VPF Statement - June 2013


Fiscal Year-end Closing Schedule

MIT’s fiscal year-end closing process is underway. We encourage you to review the year-end closing schedule and read our tips for ensuring a smooth year-end close.

Note: For those who have seen this schedule since it went live, we have changed the period 13 journal voucher cut-off date to Wednesday, July 10, at noon.

In addition, VPF has developed a short online workshop to provide guidance to MIT community members involved in the closing process. While especially helpful to those who are new to the process, this workshop is also a helpful refresher for experienced administrators.

Watch the Year-end Closing Demonstration >>

Please contact vpf-cost-objects@mit.edu if you have any questions about the year-end closing process.

VPF Point Person: Basil Stewart, Controller

With the end of the fiscal year quickly approaching, it’s a busy time for MIT Controller Basil Stewart and his accounting and tax services team. Amid the usual flurry of year-end tasks and deadlines, Basil says, “We’re on an education and awareness campaign right now.” Their goal is to ensure that members of the MIT community are equipped with the essential tools and knowledge to manage their area’s financial activities.

Now in his second year as controller, Basil is well versed in the fundamentals of successful higher education financial management. He began his career in accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he had a diverse client base including higher education. From there, he served as controller at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Smith College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Northeastern University.

Basil says he finds the higher education environment and culture refreshing and inspiring. “College and university campuses are all about renewal—and not just from the standpoint of the physical plant, the buildings, and the like—but also the students. Commencement finishes a chapter, but not too long after that, a new crop of students arrive. I enjoy that.”

He also appreciates MIT’s positive and supportive work environment. Shortly after his arrival last May, Basil attended VPF’s Infinite Mile Awards Celebration and was struck by the group’s camaraderie and how they reacted to the colleagues being honored. “It was a good time for me to start here, and it was a good introduction to VPF and MIT,” he says. “I’ve been impressed with MIT’s Rewards & Recognition program. The Excellence Awards, the Infinite Mile Awards, and the Spot Awards—I think those are great things.”

In his previous university posts, Basil gained extensive managerial experience and learned how to be a more effective leader—important qualities to have as he now oversees a team of 50. Still, he says he’s learned a lot in just one year and looks forward to expanding his knowledge base at MIT. “Every university has a different approach, and I’m still learning some things,” he says. “We’re in the process of trying to improve and enhance research administration at MIT. We’ve been embarking upon that since I started here, but we’re really making a concerted effort in that realm.”

Going forward, financial review and control will also remain an area of focus for Basil and his team as they support members of the MIT community in their role of managing and reconciling accounts. Timely account reconciliation on a monthly basis, for example, will help to ensure that transactions are accurate and complete. “This helps to build a culture—which I’m striving to do—based on the premise that departments, labs, and centers know their business better than anyone else.”

While Basil is enjoying the fast pace of his responsibilities at VPF, he also looks forward to getting away either to the Cape or Lake Winnipesaukee for a long weekend with his family—he and his wife have five children, ranging in age from 7 to 20.

An extended vacation isn’t part of his summer plans, and that suits him just fine. “There’s so much going on with preparing for the audit, and it’s important that I’m here. I want to see my group in action. When I came last year, I was new to MIT; now I’m a lot more familiar with things. I want to see the fruits of the labor and the changes we put in place to improve the process. I want to be here to witness that firsthand.”

Change to Capitalization Threshold on July 1

Effective July 1, 2013 (FY 2014), the Institute will raise its capitalization threshold for equipment from $3,000 to $5,000 per item on purchased and fabricated equipment. This change will apply to sponsored awards that result from new, renewal, and competing continuation proposals submitted on or after Feb. 1, 2013. Existing awards and awards from proposals submitted prior to Feb. 1, 2013, will continue with the lower $3,000 threshold until they are completed or modified as a result of a renewal or competing continuation proposal.

This phased implementation will mean that principal investigators will generally not be required to fund the additional F&A (indirect expense) on equipment costing between $3,000 and $5,000 unless the additional F&A was budgeted. In an average year, approximately 1,700 new equipment items are purchased at the Institute that fall into the $3,000-$5,000 price range. The new policy means that eventually all equipment items costing $5,000 and over, rather than $3,000 and over, will be exempt from the F&A rate. Items $3,000 and over but less than $5,000 will be considered minor equipment and be subject to F&A.

Moving forward with this change will require close collaboration between the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), VPF, and administrative and fiscal officers in the departments, labs, and centers. The ultimate goal is to ensure a smooth transition to the new capitalization threshold and to minimize to the extent possible the burden on principal investigators.

Learn more about this change on the OSP website >>

For questions regarding this policy change, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Glacier Tax System Assists Foreign National Employees

MIT uses the Glacier online tax compliance system to assist foreign national employees with determining their U.S. tax status and eligibility for a tax treaty, as well as completing the required IRS forms. MIT has tailored Glacier for use by MIT community members. However, since Glacier is used by many other universities and companies, some content is generic and not specific to MIT.

The Glacier online tool offers:

  • Convenient web access and online help
  • A structured series of questions that guide individuals through entering information
  • A definitive determination whether individuals are eligible for a U.S. Federal income tax exemption (a tax treaty)
  • A calculation of the date when an individual's status would change from non-resident alien to resident alien for tax purposes
  • Pre-filled tax forms for individuals to sign and bring to HR/Payroll
  • It is to the employee's advantage to have the correct tax withheld from payroll payments to avoid the possibility of an unexpected tax bill at the end of the year

If you have questions about the Glacier system, please contact Marsha Dailey at 617-253-2799 or mdailey@mit.edu.

Abandoned Property Letters

In the coming weeks, the Financial Accounting and Reporting team will mail claim letters to members of the MIT community who have unclaimed property. Specific information related to the outstanding property will be provided within the claim letters. To learn more about unclaimed property, please read the FAQs on the State of Massachusetts Unclaimed Property Division website.

Unclaimed property is an asset with no activity by the owner over an extended period of time, generally three years. Types of unclaimed property can include payroll checks, expense reimbursement checks, or rent deposits.

For specific questions regarding unclaimed property at MIT, please contact abandoned-property@mit.edu.

Purchase Order Closeouts

As a reminder, closing a purchase order (PO) in SAPweb is now easier through a revised web form. Up to ten purchase orders, including Standard (45xxx), Goods Receipt (65xxx), and Blanket (55xxx), can be closed directly through this web form. If you need a Contract (57xxx) PO closed, please email POcloseout@mit.edu and include the purchase order numbers.

SAPweb will update the status of POs that were entered into the system before 10:30 pm. If a purchase order cannot be closed for any reason, a VPF Sourcing and Procurement representative will contact the submitter the following day.

To access the PO closeout form, enter SAPweb through your normal web browser. The PO closeout tool is located on the bottom left corner of the purchasing page and is called, "Close Purchase Orders."

Please visit SAP Purchasing to familiarize yourself with the updated interface.

If you have questions or comments regarding this tool, please contact pocloseout@mit.edu.