Business Office: Finance
Types of Accounts
Three general types of University accounts exist: state, local/designated, and sponsored. Each type of account has guidelines for allowable expenditures. Table 9.10 in the FRS Manual provides a summary of permissible expenditures for each account type.
Transfer of funds between the same type of account is possible while transfers from one type of account to another is usually not possible: for example, it is not possible to transfer state funds to a local account or grant funds to any other type of account. Before committing to transfer funds between different types of accounts, check with the Business Office or fund accountant.
State Accounts generally begin with a "1". State accounts are budgeted, i.e., a set amount is budgeted annually for various budget categories: personal services (salaries and wages), operations, travel, and capital. To transfer personal service dollars to operations (or vice versa), a Request for Budget Change (RBC) is required to move funds between categories or accounts. STATE ACCOUNTS CAN NEVER BE USED TO PAY FOR FOOD, RECRUITMENT EXPENSES, OR STUDENT SUPPORT.
Summer Session Revenue accounts begin with "205" or "206"; because these are generated from registration fees, they have the same restrictions as state accounts. College practice is that 75% of revenue generated from Summer session is returned to the departments generating the revenue. Fund Accountants in Financial Services oversee these accounts.
Local /Designated Accounts generally begin with "22....." and are often less restricted than other account types. Restrictions will vary according to the purpose of the account. If unsure about the nature of the account, it is advisable to consult with the fund accountant regarding allowable account transactions. Fund accountants in Financial Services track these types of accounts.
Another type of local account is Indirect Cost Recovery (ICR); these accounts begin with "21....." These funds are generated from the indirect costs associated with contracts and generated. On full-cost recovery grants, the Research Office returns 25% of the revenue to the College and a reduced amount of the revenue on grants with lower indirect rates. Fund accountants in Sponsored Projects oversee these accounts.
Sponsored Accounts fall into two categories: accounts for grants begin with a "3" and for contracts with a "4". Restrictions for these funds generally are defined by the sponsor, federal regulations, and/or line items specified in the proposal budget. The Sponsored Projects fund accountant can be helpful in clarifying what is allowable.
Purchasing comprises a large segment of account activity. Knowing how to make those purchases can be confusing.
It is important for individuals to keep in mind that only representatives from the University Procurement and Contracting Office are authorized to make purchases on behalf of a University department. Therefore, they are the individuals who should sign a contract or initiate a purchase with a vendor. Individuals not associated with that office who sign a contract may be personally liable for expenses incurred.
How is a purchase initiated?
A purchase can be made by using an on-line requisition or by using a Purchasing Card.
A DPR (departmental purchase requisition) in an on-line document entered into the Purchasing section of FRS. FRS access and training are required for an employee to enter such documents. (NOTE: Individuals holding FRS identification numbers are responsible for safeguarding his/her password; sharing of this information with others is prohibited.) Departmental and college approvals are designated in the system for each account. For DPRs over $1,000, the documents are forwarded automatically to the fund accountant for approval. Once all approvals are obtained, the DPR is forwarded to Procurement and Contracting for the issuance of a Purchase Order (PO). A copy of the PO is sent to the department that initiated the transaction. When the DPR is entered into the system, funds are immediately encumbered on that account. At this time the FRS system does not have the capacity to recognize expenditures not allowed on a particular account; thus, the responsibility for ensuring compliance with relevant policies rests with the initiators and approvers.
A Purchasing Card (PCard) offers another option for limited departmental purchases. Departmental staff should consult the Purchasing policies regarding the uses, restrictions, and reconciliation responsibilities associated with the PCard to determine if the PCard is an appropriate purchasing tool.
The FRS Manual, Section 10.00 provides detailed information on the different types of DPRs (document funding vs. line-item funding), how to enter a DPR, and how to handle different situations such as modifying or removing a DPR.
What are some common issues associated with a DPR?
Items above a certain dollar amount require a bid before a purchase can be made. A buyer in Procurement and Contracting or on-line information in UA Info can provide information on the current minimum amount required for bid.
There is often confusion about whether a Purchase Order or Check Request is required. A DPR is used to make a purchase before the transaction occurs; a Check Request is used to make after the fact. If University policies have not been followed in making a purchase and a Check Request is submitted, reimbursement may be delayed by Procurement and Contracting until a satisfactory explanation is received as to why University policies were not followed. For expenditures over $100, a DPR is recommended. It is always preferable to expend University funds to purchase goods rather than to expend personal funds and wait for reimbursement. Original invoices should be submitted with the Check Request. and copies of the receipts maintained in the department.
Reimbursement to an individual can be made with a Check Request and appropriate receipts attached.
Object Codes are used to classify an expenditure. Appropriate object codes provide an accurate reflection of account activity. The use of an incorrect object code requires paperwork after the fact to correct the error. The FRS Manual contains definitions of object codes and Financial Services publishes a pamphlet listing object codes. Below are some common areas of confusion regarding the appropriate object code.
A single item costing more than $5,000 and expected to last more than two years requires a "capital" object code (76..). Object code 5770 should be used for "non-capitalized equipment." Object code 5720 should be used for computer purchases with a value between $1,000 and $5,000; these items will be tracked by the University Fixed Assets system.
Expenditures for food are often miscoded. Object code 5170 should be used for "business meeting expense" and object 5550 for "business entertainment." Definitions in the FRS Manual distinguish between the two. Generally a DPR is required for a 5170 activity. Both require the business purpose, list of attendees and their relationship to the University; backup information should appear on the documents. For catering through the Student Union, the relevant backup information should be retained in departmental files with the SU invoice.
