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Business and Financial Policies and Procedures

1.3.1 Approval of Financial Documents

The University Vice President/Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller (Comptroller) is the general fiscal (financial) officer of the Board of Trustees and has authority to approve for the Board all expenditures the Board makes for a general or specific appropriation. The Comptroller also has general authority to execute contracts for the Board. These authorizations are subject to certain conditions and requirements outlined in The General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure (General Rules).

The General Rules also provides for the delegation of these authorities. To provide for the orderly transaction of University business, the following is used in the approval of financial documents for all state and non-state funds.

For ALL capital related items, see "Capital Projects/Construction" below.

Purchases

Professional Services

Purchases less than $1,000,000 - The approval authority for purchases less than $1,000,000 is delegated to the Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services who may further delegate authority and issue pertinent guidelines.

Purchases of $1,000,000 or more - The Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services refers all transactions of $1,000,000 or more for professional services to the Comptroller, by way of the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance, as a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Commodities, Equipment, and Services other than Professional Services

Purchases of less than $1,000,000 - The approval authority for purchases of less than $1,000,000 is delegated to the Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services who may further delegate authority and issue pertinent guidelines.

Purchases of $1,000,000 or more - The Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services refers all purchases of $1,000,000 or more to the Comptroller, by way of the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance, as a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Purchase Orders and Change Orders

Purchase orders - The University Comptroller or delegates signs all purchase orders. The Purchasing offices issue all purchase orders upon proper approval of the purchase, except where limited purchasing authorization has been assigned to a particular unit (see 7.2 Purchase of Goods and Services).

Change orders - Change orders related to medical center operations that exceed 25 percent of the original Board approved contract or purchase agreement, and change orders that are not related to the medical center operations that exceed 25 percent of the original Board approved contract for construction or professional services or original Board approved purchase agreements for supplies or equipment, will be reported to the Board at its next scheduled meeting but will not require prior authorization of the Board.

Emergency Board Approval Purchases

Presidential approval of emergency transactions - The president, after consulting with each member of the executive committee of the Board who can reasonably be contacted, may approve emergency transactions in excess of the Board limit on behalf of the Board of Trustees and report the same promptly to the Board. If the amount of the emergency transaction exceeds such dollar amounts as the Board of Trustees may specify from time to time the president must consult with all Board members who can reasonably be contacted before approving the emergency action.

Approval of Exempt Purchases

The Director of Purchasing considers a buyer's recommendation before approving the purchase of items exempted from the bidding procedure by the Board of Trustees. In unusual cases, the approval of the Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services is obtained and, if necessary, the approval of the Comptroller by way of the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance.

Loan, Lease, and Lease-Purchase of Equipment

Agreements covering loan or leasing of equipment to University departments are signed by the Comptroller, or authorized signature delegate. The agreement should follow the approval requirements outlined in this section.

Power of Attorney (Freight Forwarder)

All individual transactions relating to the Power of Attorney are signed in the Comptroller's name by the Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services or delegate.

Capital Projects/Construction

A capital project is an undertaking that results in a creation, an alteration or a connection to real property. Capital projects include the development of project scopes, budgets, schedules and procurement of all construction related services for new buildings, additions/modifications to existing buildings, and associated backbone infrastructure. Professional consultant services related to capital projects such as programming, conceptualization/feasibility studies, construction documentation, bidding, construction observation and warranty services are included in the definition of a capital project.

Approval of the Board of Trustees is required for the following:

  • Budgets for individual capital projects of $5,000,000 or more
  • Professional service contracts related to capital projects of $1,000,000 or more
  • Construction contracts of $2,500,000 or more

Contact the University Office for Capital Programs and Real Estate Services for delegated authority for those levels below the Board of Trustees' authority level.

For all capital related policies and guidelines, see the University Office for Capital Programs and Real Estate Services' website.

Job Order Contracting (JOC) - The Director of the Physical Plant (UIC), the Director of Physical Planning and Operations (UIS), or the Director of Facilities and Services (UIUC) may approve any single JOC project up to $250,000. All projects using JOC forces must be reported to the University Office of Capital Programs and Real Estate Services on a quarterly basis.

Use of University forces - University forces may be used for minor alterations, repairs, and construction work (other than painting and regular ongoing maintenance).

For all projects costing less than $250,000 - The Director of the Physical Plant (UIC), the Director of Physical Planning and Operations (UIS), or the Director of Facilities and Services (UIUC) determine whether the work is done by University forces, Job Order Contracting, or competitive bidding. For projects under the bid limit, the Directors may request the Purchasing Division to issue purchase orders if outside contractors are used.

For projects costing $250,000 or more but less than $500,000 - The work is normally done by outside contractors on specific competitive bids. However, if exceptional circumstances are present that justify using University forces, and it is considered in the best interest of the University, the Director of the Physical Plant (UIC), the Director of Physical Planning and Operations (UIS), or the Director of Facilities and Services (UIUC) may approve any single project up to $500,000.

