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About this Guide

Virginia Tech, like any university, needs well-managed financial operations to remain strong over time, to enable it to effectively accomplish its missions, and to ensure the appropriate stewardship of public funds. The key organizational unit in our university is the department, with the department head providing leadership for the academic, programmatic, and administrative functions of their respective departments. The Departmental Business Management Guide (DBMG) has been written especially for you, the department head, to familiarize you with Virginia Tech’s financial operations and the administrative responsibilities related to managing your department. Throughout this guide, department head refers to any position that functions as the administrative head of a department or program and includes titles such as department chairs, institute or center directors, and other administrators. This guide applies to all university departments including academic, administrative, and other programmatic departments.

The university administration and Board of Visitors place a high value on the integrity, effectiveness and efficiency of the organization, particularly as embodied in the stewardship role of university department heads. As department heads, you have the challenging task of managing resources within a complex environment of university policies and state and federal regulations and should be held accountable and recognized for the performance of these duties. Therefore it is important for you to accept your responsibilities and understand that you are to be held accountable for following sound business practices. Generally, these administrative responsibilities are only one of several critical responsibilities for department heads. The DBMG does not address the full range of responsibilities held by you as a department head, but focuses on critical fiscal and administrative functions with which a new department head may have little or no familiarity upon appointment. While the range and technical nature of many departmental business operations make delegation a necessary strategy, the department head retains accountability for their accurate and timely completion and should retain close oversight of these functions.

This guide provides an overview of these responsibilities and is designed as a resource manual. It does not provide detail procedures or instructions for completing forms or specific financial transactions. Instead, it provides summary guidance about sound business practices and internal controls necessary to ensure proper stewardship of university resources allocated to your department. This guide has been organized into the following major sections of administrative responsibilities:

In addition, the following are provided for each topic:

  • Summary of responsibilities for the section
  • Applicable university policies
  • Websites for key administrative areas that contain detailed procedures, applicable forms and reports, listings of people to contact for further information, and available training

As a large comprehensive state-supported institution, Virginia Tech must often base its policies and procedures on applicable state and federal laws and regulations. The most important fiscal policies are referenced throughout this guide. In addition, individual colleges may develop policies and procedures to supplement the general university-wide policies. As department head, you must be aware of how these policies, laws, and regulations may constrain or otherwise affect your decisions and actions.

The DBMG presents the minimum requirements in managing the administrative responsibilities for your department. As department head you will also be responsible for ensuring that detailed written procedures for the administrative duties and tasks are developed for your department to enable you to effectively communicate the steps necessary to complete these functions. These procedures can be used to hold accountable the administrative support personnel to whom you’ve delegated these responsibilities. It will also enable more effective transitions when (not if) staff turnover or absences occur.