1101 PR.06 Approval Authority

Revision Date: 
March 29, 2021

Contents

1.      Overview

2.      Foundational Principles of Approval Authority

3.      Delegation of Approval Authority

4.      Approval Authority and Electronic Signatures

1. Overview

This procedure supports Policy 1101 Guiding Principles for University Operations.  It details the concept of Approval Authority and describes the processes, responsibilities, and accountabilities pertaining to the delegation of Approval Authority.

2. Foundational Principles of Approval Authority

Per Policy 1101 Guiding Principles for University Operations, Approval Authority is permission granted or delegated to approve (but not sign and/or execute) University operational transactions.  An approval attests to the appropriateness of the transaction within the University’s mission objectives.  An Approver is a Yale individual granted or delegated Approval Authority.  Only Yale employees who have been granted Approval Authority in their position, or who have been properly delegated Approval Authority (see Section 3, below), may approve operational transactions.

A. Approving a Yale Operational Transaction

Approvals of operational transactions must be documented with either a written signature, electronic signature (see Section 4, below), or personally identifiable mechanism through a Yale system.  When approving an operational transaction, Approvers attest to the following:

  • The Approver has the appropriate level of Approval Authority to approve the transaction;
  • The Approver is not the transaction’s Requestor (except for transactions in which self-approval limits apply);
  • The Approver has sufficient knowledge to recognize and challenge any irregularities in the transaction;
  • The transaction does not personally involve the Approver;
  • The transaction, upon review, complies with University policies and procedures, as well as any applicable laws, regulations, sponsor requirements, donor specifications, and other applicable documentation; and
  • The transaction, upon review, is appropriate, reasonable, accurate, and complete with all applicable supporting documentation.

B. Approving a Yale Financial Transaction

In addition to the items detailed in subsection A., above, when approving a financial transaction specifically, Approvers attest to the following:

  • Funds supporting the transaction are available in an approved budget;
  • The transaction’s costs are allowable and allocable for the applicable source(s) of funding (e.g., gift indenture, terms and conditions of a sponsored award);
  • The accounting information and source of funds supporting the transaction are appropriate; and
  • If the transaction involves goods and/or services, the Approver has verified, through inquiry or with personal knowledge, that the goods were received and/or the services were performed, in accordance with Policy 3201 General Purchasing

3. Delegation of Approval Authority

Per Policy 1101 Guiding Principles for University Operations, individuals with Approval Authority may exercise discretion and delegate Approval Authority to other appropriate individuals, although the original individuals with Approval Authority remain accountable.

Delegation of Approval Authority should be limited to the minimum number of individuals needed to support the operations of the department.  It is best practice to delegate Approval Authority at the highest level appropriate for the individual across the department and consistent with that individual’s approval responsibilities. 

Individuals with Approval Authority are responsible for ensuring these principles in relation to any Approval Authority they delegate.

A. Appropriate Individuals for Receiving Delegated Approval Authority

To be qualified to receive delegated Approval Authority, candidates are expected to meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Candidate is a regular employee of Yale University;
  • Candidate is competent and skilled in their respective area(s) of responsibility; and
  • Candidate is adequately trained (and certified, as necessary) in the responsibilities to be delegated.

Individuals with Approval Authority are responsible for ensuring the individuals to whom they seek to delegate Approval Authority meet these criteria.  In addition, Individuals with Approval Authority are responsible for determining the specific type of operational transactions for which they will delegate Approval Authority and any limitations on that delegated Approval Authority (e.g., dollar thresholds).  Delegated Approval Authority should be commensurate with the individual’s experience, skill, and ability.  

Once an individual receives delegated Approval Authority, that individual is responsible for reviewing and approving operational transactions within their delegated Approval Authority in accordance with the principles established in Section 2, above.

B. Documentation of Delegated Approval Authority

All delegations of Approval Authority must be documented, either through a Yale system electronically or in writing.  Approval Authority granted via an electronic system (e.g., Workday) need not be separately documented or otherwise maintained.  The form of written documentation need not follow a particular structure, but should, at a minimum, document the following:

  • Name of individual delegating Approval Authority;
  • Name of individual receiving delegated Approval Authority;
  • Specific description of the operational transaction(s) for which Approval Authority is being delegated;
  • Specific description of any limitations on delegated Approval Authority (e.g., dollar thresholds); and
  • Date on which delegation takes place and, if applicable, date on which delegation will end.

Individuals with Approval Authority are responsible for ensuring proper documentation of any Approval Authority they delegate.

C. Ongoing Review of Delegated Approval Authority

Individuals who delegate Approval Authority are responsible for conducting ongoing, periodic reviews to ensure the individuals to whom they have delegated Approval Authority understand their responsibilities and are carrying them out appropriately.  It is best practice to conduct these reviews monthly, but they must be conducted at least annually.

In the review, individuals who delegate Approval Authority must confirm to their satisfaction that the individual(s) to whom they delegated Approval Authority understand their responsibilities and are reviewing and approving operational transactions within their delegated Approval Authority in accordance with the principles established in Section 2, above.  If the individual who delegated Approval Authority is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, that individual should revoke the delegation.

In addition, individuals who delegate Approval Authority are responsible for conducting timely reviews when the individuals to whom they have delegated Approval Authority change positions, roles, or responsibilities.  If the delegated Approval Authority is no longer appropriate (e.g., the individual moved to a different department), the individual who delegated Approval Authority is responsible for revoking the delegation.

4. Approval Authority and Electronic Signatures

For operational transactions that require an Approver’s signature, individuals with Approval Authority may choose to use an electronic signature in place of a handwritten signature.  Unlike Electronic Signatures for Signature Authority (see Procedure 1104 PR.01 Electronic Signatures), the University does not have an officially approved electronic signature service for operational transaction approvals.  The only specific requirements for these electronic signatures are that they either contain or are accompanied by the Approver’s printed name and the date.

As there is not a single approved electronic signature service for University-wide use, departments may establish their own standards of use.  In the absence of departmental guidance, individuals with Approval Authority may select their own service.

While the University does not require the use of a particular electronic signature service, it recommends the use of a free, non-certificate-based graphical file service (e.g., electronic signature files offered by Adobe).  Contact the ITS Help Desk for guidance on creating and using these types of electronic signatures: ITS Help Desk at 203-432-9000.

Approvers who use an electronic signature must not share their electronic signature with anyone else.