Policy Information

Date Established: 10/16/2008
Date Last Revised: 3/2/2012
Category:  Administration and Governance
Responsible Office:
Associate Vice President and Controller
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Policy Contents

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Approval Authority

Summary

This policy provides guidance on the delegation and assignment of authority to approve transactions; identifies the circumstances under which approvals are required by the president, provost, vice-presidents and the Research Foundation operations manager; and requires that transactions requesting payment to an individual with approval authority be approved by the next higher level of authority.

Policy Statement

Only authorized individuals may approve transactions that obligate the university to receive or spend funds, provide or receive services, and/or otherwise commit its resources. Individuals may enter into these transactions only if they have the appropriate level of authority.

Transactions requesting payment to an individual, or that benefit an individual with approval authority, require approval by the next higher level of authority. No approver may authorize a payment to oneself or benefitting oneself, including but not limited to, personnel transactions, employee expenditure reimbursements, procurement card transactions, petty cash reimbursements, and travel or entertainment expenditures. This standard of ‘two sets of eyes’ reviewing transactions promotes accountability as well as the appropriate use of university resources. 

Delegation of Authority

The State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees and the Research Foundation (RF) Board of Directors have vested authority in the president, provost, and RF operations manager to contractually bind and commit the resources of the university. Where permitted, these individuals may delegate authority to the vice presidents and deans who may further delegate such authority to other qualified employees to improve operational efficiency.

Delegations of approval authority must be documented, kept current, maintained in the departmental files, and a copy provided to the university business office charged with oversight of the transaction (e.g., Human Resources, Financial Management, Sponsored Projects Services). Guidelines for delegating approval authority include:

  • The authority to act and responsibility for performance should reside at the lowest possible organizational level.
  • Approvers should be those who know enough about the transaction to verify its accuracy, allowability, and consistency with policy.
  • Approval authority should add value to the transaction, such as being a final control.
  • Additional approvals may be required by academic units. 

Segregation of Duties

Adequate segregation of duties is important for effective internal control. Segregation of duties provides necessary checks and balances to detect errors, deter fraud, and prevent concealment of irregularities.

In general, the approval, reconciliation, and record keeping functions should be separated among employees. When these functions cannot be separated, a detailed supervisory review of related activities is required as a compensating control activity. Some examples of segregation of duties are:

  • the person who initiates the purchase of goods or services should not be able to authorize payments
  • the person who maintains and reconciles accounting reports should not be able to authorize purchases or payments
  • the person who receives cash should not be the person who deposits cash or reconciles the account.

Background

The University at Buffalo (UB, university) enters into and executes many transactions which obligate university resources. A sound internal control environment requires that only authorized individuals or their designees approve transactions. Internal controls help to ensure that transactions are:

  • legitimate, appropriate, and allowable
  • executed in accordance with university policy and relevant financial, legal, and contractual requirements    
  • reviewed for errors prior to execution. 

Applicability

This policy applies to all university accounts and funding entities including all State, Research Foundation, and University at Buffalo Foundation accounts.

Definitions

Approval Authority

Permission to approve transactions for execution. This approval attests to the accuracy, validity, and appropriateness of the transaction within the university’s program objectives and budgetary authorizations. Transaction approval may be performed electronically in accordance with system requirements or manually with a handwritten signature.

Endowed Chair

An academic position of the highest faculty honor supported by earnings from invested funds.

Exception Approval

The approval required when hiring an individual under the specific situations for which an affirmative action search is not required.

Internal Control

The integration of the activities, plans, attitudes, policies, and efforts of the people of a department working together to provide reasonable assurance that the department will achieve its mission. 

 

Responsibility

Approver

  • Ensure you have the authority to approve the transaction or execute the contract.
  • Verify the transaction conforms to university policies, and federal, state, and local laws.
  • When appropriate, assess the impact of the transaction on other aspects of the university and the broader community; consult with any constituencies who might be impacted.
  • Confirm that funds have been allocated or are otherwise available within regularly approved budgets, special appropriations, or restricted or designated accounts.
  • Ensure that there is no real or apparent conflict of interest on your part or on any other individual or organization involved in the transaction.
  • When there is a real or apparent conflict of interest, resolve it prior to processing the transaction.
  • When required, obtain additional review and approval.

