Chart of Accounts FAQs

  1. Who maintains the university’s Chart of Accounts?
  2. Is there a hierarchical structure to the values of the Chart of Accounts?
  3. How can I get a listing of the parent-child relationships for the Organization hierarchy?
  4. How are parent values used?
  5. What are Summary Accounts and how are they used?
  6. What are Reporting Attributes and how are they used?
  7. What is a Shorthand Alias and how does it differ from a Banner Alias?
  8. What is the purpose of the Banner-Oracle Mapping Table?
  9. What is the purpose of the MSA-Oracle Mapping Table?
  10. How do I determine which Account to use for an expense?
  11. I tried to use a combination of segment values (COA) and received an error message asking that I contact the Help Desk if I thought I received this message in error. What happened?

Q. Who maintains the university’s Chart of Accounts?

A. The Chart of Accounts is maintained by the Financial Systems Support (FSS) department. Each segment of the chart of accounts has an owner who must authorize any changes to that segment. Types of changes include adding a new value, closing values, and modifying values. FSS maintains these changes due to the complexity of synchronizing the changes across many related tables.

  • The general ledger (GL) chart of accounts refers to the segments comprising the Accounting Flexfield (a.k.a. the GL Account and an Account Code Combination). The 9 segments making up the Accounting Flexfield and their owners are:
  • Entity: University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Account: Office of the University Controller with input from the University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Organization: University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Funding Source: University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Net Asset Class: Office of the University Controller with input from the University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Function: Office of the University Controller with input from the University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Location: University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Activity: University Budget Office and the Medical Center Budget Office
  • Future Use: not currently used
  • Entity: University Budget Office and the Office of the University Controller
  • Account: Office of the University Controller with input from the University Budget Office Organization: University Budget Office with input from the Office of the University Controller
  • Funding Source: University Budget Office with input from the  Office of the University Controller
  • Net Asset Class: Office of the University Controller with input from the University Budget Office 
  • Function: Office of the University Controller with input from the University Budget Office
  • Location: University Budget Office and the Office of the University Controller with input from  Operations
  • Activity: University Budget Office and the Office of the University Controller
  • Future Use: not currently used

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Q. Is there a hierarchical structure to the values of the Chart of Accounts?

A. The values of each segment have parent and child relationships that form a hierarchical structure. Even though the value may appear to be in a group, the value may have had its parent changed making it report elsewhere than the value may infer.

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Q. How can I get a listing of the parent-child relationships for the Organization hierarchy?

A. All segments of the GL Accounting Flexfield (Entity, Account, Organization, Funding Source, Net Asset Class, Function, Location, Activity, Future Use) have the capability of a hierarchical structure of parent-child relationships among its values. To view a segment’s hierarchy, run the ‘Chart of Accounts Segment Value Listing [GL-055][XML]’ from within the Enterprise Accounting System (EAS). 

The report will require you to select which segment of the general ledger Accounting Flexfield for which you want to view the hierarchy; it will also allow you to identify the Root Value (level) of the hierarchy. To view the complete hierarchy for your requested segment, leave the Root Value (level) blank.

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Q. How are parent values used?

A. Transactions can only post to a child value. Parent values are used in reporting for hierarchical summarized reporting and are especially useful with FSG reports. Parent values may also be used with standard reports. 

Parent values cannot be used to query online for data. Instead, parent values can be assigned to a group and that group can be assigned as the segment value in a Summary Account. Summary Accounts can be used to query online for data.

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Q. What are Summary Accounts and how are they used?

A. Summary Accounts are a tool for gathering transactional data online. Even though transactions are not posted to Summary Accounts, transactional data can be retrieved online via summary accounts.

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Q. What are Reporting Attributes and how are they used?

A. Reporting Attributes act as an extension of the Chart of Accounts - they are used to group chart of accounts values together for reporting. They were designed to assist with Financial Statement Generator reports (FSGs) by grouping values together when normal parent-child relationships would not work. The use of reporting attributes allowed a child value to be assigned to multiple groups, whereas the parent-child relationship for the segment value only allows for a single hierarchy.

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Q. What is a Shorthand Alias and how does it differ from a Banner Alias?

A. A Shorthand Alias is used for entering GL journals or Accounts Payable (AP) distributions to a GL Accounting Flexfield. It is not used with Grants activity.

A Shorthand Alias is designed to save keystrokes and assist users in charging an appropriate GL string for a transaction. So the user will not have to remember too many shortcut values, the Shorthand Alias is normally, but not always, the same value as the Banner Index. For example, 617013 is the Banner Index and the Shorthand Alias for FSS. But the Shorthand Alias for the bank deposit side of a Cashier’s Office GL journal is “Cash Dept” or “Cash Summary” and that value does not exist, nor is needed, as a Banner Index.

Also, The Shorthand Alias for a department’s C-fund may be the same value as an Organization value, but not always.

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Q. What is the purpose of the Banner-Oracle Mapping Table?

A. The Banner-Oracle Mapping Table is used by interfaces to translate a Banner Index to a GL Accounting String, a Sponsored Projects’ Project/Task/Award (PTA) combination, and/or a Endowment Tracking System (ETS) fund. It is also used to record a funding journal for Cost Share.

The table has both a current view and a historical view so users can determine how a Banner Index was translated historically.

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Q. What is the purpose of the MSA-Oracle Mapping Table?

A. The MSA-Oracle Mapping Table provides a crosswalk of where MSA (the University’s financial system prior to implementation of EAS at the beginning of October 2000) accumulated data was posted in EAS. MSA used Cost Centers to identify ownership of funds, whereas the Enterprise Accounting System uses combinations of Chart of Accounts values. The MSA-Oracle Mapping Table can be queried to determine the pathway to assist with analyses that cross MSA and EAS data.

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Q. How do I determine which Account to use for an expense?

A. Click the ‘Natural Account Descriptions – Chart of Accounts’ link on the Forms page to view allowed Accounts and definitions.

FSS maintains the segment values for Accounts as instructed by the Office of the University Controller using start and end dates that control when new transactions can be posted to the values. When values are shut down, they are removed from the website. The website only contains active accounts and definitions for usage.

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Q. I tried to use a combination of segment values (COA) and received an error message asking that I contact the Help Desk if I thought I received this message in error. What happened?

A. Cross Validation Rules are used to define allowable ranges of data or distinct values for each segment of the COA that can be used with ranges or distinct values of other segments.

When a user receives a message of this type, it is because these Cross Validation Rules are preventing this combination from being built. If the combination should be allowed, contact the IT Support at 202-994-4948, option 1, and identify your need. Alternately, you can send an email to [email protected]. The Help Desk personnel will log your request and notify FSS to assist you.