Policy Resources and Tools

Questions Concerning Definitions/Terms?

If you are unable to locate a definition or have any issues related to policy definitions, please contact OPE for assistance.

A ⇒ B

Abuse - The result of behavior that is deficient or improper when compared with behavior that a prudent person would consider reasonable and necessary given the facts and circumstances. Abuse is distinct from an illegal act or other law violation that occurs when laws, regulations, or rules, or contracts, grants or donor restrictions are violated. Abuse usually results in an inappropriate use of University resources, such as excessive cost for an acquired good or service.

Account Code - A ChartField used to identify the nature and financial type of a transaction: generally asset, liability, net asset, revenue, expense, or transfer. The complete chart of accounts is available at https://content.cu.edu/controller/documents/chart_of_accounts.xls. An easy reference list of accounts is available at https://content.cu.edu/controller/documents/QRC/QRC_Full.pdf.

Affiliate - An organization that has a contractual or other legal relationship with the University that closely aligns them operationally with the University to more effectively further both the University and the organization's missions. Affiliates are identified at https://www.cusys.edu/controller/policies/supporting%20listing.doc. Affiliates include Blended Organizations and Supporting Organizations.

Affiliate Fiscal Staff - Employee(s) of an Affiliate(s) that accepts a role as Fiscal Staff for the University through a written agreement.

Agency Fund - The fund group (80) used to account for funds held by the university as a custodian or fiscal agent for others. Examples include funds held for independent (verses affiliated) student organizations, individual students, private businesses, and other organizations that have a working relationship with the university. Agency funds are broken into three divisions:

      • Independent student organizations
      • Third party scholarships
      • Other

Associate - An individual who is not employed by the University, but who is actively involved in furthering the University's mission in some fashion. Examples of associates include members of the Board of Regents and off-campus work-study employers. The term associate does not generally include University vendors, non-employee students, alumni, parents of students, university-sponsored conference attendees, employees of University affiliates, official business guests, donors, sponsors, congressional or state legislative members, or members of the general public.

Available Resources - Funds legally available to an Organizational Unit to support the costs of carrying out its assigned roles or objectives, including allocated revenue budgets or spending authority (expense budgets), cash, convertible short-term assets (e.g., inventories, receivables), and allocated accumulated net assets.

Award - An award is a promise, both informal and formal, to send resources or revenues to the University.

Budget - A set of financial expectations (usually revenues and/or expenditures) for a given fiscal period (at least annually).

Business Continuity - The plans and processes that allow essential business functions to continue in the event of a disaster or during an interruption of utilities or services (e.g., IT services).

C ⇒ E

Campus - The grounds and buildings that comprise a section of the university. The legislative mission for each campus of the University of Colorado is mandated by the Constitution of Colorado and stated in the Colorado Revised Statutes. The university has three main campuses (Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver Health Sciences Center) plus a centralized system administration campus (System.)

Campus-sponsored fundraising - Fundraising that is the lead responsibility of the University and not the responsibility of a supporting foundation through a development services agreement. This includes all fundraising events and acceptance of Gift in Kind. The University having lead responsibility does not preclude or prohibit assistance from a supporting foundation.

ChartFields - The individual components (fields of information) that represent the coding structure used by the University's Finance System (and subsystems) to record a transaction. Detailed explanations are available at https://content.cu.edu/controller/documents/11_CHARTFIELDS.doc.

Civil Union Partner - The civil union partner of an employee in a civil union that satisfies the requirements of the Colorado Civil Union Act, C.R.S. § 14-15-101, et seq., if the employee and civil union partner have not dissolved the partnership and are not legally separated.

Classified Staff - An individual who holds a staff position that is governed by the state personnel system's rules and regulations (pursuant to state law). 

Compensating Controls - Procedures used to mitigate risks inherent in Internal Controls arising from approved waivers of segregation of duties. Detailed explanations are available at https://content.cu.edu/controller/policiesandprocedures/accountinghandbo....

Community Relations Function (external) - An event, such as an award dinner or fundraising activity, hosted by an external organization, which supports the instructional, research, or public service mission of the University.

Concentrations - Results when material volumes of revenues or supplies are received from a single source (vendor, payer, markets or geographic areas) for which it is reasonably possible that a disruption from this single source would also disrupt the Organizational Unit's operations. Examples include more than 50% of a customer-driven revenues from a single vendor, such as Medicare; or purchasing more than 50% of your supplies from one vendor or market.

