Frequently Asked Questions

  • Budget Info

    What is budgeting?

     A budget is a list of all planned expenses and anticipated revenue collections.

    When budgeting, what are the differences between business Unit, Department and PC Business Units?

     Business Unit is the legal organization unit for reporting or tax purposes (i.e. Columbia University, Reid Hall, etc.).  Department represents the unit/level at which you are transacting at - it's a much smaller unit of measure than Business Unit.  PC Business Unit is a field used for the Project Costing module - for which there will only be 3 types - Sponsored, Capital, and General.

    Please define "site".

     The Site Chartfield is being used to capture a few unique things:  IRE Building, Country code, or US City/State.

    Will budget updates be "uploaded" to ARC throughout the day?

    Fiscal Year Budgets from the Budget Tool and Other Project Budget from Budget Revisions are interfaced to ARC every two hours throughout the day, and at least once at night.  

    Budget Checking

    When ‘Tracking with Budget’ what is the proper procedure to spend on a non-active budget row? What about sponsored projects where SPA enters the budget?

     In order for a transactions to pass budget checking, a valid budget row much first be entered into ARC - whether that budget row is passed from the Budget Tool for fiscal year budgeting or from InfoEd for Sponsored Project project-life budgets or Skire for Capital Project project-life budgets.  In the case of InfoEd and Skire, they will both pass a $0 Fiscal Year budget to the Dept./Project/Fund combination to the fiscal year budget ledger upon project creation for that first year.  This will allow for transactions to pass budget checking on the fiscal side for the initial year the project is set up.

    If I initiate an IDI against an account string that has not been created by the foreign department being charged, will the IDI be rejected?

    As long as there is a fiscal year budget on the Fund/Project/Department combination being charged, the IDI should pass budget checking.

    What happens when a Project has a fund balance or revenue that is above budgeted expenses? Will a transaction greater than the budgeted expenses but less than the fund balance/revenue be approved?

     Within Commitment Control, revenue and expenses are considered completely separate things.  Therefore, despite having revenue or a positive fund balance associated with a project, if that project does not have expenses budgeted for on the correct dept./project/fund combination, the transaction will fail budget checking.

    How does budget checking work for departments that run large batches charging multiple departments? (i.e. monthly copier and lease charges)?

    Integrating systems that generally pass large files for processing journal entries (e.g., IDI charges) will be given a file on a nightly basis that will allow them to "pre-check" that there is a valid Fiscal Year budget on the project/dept./fund combination in order to ensure the batch passes budget checking.  This "pre-check" would allow the integrating system to delete any actual journal lines that would fail budget checking so that the entire batch does not fail and be prevented from posting.

    Budget Process

    Is the Frozen Account Utility still needed?

    Within ARC, ChartFields that should no longer be used, become "inactivated".  This in effect is the same as today's process of freezing and then deleting accounts from FAS.

    In ARC, what is the relationship between a budget row and true available funding?

     The process for checking overdrafts is as today.  We will have reports that will enable us to check overdrafts.  In ARC Commitment Control, revenue budgets and expense budgets are not combined and overdrafts will need to be viewed through a separate report.

    Can we enter "local" encumbrances?

     Yes - "local encumbrances" can be entered via a manual journal entry to the pre-encumbrance ledger.  However, once a "real" requisition is created, the user will need to remember to delete or remove their manual local pre-encumbrance journal entry.

    Is there a default mechanism to populate all department based project combinations?

    No.  Because we are using the department/project/fund combination as a way of authorizing spending (providing security), these combinations must be added by the school/dept. into the Budget Tool manually so that the proper workflow can be achieved.

    Do Sponsored Projects have a fiscal year budget and does ARC show expenses by fiscal year?

    Sponsored Projects will need to have both a project-life budget, as well as a fiscal year budget in order for transactions to pass budget checking.  ARCshows expenses on either the project life basis or the fiscal year basis depending on which ledger you are inquiring on, or which report you are running (both versions are available).

