Chart of Accounts (COA)
The Banner Finance Chart of Accounts (COA) defines the organization structure of Western's accounting system through the use of a collection of codes that when grouped together allow the collection and reporting of the University's accounting activity.
The term FOAPAL is an acronym for Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, and Location, and the combination of these elements are used to describe where revenue posts or where dollars are to be budgeted or expended. Every Revenue and expense transaction at Western is requires to have at least a Fund, Organization, Account, and Program code associated with it.
Fund: A fund is a mandatory part of the FOAPAL and is used to describe the source of the revenue or where the funds originated. Each fund has its own revenues, expenditures, transfers, assets, liabilities, and fund balance. Western, like federal and state governmental agencies, uses fund accounting that emphasizes accountability rather than profitability.
Examples: 20xxx funds are self-sustaining and are established to fulfill specific objectives where fees can be charged to cover the costs of the program.
Organization: Organization, another mandatory part of the FOAPAL, is a four digit code that represents who is responsible for managing the resources such as a college or department within a college. Organization codes are used to establish budget responsibility, system security, and to facilitate generation of financial reports.
Account: The Account segment of the FOAPAL is a mandatory and represents what the transaction is for and how it is recorded. Selection of proper account code is extremely important as it affects our financial statements, reports to the state, and other external reporting requirements.
Program: Program codes are also mandatory and define why the money is being spent or collected. Program codes can be used to track on-going functions within the various administrative units of the University (Institution, Divisions, or Departments).
Activity: The use of activity codes in an accounting string is optional, but they cab be very useful for internal tracking of transactions associated with specific projects or activities.
Location: Use of location codes are optional and can be used to represent a physical location. Location codes are used primarily for fixed assets, facilities, students housing and off-campus program tracking.
The Chart of Account project began in October 2014 as a review of Western's Chart of Accounts. Project team members were selected from departments throughout campus that either had a direct relationship with the process of could provide subject expertise.
The goal of the project was to review all aspects of Western's Chart of Accounts and provide recommendations for changed so to:
- accurately and efficiently group financial data for external reporting;
- eliminate or minimize manipulation of financial data on worksheets for internal reporting and decision-making purposes; and
- provide consistency in use of FOAPAL strings across campus.
The Chart of Accounts Project, Phase II – Chart of Accounts (COA) Recommendation Implementation went live on Friday, July 1, 2016. The goal of this project was to streamline and improve accurate financial data for tracking, reporting, and decision making at Western.
The most significant change that was implemented was the split of 10200 funds into separate funds for each department/area. This change took place on July 1st, the start of FY 2017, and represents a shift in how Western tracks state funds resulting in simplifying state reporting and avoiding intermingling state appropriations and tuition funds. In addition, it allows our system to automatically carry-forward individual fund balances, eliminating the current manual process and the potential for errors. This provides users the flexibility to divide and track salary, benefits, and operating funds separately.
To ensure a smooth transition, the project team has developed a comprehensive COA training program aimed at increasing accounting education to campus users. This training program was launched simultaneously with the 10200 fund split in July so campus users could use their individual accounting structure during training sessions. Other training resources, including online guides, printable documents, and short videos are also available.
Over the course of the next several months, the project team will continue to monitor transactions to ensure the use of the 10200 fund is discontinued. This project is expected to close before the end of December 2016.