Montana State University

BPA Process Improvements and revised Travel Forms

Published: July 16, 2012

The Office of Sponsored Programs and University Business Services are pleased to announce changes effective immediately that will improve our service to you.

Our offices are making progress toward electronic approvals, and the first steps in our streamlined system start with BPAs and a revised Travel Approval and Justification form. Over the past few months, OSP and UBS have been testing an electronic approval process for BPAs, and are implementing it fully effective with FY13 BPA payments. We expect these new changes to improve the overall BPA process and assistance from you is requested to make sure this all runs smoothly!

BPA Process Improvements

  • The first stop in Montana Hall is UBS for ALL BPAs and ANY Travel Justification form that is requesting a travel advance, whether the payment is using grant funds or another funding source. In short, if a document has received departmental (or college) approval, and it involves spending money, send it to UBS!
    • UBS will perform its regular work, which includes ensuring that the vendor is set up in Banner and has a valid tax id number, that the vendor receives appropriate IRS 1099 reporting, and that Purchasing and HR reviews and approves, if applicable.
  • UBS accounts payable staff will then enter the invoice in Banner, on an unapproved status.
    • You will be able to see the document in Banner in the Vendor History screen (FAIVNDH) as soon as UBS staff enters it, even if not yet approved. The Vendor History screen generally shows the date entered in the Date Due column.
    • Documents will not be posted to Banner Finance, and as such will not show up in your operating ledger reports, until they receive final approval and are released for payment.
    • UBS is in the process of developing enhanced finance reports, which will display the pending expenses!
  • An automated Banner process will route a payment request to the appropriate approver—OSP for grants and IDCs, and UBS for other payments.
    • Because we do not have document imaging, we will still be routing the paper document along with the electronic record of the invoice to the approver, which means that BPAs with Grant and IDC indexes will be sent up to the third floor of Montana Hall for OSP to review.
    • With paper in-hand, OSP or UBS will perform its normal review procedures, which include monitoring for grant compliance, accuracy and compliance with state and University rules.
  • OSP or UBS staff will then approve the invoice electronically, releasing payment.
    • BPAs paid using Grant funding sources, which represent nearly one-third of MSU's payments, will be filed upstairs in OSP, and moved to OSP's off-site storage as needed throughout the year. The only exception will be grant funding sources paid through the journal processes (campus/state agencies, etc.) which will continue to be filed in the UBS office in the journal files.
    • BPAs for IDCs and all other funding sources will be filed in UBS and moved to off-site storage each year.
  • Note—if a BPA uses mixed funding sources (charges are split to grant funds and other funds), the BPA will stay upstairs in OSP, as all BPAs with a grant funding source will be routed there.

Travel Form

  • A new travel form and instructions have been posted on the University Business Services website, and can be found at Travel Advance and Justification and UBS Travel Page. This form is used for all campuses and agencies of MSU, so certain titles have changed.
  • On this new form, there are a few additions, and one change.
    • A foreign travel section should be filled out for all foreign travel
    • A reference to new federal reporting guidelines involving sponsored travel for NIH grant recipients has been included
    • MSU will now process requests for advances at 100% instead of the previous 80%.
    • Your college/department will determine who signs approval of the travel, based on your practices. Just make sure that someone signs on the "Final Approver" line to release payment! For example:
      • Some deans' offices approve all travel, so for these departments the dean's office will sign on the "Final Approver" line.
      • If a department is authorized to approve its own travel, the department will sign on the "Final Approver" line.
      • Some travel is on a grant, and OSP will sign on the "Final Approver" line.