Conference - An auxiliary activity to conduct a formal meeting of a number of people, primarily other than employees or associates, for discussion or consultation on a serious and identified topic, where admission is charged to those attending. Unlike the admission fee for a fundraising event,the admission fee for a conference is not intended to be tax-deductible, either in total or in part. Conferences are accounted for in Funds 20 or 29 in the Finance System.

Confidential Information - This category includes data elements not usually disclosed to the public but are less sensitive than Highly Confidential data. If a legally required and applicable, Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request is submitted, these records may be released. Examples include Personnel information, Non-public policies. 

Conflict of Interest - Situations defined in the Administrative Policy Statement Conflict of Interest Policy in which financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an employee's professional judgment in administration, management, instruction, research and other professional activities. This includes situations in which an employee might derive private gain due to her/his association with the University.

Courtesy Vehicles - A vehicle loaned to the University by a sponsoring car dealer in exchange for goods and/or services (but not cash) provided by an organizational unit not to exceed the value of the annual lease of the vehicle (such as Athletics tickets and Athletic event parking).

Customers - An individual who applies for and/or receives goods or services from the University.

Data Center - A University-owned or operated facility with the primary purpose of processing, storage, and communication of large volumes of information needed for University or campus operations.

Data Custodian -  Any party charged with managing a data collection for a data owner.

Data Owner - A party or entity identified with and widely recognized to have primary authority and decision responsibility over a particular collection of university data.  The Council of Data Owners list is included on this page.

Data Steward - A party or entity possessing delegated authority to act on a data owner's behalf.

Data User - Any person or party that utilizes university data to perform his or her job responsibilities.

Deficiency - A control that is not operating as designed, a control that is no longer addressing the risk, or the lack of control due to a new risk that has not yet been addressed.

Disaster Preparedness - The plans and processes that allow the University to restore utilities and services (e.g., IT services) in the event of a disaster in an orderly and timely manner. Disaster preparedness is a component of business continuity that uses advanced preparation and planning to minimize the duration and impact of utility/service interruptions.

Donor-cultivation official function - An official function, centered around past or future donors, that may or may not involve a donation solicitation but that does not meet the definition of a fundraising event.

Electronic Record - means a record created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means.

Electronic Signature - means an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.

Employees - An individual who currently holds a University employment appointment, whether full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal or hourly.

Encryption - The process of transforming data so that it is unreadable to anyone who is not authorized (i.e. an individual or system that is in possession of a required password, key or other electronic token).

Estimates – Fiscal transactions where the value assigned is based upon an assumption or educated guess as opposed to a fact or known event, e.g., estimate of amount owed for services as invoice has not yet been received.


Fiduciary - The obligation arising from a position of authority to act on behalf of another (as in managing the University's operations) where one assumes a duty to act in good faith and with care, candor, and loyalty.

Finance system - The University's official financial records, used to record all University fiscal transactions and prepare the University's financial statements.

Finance System Users - Employees or affiliate fiscal staff who have access to the university's Finance System.

Financial Reporting Entity - As defined by generally accepted accounting principles, the University plus all organizations that meet the following criteria:

      1. organizations for which the University is financially accountable (equivalent to control by the University as an entity or its Regents or Officers);
      2. a legally separate, tax-exempt organization: whose economic resources are entirely or almost entirely for the direct benefit of the University's financial reporting entity or its constituents, where the University has the ability to access (broader than control and is demonstrated by the ability not the occurrence in a given year) a majority of its economic resources, and such economic resources are Material to the University;
      3. organizations for which the nature and significance is such that exclusion would be misleading to the University's financial statements; or
      4. organizations closely related to or financially integrated with the University as exhibited through policies, practices or organizational documents of either entity.

Financial report review process - As required by the Administrative Policy Statement Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities, policies and procedures that result in the routine review of financial information. This is a key control to ensure all fiscal transactions are properly recorded in the Finance System and to detect fiscal misconduct. The fundamental components of this process include:

      • Detailed review of fiscal transactions, including a reconciliation of each individual transaction appearing on the financial report to the related source documentation;
      • Periodic analysis of planned fiscal activity or budget in relation to actual fiscal activity;
      • Comparison and analysis of prior year financial activity to current year financial activity where appropriate.

