|No. 5-2||Rev.||Date 8-17-77|
A. Standards for Preparation and Issuance of Financial Information
1. Whenever possible, University financial information should be reported in the same categories in which the University maintains its accounting records. The objective of this policy is to reduce unnecessary duplication of record keeping in several different formats as well as to avoid misleading conclusions arising from answering special inquiries which contain unique information or summarizations which have frequently been confused with other similar, but not identical, information published by the University. Campus as well as external requests for information should be made directly to the department most knowledgeable about a certain subject or to the office of the vice president for Administrative Services if the user is uncertain about the best source of the information.
2. All financial information should be verified by a department other than the one preparing the information to assure accuracy as well as comparability with similar information for other fiscal periods. All financial information should be clearly described, including the applicable fiscal period. Whenever possible, the requested financial information should be cross-referenced to page numbers from one of the published financial or other reports of the University.
a. Individuals and departments receiving requests for information for which they are not primarily responsible should refer the request directly to the primarily responsible department. The preparation responsibility includes (1) defining the information, (2) completing the reporting thereof and where necessary, (3) requesting additional assistance, either manual or mechanical, via the computer to obtain required information, (4) comparing the information with previously reported information of the same type and (5) describing comparability, or lack thereof, with other such published information.
b. The verification of financial information should be performed by a department not responsible for the original preparation, which frequently would be either the Controller's Office, the budget officer, the Office of Institutional Studies, or the office of the vice president for Administrative Services. All verification functions should include the initials of the verifier and the date.
c. The office of the vice president for Administrative Services makes internal releases as well as releases of financial information to the Board of Trustees, State Board of Higher Education and other state agencies as well as federal agencies and the general public. Other departments or individuals responsible for financial information preparation, analysis and reporting to campus groups may be delegated the responsibility to release such regular financial information to campus committees, offices of the administration and faculty whenever the requested information appears to be needed for the proper conduct of said groups' or individual's functions.
B. Response to Request
Response to questionnaire requests from federal agencies should be made by the Office of Institutional Studies, where regular response is approved. The Controller's Office should answer all requests with respect to overhead or research cost matters. The Office of Grants and Contracts handles all requests concerning University federal contractual relationships and research contract and grant administration matters. The office of the vice president for Administrative Services answers requests concerning facility construction costs and related federal matching fund matters.
Financial information for the State Board of Higher Education, legislative committees, the general public and the news media should be released by the vice president for Administrative Services, who will be responsible to notify the Public Communications Office and the President's Office concurrent with, or in advance of, the release of such information.
C. General Guidelines
1. Accuracy and Proper Captions
Financial facts should always agree with published and detailed or other annual reports for historical fiscal periods on a comparable basis for the current year. Current year amounts prior to the end of the fiscal year, as well as amounts for future fiscal periods, should be clearly labeled as "projections." Projections of financial information beyond approved budget periods (those approved by the legislature) are discouraged. All projections of financial information should be issued by the vice president for Administrative Services. Approved budget data should always be designated with the word "budget" to indicate that the user would naturally expect the actual figures, when known, to differ from budget amounts.
2. Timeliness of Response
It is the goal of the University to respond to the request for financial information within 24 (twenty-four) hours or to advise the questioning party when such information can be expected. Copies of all financial information and reports for external requests should be sent to the vice president for Administrative Services.
3. Correction of Errors and Advise to Appropriate Offices
Not withstanding considerable efforts to produce accurate financial information, it is anticipated that occasionally errors will be noted that should be corrected before the information is released if possible. If errors are noted on previously released information, the individual noting the error is responsible to voluntarily initiate immediate contact to recipients of such information through the office releasing that information and explain, if practical, the cause of such error with the objective of maintaining high quality and accurate financial information for the purpose of building confidence of users.
4. Written Requests Desirable
Requests for financial information from external as well as campus sources will be expedited if made in writing. Written requests help prevent misunderstandings as the request is received, preparation data is prepared and reports are issued. Naturally, there are frequent requests by the legislature, state board staff and news media which are received verbally and must be responded to without the formality of a written request.
5. Written Response Desirable
Whenever possible, all regular, as well as special, financial reports and responses to requests for information should be reported in writing, particularly where similar but slightly different information is already reported by the University in reports or budgets in slightly different form. Such written reports can eliminate misunderstandings by reference to similar information already published by the University and the difference between the requested information and other similar data.
6. Challenge of Costly Responses Recommended
Directors and department heads receiving requests for information may find it useful to discuss the advisability of compiling or duplicating presently reported data; in which case, the appropriate vice president responsible for the area concerned, or a phone inquiry to the office of the vice president for Administrative Services is suggested to avoid preparation of expensive or time-consuming reports prior to determination of the University policy concerning issuance of such data. Many federal as well as institutional requests for information must be declined because of lack of manpower and computer resources to respond to surveys, etc.
D. Right to Privacy
Personal pay information is supplied for credit and credit references, etc., upon the personal authorization of employees and is to be treated as confidential and not available for general public inquiry.
Student grade information and faculty and staff personnel files are not open to the public generally and should not be reported on without the express approval of such student, staff or faculty member insomuch as this information is primarily personal and not considered material with respect to the operations or the financial condition of the University as a whole.
Questions concerning the propriety of releasing financial information not normally reported or apparently related to appropriate public inquiry should be referred to the President's Office for a determination as to whether the University should furnish such information to satisfy the requesting party.