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Financial Review Guidelines

 Export this page as a PDF file: Dartmouth Account Review Guidelines (pdf)

 

Purpose

This document provides guidance for the regular after the fact review of financial transactions charged to Dartmouth accounts using a risk based approach. The document seeks to clarify roles, responsibilities, tools, documentation and related policies and procedures. Where applicable, additional responsibilities associated with managing sponsored funds are delineated.


Internal Controls

The internal control structure consists of all controls employed by Dartmouth to achieve its objectives (including physical barriers, organizational design, policies & procedures, and electronic systems). Internal controls can be central or local, preventive or detective. Centrally maintained controls over financial transactions apply to all of Dartmouth. These central control structures include policies and procedures, review and approval policies and other systems (see Appendix A).


Internal control systems local to divisions, schools and departments also play an important role in helping to achieve Dartmouth's objectives (including the objective that financial transactions be accurate, timely, complete, and properly documented). These guidelines recommend that the administrative officers look at their local internal control systems and procedures periodically, to ensure that they are well designed and working properly.


The Importance of Reviewing Transactions

Transaction review is a regular, normally monthly, examination of posted expenses and revenues to ensure that those transactions have been appropriately recorded. A key component of internal controls is the regular and timely review of financial transactions.

With respect to sponsored awards, reviews include an analysis for compliance with external guidelines (i.e. Uniform Guidance, FAR, etc.) to ensure that expenses are allowable, allocable and reasonable. While a review of expenses is typically performed by the Administrative staff in the department, the Principal Investigator is responsible for the overall direction of the project and often possesses essential knowledge relevant to allocation of costs. Therefore, in addition to monthly financial review, a review of expenditures on sponsored awards by the Principal Investigator is suggested at reasonable time intervals to reasonably assure corrections and adjustments can be made on a timely basis (see Reallocation of Cost Policy referenced in Appendix A). Federal regulations limit the time allowed for transfers from one grant string to another, and errors caught promptly are generally much easier to correct. Timely reviews are strongly recommended.


Risk Based Account Review

Dartmouth College advocates a risk-based review process, which allows users to focus attention on higher-risk transactions. It is expected that departments review accounts being mindful of the type of transaction, the workflow associated with the transaction, including a review of both initiator and approver, what their relationship to the transaction is, and being comfortable that the transaction is allowable.

The objective of the monthly transaction review has not changed. Our goal remains to assure that expenditures are:

  • Correctly charged
  • Allowable for the expense type/natural class being charged in accordance with regulations and policies
  • Allocable to the expense type being charged
  • Appropriately approved and documented
  • Recorded in a consistent manner


Key Definitions of Activities Associated with Financial Reviews

Reconciliation:

The process of comparing information that exists in two systems or locations, analyzing differences and making corrections so that the information is accurate, complete and consistent in both systems or locations. Reconciliation is typically performed by the Controller's Office, OSP and other central offices to assure that financial systems are operating appropriately.


Review and Verification:

A review is the process of examining financial information at a high level for accuracy and reasonableness. If information is determined to appear inaccurate or unreasonable, further investigation is needed. Verification is the further investigation at a lower level (chart string, individual employee, voucher information, etc.) to review the transaction that may be inaccurate.


Substantiation/Matching:

The process of corroborating or confirming financial information contained in an account, report or system with a source document (e.g. invoice) to ensure that the information is accurate and complete.

 

Roles and Responsibilities

Controller's Office:

Performs reconciliations of centrally controlled balance sheet accounts. Monitors the reconciliation processes performed by other Dartmouth departments that have primary responsibility for reconciling accounts to ensure they are completed regularly, timely, consistently and all reconciling items are corrected timely. Establishes and updates institutional financial policies.


Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP):

Performs regular reconciliation of Oracle Grants Accounting (OGA) to the general ledger. Performs regular review of overspent accounts, invoices, accounts receivable, past due payments. Performs risk based post-transaction review for allowability.


Finance Centers:

Processes original transactions and when necessary processes corrections. They may provide regular or ad hoc reporting.


Division/School Financial Leadership:

Performs high-level review of account activity relevant to their operating activities for financial sustainability. Reviews are performed on a regular, no less than quarterly, basis.


Financial Manager:

Performs review of account activity relevant to their operating activities for accuracy, completeness and financial sustainability. Reviews are performed on a regular, no less than quarterly, basis. The review of financial data does not require verifying every transaction that occurred for each period. This review does not require verification if the reviewer has knowledge that each transaction has been approved correctly upon purchase or payment. A reviewer's focus should be on unanticipated revenue or expense activity. One of the purposes for the review is to determine if adjustments may be required to properly reflect revenues and expenses.

