Where can I obtain information related to the new Budget Formulation Process and the associated Responsibility Center Resource Proposals (RCRP)?
The following links will provide you with information related to the new Budget Formulation Process, the RCRP process, and our Planning and Budgeting Cloud Solution (PBCS). In addition, your Responsibility Center Liaison, made available through Budget & Financial Reporting, will be available to assist you with questions.
How are budgets entered into PRISM and reported in PBCS?
For entity 02/03 budgets, the University follows an annual budget submission process. Budget target letters are customarily provided to Responsibility Center heads and business managers in early August. They represent the ending permanent budget plus flow through increases and adjustments for salaries, fringe benefits, financial aid, reductions and/or reallocations, and program changes. Units have approximately five weeks to submit a budget using Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Solution (PBCS). Budgets begin appearing on level reports in September.
PBCS utilizes monthly, year-to-date and annual budgets. Monthly budgets are created during the budget submission process when annual budgets are spread into periods upon data-entry. The user decides how to spread the budget which can vary down to the department/subcode/reference level. PBCS monthly budgets also include BMRs which are reflected in the period processed. The most popular reports for entity 02/03 are Income Statement (excluding 05), Budget Rollforward Entities 02-03, and Entity 02 Financial Aid Accounts (07xxx). The reports are produced in near real-time (as of the close of the business day before) and the user can select from one of three available formats to view results: HTML with drill-through ability; PDF format; and Excel.
How do I prepare a Budget Modification Request or BMR?
Entity 02/03 operating budgets may be adjusted during the open budget year after the budget load occurs. The earliest period a Budget Modification Requests or BMR will be processed is October. There are two modes available to process BMRs:
Regardless of the method used to submit a BMR, budget adjustments can either be temporary or permanent. Temporary BMRs are only for the current budget year and would not be included in the next budget cycle. Permanent BMRs are incorporated into the next year’s budget.
For questions on preparing BMRs, which are not addressed in the BMR Training Guide, email BMR support email :BFRBMR@pitt.edu.
Entity 05 BMRs are handled through a separate manual process and they are submitted to Sponsored Projects Accounting (formerly Research Accounting).
How is Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Solution (PBCS) Used for Reporting & Encumbrance? The Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Solution (PBCS) module is a flexible planning application that supports enterprise-wide planning, budgeting, and forecasting in a cloud-based deployment model. PBCS includes manual encumbrances entered directly into PBCS and automated encumbrances via a daily export of purchase order data from the PantherExpress System into PRISM.
There are currently three categories of reports available in PBCS:
1- Income Statements:
Income statement reports are available by entity and are designed to provide current YTD budget, actuals, dollar and percentage variance, combined manual and automated encumbrances and FY Total Budget.
2- Monthly Activity:
Monthly activity reports provide queried month and prior year same month actuals, encumbrances, and BMR activity, which are all drillable to transaction detail with one click except for encumbrance detail.
3- Other Reports:
Other reports include entity 02 and 03 budget rollforwards, monthly and YTD net asset rollforwards, and a financial aid (purpose 07xxx) report with a summary Senior Officer version available.
PBCS reports provide a rollup of manual and automated encumbrances for reporting and budget monitoring. Departments may manually enter and release non-PO planned encumbrances. Loaded encumbrances are the calculated encumbrances from purchase orders in PRISM and PantherExpress. These are for purchase orders created after April 1, 2019. Detailed information on the POs that comprise the total can be found in the PRISM report - FGAE138 Extract of Calculated Encumbrances By Entity and Department.
Oracle automatically sends an email from Oracle Cloud firstname.lastname@example.org when user access is established in PBCS. Budget & Financial Reporting (BFR) will assign the security rules selected on the form that regulates which entities and departments the user will see as well as the type of access, planner or viewer.
What is a lease as defined by the new Lease Accounting Standard (ASC 842)? A lease is a contract or part of a contract that conveys the right to control the use of an identified asset (property or equipment) for a period of time in exchange for consideration. View Full Lease Definition
What is an embedded lease? If a service contract provides the right to control a specific asset(s) for a period of time, it may require lease accounting treatment. Examples include (but are not limited to):
IT Cloud services
Fiber optic cable
What should I do if I have a lease or potential embedded lease? Contact Lease Accounting and include an electronic pdf of the complete agreement:
How do I determine which F&A rate to include in my proposal? The negotiated Facility and Administrative rate (F&A) is applied based on the type of activity proposed (sponsored research, sponsored instruction, other sponsored activities).
