University at Buffalo Crest.

Policy Information

Date Established: 10/16/2008
Date Last Revised: 8/19/2019
Category:  Administration and Governance
Responsible Office:
Associate Vice President and Controller
Responsible Executive:
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Policy Contents

Approval Authority Policy

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, and vice presidents
  • 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 have the authority to obligate the University at Buffalo (UB, university) to receive or spend funds, provide or receive services, or otherwise commit its resources. Given the highly decentralized environment at UB, approvers play a critical role in ensuring that only appropriate activities occur. Those with approval authority are expected to exercise sound judgment in evaluating reasonableness of transactions in consideration of the scrutiny that is applied to our stewardship as a public university.

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 benefiting oneself, including but not limited to, personnel transactions, employee expenditure reimbursements, procurement card transactions, and travel or entertainment expenditures. This practice promotes accountability and helps to ensure the appropriate use of the university’s resources. 

Dual Signature Authority

To ensure good internal control, certain financial transactions, such as travel and expense reimbursement, must be authorized and approved. The authorizer will be the employee’s supervisor, as maintained by Human Resources; the approver is assigned based on the cost account charged in the transaction. There may be some instances where the supervisor and the cost approver are the same person. It is especially important that, in these cases, approvers act with personal integrity.

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. Authorities of the president, provost, and RF operations manager are strictly limited to the signature requirements outlined in the tables below. Each of these positions is authorized to delegate assigned authority as deemed necessary to improve operational efficiency. While approval authority may be delegated, accountability to safeguard the assets of the institution continues to lie with the original approver and all levels of subsequent delegation down to, and including, the final delegate. Without exception, the following delegation requirements must be followed:

  • Delegations must align with the customary chain of decision-making at the university, while applying best practices and internal controls
  • Delegations must be pertinent to the duties and responsibilities of the delegate
  • Delegators may grant signature authorities only to a person within the delegator’s area of managerial control, and the authorities must be granted and exercised consistent with the terms and conditions of the original delegation
  • The delegate must have sufficient competency in the subject matter to verify accuracy, allowability, consistency with policy, and support of the university mission
  • Transactional delegations must not exceed an amount appropriate for the position held by the delegate
  • In the event of delegate turnover, delegated responsibilities must be re-delegated, not assumed by the employee replacing the original delegate

Delegations of approval authority must be documented using the Delegation of Authority Form, recertified annually, maintained in 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). A delegation of approval authority may grant further delegation authority, provided the person to whom approval authority is delegated has the right to further delegate his or her approval authority and further delegation does not violate the requirements outlined above. The initial Delegation of Authority Form must include language that allows further delegation authority by the delegate.

Delegations of approval authority may be indefinite or for a limited period, as specified in the Delegation of Authority Form. Delegations will automatically terminate if the original approver either ceases to be employed or engaged by the university or ceases to hold the position specified in the delegation or a position that includes the duties contemplated by the delegation.

Each authorized person is responsible for ensuring that he or she has the appropriate approval authority to approve a transaction, and that such approval and the transaction itself complies with other policies of the university and of the applicable school, college, or unit.

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 review of related activities is required by either a supervisor or the regulating office 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

To the extent that these controls are not realistic due to the size or expertise within a unit, best efforts should be made to develop and maintain other preventative or detective controls. The Director of Policy, Compliance and Internal Controls is available for consultation on the development of such controls.

Human Resource Transaction Approval Requirements

All contracts, documents, decisions made regarding the university’s human resources, organizational development, and human relations must comply with all human resource policies and procedures and must have available funding within an approved budget.

The following charts list the transactions which (a) statutorily require the signature of the president, and (b) the president deems appropriate to review; therefore, signature by the appropriate provost, vice president, or RF operations manager is also required. All other transactions may be delegated as the provost or vice president deems appropriate following the customary chain of decision-making, maintaining good internal controls, documenting the delegations, and providing copies to the appropriate university business office.

Approval Requirements - Appointments, Reappointments and Promotions

Appointments, Reappointments, and Promotions

Provost or
Vice President
(non-academic)

President

Appointments and promotions to titles of Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Distinguished Service Professor

Yes

Yes

Appointments, reappointments, and promotions to endowed chairs and named professorships (State and UBF)

Yes

Yes

Appointments, reappointments, and promotions of vice presidents (State, RF, and UBF)

No

Yes

Appointments and promotions of faculty with tenure (UP-3)

Yes 

Yes

Permanent appointments for professional staff (UP-3)

Yes 

Yes

All appointments and promotions with a salary above the salary maximum for the grade or rank

Provost and
President required

Provost and
President required

Appointments and promotions for administrative staff for the rank of MP1, MP2, and MP3

Provost and
President required

Provost and
President required
Approval Requirements - Leaves

 

