CoA Decisions & What They Mean for UCLA

  • May 26, 2021

The New CoA

The Ascend Project has finalized the UCLA Chart of Accounts (CoA), a critical milestone that is imperative to UCLA financial operations. The CoA will replace the current Full Accounting Unit (FAU) structure for recording financial transactions.

Following a thorough analysis of the issues and concerns raised over the course of the Ascend project, several adjustments were made to the 2020 Ascend CoA to ensure that this finalized CoA structure will meet campus needs and offer key functionality UCLA depends on. The Ascend Project Steering Committee voting board unanimously approved the new and finalized CoA structure:

 

Entity

Financial Unit

Fund

Account

Transaction Class

Program

Portfolio

Flex 1 and Flex 2

Major operational unit (e.g., school) responsible for the transaction

Academic or operating unit responsible for the transaction

“Pots of money” and their associated spending restrictions and designations

Nature of the transaction (e.g., asset, liability, expense, revenue, and net position)

Purpose of the transaction (e.g., NACUBO functional classification) or mission

Formalized interdisciplinary programs that cross campuses, schools, or Financial Units

Represents a body of work and includes both PPM projects (e.g., sponsored and capital projects), as well as GL-only projects (e.g., faculty start-ups)

Institution, organization and/or department-specific activities not covered in other segments and developed in partnership with campus

Flex 1 will include a subset of shared values consistent across campus (e.g., Commencement or Banquets and Awards)

The CoA also includes a Future segment that is reserved for future use. 

 

Key Differences Between the 2020 CoA and the Finalized CoA

The finalized CoA outlined above is built on the 2020 Ascend CoA structure, with several important differences:

  • Portfolio: The Portfolio segment will include both projects from the Projects Portfolio Management (PPM) subledger (e.g. Capital and Sponsored Research projects) and projects transacted against in the General Ledger (e.g., faculty startups).
  • Account:  Within the Account segment, there will be an internal transfer range (with identification of perm/temp values) to be used for former transfer of funds (TOFs) transactions.
  • Financial Unit: The existing definition of Financial Unit was approved. The new hierarchy will be consistent with the current state organizational hierarchy levels 1 – 4, though exceptions may be approved by central financial leadership for organizations requesting updates. Financial leaders within each organization will have the flexibility to develop lower levels consistent with the definition.
  • Flex 1: A checklist has been created to differentiate between Financial Unit and Flex 1 values. Flex 1 will have a subset of shared values that are consistent across campus and/or specific organizations (e.g., ‘Dean’s Initiatives,’ ‘Commencement,’ ‘Banquets and Awards,’ ‘Recruiting/Retention,’ etc.).

 

Issues Resolved by the Finalized CoA

The changes made to the 2020 CoA resolved three keys issues that had been identified over the course of the Ascend Project:

Issue 1: Internal (Non-Sponsored Non-Capital ) Project Tracking

  • Problem
  • Sponsored, Capital, and Internal projects were previously confirmed to be tracked in the Projects Portfolio Management (PPM) sub-ledger, with transactions recorded in the Portfolio segment of the General Ledger However, the ability of PPM to adequately track Internal projects, such as faculty start-up activities, had yet to be validated. These projects have a complex set of requirements such as the ability to transfer and track money across projects, the ability to fund projects from several funding sources while maintaining the ability to track against restricted funds, etc.

  • Analysis

  • The CoA Task Force evaluated three options to capture internal projects:

    - The PPM Sub-ledger;

    - The Portfolio segment on the General Ledger (GL);

    Another field such as Flex 1 on the General Ledger. 


    The CoA Task Force gathered requirements from leadership and evaluated all available options in a formal whitepaper. They worked with the Oracle technical team, participated in focus groups and interviews with other institutions utilizing Oracle Cloud Financials, and met regularly with leaders and representatives from across the institution to evaluate options. 

  • Solution

  • The CoA Task Force recommended using the GL to track actuals for internal (Non-Sponsored, Non-Capital) projects.