Vice Provost, Vice Presidents and Deans

  • Manage the overall operation of their unit.
  • Delegate approval authority as necessary and appropriate.
  • Maintain a written delegation plan documenting the name and signature of the approver and the scope of delegation.
  • Review the written delegation plan annually and update as appropriate.
  • Provide the business office with oversight of the transaction the most current listing of delegations.
  • All actions requiring the signature of the provost must also include the signature of the appropriate vice provost, vice president, or dean.

President and/or Provost

  • Delegate approval authority as necessary and appropriate.
  • Maintain a written delegation plan documenting the name and signature of the approver and the scope of delegation.
  • Review the written delegation plan annually and update as appropriate.
  • Provide the business office with oversight of the transaction and the most current listing of delegations.
  • Notify or obtain approval from the Chancellor for personnel transactions when required by the State University of New York Board of Trustees policy.

Procedure

The following charts list the transactions which require the signature of the president, provost, vice president, and/or RF operations manager.

Human Resource Transaction Approval Requirements

Appointments, Reappointments, and Promotions Provost or Vice President (non-academic)

And

/Or

President
Approval Authority may be delegated.
All delegations must be documented, kept current and maintained in the department.
Appointments and promotions to titles of Distinguished Professors, Distinguished Teaching Teaching Professor, Distinguished Service Professor X And X *
Appointments, reappointments, and promotions to endowed chairs and named professorships (State and UBF appointments) X And X
Appointments, reappointments, and promotions of the campus RF Operations Manager X And X
Appointments and promotions of faculty with tenure (UP-3) X And X **
Permanent appointments for professional staff (UP-3) X And X **
All appointments, reappointments, or promotions with a salary above the salary maximum for the grade/rank X And X
Appointments and promotions for administrative staff for the rank of MP1, MP2, and MP3
X And X
Appointments, reappointments, and promotions for all staff within the Provost's or vice presidents' offices (State, RF, and UBF) X    
Appointments, reappointments, and promotions of Vice President's (State, RF, and UBF)     X
Appointments, reappointments, and promotions of professional staff to the rank of SL-4 and above X    
Paid appointments, reappointments, and promotions in academic rank at the level of Associate Professor or above (qualified or unqualified title) X    

* Appointed by SUNY Board of Trustees upon Chancellor's recommendation.

** President's approval required by the SUNY Board of Trustees Policies.

Leaves Provost or Vice President (non-academic)

And

/OR

President
Approval Authority may be delegated,
but must be documented, kept current and maintained in the department.
All applications requesting Title E (sabbatical) or Title F leaves. X And X

Presidential sick leave (Title C.5 Additional Sick Leave) at full pay, partial pay, or without pay; i.e.,

  • once sick leave accruals have been exhausted, or
  • if combined use of accruals and additional sick leave granted exceeds six months at partial or full pay or one year without pay
X And X
Salary Changes and Additional Compensation Provost or Vice President (non-academic)

And

/OR

President
Approval Authority may be delegated,
but must be documented, kept current and maintained in the department.
All base State and/or UBF* salary increases for faculty and professional staff, including also receives,  and temporary increases over 10% of base salary and all chair stipends X And X
All RF salary increases, including over-the-maximum increases, require approval of the Principle Investigator and the Chair or Dean      
All State salary increases with a new salary above the maximum for the grade/rank X And X **
All salary changes for administrative staff at the rank of MP1, MP2, or MP3 X And X

Salary changes (State, RF, UBF) for administrative staff within the provost’s or vice presidents’ office:

 below 10%

 above 10%

 

 

X

X

And X
Requests for extra service compensation (State, RF, and UBF) for persons with official state titles of Vice President, Dean, or Director who report directly to the Provost (UP-8 for UUP academic and professional employees).  Advance approval from the Chancellor is required for extra service payments to Management Confidential (M/C) employees (UP-6 for M/C professional employees) X And X

* This applies to University employees paid on the UBF payroll.  It does not apply to employees paid by UBF and working in the UBF Administrative Offices.