Procedures always include taking appropriate investigative and remedial action.

Fiscal Managers - As defined in the Administrative Policy Statement Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities, the key employee in the Organizational Unit with the authority and responsibility for its fiscal transactions.

Fiscal Misconduct - As defined and illustrated in the Administrative Policy Statement Fiscal Misconduct Reporting, deliberate acts or failure to act regarding fiscal matters, contrary to established law, rule or policy, with the intent to obtain an unauthorized benefit, which results in a loss or other damage to the University.

Fiscal Principals - As defined in Administrative Policy Statement Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities, Chairs, Directors and Principal Investigators (or equivalent titles) as the result of their assigned fiscal responsibility.

Fiscal Role - The categorization of Employees to indicate their fiscal responsibilities to the University as defined in Administrative Policy Statement Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities. Categories include Officers, Fiscal Principals, Fiscal Managers and Fiscal Staff.

Fiscal Staff - As defined in Administrative Policy Statement Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities, Employees (other than Fiscal Managers, Fiscal Principals, and Officers) of the University involved in University fiscal transactions, such as initiating purchases, receiving cash or other negotiables, entering or reviewing transactions into the University's Finance System, monitoring contractors, verifying compliance.

Fiscal transactions - Financial transactions occur within numerous University functions including Accounting, Human Resources, Payroll and Benefits, Procurement and Student Services.



    • Accounting
      • Asset Transfers/Disposition
      • Cash Transfer
      • Journal Entry (JE)
      • Interdepartmental Invoice/Order
    • Human Resources, Payroll and Benefits
      • Create or Modify Position (Employment Management)
      • One Time Payment (Payroll)
      • Payroll Expense Transfer (PET)
      • Payroll Funding Distribution
      • Time Collection Entry
    • Procurement (Purchasing, Payables or Travel)
      • Cash Advance
      • Departmental Purchase Order
      • International Travel Meal Diary Form
      • Official Function Form
      • Petty Cash
      • Procurement Card Allocation
      • Procurement Card Purchase
      • Payment (Expense) Voucher
      • Purchase Requisition
      • Standing Purchase Order Renewal/Requisition
      • Travel Authorization/Advance
      • Travel Voucher
      • Unavailable Documentation
    • Student Services / Bursar
      • Cash Receipt
      • Financial Aid Award
      • Tuition and Fee Charge
      • Tuition Waiver

FOPPS - An acronym (Fund, Organization, Program, Project, Subclass) commonly referred to as a SpeedType. These terms represent an accounting cost center in the Finance System (or subsystems), that is, they identify where financial activity occurs.

Formal credit relationship - One between an individual and the University where a credit application results in the extension of credit through promissory note or equivalent instrument.

Fraud - Includes certain illegal acts; misstatements arising from fraudulent financial reporting; and misstatements arising from misappropriation of assets. Fraudulent illegal acts are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and perpetrated to obtain money, property or services; to avoid payment or loss of services; or to secure personal or business advantage. Misstatements arising from fraudulent financial reporting are intentional misstatements or omissions of amounts or disclosures in financial statements to deceive financial statement users. Misstatements arising from misappropriation of assets involve the theft of an entity's assets.

Functional area of responsibility - A group of related business objectives, processes and entities for which an Officer has oversight by virtue of her/his position that have the following characteristics: organizational permanency and programmatic autonomy.

Fundraising – The act or activity of soliciting and collecting gift revenue benefiting the University. Examples of fundraising activities include the collection of gifts or money through: contributions or donations, sale or auction of merchandise or services, collection of registration or sponsorship fees, imposition of admission charges or registration fees, and/or membership fees.

Fundraising agent - An other individual who volunteers to conduct a fundraising event for an organizational unit. By conduct, this individual is planning and administering a fundraising event, including collecting monies, on direct behalf of the University. This is in contrast to (and does not include) an organization that is affiliated with the University conducting its own event, the proceeds of which are intended to benefit the University.