Outside Sponsored Programs (Including Research Contracts)

Proposals - Proposals are transmitted to the campus pre-award office. Per the General Rules (Art. 2 sec 6(d)), final approval of all proposals are the responsibility of the vice chancellor for research (VCR), or the chancellor where there is no campus VCR, or his/her delegates

Contracts - Contracts, including grant and cooperative agreements, are executed in the name of the Comptroller by the person authorized to sign (see "Delegation of Signatures" in this section).

Establishment of any new unit of instruction, research or public service (e.g. colleges, schools, departments, institutes, and centers), under a sponsored project or otherwise, must comply with the approval process set forth in Article VIII of the University Statutes and must receive final approval by both the Board of Trustees and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Acceptances of grants and other documents relating to contracts and grants may be signed by authorized employees in the name of the Comptroller (see "Delegation of Signatures" in this section).

Leases or Contracts for Student or Employee Housing

Leases or contracts for student or employee housing are signed by the Director of Campus Services (UIC), Director of Housing and Residential Life (UIS), and the Director of Housing (UIUC). Copies are retained by the originating office on behalf of the Board of Trustees.

Land Acquisition, Land Disposal, and Easements

Prior Board authorization is required for the following:

  • Acquisition of property located outside approved campus Master Plan boundaries at the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses
  • Condemnation of property
  • Sale or exchange of property (except gift properties, where authorization is delegated to the Comptroller)

The Comptroller is delegated authority for the following:

  • Acquisition of property within approved campus Master Plan boundaries, consistent with practices and law
  • Sale of gift properties and any personal property acquired
  • Reasonable relocation assistance costs to an owner occupant
  • Granting of all easements
  • Other leases

Lease of real estate and office space - Prior Board authorization is required for leases where the annual rental costs, exclusive of operating costs, are $100,000 or more. The Vice President for Finance/CFO and Comptroller has full authority for lease amendments and renewal increases. The dollar limitation applies to the annual rental of the lease extended beyond one year.

Delegation of Signatures

Authorization to sign Comptroller's name - All contracts prepared for the Comptroller's signature are signed in the Comptroller's name by employees authorized in writing by the Comptroller. A list of employees authorized to sign the Comptroller's name and what documents they are authorized to sign is available from the Office of the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance.

Unit Approval for Expenditures

Authority

The Comptroller authorizes all expenditures and executes all contracts for the Board.

A variety of business documents, initiated by the heads of budgetary units, are for the expenditure of funds. The signature or approval of these business documents by unit personnel certifies that, to the best of their knowledge, the transaction is a proper one and that in signing they are accepting responsibility for it. (A proper transaction is one that complies with published rules and guidelines, as outlined in Section 7, Purchasing, Section 8, Payments and Reimbursements, and Section 15, Travel, and is based on common business practice.) Based on this certification the Office of Business and Financial Services, on behalf of the Comptroller, enters into agreements, and authorizes expenditures or transfer of funds.

Normally, the signature or approval of the head of the budgetary unit is necessary on business documents. This signature authority may be delegated to others. Additional signatures or approvals are often necessary as indicated in this and other guidelines.

Conflict of Interest

The University complies with State of Illinois requirements regarding potential procurement conflicts of interest. Please contact your campus Purchasing Office for information regarding current requirements.

Travel

Traveler certification - The travel certification on all travel expense requests must be validated by the traveler (payee) via the Travel Expense Management (TEM) system.

Approval of vouchers - Employees may not approve their own travel expense requests. Travel expense requests for the head of a unit, as a rule, are approved by the head of the next supervisory administrative unit or delegate.

Travel Card - The Office of Business and Financial Services, Office of Procurement Services authorizes units to use the Travel Card (T-Card), a MasterCard from Bank of America, to purchase qualified travel expenses, business meals and/or refreshments for specific events to relieve the employee from significant out of pocket expenses based on the cardholder's approval and use criteria as established by the cardholder's unit. Cardholders are responsible for proper use of the card, obtaining receipts for purchases, and for logging expenses in the Travel Expense Management System (TEM). A department card manager (DCM), designated by the department, is responsible for managing the cardholder application process in his/her department, the approval limits and ensuring that T-Card holders have received appropriate training for use and security of the T-Card. See Section 15, Travel, for additional information on the T-Card program

Approval for the President, Members of the Board of Trustees, and the Chancellors - The Comptroller or delegates and the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance (SAVP) approve travel reimbursement requests on behalf of, and for, the President of the University and members of the Board of Trustees. The Comptroller delegates approval of travel reimbursement requests for the Chancellors to the chief business officers (CBOs). If a CBO is not available to review a travel reimbursement request for a Chancellor, his/her proxy, the Comptroller or SAVP may review and approve the request.

Approval Delegation for the Chancellors - Chancellors may delegate their approval authority for travel reimbursement requests.

Personal Services

Employees may not approve their own payroll documents. Payroll documents for the head of a unit, as a rule, are approved by the head of the next higher administrative unit or delegate.

