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Policy 211

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Vanderbilt University - Office of Finance
Policy 211:  Responsibilities of Authorized Signers


Purpose

To describe the role and responsibilities of Authorized Signers related to the authority to approve the disbursement of funds for University Central cost centers.


Introduction

None


Policy

The names, titles, employee IDs, VUNetIDs, and signatures of all personnel to whom signature authority has been delegated to approve the expenditure of University Central should be on record in the Office of Finance. Besides the Division Fiscal Officer (DFO), having such authority, he / she also typically delegates approval authority for additional Authorized Signers to approve expenditures of University funds on the applicable cost centers, as delineated in more detail below.

It is recommended that each cost center have a minimum of two Authorized Signers , but no more than four or five. As applicable, the Provost, Vice Chancellor, Deans, and Division Fiscal Officers need not be explicitly designated as he / she has implied signature authority on applicable cost centers in the respective areas.

Any Authorized Signer is prohibited from authorizing payments to themselves, or on their own behalf. Such persons (hereafter collectively referred to as authorized signers) also cannot be the sole authorization for payments to, or on behalf of, persons to whom they have a "reporting to" relationship. For example, for a payment to a Dean, a Vice Chancellor should also approve beside a DFO or other authorized signer.

Each Authorized Signer is responsible for reviewing disbursement or expenditure requests for compliance with Vanderbilt policies and procedures, as well as any applicable external agency requirements, e.g., legal and/or grant provisions. The Authorized Signer's approval/signature on a disbursement transaction is attestation or certification to the processing department (e.g. Office of Finance or Purchasing/Accounts Payable) that:

  1. the transaction has a valid business purpose within the context of the cost center’s purpose, which for a sponsored research center, includes compliance with grant restrictions or other provisions (for additional information on sponsored research restrictions, please call the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (3-6680);
  2. the supporting documentation (preferably original) is sufficient for subsequent audit review, which includes compliance with tax reporting and withholding requirements such as reporting to the IRS of non-employee compensation;
  3. the information provided is accurate to the best of his or her knowledge, including adequate disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest (documents must be approved with an original authorizing signature; signature stamps are not acceptable); and
  4. the payment is for products/services already received except for items normally paid in advance such as subscriptions, maintenance contracts, individual book purchases, registration fees, airfares, or arrangements where documented significant economic advantages accrue to Vanderbilt from such an advance payment arrangement.

Procedures

  1. The Signature Authorization Delegation for University Central Form (Form 205-2) is the appropriate means to document the delegation of signature authority on all University Central cost centers. The Acknowledgement of Authorized Signer Responsibilities Form (Form 211-1) should then be completed, as needed.

    Besides Authorized Signers completing this form on a one-time basis, each DFO, Dean, and Vice Chancellor should also submit a signed form on a one-time basis. In other words, each person potentially approving fiscal documents should submit an acknowledgement form.
  2. General instructions for the Acknowledgement of Authorized Signer Responsibilities Form are relatively straightforward and are included on the form itself.

    The Employee ID is the seven-digit number used to identify employees in the Human Resources system. This number can be obtained from a payroll check/deposit advice, or from the upper left corner of a timesheet.

    The VUnetID is the user ID used to log onto Vanderbilt networks. Normally, this is the first six characters of the last name followed by the first letter of the first name and middle initial.

Cross References

Policy 205 provides information on roles responsibilities of Division Fiscal Officers.
Policy 215 provides information on roles and responsibilities of Fiscal Center Reviewers.

Related Forms

Form 205-2 Signature Authorization Delegation for University Central
Form 211-1 Acknowledgement of Authorized Signer Responsibilities.

Effective Date

Effective: May 2001 Last Revised: July 2002