UA financial database now on-line | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 5, 2012

UA financial database now on-line

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 6:20 AM

The University of Arkansas's website for review of expenditures is up and running.

It's not a full substitute for examination of documents, any more than the state "on-line checkbook" will be when its expenditure record becomes available tomorrow. You'll see, for example, if you look up travel reimbursements to select UA officials, you'll find checks payable on a variety of dates for specific amounts, but the explanation might be no more than "Airfare: Interstate official business." This is, of course, just the beginning of an explanation.

In answer to a question: Other universities also are going on-line, if not already there. The state Higher Education Department volunteered to me its policy on these databases. I note, with interest, the continuation of this state's over-broad interpretation of the federal student privacy law. Is a public paycheck for on-campus work really part of a student's educational record and thus shielded from view? In the eyes of Higher Ed, yes. This is clearly a place where a corrupt school administrator could favor politically well-placed students with special treatment and do so outside public view. The University of Arkansas has always favored the most restrictive view of FERPA possible. It refuses even requests for some aggregate data that isn't personally identifiable.

The following points outline the ADHE policy for the expenditure websites:

1. Institutions may use PDFs, Excel files or a database to present expenditure data.
2. The information will be updated on the website no less frequently than quarterly and will include YTD amounts. Some institutions may update their information monthly but update data to the expenditure website only quarterly.
3. The updates must be reported on the expenditure website within 30 days of the quarter end, i.e. the first quarter ends September 30 so the deadline for the updates to the website would be October 31.
4. If private funds are given and used for public expenses, they must be reported.
5. Vendor information has to be reported by at least a summary and then possibly in detail.
6. Institutions will follow their current retention policies.
7. No agency funds will be included.
8. No garnishments will be listed under Compensation.
9. No student workers will be included per FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Anything related to students cannot be reported.
10. ADHE will have a webpage developed and accessible by July 2012 which will house links to each institutions expenditure data website.
11. The first quarter of data will need to be added to the ADHE and institutions websites by October 31, 2012.

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