** A letter signed by the President must be sent to SUNY System Administration.

Other Human Resource Transactions Provost or Vice President (non-academic)

And

/OR

President
Approval Authority may be delegated,
but must be documented, kept current and maintained in the department.
Time and attendance records and requests for individuals with the titles of Dean, Director, Vice Provost, or Vice President reporting directly to the president, provost, vice presidents X And Direct reports only
Request for reclassification of lines for all administrative positions for the rank of MP1, MP2, or MP3 X And X
UP 211 for the rehiring of retired state employees X And X
Request for reclassification of lines for all administrative positions within the provost’s or vice presidents’ office require the approval of the next level of authority X OR X
Review of proposed department chair appointments and reappointments, including draft letters to the appointee from the dean or vice president X    

UB Jobs Approval Requirements - State and UBF * Appointments

UB Jobs - State Appointments
Hiring Manager/ Department Approver Chair Dean Or Director Provost Or Vice President University Human Resources
Approval Authority may be delegated.
All delegations must be documented, kept current and maintained in the department.
All departments under the
Office of the President,
Vice President and Director of Athletics
Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Vice President for University Life and Services
Classification and Recruitment Approvals X     X X

Hiring Proposals

´ Faculty
´ Professional and Classified

 

X
X

   

 

X
X

 

X
X

Exception Approvals (must be approved by EDAAA)
´ Faculty
´ Professional

 

X
X

   

 

X
X

 

X
X

All departments under the
Office of the Provost
Except for the Vice President for Health Sciences Departments
Classification and Recruitment Approvals X X X   X

Hiring Proposals

´ Faculty and Professional
´ Classified

 

X
X

 

X
X

 

X
X

 

X

 

X
X

Exception Approvals (must be approved be EDAAA)

´ Faculty and Professional

X X X X X
All departments under the
Vice President for Health Sciences
Classification and Recruitment Approvals X X X   X

Hiring Proposals

´ Faculty and Professional
´ Classified

 

X
X

 

X
X

 

X
X

 

X

 

X
X

Exception Approvals (must be approved by EDAAA)

´ Faculty and Professional

X X X X X

* These requirements apply to University employees paid on the UBF payroll.  They do not apply to employees paid by UBF and working in the UBF Administrative Offices.

UB Jobs Approval Requirements — Research Foundation Appointments

UB Jobs - Research Foundation Appointments Principal Investigator Chair Dean
or
Director
Provost
Or
Vice
President
Research
Foundation
OM
University
Human
Resiources
Approval Authority may be delegated.
All delegations must be documented, kept current and maintained in the department.
Classification and Recruitment Approvals X X or X or X   X
Hiring Proposals X X or X or X   X
Exception Approvals X X or X or   X X

UB Jobs Approval Requirements - Research Institute on Addictions

Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) Principal Investigator Director
Deputy
Director
Provost
Or
Vice
President
Research
Foundation
OM
University
Human
Resiources
UB JOBS
State and RF Appointments
Classification and Recruitment Approvals X X or X     X
Hiring Proposals X X or X X   X
Exception Approvals X X or X State
X
RF
X
X

Other University Transaction Approval Requirements

Other Transactions RF Operations Manager OR Provost or Vice President
(non-academic)
And
/OR
President
Annual SUNY internal control certification         X
Annual RF salary plan X        
New and revised university policies         X
Service center and departmental fees     Provost for
academic fees,
Controller for
non-academic
fees
   
RF funded travel to any country identified by the US Department of State with a travel warning
(requires advance written approval from the RF operations manager and president, with written notice to RF Central)
X       X

