Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Finance and Budgeting

Account Structure and Chart of Accounts

All University Financial Systems are accessed through the portal (except for FFE - see University Financial Systems and Management section).  Job Aids for all types of financial transactions can be found on the Finance Gateway under “Helpful Tools/Training”.

The University has structured its chart of accounts around an 11-field chartstring.  The Arts & Sciences has established rules governing the use of chartfields when processing transactions and entering budgets in the Budget Tool. Various documents and guidance on those rules can be found in Courseworks, on the “A&S Department Collaboration Resources” site. This site is available to officers in A&S Departments, Institutes and Centers. Officers who need access to the site should contact Qamar Said in the Budget and Finance Office.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has centralized the process of creating new chartfields to ensure consistency and accuracy across Arts & Sciences departments.  A chartfield create request form must be sent to Audrey Rosenblatt.  Audrey will e-mail you confirmation once the chartfield has been approved by the Controller’s Office.  Please allow several days for completion of this process.

Finance Applications

University Financial Systems and Management

Columbia University uses several applications to meet its financial management needs.  The University’s Finance Gateway provides comprehensive information on all financial applications.  Following are the most commonly used applications, with appropriate links: – a central location for Columbia’s faculty and staff to find needed information and resources:

·         ARC portal tab -- entry into ARC for accounting transactions and FDS for all financial reporting

·         Fin/Sys tab – entry to the Budget Tool and the Cash Module

·         HR Manager Resources tab – access to Labor Accounting to manage employee account profiles, salary distribution, additional compensation (add comp) and cost transfers;  Labor Accounting Reporting for suspense

DARTS – The financial reporting system for generating reports for periods prior to Fiscal Year 2012.

FFE – For processing payroll transactions related to casual employees and support staff (ZTs).  The application must be downloaded from this link

ECRT – Effort Certification and Reporting Technology for the annual certification by effort coordinators and Principal Investigators (PIs)

Finance Security Access

The University has various ways through which a user applies for access to a financial system, but the most common is through submission of a combined application, the Financial Systems Security Application (FSSA). This is the procedure to use for access to ARC, FDS, and other systems, such as DARTS, FinSys, FFE, and the Endowment Termsheets, and for obtaining transaction approval ability, known as DAF authority. For users that require reporting access only, the shorter Financial Inquiry Application (FIA) should be submitted. PAC and Staples access applications are also available at this same link.

(See the Finance Gateway for Financial Systems Security Application Information for access to the forms.)

All security role requests must be approved by both the requestor’s manager and the relevant Department Security Administrator (DSA). For the most senior financial manager in an Arts & Sciences department, except in the case of PAC applications, the manager is Audrey Rosenblatt (Director of Budget Operations).  For PAC applications, the manager is Tanique Dunkley (Senior Assistant Vice President, Human Resources Administration). For all other financial applications, the manager is the appropriate department supervisor, usually the Business Manager of Academic Department Administrator. The DSA is, in all cases, Arts and Sciences, which should be selected from the list of options that comes up when you click on the search option (magnifying glass next to the box on the form).

Arts and Sciences has standards for the roles and authority that should be requested by both officers and support staff personnel. (See link.)

Once the appropriate application is submitted, final approval and access to the financial systems will not be granted until the required training for each role is completed. Required Trainings by Role lays out which classes are required according to one’s ARC system roles being requested.  For Endowment term sheet access, individuals must take the Endowment Compliance and Certificate Training, a classroom session offered by the CU Finance Division.

Purchasing and Travel Cards

Purchasing Card (P-Card) and Travel Card roles and privileges are applied for on the Financial Systems Security Application (FSSA).  Arts & Sciences requests that officer in the department who approves the FSSA form contact the Arts & sciences DPAD (Audrey Rosenblatt) to identify the reconciler and approver for the card. 

Once the application is filed, the P-Card team will contact the applicant by e-mail requesting specific information for that card (e.g., monthly credit limit, single transaction limit and chartstring). 

If travel privileges are being requested, the applicant will be sent the Roles and Responsibilities Form, which must be signed by the applicant and forwarded to Ellen Binder for approval.  Once all forms are submitted, the P-Card Team will contact the individual to schedule an in-person training class, after which the applicant will receive the card.

MAO - Passthrough Revision Policy and PPC Review

29 February 2016 - PPC


The PPC has reviewed a proposal for MAO program pass-through reform. The main change to existing MAO policy is the gradual disappearance of the requirement that a program enroll a certain number of FTEs before it begins to derive any profit from its MAO operation, also known as “passthrough targets.” The PPC has endorsed the proposed reform described below, with several minor provisos.

