Tublitz’s Transparency Resolution

11/9/2009: In May Nathan Tublitz’s motion to increase financial transparency by providing access to UO accounting records passed the UO Senate. The new administration seems to be taking this seriously, and the Senate website now includes this memo: (Note that due to a new state law, in January UO will start posting all employee salary numbers online.)

Transparency of University Financial Transactions (this report is made jointly by Don Harris and Frances Dyke)

The UO Senate passed the following motion:

The University Senate respectfully requests the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 15 November 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website ( https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/).

Frances Dyke comments:

The CIO, Don Harris is here to answer any of the more technical questions you may with regard to the financial reporting tool that will be available on November 16 (the first workday after November 15). As discussed at the May University Senate meeting work began on developing this tool after a major enterprise software upgrade project was completed in September.

The tool you will be able to access starting next Monday is the initial roll out of a financial reporting tool for compliance with the university Senate motion on financial transparency. In the course of discussions related to development the work group has identified impediments to our ability to provide transactional level detail in a publicly available financial reporting tool. There are issues of both security and legally binding confidentiality that must be balanced against the desire for full transparency. As mentioned at the October Senate meeting I am now asking the Senate President to appoint an advisory group to help analyze these problems and find solutions that can be legally and operationally implemented. In making this request I also recommend that the Senate President consider creating this advisory group by drawing on membership of the Senate Budget Committee and other members of the Senate or university community who have a particular interest or expertise in financial management reporting.

As a side note the state will be implementing a web site to comply with HB 2500 on financial transparency at the state level. This website will be active in January 2010 and will contain salary information on all state employees including all employees in the Oregon University System. It will also include information summarizing payments from agencies to vendors. A copy of the House bill is attached.

Don Harris comments:

The application developed uses the WEB development portal tool kit and will be accessible via DuckWeb. This was done so that we could deploy a resource that could be supported by IS Enterprise Administrative Applications and several programmer/analysts who are trained in the use of this toolset. The application will be easy to use and incorporate pull down menus, drilldown capability within specified limits, the ability to compare several years of data, and the ability to download data into an Excel spreadsheet. We have developed this application to be responsive to the senate motion while seeking to balance the needs for transparency and the security and confidentiality issues that have become apparent. As the VPFA and I work with the advisory group appointed by the Senate president appropriate modifications will be made.

This is a big step forward. Just 6 months ago we were getting emails like this:

Professor X:

Thank you for your inquiry.

The Business Affairs Office is working on a complete redesign of our web presence. Part of that project is to review information currently accessible on our website to decide what to transition to the new portals. During this review period, we looked at the Chart of Accounts page you referenced below.

We discovered that certain information available through the Chart of Accounts is considered confidential pursuant to OAR 571-030-0025(1). As such, we removed the information from our publicly-accessible website and restricted access to personnel with a “demonstrably legitimate need for particular information in order to fulfill their official, professional responsibilities.” Those personnel include those who perform business and budget transactions within the BANNER enterprise accounting system (i.e. campus budget and business officers and core-office personnel.)

If you have any other questions related to Chart of Accounts data, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Kelly B. Wolf

Kelly B. Wolf
Director of Business Affairs and Controller
University of Oregon
Phone: (541) 346-3165
Fax: (541) 346-5820
kbwolf@uoregon.edu

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