The administration of budgets is a significant responsibility for department chairs. If you have experience managing organizational budgets already, this will all be fairly straightforward. If you don't have experience, please make sure you understand the framework and your obligations. It is not okay to delegate budget administration to your administrative assistant and not provide oversight. The ultimate responsibility for spending and managing department funds lies with you.

A. Managing Your Budget

One of the first things you should do is familiarize yourself with the College’s budgeting software. By clicking on the “Budget Report” link, you will be able to see the specific lines that have been funded through the previous budgeting cycle.

It is the responsibility of the department through its Chair to keep expenditures under each line item within the total amount allocated. In no case may total expenditures exceed the total budget. Note that lines with no money in them generally means that you cannot spend on those items. You may transfer funds between funded lines.

The Chair supervises all departmental accounts unless alternate stipulations are made after consultation between the Chair and the Dean. The Chair alone is authorized to incur financial obligations on behalf of the department. Be sure to keep track of any funding promises you make, since the budget tool only reports when the transactions have been processed by the business office. You are expected to keep your colleagues fully informed of your department’s expenses and allocations. Your management of department funds should be equitable and transparent.

As Department Chair, you will be granted access to the general ledger accounts for your department as well as to any gift or endowed funds you may be lucky enough to have. For questions about using the budget tool or for access please contact Nicolas de la Riva, the Assistant Dean of Academic Finance and Resources. Below is an overview of the budget tool.

Deciphering Account Numbers

Each account number is comprised of four fields and 13 digits. The basic construct is XX-X-XXXXXX-XXXX. Each field has a unique purpose as follows:

Field #1, fund field, (XX) – identifies whether the account is an operating account, in which case the first two digits are 10, or an endowed/gift account, in which case the first two digits are 11.

Field #2, program field, (X) – Identifies the broad category for financial reporting purposes. The most common for academic affairs are 1 (instruction), 2 (research), and 4 (academic support).

Field #3, department/unit field, (XXXXXX) – the first three digits of this field are unique to each department and generally begin with a 3. The second three digits encompass a subset of the department. For most departments there are no subsets, and the last three digits in this field are 001. 

Field #4, object code, (XXXX) – expense line. The object code determines the type of expense, for example student help, printing and duplicating, and entertainment.

Using the Budget Tool

The tool can be accessed via My Hamilton -> Tools -> Budget Center Home -> Budget Reports. Once the tool is open, accounts can be displayed by entering the account number in the “Filter Results” box in the upper left corner. Note that a shortcut is to populate only the department field since the department number is unique to each department.

B. Budget Requests

In the fall of each year, the Business Office sends out detailed instructions for the annual budget, or planning cycle. Department Chairs need to enter the requested budget amounts for the subsequent year in the Budget Request Tool, normally by early November. Instructions for entering the data are included in the mailing, an example of which can be found in the Operating Budget Guidelines.

Increases in budget lines should be minimal, except in extraordinary circumstances. The Dean’s Office, the Business Office, and the President are entrusted with balancing the budget each year and controlling spending. Our resources are finite. By comparing past and current year expenditures, you should be able to reduce requests in certain lines (printing and duplicating, for instance). As the hourly wage for student workers increases, for example, you may need to plan to shift funds from other lines or reduce hours to avoid requesting a large increase that is not likely to be granted.

If you need funding for capital items (equipment, furniture, building repair, technology, etc., costing more than $500), you will need to fill out one of the pdf forms available on the MyHamilton Budget Center website. The deadline for these requests is typically early in the Spring semester.

C. General Ledger Transfers

Occasionally you may need to reallocate spending across budget lines for accounts under your control using the General Ledger Transfer option in the Budget Tool. Examples of circumstances needing a transfer are:

  • Items miscoded to the wrong account line (e.g. printing expense that was charged to office supplies)
  • Funding that you are using to support a project or lecture
  • Movement of funds from a gift account to the operating account to support a project

To access the General Ledger Transfer tool, go to My Hamilton -> Tools -> Budget Center Home -> Transfers -> GL Transfer Request and follow the instructions. You will receive a confirmation/approval from the Business Office, usually within 24 hours.

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