Accounting and Business Services (ABS) has developed a standard ABS Policy Template for use by policy owners and writers in preparing University-wide policies. The Template includes the following sections, which should be completed in preparing the policy draft:
Policy Title Page
The first page of the Template includes the title of the policy, the policy contents, and other information such as the responsible University Officer, the policy owner, and policy contacts.
- Responsible University Officer - The President or Vice President who has overall responsibility for the policy. Depending on the scope of the subject matter, a policy may have more than one responsible University Officer.
- Policy Owner - The individual within the Officer’s division who is responsible for the administration of the policy and its related procedures, processes, instructions, and forms. This individual is typically a department head reporting to the Officer.
- Policy Contacts - The person(s) who is the subject matter expert designated by the policy owner to be the first point of contact to answer policy questions and assist in policy interpretation. The policy contact also is responsible for maintaining and updating the policy, as needed.
Below is a description of each section included in the Template:
This section should consist of a short introductory statement summarizing the policy at a high-level. It should include key principals that will be further developed in the Policy Text and Procedures sections of the Template. The Policy Statement should reflect the University’s mission, goals, and values and other considerations such as compliance with applicable laws and regulations and adherence to best practices. Because the Policy Statement is a University-wide policy, it would override policies and procedures established by individual schools, colleges, and departments. Those organizational units, however, may establish more restrictive procedures, if desired. The Policy Statement should include a statement to that effect if campus departments will have such flexibility.
Reason for Policy
The information in this section should include a brief explanation of why the policy exists. For example, the policy may be required in order to:
- Implement an action taken by the Board of Trustees;
- Achieve compliance with specific laws or regulations governing the University; or
- Promote operational efficiency, consistent practices, or the reduction of risk.
The section should specifically reference any Board action, regulatory requirements, industry standards, or other requirements that will be addressed later in the policy.
Who Should Read This Policy
This section should identify the intended audience that will be most affected by the policy. A general statement is included in the Template, which may be modified to specify additional stakeholders subject to the policy. Such individuals may include faculty, staff, and students who perform certain University functions, receive specific types of payments or resources, have delegated authority to approve transactions, or have other responsibilities governed by the policy.
This section details the major rules and requirements contained in the policy, including information about the duties and responsibilities of individuals subject to the policy. The section should include any additional considerations, conditions, or restrictions that impact compliance with the policy. Any special circumstances or exclusions may also be included in the Policy Text as well as the authority to approve certain transactions. The Policy Text should not include procedural steps, which are discussed below.
The Procedures section should consist of implementing instructions and regulations that support the Policy Text. Procedures often include step-by-step instructions for performing administrative tasks, including links to University forms, websites, and information systems. The procedures included in this section should be sufficiently detailed to ensure the consistent application of the policy by departments, while providing some flexibility for operational differences. To the extent possible, the procedures should promote best practices and cost savings while reducing the risks associated with noncompliance. This section also includes further guidance on the authorization of transactions and exceptions, the processing of payments, tax reporting requirements and responsibilities, and the consequences for violations of the policy.
This section consists of related documents from both University and external sources that support the policy. Web links for the documents should be included whenever possible. Such documents include other University policies and authorities, state and federal laws and regulations, publications and reports issued by industry associations, etc. University documents should be listed first followed by external items. All of the items listed should appear in other sections of the policy where they are discussed or referenced.
This section includes the definition of terms used in the policy. The items defined are listed in alphabetical order and include terms that have a unique or special meaning, technical and legal terms,acronyms, and similar terms that add to the user ‘s understanding of the policy.
This section includes a listing of subject matter experts who are available for answering questions about the policy or taking action with respect to certain aspects of the policy and its procedures. Frequently, the subject matter experts are individuals from different departments or divisions. The contact individuals may be listed alphabetically by subject; however, the policy contact(s) identified on the policy title page should be listed first.
Any forms that support the policy should be listed in this section. The listing may include University forms and external forms issued by government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, Employment Development Department, etc. Web links should be included for all forms listed.
This section includes a summary of the responsibilities assigned to various individuals and offices in the administration of the policy and procedures. The responsibilities are arranged hierarchically, beginning with an individual (e.g., employee, student, traveler, etc.), department, Business Manager, administrative office (e.g., ABS, HR, ITS, etc.), Dean, Vice President, and President. Any additional information regarding these responsibilities should be explained elsewhere in the policy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Common questions that are not adequately addressed in the policy should be included in this section. FAQs can be used by the policy owner to provide supplemental information and guidance without amending the policy itself. However, if an FAQ involves an error or a major gap or inconsistency in the policy, then the policy should be revised.
This section is used to record the initial publication date of the policy and any significant revisions. The effective date of each revision is recorded along with a brief description of the changes.
This section is used to supplement information contained in the policy and procedures. Appendices are particularly useful for displaying information in one place that will be updated periodically such as rates, limits, and dollar caps. Appendices should be labeled alphabetically (i.e., Appendix A, B, etc.) in the order that they appear in the policy and procedures.