1302 PR.01 Overview of Projects & Awards

Revision Date: 
July 24, 2013

1 – Introduction

1a.  Purpose of this document

This overview of projects and awards is intended to:

  • Define and explain the relationship between the “project” and “award” segments of the University’s Chart of Accounts (COA), and
  • Assist users to make informed decisions about creating and modifying projects and tasks within projects and making informed decisions about the account structures.

For more detailed information about the structure of the Chart of Accounts and maintaining Chart of Account segments, refer to the COA Handbook and other related procedures in the PTAEO Maintenance section.

1b.  The Chart of Accounts (COA)

The COA is a foundational data structure that allows the University to organize financial information for a variety of different purposes as described below:

  • The COA segments, together with new reporting tools, enable the University’s schools and departments to prepare internal financial management reports in multi-dimensional formats.  These reports provide information that facilitates effective budgetary control, informed deployment of resources, analyses, planning, and fiduciary oversight.
  • The COA accumulates the information required to prepare Yale’s institutional financial statements and other external reports in accordance with applicable regulatory standards.
  • Finally, the COA promotes effective stewardship of restricted funds as further described below.

Yale’s COA has been designed to accommodate the University’s diverse financial environment which is described briefly in the following section.

2 – Sources and Awards

Awards and sources are used to categorize and define the University’s funding resources.

2a. What is a Source?

A Source represents the University’s financial resources generated through major revenue streams (revenue earned from general fund educational and special operating programs, sponsored agreements, and contributed income derived from expendable gifts and endowment spending distributions).  Source is also used to categorize the University’s financial and physical capital activities for both internal and external reporting purposes.  Each source has a unique five-digit number.

Source creates a hierarchy of funding resources; awards represent individual/specific funding amounts and are arranged/grouped within the source hierarchy.  A depiction of this hierarchy can be found in the online COA Handbook: Award/Source Hierarchy.

Sources are generally grouped by the absence or existence of restrictions and designations, as well as other common characteristics that reflect the structure of the revenue or capital component and the related programmatic emphasis.

A Source fulfills a variety of essential business purposes:

  • It allows the categorization of revenues, financial capital, and physical capital resources into logical groups that facilitate financial reporting, budgeting, planning, and stewardship.
  • It promotes the observation of donor-imposed restrictions using segment values and attributes established for that purpose. 
  • It controls the ”rollforward” of fund balances at the COA flexfield level. 

Finally, the use of sources and awards (in combination with projects) provides the means to prepare profit and loss statements by project, program, and other functional classifications, while maintaining the separation of source and use of funds.

Types of Sources

Sources can be categorized according to a number of criteria. These “source types” are listed in detail in the online COA Handbook: Award/Source Hierarchy.  Examples include:

  • General Funds: general appropriations and special program sources
  • Contributed:  expendable gifts and endowments
  • Sponsored: grants and contracts

2b.  What is an Award?

The term “award” is used to identify a particular funding amount, containing one or more unique characteristics that require separate tracking from other funding amounts.  Each award is directly related to a particular funding source in the University’s Award/Source Hierarchy.

Examples of individual awards include an endowment, gift, grant, contract, or other sponsored agreement or University general appropriations. Awards each have a unique 6-character identifier, known as the award number.

Types of Award

  • Sponsored Award consists predominantly of grants, contracts, and other similar agreements entered into between Yale University and a federal or non-federal sponsor for the purpose of advancing research, training, and other activities.
  • Contributed Income Award is either an expendable gift or an individual endowment source. 

NOTE: Contributed income awards should be managed in a manner that maintains good stewardship of the award. Use such awards only in a manner consistent with the specified purpose of the award, and in compliance with any restrictions placed on the use of the gift by the donor.

  • General Fund Award encompasses all other sources, including general appropriations, special programs, and funds designated for specific purposes.

2c.  Relationship between Source and Award

Source creates a hierarchy of funding resources; awards represent individual/specific funding amounts and are arranged/grouped within the source hierarchy.  A depiction of this hierarchy can be found in the online COA Handbook: Award/Source Hierarchy.  The numbering conventions vary by source, provide “intelligent” numbering and facilitate easy identification between an award and a specific source. See the COA Handbook for naming and numbering conventions and other details about the award segment.

Awards fall into either individual or summarized sources.

  • Individual source values are assigned to all expendable gifts and endowment accounts since these revenues are often subject to unique donor-imposed restrictions.  An individual source usually has a 1:1 relationship with a specific award.
  • Summarized sources provide a common set of values that is used with multiple awards. Typically these contain a similar set of usage restrictions or are unrestricted funding sources.

Note for central process-owners: The University’s accounting and reporting systems summarize sources using values contained in COA flexfields and source/award attributes. Sponsored agreements maintain a unique award for each sponsor agreement; for all other summarized sources, activity is segregated using projects and tasks.