Authorization to Sign Contracts Obligating University Resources

Contracts and Service Agreements Approval Authority
Contracts and Service Agreements must be signed by an authorized signatory
No other signatures are legally acceptable. 
Unless otherwise noted, only one authorized signature is required.
All State purpose contracts
  •    President
  •    Provost
  •    Vice President for Finance and Administration
  •    Associate Vice President and Controller
All State leases, revocable permits, and academic agreements
  •    Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services
  •    Director of Purchasing
  •    Director of Contracts
State and RF Procurement-related contracts for goods, services, and equipment
  •    Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services
  •    Director of Purchasing
  •    Director of Contracts
State and RF Facilities construction and consultant contracts only
  •    Associate Vice President for Facilities
State Athletics sponsorship and NCAA agreements only
  •    Athletic Director
  •    Assistant Athletic Director
State and RF Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) contracts
  •    RIA Director
  •    RIA Deputy Director
  •    RIA Administrative Officer
All Research Foundation contracts
  •    President
  •    Provost
  •    Vice President for Finance and Administration
  •    VP for Research & Economic Development
  •    Co-Director, Sponsored Projects Services
RF Facility Use Agreements
  •    Vice Provost, Office of Science, Technology  Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR)
  •    Associate Vice Provost, Incubator Manager
RF Intellectual property-related contracts only
  •    Vice Provost, STOR
  •    Associate Vice Provost, STOR
  •    Director, STOR

Authorization to Sign Purchase Requisitions and Purchase Orders

Requisitions and Purchase Orders Approval Authority
Requisitions and Service Agreements must be signed by an authorized signatory
No other signatures are legally acceptable. 
Unless otherwise noted, only one authorized signature is required.
Initiate e-Requisitions
  •    Official Department Personnel
Approve e-Requisitions
  •    Department assigned authorizer
  •    Principal Investigator or designee
  •    UBF account signatory
Sign purchase orders
  •    Authorized personnel in Procurement Services

Other Authorizations Not Requiring President or Provost Approval

Activity Approval Authority
Unless otherwise noted, only one authorized signature is required.
UB Foundation Contracts
  •    Executive Director, UB Foundation
RF bank accounts
  •    Co-Director, Sponsored Projects Services (SPS)
  •    Director, Financial Management
RIA bank accounts
  •    L. Ritzman
  •    L. Wikander
HIPAA Business Associate Contracts
(must be reviewed by the Director of HIPAA Compliance prior to review and execution by the Approval Authority)
  •    Assistant Vice President for Procurement Services
  •    Executive Director, UB Foundation
Space Rehab Requests

All approvals are required in the order listed:

  •    Facilities Planning Officer
  •    Dean, Vice President, Vice Provost, or Athletic Director
  •    Vice President Health Sciences (Schools of Dental Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health and Health Professions only)
  •    AVP for Academic Budget and Planning
Space Request Form

All approvals are required in the order listed:

  •    Chair or Unit Director
  •    Facilities Planning & Management Officer
  •    Dean, Vice President, Vice Provost
  •    Vice President Health Sciences (Schools of Dental Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health and Health Professions only)
  •    Athletic Director for Athletics space only

Contact Information

Associate Vice President and Controller
420 Crofts Hall
Buffalo, NY  14260
Phone:  716-645-2505
Fax:  716-645-3701

Mark Coldren
Associate Vice President, Human Resources
120 Crofts Hall
Buffalo, NY  14260
Phone:  716-645-7777
Email:  mcoldren@buffalo.edu

Related Information

Related Links

History

February 2012 Revised to clarify requirements for payments benefitting oneself and documentation of delegations, and the Approval Authority charts.
February 2010 Updated to clarify the Approval Authority charts, UB Jobs Approval Requirements, and Authorization To Sign Contracts Obligating University Resources.
December 2009 Updated to add additional sections to the Approval Authority chart.

Presidential Approval

Signed by President Satish K. Tripathi

Satish K. Tripathi, President

3/2/12

Date