 

Department/Research Grant Manager:

Reviews all financial data and information relevant to grant accounts for accuracy, allowability, allocability, and compliance with sponsor requirements. The review of financial data does not require verifying or substantiating/matching every transaction. A reviewer's focus should be risk based in accordance with the appended procedures by financial transaction type. This review does not require verification if the grant manager or other responsible person has knowledge that each transaction has been approved correctly upon purchase or payment.
It is strongly recommended that reviews be performed on a regular monthly basis and that reports with sufficient detail be provided to Principal Investigators at least quarterly. Investigates and corrects inaccuracies, discrepancies, or errors on a timely basis. Based upon reviews with Principal Investigators initiates or corrects transactions. With respect to distribution of labor charges, Department Grant Managers should review actual labor devoted to projects and make retrospective and prospective adjustments to labor distribution on a regular basis and no less than every 60 days.

Principal Investigators:

Communicates project needs to Department Administrators and Grant Managers. Oversee initiation of transactions to assure allocability, allowability and reasonableness of charges. Reviews financial reports on a regular basis and communicate reasonable adjustments in labor distribution on a timely and regular basis no less than every 60 days.


Recommended Reports for Financial Review

GL Activity:

• Operating Statement Report at the Division Reporting Level or the GL Rollup Operating Report is a good place to start a review of departmental revenue and expense activity. Each report provides divisional level reporting of both non-sponsored and sponsored activity.
• GL Transactions Report is used to identify specific transactions recorded on a chart string and is useful to identify errors or unusual activity.


Balance Sheet Activity:

• Balance Sheet Analysis Report (bottom section) for transaction details when reviewing to identify errors or unusual activity.
• Balance Sheet Analysis Report (monthly) this report combines both account beginning and ending balances and transaction detail.


Sponsored Activity:

• OGA Budget vs Actual by Month report (provides project-to-date)
• OGA Transactions Detail – Expenditures report provides the transaction level information by sponsored project and award.
• OGA Award and Project Closeout reports


Salary and Fringe:

• IRA Labor Distribution Actuals Report


Review Process:

The attached Grid provides guidance for review and substantiation based upon the type of transaction and dollar amount. The approach to review is risk based. Matching to independent supporting documentation (substantiation) is advisable in some cases, but not needed in others. Some examples of when (and when not) to match are described below. The guidelines recommend for some transaction types, that transactions be matched to supporting documentation "on a test basis". This means that reviewers perform the most detailed review where the risk of error or loss is greatest, and a reduced level of review when the risk of error or loss is less.


For certain transaction types, especially in the case of scientific supplies, departments should work with OSP and Principal Investigator to develop an allocation methodology. Allocation is the process of assigning a cost to one or more awards in reasonable and realistic proportion to the benefit provided to the individual projects. An allocation plan is appropriate when it is not possible or efficient to determine how much of the cost is used for each award. Allocation when used appropriately, can enhance administrative efficiency.


Who Should be Familiar with These Procedures:

• Controller's Office Staff
• Department Administrators
• Division/School Financial Leadership
• Finance Center Staff
• Department/Research Grant Managers
• Principal Investigators
• OSP Staff
• Risk and Internal Controls Staff


Key Contacts for Questions and Updates to Process:

• Controller's Office
• Office of Sponsored Projects

 

Purchasing Card

Transaction Review:

Review credit card charges for reasonableness


Instruction/Special Notes:

Working copies of receipts of $75 and over should be maintained in the department until they can be verified in OnBase and then recycled


Document Types:

Receipts


Institutional Record Source:

OnBase

 

Purchase Orders

Transaction Review:

Review encumbrance for reasonableness


Instruction/Special Notes:

Request submitted through iProcurement or the Purchase Request eForm


Document Types:

Approval, Purchase Docs


Institutional Record Source:

Oracle iProcurement

 

Invoices, Payment Requests (formerly Miscellaneous Income Payment Voucher (MIPV); Request for Payment (RFP), Business Expense Reimbursement (BER)

Transaction Review:

• Review all charges for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string
• For non-purchase order charges over $2,499 match supporting documentation to the charge
• On a test basis, match invoices under $2,500


Instruction/Special Notes:

Working copies of invoices can be retained in hard copy or scanned and saved on a shared department server until payment or verification and then recycled or deleted


Document Types:

Invoices, Payment Request eForms


Institutional Record Source:

OnBase (coming 2017)


Accounts Payable at Records Management prior to OnBase implementation or Finance Center servers for BERs

 

Travel Expenses

Transaction Review:

• Review all charges for these document types, except Travel Leaders, for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string
• For charges over $2,499 match supporting documentation to the charge
• On a test basis, match invoices under $2,500


Instruction/Special Notes:

Copies of Travel Leader itineraries received from traveler or requested from Travel Leaders can be scanned and saved to a shared department server.