How do I determine the correct fringe benefit rate to use for each employee category in my proposal? For each dollar paid as salary or wage to an employee, the University incurs associated costs for fringe benefits. Refer to the Salary Subcode Table in the Fringe Benefit and Sponsored Program Facilities and Administrative Cost Rate Memorandum for a comprehensive listing.
What's the difference between on-campus and off-campus sponsored research rates?
The classification of sponsored research projects as on-campus or off-campus is solely for the purpose of applying the correct F&A rate. The on-campus research F&A rate includes reimbursement for “facilities” costs, such as the depreciation or lease of buildings and equipment, interest on debt associated with capital assets, and operations and maintenance of the University’s physical plant, whereas the off-campus research F&A rate does not include these costs.
- A sponsored project is considered to be performed on-campus if the activity is conducted in a:
University-owned facility, including regional campuses; or
University-leased facility and the cost of the lease is not charged directly to the sponsored project
- A project is considered to be performed off-campus if the activity is conducted in a:
University-leased facility and the cost of the lease is charged directly to the sponsored project; or
Facility that the University does not own and for which the University does not incur a lease cost; or
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility, regardless of whether the University can charge the VA lease expense direct to the grant
It is important to note that the University’s preferred method of recovery of facility lease costs is to negotiate full, on-campus F&A rates and to charge any facility lease costs to appropriate, non-sponsored departmental accounts.
Telecommuting, conference attendance, summer travel, and portions of a project performed by subcontractors and or/consultants are not justifications for the off-campus determination.
Exactly what is ECC?
ECC is the University of Pittsburgh’s online effort reporting tool that is used by PI’s to facilitate certification of effort associated with federally sponsored research. ECC also provides information over the course of the year to assist department and central administrators with monitoring effort and making appropriate adjustments to effort distributions on a timely basis. Salary distribution and Cost Sharing data are loaded to ECC on a nightly basis which allows users to review distributions and make adjustments as needed throughout the period of performance.
If I am having difficulty with a SPAR modification, how can I get help?
Send an email including a detailed description of the issue and screen shots of any error message or unusual condition to SPARhelp@cfo.pitt.edu. This email inbox is monitored continuously during normal business hours. Answers are typically provided within a 2-hour window.
SPAR changes must be made within 90-days. When does the "clock" for the 90-day window start?
Federal regulations allow corrections of errors to be made up to 90 days from the date of discovery. Because the PI is responsible to certify and because the PI doesn't review effort distributions until effort statements are available for certification, we have taken the position that through the PI certification window, SPAR modifications may be made back to the first day of the period of performance to correct effort distributions without a 90-day request. For example, the September-December period of performance ends December 31. The PI certification window runs from early February through March 31st. During the entire period of performance and through the end of the PI certification window, SPAR modifications will be allowable to any month of the period of performance. So, until March 31st, modifications may be made back as far as September without a 90-day request.
Since the third SPAR period covers May 1st through August 31st, are we permitted to modify SPAR distribution across fiscal year end for entity 02 accounts?
The fiscal year end is June 30th and all fiscal year end accounting rules apply. While you will be able to modify the May and June activity on a SPAR after June 30, any credit to an entity 02 or 03 (operating) account will be defaulted to a general University account. For modifications to May and June distributions after June 30 that result in debits to an entity 02 or 03 account, the resulting charges will appear on the new year 02 or 03 account.
I am not able to see the newest Level Reports on the anticipated date indicated on the Fiscal Year Closing Schedule.
Depending upon system resource availability, online level reports should be available to users within 5 calendar days of the online entry cutoff date. If you do not have access to the reports after this period of time, the recipient of the reports should contact Peter DeNardis (phone: (412) 624-1092) in the Controller's office, requesting assistance and noting the appropriate General Ledger Mart Group/folder and report that is missing.
I have misplaced or lost a Level Report(s) from a prior period; can I obtain another copy?