Fundraising campaign - Organized effort to solicit gifts and grants for any universitypurpose from multiple private sources such as individuals, firms, corporations, groups, and/or foundations. A fundraising campaign is markedly different than ordinary campus-sponsored fundraising events in that a campaign has a specific goal of money to be raised within a longer fixed period of time, generally one (1) to three (3) years. Normally, campaigns are restricted to raising substantial amounts of money needed for construction of new buildings, endowments, major renovations, and other large projects. Such campaigns depend upon reaching out to the larger community beyond the circle of existing donors, and their success or failure directly affects the University's reputation as a whole and the University's ability to raise money for other needed programs. Consequently, any organizational unit wishing to conduct a fundraising campaign must develop a formal plan in conjunction with the University of Colorado Foundation.

Fundraising event - An event at which a required monetary payment to attend or participate includes both a gift component (charitable contribution) and a non-gift component (goods and/or services are provided or available to the attendees, sponsors, or donors). A fundraising event will most often be completed in a single day; however, the event may consist of a multi-day, singularly identifiable event, such as a trip or cultural celebration weekend. This type of event differs from a conference in that some portion of the attendees' payment is intended to be tax deductible. Examples of fundraising events include the collection of gifts or money through sale or auction of merchandise or services, collection of registration or sponsorship fees with a promise of a tax deduction, imposition of admission charges or registration fees with a promise of a tax deduction, and/or membership fees.

G ⇒ L

Gain or loss contingencies - Situation involving uncertainty about the value of a fiscal transaction because of what may or may not happen in the future. An increase in value is a gain contingency, whereas a negative impact on value is a loss contingency. Examples include the change in the value of an investment due to market fluctuation; or the uncollectibility of accounts receivable.

Highly Confidential Information - This category includes data elements that require protection under laws, regulations, contracts, relevant legal agreements and/or require the institution to provide notification of unauthorized disclosure/security incidents to affected individuals, government agencies or media. This type of University Information includes personally identifiable information (a category of personal information regulated by federal law), as well as other non-public personal information that would adversely impact an individual if inappropriately used or disclosed. Examples include Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and medical records.

Honoraria - Honoraria are rewards, or token payments, made to individuals (e.g., guest lecturer) for services for which custom forbids a price to be set or where no expectation exists for payment for services. 

HRMS - Human Resources Management System, or the University's official human resources records, used to manage all personnel data and actions, such as appointment position and funding management, hiring, promotion and terminations, changes to employees' personal information, salary increases, and payroll production.

HRMS Users - Employees or affiliate fiscal staff who have access to the university's HRM.

Immediate Family Members - Immediate family is a spouse, SGDP, civil union partner or dependent child.

Independent student organizations - Student organizations that have never received, or will not receive, any support funding from the University.

Informal credit relationship - One between an individual and the University where a credit arises as a result of payment not being received when services are delivered

Information Security Officer - The person who performs day-to-day management of and is the point of contact for the IT Security Program at the campus level.

IT Resource - Computers, networking equipment, storage media, software, and other electronic devices that store, process, or transmit University information. In the context of IT security policy, this includes all IT resources that are owned, leased, licensed, or authorized for use by the University.

IT Resource User - Individuals that are authorized to use University IT resources. Examples of users include: faculty, staff, students, researchers, vendors, volunteers, contractors, or sponsored affiliates of the University.

IT Security - The protection of electronic information from (intentional or unintentional) unauthorized access, modification, or destruction, as well as taking precautions to ensure that such information is available as needed to conduct University business.

IT Security Principal - On May 1, 2014 the title of “IT Security Principals” was replaced with the title of “Information Security Officers”.

IT Security Program - A collection of policies, processes, and responsibilities that provide direction and guidance to the computing community on protecting University information.

IT Service Provider - Any person that designs, builds, implements, supports, or provides an IT service to other University employees, students, or affiliates, using a University IT resource. Examples of IT service providers include: website administrators, workstation support staff, server administrators, software programmers, application developers, data network technicians, user account administrators, and computer center personnel.

Indemnification Agreements - A legally binding arrangement whereby the University promises a sum of money in compensation for loss, injury, or damage or for trouble and annoyance.

Internal controls - A comprehensive strategy (i.e., which includes people and tone as well as policies and procedures) designed to provide reasonable assurance that the following objectives of the University are achieved:

    • Effectiveness and efficiency of operations,
    • Reliability of financial reporting, and
    • Compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures, as well as contracts, grants and donor restrictions.

 Key activities include protection of assets; adequate authorization and record keeping procedures; proper segregation of duties; and monitoring and assessment of internal controls.