Proposal for the Reform of the MAO Passthrough System (from Executive Commitee of Arts and Sciences)

In December 2014, GSAS discussed with chairs and directors of MAO programs three variations of a proposal to effect a reform of the existing MAO passthrough system, given the persistent complaints that the existing arrangements were not equitable across programs, and that many programs contributed to the financial health of Arts and Sciences without receiving any passthrough at all. After considering the proposals at length, the assembled group asked the Dean of GSAS to work with a committee of representatives of Master’s programs to arrive at a proposal that would have broad support among the MAO programs.

The Ad-Hoc Committee on the MAO met several times during the spring 2015 semester, and in the end produced a proposal that was itself not unanimously supported by all members of the committee. Faced with this impasse, the Executive Committee of Arts and Sciences advanced a new proposal that was subsequently vetted by the Ad-Hoc Committee, which further recommended to the larger body of chairs and directors that it be approved. The ensuing discussion resulted in the proposal being conveyed to the PPC, with a request that it consider the implications of the proposal, and that it make a recommendation about its implementation to the Executive Committee.

In overarching terms, the proposal envisions the gradual disappearance of passthrough targets ⎯ that is, the requirement that a program enroll a certain number of FTEs before it begins to derive any profit from its MAO operation. This elimination of targets would be accomplished in two steps: the first two years provide a measure of immediate relief to those programs that have not received any passthrough funds in the recent past; the second proposes a reduction by 10% annually of all passthrough targets remaining in the system, so that, after a period of ten years, passthrough targets would cease to exist. Implementing the proposal would achieve equity across all programs through a gradual but non-trivial transfer of funds to the programs that now operate with a passthrough target.

This significant outlay of funds will indeed achieve universal equity, but it will also expose Arts and Sciences finances to strain unless there is an equally universal requirement that all MAO programs commit to maintaining a steady state of enrollments at current levels or, ideally, higher. This requirement will, in turn, necessitate a level of supervision and coordination of MAO admissions, recruitment, and matriculation that has not been part of the MAO operation to date. MAO programs would have to agree to the same kind of transparency and oversight of their MAO admissions practices that now characterize the process of admitting students to the Ph.D. degree.

To be more precise: If the proposal is approved and enacted, all MAO programs would be expected to enroll FTEs at a number at least equal to their average FTE enrollment in the last three years. GSAS would follow closely the number of offers made, the recruitment effort made by each program, the rates of acceptance and decline of offers, and the use of waitlists to achieve enrollment goals. GSAS would also work with smaller programs to assist with both their advertising and recruitment efforts. A program that nevertheless failed to achieve its enrollment targets consistently would face consequences 3 to be determined by Arts and Sciences and/or GSAS ⎯e.g., passthrough arrangements for the program might be modified, or doctoral student lines might be withheld.

After the first two to three years of the reform program, the Executive Committee of Arts and Sciences will determine annually if the implementation of the reform will continue, or if it should continue in the specific terms originally proposed ⎯e.g., it may decide to keep the program in place, but change the rate at which passthrough targets are reduced.


Endorsement with Provisos (from the Policy and Planning Commitee)

The Policy and Planning Committee of the Arts and Sciences (PPC) endorses the GSAS plan to amend MAO agreements, with a few provisos. The PPC takes particular note that, when fully implemented, the proposed program will reduce A&S annual income by $2.7 million (assuming MAO FTE enrollments equal to average enrollments in the last three years). This figure translates into 55 new MAO FTEs at the end of the 12-year phase in, or 4.5 new FTEs per year. Offsetting this cost to Arts and Sciences will require enhanced revenues or reduced expenditures by the Arts and Sciences at large. Accordingly, the PPC would request that:

1) All MAO programs commit to raising collectively their MAO FTEs over the course of the 12-year adjustment period, so that the revenues lost to A&S through the new passthrough arrangement may be recovered.

2) The new targets to achieve this growth be communicated to programs, reviewed in the annual meetings with GSAS, and phased in over the same timeline as the benefits. It would be expected that programs hit these targets on average over three-year periods. 3) In implementing the new distribution of revenues in the programs with Arts and Sciences, the 50-50 revenue split be taken after subtracting costs paid for by Arts and Sciences that are reasonably and directly related to mounting the MA programs.