Home » Resources » FAQs » FAQs – Accounting and Reporting

FAQs – Accounting and Reporting

General Accounting and Analysis

What is PantherSoft Financials?

PantherSoft Financials is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implemented to best meet Florida International University’s financial administration needs.

PantherSoft Financials was developed using PeopleSoft® software, a product of Oracle ® Corporation. PantherSoft Financials stores all the financial information of the University including areas such as budget, general ledger, purchasing, inventory, and reporting tools.

What is a Business Unit (PC Bus Unit)?

A Business Unit is a required Chartfields segment indicating a major division of the University. FIU uses the ‘FIU01’ Business Unit for most of the University’s transactions.

What is the University’s Fiscal Year & Accounting Period?

The accounting period for FIU is a 12-period beginning July 1 and ending June 30. It is referred to as a fiscal year instead of a calendar year.

Our fiscal months begin with July (Period 1) and end with June (Period 12) instead of the usual January (1) and December (12). For example, period 7 represents the month of January.

What are Chartfields?

The University’s Chart of Accounts in PantherSoft is made up of 15 blocks of information called Chartfields. Chartfields provide a common accounting language for identifying the University’s transactions. They make up the backbone of the University’s accounting system.

A few examples of Chartfields are: Site, Activity Number, GL Account, Unit, Fund, Department.

Crosswalk of old Chartfields to new Chartfields as of August 15, 2012

What Chartfields must be entered for each financial transaction in PantherSoft Financials?

Required Chartfields combinations vary depending on the Fund Code being used. At a minimum, ALL journal entries and other financial transactions require the use of Site, Fund, Department, Activity Number (Activity Nbr), and GL Account.

It is encouraged to use the Speed types when processing journal entries. A Speed type is an index number that identifies an activity in the general ledger. It refers to a unique combination of fund, org, program, project, etc. which are collectively known as Chartfields. If Speed types are utilized, Chartfields on the journal entry related to a specific activity number will be populated automatically. For the latest list of Speed types run the following public query in Peoplesoft: SPEEDTYPE_PROMPT_QUERY.

What additional Chartfields are required for projects (i.e. Contracts & Grants (C&G) and Construction Projects)?

Transactions recorded at the Project ID level for C&G require additional Chartfields such us: PC Business Unit (PC Bus Unit) Project ID, Activity, and Analysis Type (An Type).

Transactions recorded at the Project ID level for a construction project, require additional Chartfields such us: Budget Reference, PC Business Unit (PC Bus Unit) Project ID, Activity, and Analysis Type (An Type).

If you need specific or additional information, please contact the project’s manager.

How do I know which GL Expense Account to use when recording departmental journals?

A Reference to the Chart of Accounts is available to provide clear guidance on the proper use of these GL accounts.

If you need specific or additional information, please send your inquiry to the General Accounting Team.

How can I tell what account a commodity code / purchasing category is going to hit on my ledger when processing a requisition?

Each commodity code and Purchasing Category is mapped to an expense account. This crosswalk is available on the query: FIU_FSSS_PO_CATEGORY_LIST

If departmental expenses are reimbursed by an outside entity, is this considered a reduction of expense or revenue to the university?

If payment is received from an outside entity for any good or service, it should always be recorded as revenue, not a reduction of expenses. The reimbursement of expenses by a university DSO (Foundation, Research Foundation, etc.) should be recorded as per the Procedures for Accounting for Funds Received from DSOs.

If you need specific or additional information, please send your inquiry to the General Accounting Team.

How are Interdepartmental Charges recorded?

The Controller’s Office is responsible for posting all inter-departmental charges in PeopleSoft either through a manual review and posting process or an automated overnight posting process thru the Smart Internal Billing tool. All interdepartmental charges move cash from one Activity number and/or Project number to another without generating an actual payment (check/ACH). Please review the official University policy related to interdepartmental charges.

What is Smart Internal Billing?

Some departments within the University provide goods and/or services for a fee to other University departments. Smart Internal Billing is an electronic invoicing tool that facilitates the revenue collection from these University departments (internal customers).

The seller or Billing Department is responsible for providing a price quote and initiate the billing process. The buyer or Receiving Department is responsible for approving the price quote and reviewing the charges being billed by the selling department.

What is a Smart Journal?

Smart Journal is a tool that creates journals to facilitate the cash transfer process for those activities that can transfer cash thru the Smart Journal process. It looks very similar to a journal entry that has been limited to only use GL accounts 757001-Transfers Out – Within University and 657001-Transfers In – Within University; and configured to check for available cash of the activity that is transferring out. Access to the tool is limited to organizational approvers (Expense Managers) and only those activity numbers in which the organizational approver has access will be allowed to process Smart Journals. It reduces data-entry errors and labor costs by eliminating the need for double entry into the units’ software and PantherSoft Financials.

Smart Journal Entry Guide.

For any questions regarding Smart Internal Billing or Smart Journals, please contact Financial Systems and Support Services (FSSS) Call Center at (305) 348 – 7200. For our current instructor led classes please visit the Training Registration Site.