M ⇒ Q

Material/Materiality - A measurement or threshold to gauge the significance of a fiscal transaction. Determining materiality often involves the reasonable person test; there are two ways to gauge this question:

    1. By quantity: In the University, items that are in excess of $200,000 or in excess of 5% of the revenue or expense base (whichever is less) are always considered material.
    2. By quality: No matter what the amount, an item is material if the misstatement or omission makes it probable that the judgment of a reasonable person, who was relying on the information to make a decision or to take an action, would be changed or influenced.

Material weaknesses - A Significant Deficiency that would not prevent or timely detect a material error in the University's financial reports.

Non-employees - Individuals who work for their own interests and are not employees of the university, for example, independent contractors. Other examples of non-employees include

    • Volunteers who receive no compensation, other than paid expenses or a nominal fee
    • Students and trainees who are merely acquiring experience without the promise of a job or compensation
    • Members of the Board of Regents

Officers - (Includes Officers of the University and Officers of the Administration.) University officials or senior management who fall under external regulations to which the University is subject. A current listing of Officers is available here.

Officers of the Administration - As defined in Regent Policy 3-J, Officers of the Administration are those individuals who hold the title or interim/acting title of vice president, chancellor, associate vice president, assistant vice president, vice chancellor, associate vice chancellor, associate university counsel, and deans of the schools, colleges, and libraries. Furthermore, on written request the President may designate other officers of the administration, which will be recorded in the letter of offer and the University's official personnel roster.

Officers of the University - As defined in Regent Law 3.A.1, includes the president, secretary, treasurer, and university counsel and secretary.

Official Function - A meeting, meal, or other function, that is hosted by an organizational unit, attended by guests and/or associates or employees, and held for official university business.

Official Functions do not include student residential functions, which are defined as events designed to sustain ordinary residential life activities, such as resident hall advisory meetings and resident hall events. Conferences and Fundraising Events are types of official functions separately defined by the university to recognize the need for specific policies and procedures related to those types of events.

The following describe the most common types of official functions.

    • Training functions are held to enhance staff knowledge or to educate employees, associates, or other individuals that are affected by the university's operations or regulations. Note: Training functions should have a written agenda, study materials, and be led by an identified presenter(s).
    • Community relation functions are hosted on behalf of external entities, or are activities directly related to the educational, research, or public service mission of the university.
    • Employee recognition functions are held for the purpose of acknowledging, appreciating, or honoring employees as a means of providing an encouraging and supportive work environment.
    • Goodwill functions are held to express condolence, sympathy, get-well wishes, celebrations of birth, or presentation of official items to official guests or volunteers as an indication of goodwill or esteem.
    • Multi-unit or multi-campus functions are infrequent events or meetings involving associates or employees from more than one organizational unit or campus.
    • Recruitment functions are held to enlist new employees, including faculty or post/pre-doctorates.
    • Retirement functions are held to honor departing or retiring faculty or staff members for their university service.
    • Student functions are hosted for students and are directly related to student or educational development. Examples include student recognition, student recruitment, and student program development.

Official University Business - Any activity that carries out the university's mission of instruction, research and service or that provides support to the university's instruction, research, and service activities.

Organizational Unit - A subset of University operations. An Organizational Unit may be a department or any other distinct operational activity with the following characteristics:

    • Organizational permanency;
    • Programmatic autonomy; and
    • An annual operating budget that is fiscally independent.

Within the Finance System, these areas are represented on the ChartField tree as Orgs.

Other Individual - An person who does not fit into the category of employee, associate, or affiliate fiscal staff. A student is considered to be an "other individual" unless she or he is employed by the university and acting in her or his capacity as a university employee.

Personal vehicles - Vehicles owned by an individual.

Personnel Appointing Authority - A University Employee with delegated authority for personnel matters, such as appointments, terminations, title changes, salaries, leave approvals, evaluations, and acceptance of resignations and retirements.

Position Number - A unique identifier for each employment position in the University's Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

President - As defined in Regent Law 3.B.1, the President is the chief Officer of the University responsible for compliance of all fiscal matters with applicable policies, laws, and regulations.

Private Information - Personal information about an individual for which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made available to the public. This type of University Information includes personally identifiable information (a category of personal information regulated by federal law), as well as other non-public personal information that would adversely impact an individual if inappropriately used or disclosed. Examples include FERPA-protected information, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and medical records.