Leaves

Provost or
Vice President (non-academic)

President

All applications requesting Title E (sabbatical) or Title F leaves

Yes

Yes

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

Yes

Yes

Approval Requirements - Salary Changes and Additional Compensation
Salary Changes and Additional Compensation Provost or
Vice President
(non-adacemic)
President
All base State and UBF funded salary increases for faculty and professional staff, including also receives and temporary increases over 10% of base salary, and all chair stipends. A salary increase through a recruitment exception or posting of a new position does not need approval. Yes Yes
All State salary increases with a new salary above the maximum for the grade or rank Yes Yes
All salary changes for administrative staff at the rank of MP1, MP2, or MP3 Yes Yes
Requests for extra service compensation (State, RF, and UBF funded) 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) Yes Yes
Approval Requirements - Other Human Resource Transactions
Other Human Resource Transactions Provost or
Vice President
(non-adacemic)
President
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 Yes Direct
Reports
Only
Request for reclassification of lines for all administrative positions for the rank of MP1, MP2, or MP3   Yes Yes
UP 211 for the rehiring of retired State employees Yes Yes
Request for reclassification of lines for all administrative positions (non-faculty) within the provost’s or vice presidents’ office require the approval of the next level of authority Provost,
Vice President
or President required
Provost,
Vice President
or President required
Review of proposed department chair appointments and reappointments, including draft letters to the appointee from the dean or vice president Yes No

Purchasing Approval Requirements

Purchasing goods and services without authorization is in violation of this policy. Authorization to buy goods and services on behalf of the university is restricted to Procurement staff and select pre-authorized departmental staff. Further information regarding pre-authorization can be found on the Administrative Services Gateway under the Managing Procurement section. While the initiation and approval of eRequisitions may be signed by the authorized signatory on the account to be charged, all purchase orders must be issued through the Procurement Office.

No member of the university may sign or otherwise execute a procurement contract that binds the university unless he or she has been delegated signature authority. Signature authority must be documented in writing and on file as set forth in this policy. Contracts signed by employees without documented signature authority may be deemed void. In such circumstances, these individuals may be personally liable for the obligations assumed under such contracts and may be subject to disciplinary action. 

Approval Requirements - Contracts and Service Agreements - Procurement

Procurement Type

Approval Requirements

State, UBF, and RF procurement and revenue contracts, leases, and permits

All procurement contracts require review and approval by appropriate procurement personnel or the Executive Director, UBF. Procurement contracts signed outside the Procurement Office legally obligate the individual(s) signing the contract, as they are not authorized to represent UB.

Approval Requirements - Contracts and Service Agreements - Non-Procurement

Contract or Agreement Type

Approval Requirements

Non-Procurement Research Foundation Contracts

• Vice President for Finance and Administration (VPFA)
• Vice President for Research and Economic Development (VPRED)

Non-Procurement State Contracts

• VPFA
• Controller

Non-Procurement UBF Contracts

• Executive Director, UBF

RF intellectual property related contracts only

• VPRED
• Associate Vice President, Sponsored Research and Information Systems
• Director, Technology Transfer

HIPAA Business Associate Contracts

• Director of HIPAA Compliance
• Executive Director, UBF (for UBF agreements only)

RF Facility Use Agreements

• Executive Director, UBF (for Baird Research Park)
• Vice President for Health Sciences (for Clinical Translational Research Center)
• Assistant Vice President Procurement Services (all others)

Approval Requirements - Facilities Transactions

Facilities Requests and Transactions

Approval Requirements

Renovation Requests

All approvals are required in the order listed:
• Facilities Planning and Management Officer (FPMO)
• Unit Business Officer
• Dean, Vice President, Vice Provost, or Athletic Director (over $1M)

Space Request Form

• FPMP

State and RF Facilities construction and consultant contracts only

• Associate VP University Facilities

UB Funded Construction Projects

Approval Requirements - Scope (Budget)
Approver
Signature required at completion of Planning and Programming to move to Design Phase
Unit Funded (includes Campus Financial Plan) Central University Funded

Approver

<$250,000

$250,000-$1,000,000

>$1,000,000

Any Amount

Unit Business Officer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Project Coordinator

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Resource Planning

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Associate VP University Facilities
(VPFA may approve if Associate VP Facilities is not available)

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

VPFA

No

No

Yes

Yes

Dean or VP of School or Unit

No

No

Yes

Yes

Approval Requirements - Change Order
Approver
Signature required at completion of Planning and Programming to move to Design Phase
Unit Funded (Cumulative value of all change orders <10% of cost quote
Unit Funded (includes Campus Financial Plan) Cumulative value of all change orders >10% of cost quote Central University Funded