If the cash transfer is related to projects, a Cash Transfers Form (Link to Forms and Template page – AR section) should be processed along with the adequate and sufficient supporting documentation and sent via inter-office mail or e-mail to our Cash Management Team.

Smart Journals or Cash Transfers Forms are also used when recording adjusting entries for transactions that cross fiscal years, i.e.: to record a correcting entry in October 2019 for a transaction originally recorded in May 2019.

How are adjusting journal entries processed?

All adjusting journals entries requests should be submitted via inter-office mail or email our General Accounting Team  along with all supporting documentation. Please note that we might require original documents. For these adjusting journal entries that do not cross fiscal years, please use the Internal Transfer Form.

Users should be as explicit as possible in the “Justification” section as this information will appear in the header description of the journal within PantherSoft Financials.

Please note that if the internal transfer is between two different activity numbers, the signature of both departmental expense managers should be included on the Initiating Activity Number. and Benefiting Activity Number. sections of the form.

All adjusting entries submitted with an Internal Transfer Form related to Accounts Payable will be routed to the Accounts Payable Department as these adjusting entries are processed with an AP journal voucher.

Internal transfers related to travel will be routed to the Travel Department.

Some users have access to upload the adjusting journal entries with an Upload Form to PantherSoft Financials via the spreadsheet journal import process. The Spreadsheet Journal Import process is used to streamline the journal import and simplify journal data entry using Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheet Journal Import uses a front-end interface that provides you with an easy-to-follow menu for entering data, specifying defaults, and importing journals. With Spreadsheet Journal Import, you can enter foreign, base, and statistical journals, as well as adjusting journal entries. Guideline: Journal Upload Tool Manual.

Internal transfers related to credit card transactions, i.e.: vendor – JP Morgan Chase, please contact the Credit Card Solutions Team (Link to Directory page – Credit Card Solution Section).

What is considered adequate and sufficient supporting documentation?

Submitted forms MUST include adequate and sufficient documentation in order to be processed by the Controller’s Office. Adequate and sufficient supporting documentation includes but is not limited to: Trandata queries, Original invoice, supporting schedules.

How can I submit a request to create/change or deactivate an activity number?

For a new activity number request, change or deactivation of a current activity number, please follow the steps as prompted on the Activity Number & Department Maintenance Request E-Form Instructional Guide.

Link to the Request E-form: Activity Number & Department Maintenance Request eForm.

For further instructions, please contact Financial Systems and Support (FSSS).

Merchant Services and PCI Compliance

My department wants to accept credit cards as a form of payment. How can we establish an account?

Contact Merchant Services via email at merchant@fiu.edu to request an exploratory call or schedule a meeting to discuss your department’s needs. This will assist the Merchant Services team in identifying the best solution for your department.

What are the requirements for employees?

To complete the Merchant Employee e-form. The eform is an electronic workflow that incorporates several departments (HR, University Compliance, Merchant Services) to ensure that the employee has completed the following requirements:

  • Level II background check (background check and fingerprinting).
  • Completion of PCI training with passing score.
  • Completion of the employee attestation that includes the University’s payment card processing policy, related procedures and records your merchant role and required access.

The Merchant Services team can manage, track, monitor these employees which have a merchant related role through this process.

Who is required to complete the Merchant Employee eform process?

The unit’s business contact, technical contact, and merchant employees that will have access to sensitive payment card information, will have access to a third-party merchant system, and/or record the merchant deposits in the general ledger must be approved via the eform process.

Can I use my work computer to process a credit card payment on behalf of a customer?

No. Employees are not allowed to process credit card transactions on University-owned devices on behalf of customers. The customer must make the online payment using his or her own device.

What is the risk of Non-Compliance/PCI Breach?

  • Reputational Damage
  • Fines (up to 500k per card brand, Visa/MasterCard/Discover/American Express)
  • Legal and Investigative costs
  • Cardholder notification and credit monitoring for 3 years
  • Potential classification as a Level 1 Merchant
    • Report on Compliance (ROC) – Minimum 50k

Who should I contact if I have any security concerns regarding cardholder data?

The PCI Compliance Team via email at pcicompliance@fiu.edu or contact any of the team members directly via phone (Link to our new Directory page – Merchant Services section).

Petty Cash and Participant Payments

How can the petty cash be used?

The petty cash funds provided to departments are for emergency, non-recurring purchases of $50 or less.

What are requirements to become a petty cash custodian?

A custodian must be a University employee who has been authorized by the department’s management and has cleared a level II background check.

Are two custodians allowed to manage one petty cash or participant payment fund?

No, only one custodian is allowed per fund. The custodian is fully responsible for the safeguarding and proper usage of the fund. For planned absences the current custodian must submit a transfer of custodian form to cashrequests@fiu.edu.

How can I change custodians of a petty cash or participant payment fund?

Complete the Petty Cash Transfer of Custodianship or Participant Payment Transfer of Custodianship form and send the completed form to cashrequests@fiu.edu. The new custodian must have cleared a level II background check.