Procurement Card Users - Employees or affiliate fiscal staff who are assigned a role - as Cardholder, Approving Official, or Reallocator - associated with a university Procurement Card.

Public information:

  • Any information on University websites to which the data owner allows access without authentication
  • Information made freely available through the institution print material
  • Directory information

R ⇒ S

Related Parties Transactions - Fiscal Transactions with the potential to be less than arm's length due to the relationship between a University Officer and a third party (or relationships which result in the Officer's ability to influence the outcome of events differently from that which might result in the absence of that relationship). The ability to influence may be indicated in several ways, such as representation on the board of directors, significant ownership interest, participation in policy-making processes, material inter-company transactions, interchange of managerial personnel, or technological dependency.

Rental vehicles - Vehicles rented from a company in that business.

Reportable Condition - Significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls that could adversely affect the University's ability to initiate, record, process, and report financial data consistent with the assertions of management in the financial statements.

Reportable Transaction - a transaction that is the subject of external reporting by the university as a result of additional external rules, such as the State Fiscal Rules or the Internal Revenue Code.

Responsibility Unit - Refers to the level of Organizational Unit or Sponsored Project for which an individual Fiscal Principal has responsibility.

Restricted Information - University Information for which the university can reasonably expect will not be made available to the public due to business reasons, contractual obligations or risk determination and has not been classified as private. Examples include proprietary research data, risk assessments detailing potential weaknesses in the university's computing infrastructure, and inventories of hazardous materials.

Risk Management - The process of evaluating and responding to risks to University information for the purpose of reducing those risks to acceptable levels. Risk management is inclusive of the risk assessment process, and uses the results of risk assessments to make decisions on the acceptance of risk or on taking action to reduce risk.

Sensitive Transaction - A transaction that may have numerous and complex university, state, or federal regulations associated with it, or a transaction that may be perceived as being in appropriate for support by public funds.

Service Organizations - An external party that accomplishes tasks that affect the University's financial statements ranging from performing a specific task under the direction of the University to replacing entire business units or functions of the University.

SGDP (Same Gender Domestic Partner) - An individual who is a partner of an employee where both individuals meet all of the following requirements:

    • not a blood relative of each other to degree that would bar marriage in Colorado;
    • has shared a principal residence with each other for more than one year;
    • has filed either a Certificate of Domestic Partnership from the City of Boulder or a Certificate of Committed Partnership from the City and County of Denver; and,
    • not married or legally separated from any other person and neither is engaged in another domestic partnership

Significant deficiency (Reportable Condition) - Deficiencies that more than likely will not prevent an error from occurring that is consequential (but not yet material).

Special Event - See Fundraising Event.

SpeedType - Common reference for the ChartField combination known as a FOPPS in the Finance System (or subsystems).

Sponsored Projects - Sponsored project awards are "exchange transactions" between an external sponsor and the University under a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, purchase order, or any other mutually binding award that restricts the use of funds or property and stipulates conditions with which the University must comply. The typical sources of such receipts include organizations at all levels of government (local, state, federal, or international) as well as private corporations and foundations.

Spouse - The spouse of an employee pursuant to a marriage recognized by the laws of the State of Colorado, if such spouse is not divorced or legally separated from the employee.

Student - Any individual who applies to, is accepted for admission, and enrolls for a course at the University of Colorado. This does not include an individual who has never attended or never enrolled at the institution.

Subsequent events - Material fiscal transaction occurring after the end of a fiscal year (June 30) and affecting an amount already recorded in the Finance System for the fiscal year in question. Examples include accounts receivable that are already recorded in the Finance System which are later determined to be uncollectible; or after the fact contracts that create liabilities or obligations to pay.

Substantial Use of University Resources - Use of University funds, programs, equipment, space or other physical assets that go above and beyond those customarily and currently provided to University employees.

Supporting Foundations - Foundations identified as Supporting Organizations at Related Organizations. Identified at: https://content.cu.edu/controller/finance/related-orgs.html

Supporting Organizations - Legally separate, tax-exempt organizations whose economic resources are entirely or almost entirely for the direct benefit of the University's financial reporting entity or its constituents, and for which the University is not financially accountable. Material supporting organizations are discretely included in the University's Financial Reporting Entity. Supporting Organizations are identified at:  https://content.cu.edu/controller/finance/related-orgs.html.

