1. Improved Procedures for Processing Late Salary Distribution Changes
2. eSDS Change Concerning Suspense Cost Objects Implemented
3. Slides Available from November AO/FO Meeting
4. Bank of America Waives Check Cashing Fee
5. Email List To Receive HR/Payroll Communications
6. Save the Date! VPF Community Forum, Dec. 9
7. VPF Points of Interest
8. Links and Contact Information – When You Need Help

1. Improved Procedures for Processing Late Salary Distribution Changes
We recently convened a small working group within the Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) to review and improve policies and procedures related to the processing of late salary distribution changes. The group has been performing outreach to the departments, laboratories, and centers (DLCs) to gain a better understanding about why late changes exist in such great numbers and to determine what we can do to simplify the overall process.

As part of this work, we are designing a new late salary distribution change request form for community use. The smart web form will be accompanied by an inbox, which allows users to access and view the status of requests. The new web system will be piloted in the coming months and will be available for community-wide use early in 2009.

The team has recommended that the window for making salary distribution changes within eSDS be extended from 60 to 90 days following the quarter end date to synchronize this process with the salary certification schedule. By extending the window to make changes within eSDS by one month, and by synchronizing the eSDS window for making changes with the end of the certification period for each quarter, we believe that we can appropriately minimize the number of late change requests. We plan to implement this change for the first quarter of FY 2009, extending the eSDS window from the end of November through the end of December. Formal notification of this policy change will be forthcoming.

2. eSDS Change Concerning Suspense Cost Objects Implemented
An upgrade to the program that works with SAP to distribute exempt salaries to cost objects was implemented on August 16. One of the enhancements was the introduction of new suspense logic to eSDS. When the upgrade went live, we were made aware of an unintended consequence. When making a distribution change in eSDS using the "view by cost object" option (once accessing an individual's distribution), the eSDS administrator was forced to enter the suspense cost object for future periods of time following a wbs cost object expiration date currently in SAP.

We have modified the program so that eSDS will now default to the suspense cost object for future time periods as appropriate, eliminating the need for the administrator to actively input distribution to suspense.

3. Slides Available from November AO/FO Meeting
Slides from presentations at the Nov. 5 Administrative and Fiscal Officers (AO/FO) Meeting are now available on the VPF website. Please see:


The meeting featured a report from Provost Rafael Reif on an Academic Visioning initiative, a presentation from Executive Vice President and Treasurer Terry Stone on the themes and overarching goals of her office, and a panel discussion concerning the impact of the economy on MIT. Vice President for Finance Israel Ruiz, Vice President for Human Resources Alison Alden, and Richard Amster, Jr., director of Campus Planning, Engineering and Construction, also delivered presentations.

4. Bank of America Waives Check Cashing Fee
Bank of America has agreed to waive its $6 check-cashing fee for people without a Bank of America account who present MIT checks to be cashed at any Bank of America branch in the United States. The decision is a direct benefit of MIT’s value as a major institutional customer.

Under the decision, any MIT check presented at a Bank of America for cashing is eligible for the fee waiver. Should you be asked to pay a fee for check cashing, please do ask the teller to double check the MIT account, as it should be coded as exempt from this fee.

The bank has also let us know that as a protection against fraud and identity theft, the person presenting the check to be cashed must place a thumbprint on the check, using an inkpad next to the teller window. Please note that this step is purely to guard against fraud and identity theft. The thumbprint will not be kept in a database and will not be used for any other purposes. If check-cashing fraud or identity theft has occurred, Bank of America will provide the check to the police and the FBI to see if they can match the print.

We did ask the bank about waiving this part of the process as well for MIT employees. The bank indicated that while they are willing to waive the fee, they could not waive the collection of the thumbprint, given the cost of fraud and identity theft. Indications are that measures like this have cut incidents related to check cashing by 80 percent.

5. Email List To Receive HR/Payroll Communications
This is a reminder about the hrpayroll_communications email list, a list for community members who wish to be informed about HR/Payroll schedules and other HR/Payroll issues. This list is comprised of the Administrative and Fiscal Officers list (ao-fo@mit.edu), plus individuals who have asked to be added.

This is a moderated list and very few messages are sent to it: the weekly timesheet approval cutoff reminder and information about schedules, tax forms, etc. We are adding a new monthly reminder in November: a summary of the month’s key DLC cutoff dates for employee transactions and distribution changes.

Being informed about HR/Payroll cutoff schedules is critically important, because it affects whether employees and students are paid on time and whether employee transactions are processed on time.
If you approve timesheets electronically and you are not yet on this list, we encourage you to sign up. Just send an email to owner-hrpayroll_communications@mit.edu. You can send individual email address(es) or a email list name.

6. Save the Date! VPF Community Forum, Dec. 9
Our longstanding Brown Bag Lunches have a new name, new energy, and an enhanced format. Our new VPF Community Forums are aimed at providing administrative and financial officers, as well as other staff, information on timely topics, changes to policies and procedures, and initiatives on the horizon.

Our goal is also for the forums to be highly interactive, so VPF can draw upon community input in enhancing our services. We also moved the location to Building 10, a more central location which we hope will be more convenient.

The first VPF Community Forum will be held Dec. 9, 2:30-4:00 p.m., in the Bush Room in Building 10. Please save the date and plan to join us.

7. VPF Points of Interest

Request for Payment Form: If you are submitting a Request for Payment Form, you only have to indicate your citizenship status or provide your Social Security Number if the payment is taxable—an honoraria payment, for example. There is no need to provide that information for a basic payment, such as a payment for a local lunch or a minor MIT-related out-of-pocket purchase. In fact, in those cases VPF Accounts Payable asks that you don’t provide such personal information. For more about Accounts Payable, please see http://vpf.mit.edu/ap.

Partner Vendors: There is great value in using MIT Partner Vendors for MIT purchases. To begin with, MIT has already negotiated an attractive MIT-wide price. Also, you may order products and services from these vendors through eCat 3 , our online ordering system, and the terms are favorable. For example, if you hire temporary workers through our partner vendors, Hollister Associates and Professional Staffing Group, there are no temp-to-perm penalties. For a list of our Partner Vendors, please see:


Don’t forget as well to check out the array of services provided by MIT’s Internal Providers. See:


Well Traveled: The rules concerning travel on MIT business are understandably detailed. A good way to think about them is the basic principle with which the VPF Travel Office approaches travel expenses:

“The basic policy guiding travel expense reimbursement is that the individual traveler should neither gain nor lose personal funds as a result of travel assignments and that these assignments be planned so that their cost will not exceed budgetary limitations. Thus each traveler is to be fully reimbursed for all necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with travel on Institute business, but should make efforts to keep all expenses at a reasonable minimum.”

Learn more about MIT business travel at http://vpf.mit.edu/travel.

8. Links and Contact Information – When You Need Help

Web Links


Web address

VPF Home Page


Accounts Payable


Accounts Receivable


Budget, Finance & Treasury




Controller & Accounting Services


General Ledger Operations & Reporting




Journal Vouchers


Lincoln Fiscal


Controller & Accounting Services








Sponsored Projects Accounting






Contact Information

Financial Area




Credit card payments


Department of Facilities billing


General ledger account changes & closeout of internal orders


Information Services and Technology billing (incl. telephone & network)


Journal vouchers



  • Timesheets
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  • Payroll Data Warehouse reports
  • Authorizations/Roles Database



  • Procurement Card
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Sponsored billing


Under-recovery of F&A