2d.  Requesting New/Modified Sources or Awards

For new awards or changes to existing awards, please contact:

  • All Sources and any awards other than EXPOP, ENDOW and SPAGR – coa@yale.edu
  • Gifts/Endowments (EXPOP/ENDOW) – Gift Administration - giftawards@yale.edu or 203-436-5285
  • Sponsored awards (SPAGR) [except for those that begin with W or 4] - Grants & Contracts Administration (GCA) - 203-785-4689 or Grant & Contract Financial Administration (GCFA) – 203-785-3630. A sponsored award is created in the system by the Office of Grant and Contract Financial Administration OGM Set-up Unit following receipt of a formal award notification from the sponsoring agency after review by the Office of Grant and Contract Administration. There is generally a one-to-one relationship between a sponsored award and the project it is funding. For detail about requesting and modifying sponsored project accounts, refer to Procedure 1304 PR.01.  Additional resources related to sponsored awards can be found on the Policies and Procedures site in the Grants and Contracts section.
  • Sponsored awards (SPAGR) that begin with W or 4 – ysmam@yale.edu

2e.  Award/Source Attributes

Each award must have:

  • name that must be unique. Can use up to 30 characters. Names are assigned centrally.
  • an award manager who is responsible for administering the award.
  • principal investigator who is the person responsible for the activity funded by a sponsored Award, typically the same as the principal investigator of a grant or contract.
  • source linked to the award.
  • purpose code that indicates the purpose for which the source is to be utilized, as specified by the donor or sponsor. The award purpose code must be consistent with the purpose code of its source.
  • start/end dates within which transactions are valid for this award.
  • an allowability schedule that shows restrictions on expenditure types that can be used with this award as specified by the sponsor or donor.
  • an award installment: a particular period of a sponsored award, e.g., year 2 of a 3-year grant.
  • an indirect cost schedule that determines the overhead rate to be applied.
  • an A-21 classification that supports the calculation of indirect costs as defined in OMB Circular A-21.

Each source must have:

  • name that must be unique. Can use up to 30 characters. Names are assigned centrally.
  • purpose code that indicates the purpose for which the source is to be utilized, as specified by the donor or sponsor.
  • an expendability flag that is used with endowment sources to indicate whether principal, gains and yield are expendable on the specific endowment source.

3 – What is a Project?

All activities undertaken by the University are organized into projects. Projects enable departments to track work activities from budget set-up through completion of the activity.  Each project has a unique project number.

Project is an essential segment in the Chart of Accounts and must be part of all financial transaction records (including labor charges, purchase requisitions, non-purchase order invoices, journal entries, etc.).  The project is not intended to duplicate the view of financial activity by organizational unit or source, but instead provides an additional dimension centered on the functional purpose (the “why”) of a particular activity. The use of project with award maintains the separation between the source and use of funds.

There are three main project categories (described below):

  • Operating;
  • Sponsored;
  • Capital.

3a.  Operating Projects

Operating projects are activities supported by all fund sources other than sponsored awards.  As a general rule, an operating project cannot be used with a sponsored award.  Any project funded wholly or in part by a sponsored award will be classified as a sponsored project.  Some examples of operating projects are:

  • The overall operating functions in an administrative department or area;
  • An educational program;
  • A clinical activity;
  • A conference.

NOTE: An operating project cannot be linked to a sponsored award. Any project funded wholly or in part by a sponsored award must be classified as a sponsored project.

3b.  Capital Projects

Capital projects are a specific type of operating project undertaken to extend the useful life of an asset or to create a new asset. This project type is used for the purchase or construction of buildings and fixed equipment where the cost will equal or exceed $50,000. All renovations and alterations of buildings or fixed equipment >= $50,000 or that will extend the planned useful life for more than two years should also be captured in capital projects. Moveable Equipment (MEI) must cost >= $5,000 and have an estimated useful life greater than one year. If you think a project your organization is considering might be a capital project, please contact the Office of Capital Management at 203-432-8012.

3c.  Sponsored Projects

Sponsored projects are activities funded wholly or in part by external sponsors via a sponsored award document generally through the execution of a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement.

Sponsored projects may only be linked to non-sponsored awards when the sponsored award specifies mandatory or voluntary-committed cost sharing (see University Policies 1306 and 1316). Important aspects of the project (e.g. its start and end dates) are determined by the terms of the associated sponsored award.

3d.  Requesting New/Modified Projects

For additional resources related to projects, please consult:

Technical Note: Projects will be established in the Oracle Grants Management system (OGM), then synchronized with the General Ledger.  Projects and awards are processed in OGM, which contains rules for fringe benefits and indirect cost assessment (burdening) as appropriate, maintains relationships between projects and awards, structures project and award data for reporting in the Data Warehouse, and maintains rules used for billing and revenue recognition for sponsored awards. Budgets are maintained in the Yale Budget Tool (YBT). Project set-up requests initially for budget purposes should only be submitted when there is a high probability that the project will commence within the budget period.

4 – Charging Linkages

A linkage is a system connection between two Chart of Accounts segments. All charging instructions require there to be a valid relationship between the components of the segments (Project, Task, Award, Expenditure Type and Organization à PTAEO). There are two primary charging linkages:

  • Project to Award - the means by which an award (source of funds) is made available to fund a project
  • Project to Organization – the means of allowing an organization to charge the project

In order to record transactions, a project must have a valid charging link to at least one award and organization. Without this linkage, the PTAEO is invalid and cannot be charged.

For detailed information about charging linkages (overview, structure, usage, new and modification requests), please see Procedure 1302 PR.04 ”Requesting New/Modified Charging Linkages”.

5 – Start / End dates and Data Validation

Projects, tasks, and awards all have start and end dates associated with them. These dates do not need to be identical, but expenses can only be recorded when the project, task, and award are all open and valid charging linkages exist between Project/Award and Project/Organization.

For all financial transactions, the University’s systems will (among other processes):

  • check project, task and award start and end dates;
  • require the project, task, and award to all be open/active and linked on the date of the expense;
  • check to ensure that the expenditure type code may be charged with the award.

If the system detects an invalid account combination, the user will receive an error message. The transaction will not be accepted until a valid combination is entered.

The PTAEO Validator will assist users in determining the validity of a PTAEO.