You can run your own copy of a prior month’s level reports. Instructions for doing so are available via the GL Practice Group SharePoint site at pi.tt/bipg (click the “Documents and Documentation” tab and select the document titled “Cognos Analytics – Viewing and Running GL Level Reports”).
Instructions for each form can be found on the Request General Ledger Mart Access webpage. Follow the instructions carefully and forward the form to the appropriate Financial Data Approver for your Responsibility Center (a link to the list can be found on the webpage); the Financial Data Approver will then send it to the Financial Data Steward (Peter DeNardis) for further processing.
If you have questions regarding the completion of the form, contact Peter DeNardis (phone: (412) 624-1092) in the Controller’s Office.
I have sent a General Ledger Mart Group or Access Request form but the changes have not been made.
Depending on when it was sent, it may not have been received in time for the current distribution. If the form was not completed correctly or did not have the appropriate approving signature from the Responsibility Center (RC), it would not have been processed but instead, it would have been sent to the RC Business Manager for further action.
I cannot identify an item appearing on my Level Report.
If you have General Ledger access in the PRISM system, query the batch through the Journal Entry screen, select “More Details” and bring up the box containing the Preparer information to obtain the contact person. If you do not have General Ledger access within PRISM,
What does APGL in the batch name mean?
Effective 2004, APGL was replaced with Payables in the batch name. These batches are generated by Payment Processing. All questions related to these entries should be directed to Mary Jane Ackerman in Payment Processing at (412) 624-6020.
I was expecting a charge/income on my levels, but it has not yet appeared.
The journal entry may not have been processed by the department, Purchasing, Payment Processing, or Financial Records Services.
I have entered a Batch in PRISM but I cannot find it.
Before entering the Batch a second time, contact the PRISM Help Desk (412) 624-4357 or Sharon Sobol in the Office of the Controller at (412) 624-6068 to determine if there was a keying error in the Batch name. This will avoid duplication of entries.
I have entered a Batch in PRISM and the totals were accurate. After the posting occurred, the totals are different or even doubled.
If the Batch contained accounts with multiple entities, a process occurs during posting which affects interfund accounting requirements. Additional entries are added to the Batch related to interfund accounts which you will not be able to view. The original transactions entered are not affected. The overall total of the Batch is the only change.
I have entered a Batch in PRISM and it has not been posted.
Posting usually occurs within one to three days of the time the batch is released for posting. Delays can result from a number of reasons: an incorrect Batch name; a disabled account at the time of posting; a Batch or Journal control total error; required information is missing, such as IDC code information; debits and credits are out of balance, or scheduling related to those performing the posting processes in Central Administration. If the entry has not been posted within one week of the time it was entered, review the batch for any obvious errors. (The preparer of the Batch will usually receive an e-mail or voice mail indicating any errors that may exist related to the particular Batch.) Check to be sure you selected the appropriate period. If you are unable to identify why the Batch has not been posted, contact the PRISM Help Desk (412) 624-4357 for assistance.
I am trying to enter a Batch in PRISM, similar to batches I have entered before, but now I cannot access the accounts.
Verify that you are in the appropriate PRISM responsibility. If you are in the appropriate responsibility and continue to experience the same problem, contact the PRISM Help Desk at (412) 624-4357 for further assistance.
Currently, I have PRISM General Ledger access to enter Interdepartmental Charge (IDC) transactions related to services provided by my department. I am unable to enter an account number given to me by another department. Should I submit the entry on paper?
No. Once your IDC access is established in PRISM, you should be able to access all appropriate account numbers and subcodes approved for the charge. If you obtain an error message when entering an account number, read the message carefully. If the error is related to the subcode, change the subcode to the appropriate one you are authorized to charge in accordance with your IDC authorization set-up. If the error indicates the flexfield combination is incorrect or the account has been disabled, contact the person who provided the account number to obtain a correct one. If you continue to receive a flexfield error, such as department/purpose or department/purpose/subcode combination, contact the PRISM Help Desk at (412) 624-4357.
I am unable to print reports from PRISM.
Submit a help ticket to the PRISM Help Desk at (412) 624-4357.
I am trying to enter my department account and am receiving a PRISM error message.