  • Impact to the CoA

  • The Portfolio segment will include internal projects transacted in the General Ledger (e.g., faculty startups).

 

Issue 2: Budget versus Actuals Methodology

  • Problem
  • Today’s General Ledger has a separate but integrated Budget Ledger, commonly known as the ‘Appropriations Ledger.’ It is utilized for internal transfers, which are also known as Transfers of Funds (TOFs). A suitable replacement for this activity had not been confirmed.

  • Analysis
  • The CoA Task Force gathered requirements from leadership which included:

    - The ability to track as "income" to the units in management reports, without impacting audited financial statements

    - The ability to separate "perm" (recurring) and "temp (one-time) activity


    The Task Force then worked with the Oracle technical team and met with other UC campuses using Oracle under similar requirements in order to evaluate the options. 
  • Solution
  • The CoA Task Force recommended that UCLA utilize a series of Account values in the General Ledger designated as ‘internal transfer accounts’ and utilize a system rules and reports to ensure all internal transfer activity stays within that range and does not impact institution financials. Additionally, it will be possible to view the transfers as “internal revenue” on the department profit and loss statements using management reporting tools.
  • Impact to the CoA
  • A series of internal Account transfer values has been created to record all former ‘Appropriations’ activity within the General Ledger. The Oracle Financials Cloud ‘Budget Ledger’ will not be utilized at UCLA.

 

Issue 3: Defining Financial Unit versus Flex 1

  • Problem
  • Today’s General Ledger contains several types of values that did not fit cleanly within any of the 2020 CoA segments. These included “Budget Cost Centers” such as ladder faculty and recruiting and retention. The CoA Task Force mapped many of these values into various segments within the 2020 CoA. However, there was still a group of values that could be mapped to either Financial Unit or Flex using the 2020 definitions of those segments. In order to be consistent across the institution, meet UCPath workflow requirements, and provide specific guidance for campus mapping activities, the Task Force determined that the Financial Unit and Flex segment definitions should be re-evaluated.

  • Analysis
  • In order to update the Financial Unit and Flex definitions, the CoA Task Force worked with three critical groups:

    - Academic and administrative leadership at UCLA provided relevant future state requirements;

    - U
    CPath representatives provided information about the approval workflow process;

    - Finally, the Task Force worked with the Oracle team to understand the technical capabilities and limitations within each segment. 
  • Solution
  • The definitions of the Financial Unit and Flex 1 segments were updated. A checklist was created for each segment to ensure understanding and consistent mapping of the existing values across UCLA.

    Financial Unit is defined as follows:

    - Has an ongoing business objective with no planned end date; this enables historical trend analysis and long-range planning

    - Has an established budget

    - Has fiscal oversight by a financial manager

    - Is a unit that drives approval workflow (e.g. purchasing transactions, journal entries, payroll approvals in UCPath)

    - Optionally, the unit is likely, but not required, to have financial significance as defined by central financial leadership and identifiable employees



    Flex 1 is defined as follows:

    - Does not drive approval workflow

    - Likely contains items that repeat across departments (e.g. chair, ladder faculty)

    - Requires reporting or analysis of revenue, expenses, transfers, and carryforward

     
  • Impact to the CoA
  • Definitions for Financial Unit and Flex 1 have been updated. Organizations will utilize these new definitions and related checklists to review and update their Ascend 2020 Financial Unit hierarchies and Flex values prior to completing FAU to CoA mapping. Many hierarchies are likely to change substantially. The mapping feedback will result in a list of values within Flex 1 that can be utilized consistently across organizations and the institution.

 

All other segment definitions and matrix information were approved as documented in 2020.

For more information on UCLA’s finalized Chart of Accounts, visit the Ascend Chart of Accounts webpage and review the Chart of Accounts Overview and Segment Definitions reference.

The Ascend Project website is your best source for the latest project information. You may also contact the Ascend Project Team.