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Administrative Responsibilities for University and College Administrators, Department Heads, and Directors

The university administration and the 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 and college department heads, directors, and administrators. These individuals 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 performance. Therefore it is important for university, college and departmental administrators to accept their responsibilities and understand that they are to be held accountable for following sound business practices.

Departmental administration is one of several key roles for which administrators and department heads should be evaluated. This document does not address the full range of responsibilities held by academic and administrative leaders, but focuses on critical fiscal and administrative functions with which a new department head may have little or not familiarity upon appointment. While the range and technical nature of many departmental business operations make delegation a necessary strategy, the department head or director retains accountability for their accurate and timely completion and should retain close oversight of these functions.

This document outlines specific expectations for the performance of critical departmental business activities and describes a plan and time line for incorporating evaluation of administrative performance into the evaluation process for administrators, department heads, and directors. In so doing, this statement addresses two key components of administrative excellence – (a) clearer communication of institutional expectations, and (b) development of resources and simple methods, where possible, to assist department heads and directors in their oversight role and in monitoring the department’s overall administrative performance.

In recent years audits by the state Auditors of Public Accounts and the university’s Internal Audit department have included audit findings stating that university departments do not consistently follow university fiscal policies and procedures, and/or that certain departments lack adequate internal control processes. The university’s administration has developed several strategies to assist departments with improvement to their business practices including compliance with policies and procedures and implementation of adequate internal controls.

In the spring of 2003, the Provost communicated the Administrative Performance Guidelines and Expectations for University and College Administrators, Department Heads and Directors guidelines to academic departments, and the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer communicated these guidelines to the administrative departments. These guidelines outline specific expectations for the performance of critical departmental business activities and describe a plan and time line for incorporating evaluation of administrative performance into the evaluation process for administrators, department heads, and directors. In so doing, this statement addresses two key components of administrative excellence: (1) clearer communication of institutional expectations and (2) development of resources and simple methods, where possible, to assist department heads and directors in their oversight role and in monitoring the department’s overall administrative performance.

The development of the Departmental Business Management Guide, and the corresponding communication to the university community about this guide, was another strategy to improve the university’s business practices. It is meant to serve as a practical reference to assist department heads in meeting the guidelines and expectations mentioned below.

List of Guidelines and Expectations:

  1. Administrators, department heads, and directors skillfully manage and safeguard departmental financial, physical, spatial, and technical resources, demonstrated in part by:
    • Ensuring that departmental employees are granted appropriate systems access for the performance of their duties.
    • Receiving satisfactory ratings from ongoing internal and APA audits with no significant weaknesses noted. In the case of special audit reports of suspected fraud or abuse, the findings do not indicate lack of appropriate managerial oversight and the department head or director takes appropriate corrective action where needed.
    • Maintaining a balanced budget.
  2. Administrators, department heads, and directors provide leadership and establish the department’s commitment to administrative excellence by initiating and maintaining good business practices:
    • Following the university’s administrative policies, procedures, and business practices recommended in the Department Business Management Guide.
    • Establishing a system of checks and balances, including segregation of duties, for all administrative and business functions.
    • Providing a positive work environment to employees based on well-defined and communicated expectations for administrative and business processes.
    • Ensuring that all departmental faculty and staff are fully aware of their obligations to comply with university policies and procedures.
    • Ensuring that employees receive appropriate training and maintain the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out these functions.
    • Establishing internal procedures to ensure that monitoring and oversight are ongoing.
  3. Administrators, department heads, and directors ensure timely completion of all required reviews and reconciliations, including: 
    • Monthly reconciliation of all financial transactions for each fund assigned to the department, with corrections completed within 60 days of original posting.
    • Monthly reconciliation of wage and salary activity, including overtime payments.
    • Monthly reconciliation of Purchase Card charges by the 5th working day of the month, ensuring adequate documentation of all charges, and that all charges are appropriate use of state funds and do not include any items for personal benefit to the card holder.
  4. Administrators, department heads, and directors will limit the university’s exposure to inappropriate costs or charges by:
    • Ensuring that all personnel and payroll actions are processed in a timely manner, minimizing risks of overpayment.
    • Ensuring that funding changes are processed preferably within 45 days but no later than 90 days, minimizing risks of disallowed charges.
    • Ensuring compliance with federal regulations (Charges are not allowed for clerical and administrative costs to be posted to federal grants and contracts, and required cost sharing is processed on a timely basis.)
    • Ensuring that department-level purchases are appropriate for use of state funds, that any required internal approvals are obtained, that state and university contracts are considered for use, and that fair and reasonable prices are being paid for goods and services.
  5. Administrators, department heads, and directors consistently achieve the minimum standards for required programs included in periodic reports:
    • I9s (Forms accurately and fully completed by employee on first day of work and hiring authority by 3rd day of work; minimum federal standard is 100% compliance.)
    • Prompt Pay  (Minimum state standard is 95% paid within 30 days.)
    • Personnel Activity Reports -- PARs  (100% certified within 40 days of receipt.)
    • Equipment Inventory (95% of all equipment located or accounted for, with all disposals processed through Surplus Property.)
    • Employee Leave Reports (95% of required leave reports submitted electronically by the 16th of each month, with forms reviewed for accuracy and compliance with policy, corrections made by 24th of each month, and required signatures and approvals obtained.)
  1. The Provost and Executive Vice President will communicate these performance guidelines within their respective areas over spring 2003, with the stated expectation that the guidelines would be a part of the 2003 and 2004 annual evaluation process for administrators, department heads, and directors. While full implementation may not be achievable until the 2003-04 evaluation cycle, the 2002-03 evaluation process will provide an opportunity for these expectations to be considered, specific concerns addressed, where appropriate, and goals established for the next review cycle. 
  2. Administrative offices will conduct workshops with department heads and directors to include discussion of performance guidelines, review of new Department Business Management Guide, and introduction of new department head website, and other tools that will help department heads and directors stay informed of their responsibilities and provide the necessary oversight to business operations.
  3. Deans and Vice Presidents will be asked to address explicitly administrative responsibilities in the 2003-04 evaluation process and to reflect that evaluation in their recommendations for merit increases. These considerations would subsequently be built into the annual and periodic evaluation of department heads and directors and be considered as one aspect of their performance prior to reappointment.