Submit a help ticket to the PRISM Help Desk at (412) 624-4357.
How do I deposit a check received by my department?
Checks are processed as either gifts or non-gifts. Gifts are processed by the Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA). Send these checks, indicating which account (purpose code) should be credited, to Susan Boehm, 207 PLAZA, for processing. Unless you are established by the Office of Finance as a Direct Depositor, non-gift receipts are processed by the Student Payment Center. Prepare a Cash Report and submit it to the Student Payment Center, G-7 Thackeray Hall.
Our department was expecting an electronic transfer of funds. Can you determine if the amount has been received?
Contact General Accounting with the following information:
date of transfer
method of payment
Did we receive a tuition payment from a government agency for a particular student?
Contact General Accounting with the following information:
date of transfer
method of payment
My department would like to begin taking cash and check deposits directly to the bank. Is this permitted and what are the procedures?
To determine if your department is eligible to make deposits to one of the University’s affiliated banks, contact the Office of the Treasurer at (412) 624-6620.
My department would like to begin accepting credit cards over the WEB. What is the proper procedure?
Contact the E-Business Resource Group. Guidance will be provided to help your department implement the process.
How can my department begin to accept credit card payments in addition to cash and checks?
Contact the Office of Finance at (412) 624-6620 to obtain the necessary information and applications. Once you have been approved to accept credit card payments, refer to the Instructions for Transacting Credit Card Payments.
What is the Institutional Research Office? The Office of Institutional Research provides timely and accurate information and analytical services respective to enrollment at, and the human resources of, the University of Pittsburgh. We do this in an objective, systematic, and precise manner to internal and external constituents. To these constituents, compliance obligations are met, administrative decision support is provided, and institutional information – released via the Office’s website and data submissions – is reported.
What is the difference between the Office of Sponsored Programs and Sponsored Projects Accounting (SPA)?
Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) Pre-Award Activities Office of Sponsored Programs provides funding source information, guidance on proposal writing, final pre-submission proposal review, negotiation and acceptance of awards on behalf of the University.
Sponsored Projects Accounting (SPA) Post-Award Activities
SPA activates projects and sets up projects for all accepted sponsored projects in the University’s Oracle financial system; provides customer service on agency rules and regulations to PIs, department and central administration; handles all sponsor invoicing, preparation of financial reports for sponsors, payment collections and project closeouts.
Why are these two offices separate?
The University of Pittsburgh is a very large research institution. The model for the centralized research administration functions used by our institution is set up to maintain internal control systems. The Provost manages all pre-award activities as this is a major activity involving faculty seeking external funding. The Chief Financial Officer manages all post-award activities as this is a major financial function involving the financial statements of the University.
The Sponsored Projects Accounting department and the Office of Sponsored Programs work very closely together on sponsored projects issues
How do I know whom to contact for matters related to pre-award activities?
Office of Sponsored Programs handles all pre-award activities. The Staff Directory section of the departmental website provides staff names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
How do I know whom to contact for matters related to post award activities?
SPA handles all post-award activities. The Department Assignment matrix provides the accountant responsible for each department. The Staff Directory provides the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of these individuals. For sub-accounts, questions should be directed to the accountant aligned with the master account.
Who do I contact for documentation on charges I cannot recognize on a project?
A query on the batch name should be performed in Oracle (PRISM). Contact the person listed in the Prepared By field for the batch. That person will be able to give the detailed information.
How do I get an Advance Account number?
It is appropriate to request an advance account number when a department is assured that funding will be forthcoming. An advance account number ideally will be set up the month before or the actual month that a project will be starting. Advance accounts are requested via PERIS.
How long does it take to receive a project number in the Oracle Financial system?
Once a sponsored project award agreement has been approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs and all appropriate paperwork has been accumulated and forwarded to Sponsored Projects Accounting, a project number will be assigned within 72 business hours or less.
The activation report (RPAR105) will be delivered electronically via PRISM to the designated person at the department the day after the activation occurs. If a department needs immediate information on a project number, arrangements can be made through the department’s Sponsored Projects Accountant.
Do the sponsored project account numbers have any meaning or are they just sequential?