Consultant expense, 3230, or Lecturers' Fees & Stipends. 3150, are used to reimburse a "technical expert" or "guest speaker" for expenses incurred with the engagement such as transportation, lodging, etc. The object codes associated with travel, 6000 series, are reserved ONLY for reimbursement to University employees.
Furniture purchases must go through the Procurement and Contracting Office. The Arizona Board of Regents entered a Tri-University furniture contract that mandates all furniture purchases meet established quality standards and the lowest price.
An Independent Contractor is an individual who provides a service to the University but is not an employee. FRS Manual Section 9.12 provides the current policy regarding the hiring of Independent Contractors. A DPR is required for an independent contractor, and a bid for services is required for contracts that will exceed $10,000. Current policy stipulates that Guest Speakers complete an Independent Contractor Form (must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to download) and that the completed form is attached to the Check Request for payment to the individual. Employment should be considered the default condition as opposed to independent contractor status.
Stores is a branch of the purchasing function of Procurement and Contracting; it generally handles the purchase of departmental office supplies that are available on campus or from local office supply companies. Stores Orders/Merchandise Forms can be faxed to Stores and generally orders are delivered to the department within one day.
Purchases also can be made through "Stores Vendors." "Stores Vendors" are businesses with such designations where a University employee can charge purchases against a valid University account up to $5,000/day. Stores imposes an additional charge of 5.25% for this convenience. A listing of the vendors is available from Stores or on-line in UA Info. The ASUA Bookstore also is considered a "stores vendor." (NOTE: If the purchaser takes a signed Interdepartmental Billing Form to the Bookstore, the Bookstore will bill the FRS account directly and the Stores percentage can be avoided.) Within three business days following the purchase from a Stores vendor, the vendor invoice must be submitted with a Merchandise Order Form (MOF); the MOF should include the account number, object code, and a description of the purchase. Failure to complete this transaction results in staff time needed to verify the expenditure details.
Travel Policies and Procedures are located in the FRS Manual, Section 14. Two forms usually are associated with employees in travel status - Travel Advance submitted prior to a trip and the Travel Expense Report submitted with original receipts after the trip. The Travel Advance can be used as documentation for insurance purposes that travel was approved beforehand and can be used to obtain an advance of up to 100% of anticipated travel expenses. Travel advances are considered liens against wage. University policies require that the Travel Expense Report be completed within ten working days after the completion of a trip. Failure to comply with this policy could result in payroll deductions for travel advances received. All travel documents are sent directly to the Travel Office for approval.
Below are some tips on Travel-related issues.
A Check Request may be used to pay for lodging and conference registration fees prior to a trip. The Check Request and Travel Advance number should be cross-referenced and both sent to Travel for processing. This type of payment relieves the traveler from incurring these expenses.
A DPR (as opposed to a Check Request) is required to pay registration fees for a conference held in Tucson; it should be processed prior to the conference.
A Travel Advance for a non-employee will require a signed guarantee from an employee to guarantee repayment of the advance in the event the Travel Expense Report is not completed.
If any meals are included as part of registration fees or airline travel, per diem for those meals should not be claimed.
When renting a car, the traveler should decline collision damage waiver. University policy does not authorize reimbursement for such expense unless the driver is under 25 or on foreign travel status.
Long-distance telephone calls listed on hotel bills should be reimbursed for business-related calls only.
Training in all aspects of FRS is listed on-line. This and other various training opportunities include
Information about FRS accounts is available in several formats. FRS reports are available on the FSO Information Services Web (ISW). A UA Net ID is required to access the website. FRS reports are the official financial document for audit purposes. These reports should be reviewed regularly by department heads and principal investigators.
Various FRS on-line screens show current account status, e.g. Screen 09s displays a summary of the account, Screen 023 reports monthly transactions, and Screen 022 reflects transaction year to date.
The Business Office tracks the status of College accounts on computerized spreadsheet files and prepares monthly reports for departments and principal investigators. The business manager, senior, and accountant serve in a liaison role with fund accountants.
Request for Accounting Assistance (RFAA) is used to transfer an expense from one account to another or to correct an object code. The guidelines and examples can be found in the FRS manual . This document is initiated at the departmental level using the ISW E-Forms link to access the electronic RFAA. ISW access is required for this.
Payroll Expense Transfer (PET) is used to transfer payroll expense from one account to another. The guidelines and examples can be found on the PET Homepage .This form is initiated at the departmental level using the on-line program and must include an explanation for the transfer.
Interdepartmental Billing Form (IDB or IBF) is used for purchases from on campus units.
Deposits into FRS accounts are accompanied by the Distribution of Deposit Form (DDF), electronically available on the ISW E-Forms page, and made at the Bursar's Office in the University Services Building, Suite 104. A copy of the deposit is to be sent to the Business Office.
Deposits into Sponsored Project accounts generally are handled by Sponsored Projects Administration.
If funds are transferred from a University of Arizona Foundation account to an FRS account, a Gift Report and Distribution of Deposit Form form must accompany the Foundation Request for Gift Disbursement Form. These documents are sent to the Development Office, Swede Johnson Building.
Cash handling is strongly discouraged. Cash should never remain in an office. Cash and checks are to be deposited daily.
Faculty are asked not to collect monies from students (University Handbook for Appointed Personnel Chapter 2.11.02). Photocopies of class materials should be made available for purchase by the students through Fast Copy in the Student Union or from another source.