Suspense Accounts - A ChartField that represents a temporary classification of fiscal transactions by the Finance System or its subsystems due to incomplete or invalid information being available to the system. Such activity requires an individual to make another entry to ensure the appropriate classification of the fiscal transactions. Examples include expense account 699999 used by the Procurement Card system.

T ⇒ Z

Tests of Propriety - a framework for evaluating whether or not it is appropriate to use university funds when incurring certain expenses. The list below contains a series of questions designed to test the propriety of expenses by forming a framework for evaulating each transaction. An expenditure of university funds will be considered proper only if it meets all tests of propriety.  Is this transaction:

    1. For official university business?
    2. In the best interests of the university?
    3. The most effective way to accomplish official university business?  Meaning that, without the expense, would programmatic objectives be difficult or otherwise more costly to achieve? Or would the impact, level, or quality of the achievement be reduced?
    4. In compliance with applicable policies, laws, regulations, and rules; and contracts, grants, and donor restrictions including having the required approvals and authorizations by the appropriate fiscal role? Consult with the campus Controller for questions about whether or not a transaction is in compliance and with the Administrative Policy Statement "Fiscal Roles and Responsibilities" for information on fiscal roles.
    5. Within the available resources of the responsibility unit, taking into consideration all outstanding commitments and encumbrances?
    6. Directly beneficial to the responsibility unit where it is being charged?
    7. Reasonable?  Meaning that the quantity and quality of goods or services being purchased is sufficient to meet the university's identified need without exceeding it.
    8. In compliance with university conflict of interest provisions?  Meaning that, if an employee derives private gain, or appears to derive private gain, as a result of the transaction, then the transaction violates the conflict of interest provisions stated in Regent Law, Regent Policy, and in the Administrative Policy Statement, "Conflict of Interest Policy."

 If any of these questions receives a "no" response, then the expense is not appropriate for university funds. Evaluating the propriety of university expenses requires the exercise of a high degree of judgment and discernment. Therefore, consider the following when deciding whether or not a particular transaction is a proper use of university funds.

    • "Would a university outsider - such as your dentist, a teacher at the local elementary school, the clerk at your grocery store, or your neighbor – consider the expenditure to be a reasonable and necessary expense of public funds?
    • "Would you want others - such as newspaper, radio, television, or other media outlets - knowing and reporting about the expenditure?"

Think about whether an outsider, such as the general public or an auditor, would consider the expenditure a reasonable expense for university business and an appropriate use of university funds.

Transportation Authority - The manager of the organizational unit with overall responsibility for University Fleet Management at the campus

Unasserted claims or assessments – Situation where an external party (such as regulatory bodies, customers, vendors, sponsors) may be unsatisfied with the University's performance and may desire to seek a legal course of action to address their concerns. And for which a legal action has not yet been filed with the appropriate campus legal office, but for which you are aware of the party's intent to file in the near future. Examples include an investigation conducted by a government agency in which enforcement proceedings against the University have not been initiated; or a situation a customer is contemplating a lawsuit to force the University to pay damages.

University administrative office - An Organizational Unit that performs a specific functional service for the campus or University, such as the Budget Offices, Procurement Service Center, Human Resources, Sponsored Projects Accounting, Office of Grants and Contracts, Finance Office, Accounting Office, Payroll and Benefit Services.

University Funds - All funds appropriated, generated, awarded, donated or otherwise received by the University regardless of their source. With the exception of University Physicians Incorporated (UPI) funds, the term University Funds does not include Agency Funds (Fund 80) that the University maintains for legally separate External Student Organizations or other entities.

University Information - Official information of the institution, including but not limited to: university work products, results, materials, records, or other information developed or produced with university goods, funds or services. University information encompasses all information created by the university, including information classified as private or restricted. Examples include university web site content, schedules of courses, requests for proposals, policies and guidelines, personnel records, student data, research data, and patient data.

University Resources – Official resources of the institution, including but not limited to: university funds, facilities, personnel/labor, equipment (e.g., telephones, photocopy machines, computers – including email), work products, results, materials, records, or other information developed or produced with university goods or services.