Note: A request can be made to Travel Leaders to have copies of itineraries for specific individuals automatically emailed to another individual


Document Types:

iExpense, OnBase Payment Request form

 

Institutional Record Source:

iExpense, OnBase Payment Request form

 

Oracle Expense Reports

Transaction Review:

Review all charges for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Working copies of receipts for expenses that are $75 or more should be maintained in the department until payment or verification and then recycled

 

Document Types:

Receipts

 

Institutional Record Source:

Oracle iExpense

 

Service Center, Computer Store, Stockrooms

Transaction Review:

• Review all charges for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string
• For charges over $2,499 match supporting documentation to the charge
• On a test basis, match charges under $2,500 to service center data (within system or an invoice)

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Electronic or hold until verified on account

 

Document Types:

Service Center Bills, Computer Store Invoice, Stockroom Charge Slip


Institutional Record Source:

Service Center, Computer Store, Stockrooms

 

Labor Distribution

Transaction Review:

Review all charges for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Correction request submitted through Wage Transfer e-Form

 

Document Types:

Action Request Approval

 

Institutional Record Source:

PASF, OnBase

 

MyLS (Future Dated Labor Account Distribution Changes)

Transaction Review:

• Review all charges for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string
• On a test basis, match charges under $2,500 to service center data (this can be within the system or an invoice)

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Department Entry - Entered directly with approvals maintained in an electronic form
Finance Center Entry - Request submitted through MYLS Request e-Form

 

Document Types:

Action Request Approval

 

Institutional Record Source:

Department - Departmental Electronic Files (contact your IT department for recommendations on shared file storage)

Finance Center - OnBase

 

Wage Transfers

Transaction Review:

See Labor Distribution

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Request submitted through Wage Transfer e-Form

 

Document Types:

Action Request Approval

 

Institutional Record Source:

OnBase

 

Cost Transfers on Sponsored Accounts

Transaction Review:

Review all entries for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Request submitted through Correction and Journal e-Form with supporting documentation such as required

 

Document Types:

Action Request Approval

 

Institutional Record Source:

OnBase

 

Journal Entries

Transaction Review:

• Review all entries for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string
• For charges over $2,499 match supporting documentation to the charge
• On a test basis, match charges under $2,500 to supporting documentation.

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Request submitted through Correction and Journal e-Form or Department Entry

 

Document Types:

Journal, SPUD, WebAdi

 

Institutional Record Source:

Departmental Electronic Files or OnBase (contact your IT department for recommendations on shared file storage)

 

Deposit with Cashier

Transaction Review:

Review all entries for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string

Instruction/Special Notes:

Working copies of receipts should be maintained in the department until verification and then recycled

 

Document Types:

Miscellaneous cash receipt

 

Institutional Record Source:

Cashier's office

 

Hanover Inn

Transaction Review:

• Review all charges for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string
• For charges over $2,499 match supporting documentation to the charge
• On a test basis, match invoices under $2,500

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Working copies of receipts should be maintained in the department until verification and then recycled

 

Document Types:

Hotel and dining receipts

 

Institutional Record Source:

Hanover Inn can reproduce hotel receipts. All hotel and dining receipts are available in Records Management.

 

DPMS

Transaction Review:

Review all entries for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Working copies of receipts should be maintained in the department until verification and then recycled

 

Document Types:

Invoices

 

Institutional Record Source:

DPMS is able to reprint invoices (back to 2005)

 

Jones Media Center, Library Map Room

Transaction Review:

Review all entries for these document types for reasonableness and correct allocation to the chart string

 

Instruction/Special Notes:

Map room keep copies for 3 years.

 

Document Types:

Media Center Receipt, Map Room Receipt

 

Institutional Record Source:

Department Electronic Files

 

 

Appendix A

Relevant Policies

  • Cash and Check Handling Policy
  • Dartmouth Business Expense Policy
  • Merchant Credit Card Policy for Managers and Supervisors
  • Merchant Credit Card Policy for Processors
  • Procurement Card Policy
  • Reallocation of Charges and Cost Transfer Policy
  • Research Participant Payment Policy and Procedures
  • Signature and Requisition Authority Policy

 

 

Last Updated: 7/24/18