My research study has surpassed the original project date. Am I required to close the participant payment fund?

The participant payment fund can be extended as long as the Institutional Review Board (IRB) form has extended the project date. The IRB protocol form and the Participant Payment Extension form must be completed and sent to cashrequsts@fiu.edu. If the forms are not received on time, the fund will be requested to be close by the Controllers Office.

Travel and other Expenses Questions

When is a Travel Authorization required?

When traveling to a conference, convention, workshop or seminar and, when the travel is outside of the vicinity of FIU headquarters.

What is considered vicinity travel?

Vicinity travel is defined as travel within a 50-mile one-way distance from a travelers FIU headquarters.

Where do I find information concerning FIU travel policies and procedures?

The FIU Travel Policy is located on the University Compliance website.

Please review our Travel and Expense Manual for more information.

Are students and/or non-employees eligible for Cash Advances?

Cash Advances are only issued to FIU employees.

If the city traveled to is not listed as a location, what city should I use?

The city closest to the destination of the travel.

Can I create one TA for multiple travelers?

Yes, when a faculty or staff member is traveling with a group of students, and the student will not seek reimbursement.

How far in advance of the travel date should I create the TA?

At least 20 days prior to the travel date, however an approved Travel Authorization is required before any expense is incurred by the University.

Will airline baggage fees be reimbursed?

Yes, if the number of bags for a trip does not seem excessive for the length of the trip, all baggage fees will be reimbursed, as long as receipt is provided.

If severe weather occurs, are flight changes allowable?

Yes, a memo explaining the situation should accompany the reimbursement request.

If a traveler uses frequent-flyer miles/reward points to purchase an airline ticket for business, can the traveler be reimbursed for the estimated cost of the flight as originally quoted?

No, the university can only reimburse the traveler for actual out-of-pocket costs.

Is an agenda required when traveling to a conference, convention, workshop or seminar?

Yes, an agenda is always required.

If the conference registration fee includes meals but the traveler does not eat them, can the traveler receive reimbursement for the meals?

No, a traveler cannot be reimbursed for any meal included in the registration cost.

Immediately after a conference ends, a traveler travels to another location to attend a second conference that begins a few days later. Are the costs the traveler incurs while waiting for the second conference to begin reimbursable?

If staying at the location of the second conference is more cost-effective for the traveler than returning home, the costs incurred while waiting are reimbursable, provided the traveler supplies supporting documentation.

Can a traveler be reimbursed for events that contain additional fees exceeding the basic conference fee?

If there is a specific benefit to the university for the traveler to attend those events and that reason is provided with the reimbursement request, the additional fees are reimbursable.

Is the cost for materials needed to present at a conference reimbursable?

Yes.

Can foreign travel lodging costs exceed the U.S. Department of State’s per diem rates?

Yes, if the traveler stays at a conference hotel or provides written justification.

Are visa and immunization fees reimbursable?

Yes, if the traveler is sent to a foreign destination on university business, these costs are reimbursable if a receipt is submitted. Visas for employment cannot be reimbursed as this must be processed by Human Resources or Academic Affairs.

Are the fees a foreign bank charges to convert U.S. currency to a foreign currency reimbursable?

Yes, they are reimbursable with a receipt.

Are entry and exit fees for foreign travel reimbursable?

Yes, they are reimbursable with a receipt.

Are tips made to hotel cleaning staff reimbursable?

No.

If a traveler works outside normal business hours, is the traveler entitled to receive reimbursement for mileage between the university and home?

No, travel costs between the traveler’s official place of work and home are not reimbursable, even if the travel occurs outside normal business hours.

Is valet parking reimbursable?

Valet parking is reimbursable only if self-parking is not available.

If a traveler chooses to drive his or her vehicle instead of fly, is the traveler entitled to be reimbursed for mileage?

Yes, the traveler may be reimbursed up to the amount it would have cost to fly to his or her destination. Note: Include a quote for the round-trip airfare cost with the reimbursement request.

Can a traveler be paid the cost of gas in lieu of mileage?

No, the university always pays mileage. It is not permissible to pay for gas to be put into a traveler’s personal vehicle.

Are hotel phone charges reimbursable?

Yes, all business-related communication is reimbursable.

Are laundry charges at a hotel reimbursable?

If a trip exceeds seven days and the traveler provides a receipt for the charges, the traveler will be reimbursed.

Is a GPS device in a rental car reimbursable?

Yes. If a traveler will be in an unfamiliar area, a GPS device can help the traveler arrive at his or her destination in a timely manner. Since this device is simply an interactive map, the daily charge for it would be allowable if the traveler’s department approves the charge.

If a traveler loses a receipt; can the traveler still receive reimbursement?

Yes, the traveler must obtain a duplicate receipt from the merchant unless the expense is for taxis, shuttles, Uber and parking.

Can I use a rental company other than Enterprise/National?

For rentals other than the Enterprise/National State contract, travelers will be reimbursed at the rate of the state contract.