University Staff - An individual who holds a staff position that is exempt from the state personnel system's rules and regulations (pursuant to state law). University staff is governed by the Board of Regent laws and policies.

University vehicles - Any licensed vehicle or unlicensed vehicle owned, leased, or operated under University funding.

Unrelated Business Income - Income produced by the University from activities beyond our mission of education, research, and public service and subject to taxation under Internal Revenue Service.


The policy owner toolbox provides information on the CU policy process, useful resources and forms, and templates for creating, revising or eliminating policies, including:

  • Process flowchart
  • Guide to writing policies
  • Style guide
  • Forms and templates

 Let us know of additional information that would enable us to improve this tool.

Policy Process

The APS Process Flowchart outlines the key stakeholders, phases and responsible parties involved with the Administration Policy Statements process for initiation, development, approval, implementation and maintenance of the APS issued by the Office of the President. The Office of Policy and Efficiency (OPE) is responsible for the policy process. Key templates used in the process include:

Guide to Writing Policy

Before developing a new policy, read the User Guide to Writing Policies, which will help you plan your policy and fill out the template. Quick links to reference materials:

Planning the Policy Actions

Once the new policy or revision is ready for development, download and complete the Justification Template. Use the Policy Template for new policies or download the latest versions of existing policies in Word format for editing. Use additional templates (procedures, FAQs) to develop related documents. Links and forms for the initial policy development process:

Policy Rollout

Once the policy is approved, it will be finalized and posted online. In addition, OPE and the policy owners will communicate the changes as outlined in the APS Communications Plan. 

Maintaining the Policy

OPE tracks upcoming reviews of the policies and procedures that you own. The APS Database provides access to your policies and related documents.

Policy Hierarchy

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Policies

1. What are the definitions of a Regent Law, Regent Policy, Administrative Policy Statements, policies and procedures?

  • Regent Laws are the laws of the university as directed by the Board of Regents. 
  • Regent Policies are the operating policies of the university and include guidelines for implementing the laws of the regents.
  • Administrative Policy Statements are the procedural policies of system administration for implementing the laws and policies of the regents or systemwide institutional directives that mandate requirements of, or provisions for, members of the university community.
  • A policy is a governing principle that mandates or constrains actions.
  • Procedures are a series of consecutive steps that specifies how a particular process should be completed. Procedures include information on the “who, what, when, and where” of the policy.

2. What are universitywide administrative policies?

Universitywide administrative policies align operations, set behavioral expectations across the university system and communicate policy roles and responsibilities (commonly known as Administrative Policy Statements or APS).

3. How do I find a policy?

University policies may be found at www.cu.edu/ope.  Quicklinks are provided on the home page to:

  1. Search Policies,
  2. Policies A-Z list,
  3. Functional area list (e.g., financial, human resources).

There is also a link to Other Policy Related Resources in the menu under "Policy" that has links to regent, campus, governance, service center or handbooks.

For assistance, contact the Office of Policy and Efficiency at 303-860-5711 or ope@cu.edu.

4. What is the Standard University Policy format?

The Standard University Policy format is a format developed by the Office of Policy and Efficiency that defines the various optional and mandatory parts of a policy. All administrative policies will be written using this format. You can view the template by clicking HERE.

5. How do I know if a policy was recently updated?

The Office of Policy and Efficiency website www.cu.edu/ope provides a list of:

  • Policies under review
  • Changes to policies, procedures and forms.
  • OPE news

For assistance, contact the Office of Policy and Efficiency at 303-860-5711 or ope@cu.edu.

7. Who do I contact with policy questions?

All policies are connected to a policy owner and a responsible office. We require contact information on all policies, however if it is missing or if you have general policy questions, contact the Office of Policy and Efficiency at:

8. If I think a policy is out-of-date or obsolete, who should I contact?

Office of Policy and Efficiency

9. How will I know if a policy or procedure changes?

The Office of Policy and Efficiency website cu.edu/ope provides:

  • Policies under review.
  • Changes to policies, procedures and forms.
  • OPE news and updates.

For assistance, contact the Office of Policy and Efficiency at 303-860-5711 or email ope@cu.edu.

10. Do I follow the campus or system policies?

If applicable, follow both. Campus policies should adhere to system policies, but may add campus-specific requirements to the broader system policy. A hierarchy of policies is available by clicking on the "Policy Hierarchy" tab at the top of this page.