A numbering system has been developed using the first two digits of the six-digit project number to designate a funding source:
NSF 01XXXX; Dept. of Education 07XXXX; NIH 1XXXXX ; Other federal 4XXXXX; State & Local Govt. 6XXXXX; Foundations, Companies and Pharmaceuticals 7XXXXX. The last five digits are assigned sequentially as new awards are activated.
Where are cash payments to be received for sponsored projects?
All cost reimbursable and installment invoice payments for sponsored projects are to be mailed to the Sponsored Projects Accounting bank lockbox:
University of Pittsburgh PO Box 371220
500 Ross Street 154-0455 Pittsburgh, PA 15262-0001
What do I do with a check received in my office for a sponsored project?
Any check received by a department should be hand carried to the Sponsored Projects Accounting department on the 31st floor of the Cathedral of Learning so that funds can be sent to the bank the same day. If the check is for a reimbursement of an expense on a project, a memo should accompany the check providing the sponsored project expense number.
Checks should never be held by a department as the possibility of losing a check or the check becoming stale-dated increases each day it is held.
How do I know if an agency has paid all invoices on a cost reimbursable agreement?
The monthly summary financial statement for each project (RPAR001) lists what has been billed and what has been received as payments.
Subcode 1200 represents the amount the sponsor has been billed.
Subcode 1202 represents the amount the sponsor has paid to date.
The net of these two numbers will give the balance the agency owes.
Why does our department sometimes receive a copy of a collection letter to an agency?
When a sponsor delays payment to the University, automated letters print weekly for unpaid invoices that reach either 90 or 120 days old. A copy of the letter sent to the sponsor is also sent to the PI and the department administrator so that they may assist in the collection process. Frequently PIs can make phone calls to colleagues at the agency to find out why payment has not been issued.
What is cost sharing? Cost sharing is a sponsor requirement for the University to share in the actual costs of a sponsored project. Sponsors will usually require cost sharing when they want to assure that the University has a vested interest in a project.
When is it appropriate to cost share? Cost sharing should only occur if a sponsor requires it and the academic leader (Dean or Director) of an academic unit sets aside funds to meet the actual costs of cost sharing should an award be made to the University. It is inappropriate to volunteer cost sharing if it is not required by a sponsor because voluntary cost sharing, when committed by being documented in the award proposal, becomes mandatory if an award is made.
How does a department account for cost sharing? The Dean or Director will provide an Oracle account number that holds the cost sharing funds. The department PI and project manager need to charge costs to this account number and monitor the correctness of the costs so that cost sharing can be reported at the end of the project.
How long do we have to make SPAR adjustments? The Effort Reporting Guideline on the University’s website discusses the requirements of effort reporting at the University. Basically, SPAR adjustments should be done immediately upon knowledge of a significant change in percentage of effort above 5% by any person required to report effort.
SPAR adjustments are allowed within a certification period. Once certified, adjustments cease. Change in SPARs cannot be done to closed sponsored projects even though adjustment would be in the certification period.
Why do salary costs to a sponsored project sometimes get charged to our department 02 account? Sponsored projects are closed within 90 to 120 days after the end date of the project period. Sometimes SPARs have not been appropriately changed to record the appropriate effort of personnel. When payroll charges are trying to be recorded on a closed project, the payroll system automatically places the unallowable charge on the department’s 02 account.
Why can’t departments continue spending on a project while waiting for a new project number? All sponsored awards have designated begin and end dates. There is a 90 day allowable period after a project ends for costs allowable to the project period to be recorded in the University’s financial system. This regulation comes from the federal circulars and guidelines the University is required to abide by. No other costs are allowable to the project account and must either be charged to an advance account number or to entity 02 or 04 funds while waiting for a new project number.
Why isn’t the department notified when a Sponsored Projects Accountant is writing off an overdraft? Departments receive monthly notices on projects that have overspent the project budgets. Refer to the University Financial Guideline regarding Overdrafts on Sponsored Projects.
Why do non salary cost transfers have to be done within 90 days after the cost is on University level reports? The University is again obligated to follow the federal regulations specific to OMB Circular A-110 and the NIH Grants Policy Statement. The 90 day rule is within these guidelines.
