University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Financial Transaction Approvals and Routing

Policy Statement

Chief Financial Managers (CFMs) are responsible for ensuring financial transaction approval authorities and processes within their college, campus, or administrative units are designed and performed so that they are cost-effective, and adhere to the following guiding principles: 

  • Knowledge and authority: Authorized approvers must be those persons who will have an understanding of the transaction to ensure its accuracy and consistency with University policy, and who will also have the requisite authority to approve or deny the transaction. 
  • Segregation of Duties: Generally, approval processes must be designed to ensure that no one person can approve transactions on which they also perform the following functions:
    • committing to or authorizing payment for payroll, purchases, travel/expense reimbursements, or cash disbursements;
    • receiving or distributing goods, checks, or cash; or
    • recording transactions on the University’s financial system.
  • One-Up Approvals: Employees cannot approve their own travel and expense reimbursements, or purchases they initiate. Employee travel and expense reimbursements, and purchases of goods or services that could be perceived as personally benefitting an employee, must be approved by a person one level senior to the employee requesting reimbursement or initiating the purchase.
  • Approval authority can be delegated by the original approver, however accountability cannot be delegated. Both the delegate and the original approver are accountable for any approvals completed.
  • Ensure transactions are appropriate in nature and adhere to University policies. Refer to Approver Expectations and Issue resolution procedure for additional information.

Approval processes utilized by campuses, colleges, and vice presidential units must be consistent with certified approval requirements on sponsored projects, all requirements for central approvals on certain transactions, and any other special requirements.

Reason for Policy

Adequate review and approval of transactions is a key financial internal control. This policy provides a consistent framework for approvals to ensure that:

  • funds provided to the University by taxpayers, students, donors and sponsors are being used in accordance with federal and state requirements, donor intentions, University policy and/or sponsor directives;
  • the risks of fraud or misuse of funds is effectively managed; and
  • transactions included in the University’s financial statements are accurately reported, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.


Subject Contact Phone Email
Primary Contact Financial Helpline 612-624-1617 [email protected]
Overall Policy / Process Mollie Viola 612-625-0126 [email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Controller
  • Director of Accounting Services
  • Mollie Viola
    Director of Accounting Services


Allocable Costs
Cost of goods or services that are chargeable or assignable to a project or an activity based on the relative benefits received.
Chief Financial Manager (CFM)
Individuals appointed by chancellors, deans and vice presidents who have dotted-line reporting to the University Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and who serve as the primary point of contact for the CFO and direct reports to the CFO at the RRC level on financial matters. The CFM is accountable for all financial activities including financial oversight, monitoring, financial reporting, policy & compliance, financial operations, communication, and financial leadership for the campus, college, or vice presidential unit.
The person who prepares the journal entry or transaction to be entered into the PeopleSoft financial system. The initiator, in some cases, could be the person entering the transaction into the financial system or they could prepare the transaction and delegate the entering in the financial system to another staff member. The initiator cannot be the approver regardless if they enter the transaction into the financial system.
RRCs (Resource Responsibility Centers)
The organizational units of the University designated as the level at which management accountability exists for budgeting and financial management.
Sponsored Funds
Funds provided by a grant, contract, cooperative agreement, or other financial instrument that are administered by SPA.


Accounting Services
  • Review and approve various financial transactions based on threshold amounts.
  • Review and provide advice on all transactions as requested.
  • Monitor accounting transactions for consistency with University policies and procedures
  • Monitor approvals to ensure compliance with policy
  • Assist with issue resolution, as requested
  • Ensure transactions are appropriate and adhere to University policy
  • Responsible for escalating issues related to allowability, appropriateness, and/or University policy violations.
  • Ensure approvals follow expectations outlined in EFS Approver Expectations
Certified Approver
  • Ensure transactions are allowable and appropriate on sponsored projects.
Cluster Directors
  • Set departmental approval requirements.
  • Approve and maintain signature authorizations.
  • Oversee and monitor all internal transaction activity in own cluster.
Chancellor, Dean, Department Head, Administrative Officer, or Vice-President
  • Delegates appropriate authority to CFMs to ensure that approval processes will function effectively.
  • Authority can be delegated, but still accountable for approved transactions
  • Endorses and adhere to one-up approval practices within the campus, college or unit
  • Exercises good judgment when reviewing transactions
Chief Financial Managers
  • Develop and ensure that transaction approval processes used by the campus, college or vice presidential unit are in conformity with University policies and the guiding principles set forth in this policy
  • Review and provide advice on transactions as requested by units within the RRC.
  • Communicate information within RRC related to accounting transactions
University Departments
  • Ensure individuals with approval authority are knowledgeable on transactions
  • Ensure transactions are in compliance with University policy
  • Ensure transactions are allowable and appropriate on sponsored funds
  • Ensure transaction preparers and approvers have proper segregation of duties

Related Information


December 2015 - Comprehensive Review, Major Revision: 1. Included language changes from CUFS to PeopleSoft. 2. Clarifies the requirements and expectations for approves including one-up approvals and types of approvals that are required. 3. Title changed (Prepended: Financial Transaction).
October 2003