    Are we able to create multiyear projects in ARC that are not capital or sponsored projects, or will the functionality be restricted to only certain levels of management?

    Other multiyear projects, project-life budgets can be entered in the budget revisions and passed to ARC.

    Is it a business process change that departments will refine a 0-value budget entered by SPA? Currently we have to submit a subcode level budget for each project/fiscal year.

     SPA will continue to enter full project-life budgets at a detailed level.  InfoEd will only pass a $0 Fiscal Year in order to pass the initial budget checking process.  Schools/Depts. will be required by business process to re-allocate $ budgeted on grant proxy projects to the actual grant project set up in ARC in the Budget Tool for fiscal year budgeting on a quarterly basis.  This business process is currently in place, and being adhered to by CUMC, however Morningside tends to not re-allocate out of proxy today.

    How will we enter minor capital projects in the new system?

     All Capital Projects project life budgets will be entered into Skire - either by Facilities or by OMB.

    Budget Tool

    How often will email notifications be sent regarding the status of transactions and will it be delivered as a summary?

    As part of the last batch process run each night, one email will be sent to each user id to notify them off any/all transactions that failed budget checking that day.  One email will contain the transaction ids of each transaction that failed.  The user will only get an email the first time a transaction fails budget checking - so if a transaction fails on day 1 and the user doesn't correct until day 5 - there will be no subsequent emails sent notifying that the transaction is still in error.  The user would have to run a query or do an online inquiry to continue to check the status of the transaction.

    Are we able to enter fiscal year budgets for future years to allow for tracking/forecasting of long-term projects?

    The budget tool will accommodate up to three future years of fiscal year budgets - which will then all pass into ARC.

    Commitment Control

    What is Commitment Control?

     Commitment Control is a feature within ARC that enables us to manage expenditures actively against predefined, authorized budgets.

    How is spending controlled within the Commitment Control feature?

     There are three levels at which to control spending within Commitment Control.  They are:  “Control”,  “Track with Budget”; “Track without Budget”. “Control” means transactions that don't have a valid budget row or exceed the amount budgeted will be stopped. "Track with Budget” means transactions that don't have a valid budget row will be stopped. “Track without Budget “means that all transactions pass without error.

    Can we implement "control" on our own?

    Initially the system was set to "Control" only on Capital Project project-life budgets.  For all other expense budgets (fiscal year and sponsored project project-life), the system was set with the default "track with budget".  And finally, for other project project-life budgets the default is "track without budget".  However, the system is fully capable of changing the control option for a project-life budget on a project-by-project basis.  If you want to track with control it can be done centrally on a case-by-case basis.

    How does the Commitment Control function with transactions passed from other systems (ie SIS)?

    All transactions go through the same budget checking process - whether it's via an online mechanism or it's part of a batch process.  However, integrating systems are given a file on a nightly basis that allows them to "pre-check" that there is a valid Fiscal Year budget on the project/dept./fund combination in order to ensure the batch passes budget checking.  This "pre-check" allows the integrating system to delete any actual journal lines that would fail budget checking so that the entire batch does not fail and be prevented from posting.

    Should we stop using proxy accounts for budgeting, since this has an impact on Commitment Control?

    Proxy accounts are still needed for Fiscal Year budgeting purposes - to account for those grants, gifts, other projects, that do not yet have a valid project chartfield set-up in ARC.  Once a valid project chartfield has been established, fiscal year budget amounts should be moved off the proxy project and re-allocated to the actual grant/gift/other project budget row.

    In budgeting, what are the criteria that define "without tolerance" and "with tolerance"?

    The term "tolerance" within Commitment Control is used only when you are implementing "Control" over spending.  While we have implemented Control over Capital Project spending, we did so without tolerance, meaning you cannot spend $1 more than the overall budget.  Tolerance would allow you to overspend by X% if you set it up in that manner.