Why isn’t the department “shadow system” considered the official record of the University? Circular A-21 requires that the University have an official financial system that meets the requirements for recording and reporting expenditures in a compliant and consistent manner. The Oracle financial system meets this requirement and is therefore considered the official financial record of the University.
Why does Sponsored Projects Accounting return funds on a sponsored project?
Most sponsored projects at the University are cost reimbursable. The University cannot legally retain any funds that are paid by a sponsor in excess of the actual costs incurred. Excess funds on cost reimbursable awards must be returned in a timely manner. The Residual Funds on Sponsored Projects guideline provides further details on this practice.
How do I know what the current indirect cost and fringe benefit rates are?
Federally approved indirect cost and fringe benefit rates are communicated annually to the University community via the official 3D list (Deans, Directors and Department Heads). Rate Information is published on the Cost Accounting website by fiscal year.
Where does a department go for information on regulations from the federal government on sponsored project activities? The SPA websites has links to all pertinent federal regulations.
What regulations apply to my job? All federal, agency specific and University regulations apply to every person at the University working with sponsored projects. All University staff are encourage to seek education.
How does a department obtain access to enter cost transfers on-line into the Oracle financial system?
From the FIS PRISM website go to training schedule to obtain information on the IS representative to contact for obtaining training and access to Oracle.
What are departmental responsibilities for closing out a project? Sponsors require financial reports anywhere from 1 to 90 days after the end date of a sponsored project. Departments are required to present a closing memo to the Sponsored Projects Accounting department within half of the time allotted by the sponsor. This closing lists all allowable costs and credits to a project to close it financially. SPA will prepare the financial report based on the closing memo.
Departments also have responsibility for submitting technical reports to the sponsor. Other reporting requirements may be invention statements, equipment inventories or other sponsor related requests. All these requirements must be submitted within the time period stipulated in the agreement after the end date of the project.
How do I know a project will be closing? 90 days before the end of a project period, a notice (RPAR450) prints automatically with the RPAR001 project financial summary and states that the project will end in 30 days. Departments are responsible for monitoring the end dates of all projects in their area so that appropriate closing procedures can be followed.
Why do departments only have a specific number of days after the end date of a project to prepare a closing memo for a project that has ended? SPA prepares and submits all financial reports to sponsors. The majority of these reports are due monthly and SPA requires sufficient lead time to meet all sponsor stipulated reporting deadlines. Extensions can be requested on an exception basis.
What happens when we have requested a no cost extension for a project that is closing? Departments are required to request no cost extensions well before the end date of a project – preferably 60 days prior to closing. An agency’s written approval of a no cost extension should be submitted through PERIS to Office of Sponsored Programs.
If an approval has not been received in SPA before the required reporting date, SPA will report to the agency. It is critical to make certain that SPA has some agency notification of an extension. An e-mail from an authoritative person at an agency pending further written notification will suffice to keep a project open for a limited amount of time.
What type of audits occur at the University? Audits are performed by the University Internal Audit Department as well as by external auditors from accounting firms or sponsoring agencies. Audits can be financial and/or technical in nature as well as program specific. Some audits are required annually while others are performed sporadically by various agencies.
The federal government requires an annual A-133 audit that is performed by an external accounting firm for the University.
What procedures should I follow when approached by an auditor asking for information?
Any auditor performing an audit will have informed the appropriate people in an organization according to the chain of command. If you are not certain if there is an audit being conducted, contact the administration of your organization to determine if you are required to participate in the auditor’s questioning.
All questions to an auditor should be answered with only factual accurate information and not with personal opinions. Auditors are generally checking out processes and procedures and the allowability of costs. Should you be asked questions that are outside of your area of responsibility or expertise, let the auditor know this and under no circumstances should you guess at the answer.
How long do I need to keep all documents associated with my sponsored project once it’s completed? Federal law requires that financial documents be kept 7 years beyond the period that a final report has been submitted to an agency. If there are legal matters pending beyond the final reporting period, records must be kept until the matter is settled and it is determined that records no longer need to be retained.
The retention of technical and scientific documents follow different regulations and those retention requirements are not addressed in this document.
How long does Central University Administration keep documents related to sponsored projects? Central administration follows the rules of retention of records that at least includes keeping records for 7 years.