VPF Statement - June 2014


New NIMBUS Tool Streamlines Budget Change Requests

MIT administrators now have access to a new web form for making budget change requests. The tool, NIMBUS Budget Transaction Request (BTR), can be found under the “Manage Money” tab in Atlas or via the NIMBUS page on the VPF website.

Throughout the year, administrative and fiscal officers often request to reallocate budget dollars. Until now, these changes had to be communicated to their budget officers by email or phone.

With the new tool, administrators have the option of entering their changes directly into the NIMBUS system electronically. The streamlined process will improve accuracy by reducing data entry steps and provide more clarity regarding the transfers.

To get started using NIMBUS BTR, review the online User’s Guide, including a glossary of frequently asked questions, and Quick Start reference, both of which are available on the VPF website.

We will offer NIMBUS BTR training sessions during selected times at VPF ( NE49) and across campus. Individuals interested in attending and who haven’t yet been contacted about a training session are encouraged to contact Jeff Blundell, budget officer lead for the project, or their assigned budget officer.

Coming Soon: A Personalized, Streamlined Atlas

The new version of Atlas that debuts on July 16 will dramatically simplify the site’s look, feel, and utility. The new Atlas offers a variety of enhancements based on user feedback, including streamlined navigation, a “Build Your Menu” personalization tool, a refined People Search tool, and improved security features. The nine-item horizontal navigation bar has been pared down to three: Home, About Me, and Campus Life.

New payroll option: Additional bank account

With this next release of Atlas, employees will have the option of designating an additional bank account for their payroll direct deposits. This new feature provides an easy, efficient way to allocate funds for savings or another purpose.
To use this new payroll option, go to Atlas, navigate to the About Me tab and select Direct Deposit Preferences from the menu. It’s a simple process that takes just a few minutes, and you can choose to designate the contribution by dollar amount or by percentage.

Learn more

For more information on the additional bank account option, visit the VPF website.
Visit AdminConnect for an overview of the Atlas release and details on the new personalization feature.

View this video tutorial for a tour of Atlas.

Atlas drop-in sessions are scheduled for July 14 from 9:30 to 11:30 am in the Pappalardo Community Room ( 4-349), and July 22 from 2 to 4 pm in the Bush Room ( 10-105).

Tuition Assistance Reimbursements Now Paid by Direct Deposit

This month, a new process was introduced to reimburse staff for courses taken under the Tuition Assistance Plan. Reimbursements will now be paid by ACH direct deposit instead of by a paper check sent through the mail.

To take advantage of this feature, users simply need to set their reimbursement preference on Atlas self-service for direct deposit. On campus, staff members have the option to receive notification of payment by email by selecting that as a notification preference. At Lincoln Laboratory, email notifications are sent automatically.

Annually, about 800-900 employees on campus and at Lincoln Laboratory receive reimbursements from the Tuition Assistance Plan for roughly 1,500-1,700 courses. The new direct deposit process came about through a collaborative effort by a team from Information System & Technology, VPF, and Human Resources on campus and at Lincoln Laboratory.

Information about the Tuition Assistance Plan >>

Reminder: Fiscal Year Closing

The end of the fiscal year is almost here! We encourage you to review the year-end closing schedule and tips for ensuring a smooth year-end close.

In addition, VPF has developed a short online demonstration to provide guidance to MIT community members involved in the closing process. While especially helpful to those who are new to the process, it 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.

Faculty Effort Reporting Initiative Rolls Out New Features

The Faculty Effort Reporting web tool rolled out a new release on Monday, June 23. The most significant components of the new release are the ability to modify existing summer session appointments and to justify the reason for the change. Other important features include variable workflows, the ability to return records back to DLC’s if further editing is needed, improved search capabilities, additional cost object information, and a PDF download of summer session appointments and reports. All of the latest enhancements support improved compliance monitoring.

The Faculty Effort Reporting (FER) initiative has been working on policies and system improvements that will help guide the charging of Faculty Summer Salary to Sponsored Projects. The FER project is a collaborative effort between the Offices of the Provost, Vice President for Research, and Vice President for Finance (VPF). This initiative is a component of an overall strategy to enhance research administration capabilities that enable the sustained strength and vibrancy of MIT’s research enterprise.

Faculty effort reporting is focused on improving compliance monitoring as it relates to effort and distribution. As part of this initiative, a new web tool was launched in May to assist administrators in processing Summer Session appointments for faculty and other eligible academic and research staff members.
Resources and Contacts

The FER portal is a source of information about the project that includes training resources, calendars/ timelines, and a community site where best practices and FAQs are posted regularly. The Office of Sponsored Programs website provides guidance for charging faculty summer salary to sponsored projects. HR/Payroll provides assistance with the new tool. Sponsored Accounting is available to assist with any questions about compliance.

eSDS provides distribution and salary information for the summer session appointments but can no longer be used to make changes. It will also continue to be utilized for modifications to all other payroll and Modified Annual Plan (MAP) appointments that fall outside the summer period.

Donna Behmer, Director of Special Projects for VPF, leads the overall initiative, working with administrators across campus on FER compliance monitoring, to enhance the Summer Session appointment and distribution process, and to ensure the new tool meets the Institute's needs.

Whose Money is It? Help Us Solve a Mystery and Win $25 in TechCash

VPF sometimes receives wires and ACH payments without enough information to determine the rightful owner. We do our best to track down where the money belongs, but sometimes we're stumped.

Please help us figure out whose money we have! Check out our list of unidentified payments and contact us if you can help. If you assist in solving a mystery payment, you will be entered in a drawing for $25 TechCash.

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.

Coming Soon: Access to PDFs of Purchase Orders

As of Friday, June 27, individuals with spend/commit authorization will be able to visit Atlas to view and download Adobe PDF versions of purchase orders (POs) charged to cost objects for which they have authorization. Official PO PDFs will be accessible via the Find PO feature on Atlas for standard 45XXX POs (excluding eCat purchases) created after December 1, 2013. This new self-service will allow the community to access a PDF copy of their POs created by Sourcing and Procurement and/or Facilities at their convenience.

RFP Inbox Cleanup for Year-end

As year-end approaches, please take a moment to delete inactive request for payments (RFPs) from your RFP inbox. If Accounts Payable (AP) rejected an RFP throughout the year, it may still reside in SAP. Cleaning up your RFP inbox will help expedite the year-end closing process for AP.
To delete an RFP, access the Inboxes tab in Atlas and select RFP Inbox. For each inactive or outdated RFP, select the check box in the far right column and click Delete Selected. The RFP inbox will update immediately.

RFPs are used for reimbursement of students or employees for out-of-pocket expenses and they may be used for payment of external vendors. In certain cases, an RFP is rejected and the submitter is directed to use a purchase order or travel reimbursement as an alternative.
For more RFP information, please visit the Accounts Payable section of the VPF website.