defer approval to the Assistant Controller.

7. Unless an action (document) is identified as requiring only one approval, all forms must be approved by at least two different individuals. This means that a form requiring a minimum of two approvals cannot be approved by the same individual acting in different capacities. (For example, an action cannot be approved by ABC1 as a delegated approver and by ABC1 as a proxy approver.)

8. Rubber stamps will be permitted ONLY on duplicate or carbon copies of internal University documents. No "Signature" stamps or electronic duplicated signatures are permitted on original paper expenditure, budgetary, or personnel action documents. If a stamp is used, it must state that the original document was signed by the individual responsible for the specific document stamped.

9. Digital signatures are permitted for internal University documents only, and are not permitted for personnel, budgetary or financial transactions covered by this policy.

10. None of the approvers specified in 1-5 are permitted to give their userid or password to another individual that would allow the other individual to access and/or approve any action (document) within the scope of this policy. Doing so is in violation of Policy AD20, Computer and Network Security.

EXCEPTIONS:

This policy does not supersede other current policies which may have additional approval requirements.

A request for any exception to this policy must be submitted in writing to the Corporate Controller for consideration, with specific alternatives stated. Entry to the Authorized Approval System or Workflow ROLE form must be submitted for the Corporate Controller's documented approval.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Corporate Controller.

Effective Date: May 22, 2014
Date Approved: May 20, 2014
Date Published: May 22, 2014

Most recent changes:

  • May 22, 2014 - Major revisions throughout the policy to reflect changes in approval amounts and process changes.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • September 4, 2007 - Editorial changes; changed 'Campus Executive Officer' to 'Chancellor.'
  • April 6, 2007 - Editorial change in “Definition of Terms” section, under Financial Officer and Financial Assistant definitions.  Changed "central accounting and budgeting systems" to "University accounting and budgeting systems," per request of Financial Information Systems and Accounting Operations.
  • June 14, 2006 - Revision History expanded.
  • July 27, 2005 - Editorial changes to the "DOCUMENTATION OF APPROVAL AUTHORITY" section to reflect current operations (removed verbiage stating that cards are "forwarded to Accounting Operations through the Assistant Controller"), and eliminated references to "General Forms Usage Guide" throughout the policy.
  • January 24, 2000:
    • Updated form and IBIS titles throughout policy;
    • Clarified the 'in his or her absence' provision of a Proxy Approver;
    • Indicated that approval identities such as "budget executive" or "budget administrator" are roles;
    • Clarified approval responsibilities of all approvers;
    • added GREQs over $1000 and all ROCR's as an exclusion that does not require FO/Fasst approval;
    • Added prohibition of approvers giving their userid/passwords to others in order to access/approve forms within the scope of this policy;
    • DBAF no longer has special approval levels;
    • Proxy designations should be on-going in nature rather than issued/rescinded each time the authorized approver is absent/present;
    • Under proxy approval section of policy, identified special instance where budget assistants and financial assistants may appear as proxies in EASY approval paths even though they may not assume such a role (this is to resolve a shortcoming in approval paths);
    • Indicated that approval paths may also contain additional individuals not perfoming official approval roles required by this policy;
    • Because of volatility of changes to other policies, remove references to specific policy exceptions;
    • Revisions to Definitions, Policy, and Types of Approval Authority, indicated by >.
  • November 22, 1994 - Major revisions, and renumbering/relocation from AD17.