Frequently Asked Questions

  • General Ledger
    GL/Chart of Accounts

    How do the new ChartFields relate to the Combocodes used in Labor Accounting?

    Labor Accounting still uses Combocodes. A Combocode is a representation of a specific ChartString, and users are able to search by ChartField.

    Where do the old sub-departments fall in the ChartString?

    Most sub-departments have been reclassified as Level 8 departments.

    Where during the data entry/requesting process do we populate ChartField values (i.e. Segment, Initiative, Location, Project, etc.)?

    For Requisitions and Non PO Vouchers, ChartField information can be entered several ways. It can be manually entered for each field. For Requisitions, default information for a Requester can automatically populate the ChartFields. For Requisitions and Non PO Vouchers, templates for commonly charged ChartField strings can be established that will automatically populate the ChartFields (these can be modified during the transaction, prior to submission if necessary.  For Change Orders or PO Vouchers, the ChartField information will already be populated.  In the case of the Change Order, the change is made directly to the existing PO, so the ChartField information will already be there.  For PO Vouchers, the ChartField information will be imported from the PO onto the Voucher.

    At Level 2 of the department tree, there are three campus level groups (CUMC, Morningside Academic, and General University). Does Manhattanville roll-up to Morningside Academic or General University?

    Manhattanville is a location, with interdisciplinary activity that is administered by Morningside Academic, CUMC and General University.  The same treatment applies for Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO): LDEO is a physical campus, but is administered by Morningside Academic and General University.

    Is SIPA part of Arts and Sciences?

    In prior years, SIPA was part of Arts & Sciences.  However, today SIPA is its own professional school.

    If a project within a department becomes a center or institute, for example through an endowment gift, is this easily accomplished by changing the department tree attributes?

    One of the benefits of ARC is that it makes it very easy to manage organizational change and growth.  If over time an Initiative grows to a Department, the Controller's Office can accommodate the change through the department tree.

    What is the maximum number of Segments a Unit can have?

    A School/Admin Unit can have an unlimited number of Segments.  ChartFields are requested and set up for accuracy through the Controller's Office.

    When does a transaction hit the ARC system?

    Transactions are typically entered in ARC and are available to view/ update at the point of entry and/or interface upload. All journals that require approval need to be submitted for approval after a valid edit and budget check has occurred.  Data viewed in the Financial Data Store (FDS) is one day old.

    Chart of Accounts / ChartFields

    Where can I find ChartField descriptions?

    Any user with inquiry access (procurement or financial) can view ChartField descriptions by following the instructions in this job aid.

    What is the difference between a PC Business Unit and Business Unit?

    A business unit is the legal entity for which financial statements are produced i.e. COLUM. A PC Business Unit is the high level project type (i.e. Sponsored, General, or Capital).

    What account code should be used for segregated expenses?

    When you look up the old segregated sub-code (8500) using the COA Crosswalk Tool, it translates to ARC account 66310. 66310 is for budget use only, however, and should not be used when expensing unallowables. In order to charge segregated expenses, you should look up the account category for the actual item (i.e. “flowers”, etc.) The segregated nature of these items is built into the account code and will be processed accordingly. The range of segregated ARC accounts goes from 66320-66475. 

    If a new project/ChartField is created, where can I get the update ChartString information?

    You can look at this within Commitment Control. The online navigation is Main Menu > Commitment Control > Review Budget Activities > Budget Details. Typically, you will need to enter the Business Unit, Ledger Group, Project, and Activity typically.  Ledger Group will usually be KK_FY_CH and KK_SP_CH.

    How do I find matching pair information for accounts?

    A list of Accounts is now available that includes matching pair information.  You can access the list from the ARC Toolkit.  The document is entitled “ARC Account List.” 

    How should I account for sales tax in ARC?

    Account 66155 has been established and should be used for Sales Tax Expense.

    Do I need to classify computer purchases separately from other minor equipment? In the past I used Subcodes. How will I do this with ARC’s ChartFields?

    There are two accounts in ARC for computer purchases: 61925 – “Minor Equipment – Computers” (to be used when the unit value is under $5,000) and 68025 – “Capital Computer Equipment” (to be used when the unit value is $5,000 and over).

    In the past I used the Subcode 8680 Commencement Expense for graduation expenses. How do I do this with ARC’s ChartFields?

    “Commencement Expense” was eliminated as a natural account.  Schools should now be tracking commencement expense with the Initiative ChartField.

    Is there standard guidance on how to use of accounts in ARC?

    For questions and guidance about ChartField usage, work with your School/Admin Unit Departmental Administrator.  The Controller's Office is working on some more detailed information for users, to be released by Summer 2013.

