Policy News

What’s new in Administrative Policies? The following articles are on policies that have recently completed a 30-day review. Additional and recent policy changes can be found at http://policy.umn.edu/recently-updated-policies

Leave Your Drones at Home!

Or, at least plan on flying them in a local park if for personal use.

Drones were on most of the “top 10” gifts list this past holiday season. Multiple sizes and cameras or no cameras are just some of the cool features they have. Home shopping networks ran drones as feature items weekly. Who wouldn’t be excited to grab the controls?!

Drones also have extensive practical applications: viewing chillers at the top of tall buildings, delivering packages, storm monitoring, helping control wildfires and producing 3-D maps from their images.

Across our system, safety is a top priority. With a large number of students, faculty, staff, and visitors on our campuses each day, improperly operated drones can pose a very real risk to people and property.  The University’s campuses, as well as research and outreach stations, are often located in close proximity to areas such as airports, helipads, and major stadiums which carry additional restrictions. 

After weighing all of the factors, a project team and consultative bodies are in agreement that use on, and over, University of Minnesota property should be mission-related (used only for teaching, research, or outreach). Drone use will also be possible for select administrative operations.

The new Administrative Policy: Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) specifies when and if drones can be used on campus, identifies the physical locations where flight, if allowed, is permitted, and when use is subject to insurance restrictions.  To ensure that the University knows where and how the drones will be used for mission-related activities, as well as to communicate any safety concerns to operators, a new registration process is required. All recreational use, however, is prohibited.


University State of Emergency: Human Resources Implications

Until 2009, a policy on this topic did not exist. You may recall the outbreak of influenza that hit a large portion of the United States, including our campus community. This policy was quickly developed to help guide students, faculty, and staff if affected by influenza-related illness, in a way that would maintain the University day-to-day operations (as much as possible).

While it’s been years since that time and no similar incidents have occurred, this policy still frames a number of HR issues and plans should some part of or the entire University system encounter another state of emergency. The policy has been broadened to cover emergencies beyond medical emergencies (natural or human-caused disaster, outbreak of pandemic illnesses, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances) and focuses on these key components:

  • Communication
  • Distinguishing between essential and non-essential positions
  • Pay and unpaid leave provisions
  • Reporting to work expectations
  • Potential for alternate duty assignments

PCard Policy – Good to Know!

The Procurement Card has proven to be both a convenient purchasing tool for faculty and staff, as well as an economical method for making small dollar purchases. More than $65 million dollars annually flow through the Procurement Card structure. In this recent comprehensive review period, a number of improvements were made.

  • The oversight responsibilities for the new Chief Financial Manager (CFM) for each college or academic unit were established. This role is also specifically mentioned as being responsible for monitoring for their college or academic unit’s violations.
  • Specific requirements for cardholders are listed up front within the policy statement, rather than in the appendices.
  • Cards may be issued/used as a departmental card (not just an individual) and the parameters of use for a departmental PCard.
  • A high level summary of what may or may not be purchased via the PCard has been grouped into the policy section titled “Card Use”.
  • The administrative procedure: Verification and Approval of Procurement Card Activity has been updated to incorporate the 2015 Upgrade’s implementation of My Wallet and reconciliation with the Expense Report process within EFS (the University’s financial system).
One, two, three strikes, and...

There are 5,300 employees that have been issued procurement cards. As with other University tools, individuals with authorized access have associated responsibilities. For procurement cards, cardholders are responsible for the safekeeping of the card, and for the timely submission of the appropriate documentation justifying the purchase(s) made. Timely submission of the support documentation is defined as 30 days from the transaction posting in the financial system.
Currently, about 65% of the cardholders are successful in meeting these submission timelines. For those that do not, additional administrative burden is created. The latest version of this policy includes a more specific statement of consequences for the cardholder should these submission deadlines not be met.

  • First incident of late reporting – the procurement cards will be suspended until all transactions have been reconciled and approved.
  • Second incident of late reporting – the procurement card will be suspended and the suspension will last 30 days beyond reconciliation and approval of the outstanding transactions.
  • Third incident of late reporting – the card will be cancelled.

This procedural change will bring the accounting required back in alignment with the policy.


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