Approver

Any Amount

<$250,000

$250,000-$1,000,000

>$1,000,000

Any Amount

Unit Business Officer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Project Coordinator

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Resource Planning

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Associate VP University Facilities
(VPFA may approve if Associate VP Facilities is not available)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

VPFA

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Dean or VP of School or Unit

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Approval Requirements - Advance Work
Approver
Signature required to advance work before scope or estimate is completed (may include long lead items, consultants, abatement, contracts, etc.)
Unit Funded (includes Campus Financial Plan) Central University Funded

Approver

<$250,000

$250,000-$1,000,000

>$1,000,000

Any Amount

Unit Business Officer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Project Coordinator

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Resource Planning

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Associate VP University Facilities
(VPFA may approve if Associate VP Facilities is not available)

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

VPFA

No

No

Yes

Yes

Dean or VP of School or Unit

No

No

Yes

Yes

Other University Transaction Approval Requirements

Approval Requirements - Other University Transactions
Other Transactions
Approver

Annual RF salary plan

RF Operations Manager

New and revised university policies

President

Service center and departmental fees - Academic  

Provost

Service center and departmental fees - Non Academic

Controller

Travel and Expense Reimbursements

Direct Supervisor and Unit Cost Approver

Establishment of 501(c)(3)

VPFA

Externally funded academic programs outside the United States

Provost

International Exchange Agreements

President

Study Abroad and International Experiential Learning Programs

Vice Provost for International Education

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)

RF Operations Manager

Background

The university enters into and executes many decisions which obligate university resources. A sound internal control environment requires that only authorized individuals or their designees approve those decisions. Internal controls help to enforce decisions that are:

  • Legitimate, appropriate, and allowable
  • Executed in accordance with university policy and relevant financial, legal, and contractual requirements    
  • Are factually and mathematically accurate

Applicability

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

Conflict of Interest

Any relationship or activity that has the potential to compromise or bias, or appears to compromise or bias, a person’s professional judgment or ability to make objective and fair employment,  academic, or procurement decisions. A conflict of interest may exist when an independent observer might reasonably question whether an individual’s professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of family, personal, or romantic relationships.

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.

Lease

An agreement conveying the right to use property or equipment for a stated period of time.

Procurement Contract

Agreement in which UB acquires goods or services from a supplier in exchange for consideration. The agreement terms and conditions that outline parties’ responsibilities must comply with New York State laws and must follow the applicable rules and regulations of the selected funding source. 

 

Responsibility

Approver

  • Execute the delegated authority within the limitations of their duties and this policy.
  • Verify the transaction complies with university policies and federal, state, and local laws.
  • Assess the impact of the transaction on other aspects of the university and the broader community, when appropriate; consult with 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 any individual or organization involved in the transaction.
  • Resolve a real or apparent conflict of interest prior to processing the transaction.

Delegator

  • Complete the Delegation of Authority Form to communicate and document delegations of authority.
  • Review delegations annually to ensure they are up-to-date, achieving ongoing consistency and alignment between management authority, responsibility, and accountability; revise as appropriate.
  • Provide delegates with sufficient training to enable them to carry out their responsibilities and respective authorities effectively.

Vice Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans

  • Oversee the operations of their units.
  • Delegate approval authority as necessary and appropriate.
  • Determine that all actions requiring the approval of the provost also include the approval of the appropriate vice provost, vice president, or dean.

President, Provost

  • Delegate approval authority as necessary and appropriate.
  • Provide the business office with oversight of the transaction the most current listing of delegations.
  • Notify or obtain approval from the Chancellor for personnel transactions when required by the Board of Trustees policy.

Contact Information

Contact An Expert
Contact Phone Email
Mark Coldren
Associate Vice President Human Resources
716-645-7777 mcoldren@buffalo.edu
Jennifer Pesany
Assistant Vice President Financial Management
716-645-2646 jpesany@buffalo.edu
Tonga Pham
Associate Vice President for University Facilities
716-645-5265 tongapha@buffalo.edu
Daniel Vivian
Assistant Vice President Procurement Services
716-645-4540 dtvivian@buffalo.edu

Related Information

University Links

Forms

Related Links

History

Policy Revision History
August 2019 Full review. Updated the policy to:
•  Add requirements for dual signature authority
•  Strengthen the requirements for delegation of authority
•  Add responsibilities for the delegator
•  Require delegators to document delegations in writing via the Delegation of Approval Authority Form
•  Add purchasing approval requirements
•  Add approval requirements for UB-funded construction projects
February 2012 Updated the policy to clarify requirements for:
•  Payments benefitting oneself
•  Documentation of delegations
•  Approval Authority charts
February 2010 Updated the policy to clarify the following charts:
•  Approval Authority
•  UB Jobs Approval Requirements
•  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

8/19/2019

Date