    My department is looking for the titles of gift and grant accounts. I see the Project # on the ARC ChartString, but I cannot find either the Project title or long description. Where can I find this information in ARC?

    There are three ways to find this information in ARC: 1)  Looking up ChartFields in ARC 2) Running a canned query; all canned queries include descriptions 3) Running a canned report; all canned reports include descriptions .  Navigate to the ARC Portal (at my.columbia.edu) for access to ARC and these report types.

    When other departments request certain ChartFields for a transaction (e.g. Account, Project, Initiative) should we just provide these or provide the entire ChartString?

    The recommendation is to provide the entire ChartString to the requesting department. If using the Crosswalk Tool for this info, simply click the “Copy Results to Your Clipboard” button then paste into an email or page.

    Why am I seeing the FAS functions listed when using the Chart of Accounts Crosswalk tool?

    Currently you see the FY12 expense category code from FAS listed as “Function” in the Chart of Accounts Crosswalk tool, because this was the function that was crosswalked for FY12 actuals.  For FY13 budgets and transactions that are posted in ARC, the default function will appear on the transactions.  The “Function” ChartField defaults based on other ChartFields (e.g. Account, Project, Initiative, Segment, and Department).

    How do I know what ChartFields are required, especially Initiative and Segment?

    Use the Crosswalk tool for awareness about the mapping from FAS Accounts to the new ARC ChartString. Additionally, you can reference the ChartField Definitions Job Aid for a brief description of each ChartField and understand which ChartFields are required and which default.

    How do I use ARC’s ChartFields when reporting expenditures outside the United States?

    All expenses that are associated with activities outside the U.S. must be entered into ARC along with an appropriate SITE ChartField (i.e. country code) to indicate the global region associated with the expense or activity.  If an expense relates to more than one country and it is not extremely labor-intensive to allocate the expense across countries, then please do so. Where it is not cost-beneficial to do so, assign the cost to the 1 or 2 countries responsible for the majority of activity. E.g., airfare for a single trip with stops in China and Switzerland should be divided between the two countries according to the number of days spent in each country. However, a payment to a consultant who advises on programs in 17 different countries does not need to be divided into 17 transactions. Instead, select the SITE code for the 1 or 2 countries responsible for the majority of the revenue and/or expenses associated with the activity.  For any other questions regarding reporting of your business unit’s international expenses, please contact the Tax Department within the Controller’s Office.  For more comprehensive information, see the Global Support website.

  • Reporting
    ARC Reports

    How will I access the detailed information regarding my expenses? Will ARC allow me to roll-up the detailed information and generate a report like DARTS?

     We are replacing the reports you currently see in DARTS.  You will receive much of the same information you receive today but with a new look.  Travel & Expense reports will still be processed as vouchers but with ARC you will be able to get additional reporting data in AP.  Attachments will be available through our current document imaging system that will be linked to our new ARC AP and Purchasing systems.

    Will reports show numbers to two decimal places?

    Only a select number of reports will show amounts to two decimal points, e.g. Trial Balance reports. COB reports and DARTS-style reports will not show amounts to two decimal points. However, within ARC, you will see amounts to two decimal points.

    How far back will the historical data in the University Data Store (UDS) go?

     The UDS will hold all historical data.  The Financial Data Store (FDS) will only go back to FY12.

    In order to run an ad hoc query, will a user need to know how to use a reporting tool such as Crystal?

     Ad hoc queries use multiple types of tools. Users will need to know what type of tool their department is using for ad hoc queries and have knowledge in that tool.  Users can reach out to CUIT if they are unsure of their ad hoc query tool status.

    What kind of reporting software will we use for the FDS?

    The FDS is a data store which will allow multiple reporting software tools (e.g. ad hoc query tools) to access the data.

    Will MAC users be able to export data to Excel?

     Yes, MAC users will be able to export data to Excel.

    Can results of ad hoc inquiries be saved in excel?

     ARC ad hoc inquiries can be downloaded to Excel.

    Regarding access to information, is it possible to give access (view-only) to our international countries to run reports within our department?

     Yes, access (view-only) is possible because ARC is web-based and role-based.

    In what ways can "Canned Reports" be tailored?

     The run control parameters associated with each report will allow users to define criteria for data selection.

  • SPF

    How can I segregate an entire project for tracking purposes?

    This question pertains to certain units of the University in which the activities supported by the project are generally unallowable (for example, fundraising). Since EVERY expense charged to the project (salaries, travel, supplies, etc.) is unallowable, every transaction charged to the project should be coded to a natural account for unallowable costs.  If you have such a situation, contact Sponsored Projects Finance to discuss the possibility of segregating the entire project.  Note that even if the entire project is segregated, specifically unallowable costs (e.g., alcoholic beverages, flowers, etc.) must still be segregated.