BASIS Steering committee
W. David Wimberly
Colleen Briney and William Rains
BASIS II July status
Progress seems to have slowed considerably during July. This is partially due to vacations and people being out. However, it can also be attributed to the reality check provided by facing head on some of the issues that have been outstanding while simultaneously attempting to develop a design that will efficiently accomplish what we know is needed. These points will be made evident in the following report.
Meetings held during July included the following:
This was a meeting of the central project team, devoted primarily to a discussion of ideas for encumbering and processing Inter-Departmental Orders. Agreement was reached on many concepts, but further details still remain to be worked out. Significant points made were:
This was also the meeting where we learned of the tax law change. As of last March, sales tax is to be computed based upon the tax rate effective where the sale is made and not where delivery is made (unless the sale is made out of state). This is relevant to our project if we are going to encumber sales tax using the correct rate, since the local tax will vary.
This was a meeting with Financial Affairs and Research Accounting to discuss responses to a survey prepared by Research Accounting and completed by Principal Investigators and departmental bookkeepers who deal with research funds.
This regular Friday meeting of the central project team dealt with some follow up issues regarding internal orders and reviewed concepts for travel processing within the new system. Anna Willis attended and provided insight regarding travel considerations.
This was a meeting of the Financial Affairs Advisory group. The main topics discussed were internal orders and advance purchase orders.
This was a large meeting with Research and Sponsored Programs, researchers, and bookkeepers who deal with research projects. This was very interesting because it was one of our first encounters with users from an academic office. There were obvious misunderstandings about the new system and a great deal of reservation was evident. Concerns that were expressed included perceived problems in recording receipt of goods within the department, a strong desire to continue to see the vendor's invoices within the department, and the need to streamline processing and make it easier to get things done rather than making it more difficult (this is what they fear funds checking will do).
This regular meeting of the central project team is where Financial Affairs first presented the concept of not requiring receiving. This new approach left many of us in shock and served as the topic of discussion in several subsequent meetings. Other issues discussed (after the dust settled) included: the need to know the number of items packed in order to interface with inventory systems, tolerances for an order, concepts of the invoice entry process, and the accounting distribution desired for tax and freight.
This was a walk-trough with Chemistry hosted by Mary Kienker. Their office procedures were reviewed, the "Grant Manager" PC software demonstrated, and information exchanged on the topics of encumbering salaries and departmental receiving.
This was a walk-through with Agronomy hosted by Deanna Nickel. Their office procedures and use of the "PUBS" system were reviewed.
This meeting of the central project team further refined concepts that would be employed if departments are not required to perform receiving. Methods for establishing the accounts payable liability at year end were a part of this discussion. Additionally, a definition was sought regarding what determines an accounts payable liability, what event it is based upon and on what date it is effective.
This meeting of the central project team continued to address the issue of receiving alternatives. Discussion of the possibility of shifting from accrual accounting to cash accounting was raised in relation to this topic. An additional topic was sales tax: items exempt from sales tax versus tax exemption due to purchases for resale, treatment of bids so that the tax effect is considered for all vendors, and complexities introduced when the estimated tax (including local portions) is distributed across all items of an order for the purpose of encumbering (freight is similar).
John Stokes from Research and Sponsored Programs was invited to this central project team meeting to clarify items included in the 7/14 RSSP meeting summary and to discuss funds checking options. John will be working with Research Accounting to determine if additional budget categories would aid in budgeting and funds checking within the research arena.
In some respect we have made great strides because two of our previously identified "Major issues" were addressed in July: departmental receiving and dating of expense transactions. This is expressed with reluctance for two reasons: (1) there is still a strong feeling that receiving is the right thing to do and (2) receiving has not been eliminated as a system requirement but departmental invoice approval has been added. However, now I believe we have faced the reality of this situation. From the beginning departmental receiving has been recognized as probably too much to expect, which is the reason it has been listed as a major issue. The new proposal is to still allow departments to perform the receiving function (which can authorize AP to pay the invoice if it is within prescribed tolerances), but this is optional. The alternative for the departments will be to approve an electronic version of the vendor's invoice, one that will be entered by AP as soon as it arrives within their office. The date of the expense and the AP liability would be the departmentally reported date of receipt or "acceptance", as long as that accounting period is open. Please note that this is only a summary explanation and that this concept is still evolving. There are still problems to be worked out, the most significant being how Accounts Payable can physically keep up with the invoices while they are awaiting departmental approval.
Only limited progress was made during July in the area of design and development of the data requirements for the system. The documentation for the vendor related data was updated and redistributed. Some progress was made in defining our requisition files, but these are not yet ready for distribution.
On the technical side, we have decided to do program generation using Natural ISPF's Edit Macros. The decision to use edit macros over copy code was based upon the anticipated evolution of the program models themselves. With copy code, separate versions of each code segment would have to be maintained since it would be impossible to upgrade all programs to the latest model at the same time. With edit macros, each program is completely self contained, and yet when it is regenerated, the code for the latest version of the model is used. Edit macros have now been written and we are in the final stages of testing the results by generating a new NSM Maintenance System.
The feasibility of departmental receiving and the method for dating expense transactions have both been removed from this list based upon the progress noted. The first two items are new as of this reporting period.
The following are our plans for August:
Please feel free to raise any questions or concerns prompted by this report.