Goods, Contractual Services and other Expenditures

Procurement Card - The Office of Business and Financial Services, Office of Procurement Services authorizes units to use the Procurement Card (P-Card), a MasterCard from Bank of America, to purchase supplies and equipment based on the cardholder's approval and use criteria as established by the cardholder's unit. Cardholders are responsible for proper use of the card, obtaining receipts for purchases, and for logging orders in the P-card system. A department card manager (DCM), designated by the department, is responsible for managing the cardholder application process in his/her department, the approval limits and ensuring that P-Card holders have received appropriate training for use and security of the P-Card. See 7.6 P-Card for additional information on the P-Card program.

Requisitions - The Office of Business and Financial Services enters into a purchasing agreement with a vendor based on a properly approved purchase requisition (or, when authorized, a properly approved unit direct purchase). The Office of Business and Financial Services also authorizes payments to vendors for goods and services received and charges the funds indicated without additional approvals.

Incidental charges in connection with a purchase (for example, freight, toll charges, interest penalties, etc.) may be paid and charged to unit funds without additional approvals. Specific approval requirements are outlined in Section 7, Purchasing.

Miscellaneous payments - The Office of Business and Financial Services authorizes payments based on properly approved vouchers. These vouchers may be for the purchase of goods or services, travel, or any other purpose for which an appropriation has been made. In signing these vouchers unit heads are certifying that the goods or services have been received and that, to the best of their knowledge, the charge is a proper one to the funds indicated. Employees may not approve their own reimbursement.

Stores and service transfers - Stores and service transactions are between a unit and the stores or service unit. Stores and service units have several ways of obtaining department approval to provide goods or services and to charge unit funds. The Office of Business and Financial Services authorizes the transfer of funds (expenditures) based on appropriately certified transfer vouchers submitted by stores or service units. In submitting transfer vouchers, heads of stores or service units are certifying that:

  • They have delivered the goods or services according to University policies.
  • They have approval from the unit to charge the funds indicated.
  • The funds are proper for disbursements for the goods/services provided.

Journal entry transfers - Occasionally the Office of Business and Financial Services may authorize the transfer of funds (expenditures) based on the terms of a grant contract agreement (such as, indirect cost recovery) or another University policy (for example, administrative charges).

Sponsored Projects and Federal Appropriated Funds

Sponsored projects and federal appropriated funds often require additional approvals to charge funds. Requisitions, vouchers, and other business documents are to have these additional approvals before submission to the stores or service unit or the Office of Business and Financial Services for processing and payment.

Signatures On Vouchers and Checks

Vouchers to the State Comptroller

Board officer's approval - All vouchers submitted to the State Comptroller must be certified by the President of the University of Illinois, or delegates, pursuant to 30 ILCS 105/10.

Signature cards - A state signature card must be on file in the State Comptroller's Office that provides specimen signatures to the State Comptroller for the persons authorized to sign in the name of the President for this purpose.

Handwritten signatures - Employees authorized to sign the President's name to vouchers must also sign their own names to the vouchers.

Checks on University Funds

Board officer's approval - All checks presented for payment from University funds must carry the signatures of the Chair and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, unless otherwise authorized.

Campus Funds Checks

Campus Bursar Fund (UIC) - The signature (or machine facsimile signature) of the Comptroller, or delegates, is required.

Campus Imprest Fund (UIUC) - The signature (or machine facsimile signature) of the Comptroller, or delegates, is required.

Signatures on Letters Of Credit

Signatures on letters of credit are as authorized by the Comptroller by way of the Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance or delegate.

University Investments

Authorizations By Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee

Authority - The Comptroller is authorized to manage University investments at his/her discretion consistent with the Board's approved Investment policy. The Comptroller has delegated authority to i) approve investment manager hiring and termination, ii) buy or sell securities to manage investments within the University's target asset allocation, and iii) buy or sell endowment real estate including farmland. Treasury Operations investment staff have authority to manage day-to-day transactions and external investment manager relationships for the university's investment assets under direction of the Comptroller.

Tax Returns

University-Wide

When the University Comptroller's signature is required on tax documents, the University Comptroller or delegate may sign. These documents include but are not limited to:

  • Monthly, quarterly, and annual tax returns.
  • Reports to governmental authorities for withholding or excise taxes.
  • Applications for business registration and other documentation for reporting and withholding, unemployment, and workers' compensation obligations.

Campus

All other tax returns and declarations prepared for a single campus are submitted by the Controller and Senior Assistant Vice-President for Business and Finance, or delegates.

Insurance

Proof of loss form - Proof of loss forms, where the University agrees to release an indemnifying company for a settlement of the University's claim, may be signed by the Comptroller or delegate.

Insurance contracts - Insurance policies, endorsements, and riders that require the signature of the University Comptroller are signed by the Comptroller or delegate.

Last Updated: July 5, 2016 | Approved: Senior Associate Vice President for Business and Finance | Effective: July 5, 2016

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