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Financial Operations, Forecasting and Monitoring


The Laboratory for Nuclear Science Fiscal Office (LNS Fiscal) provides support to members of the laboratory in many areas: procurement; salary charges; financial projections; account reconciliation; proposal preparation and submission (including budget preparation); reports to MIT and grant sponsors; subaward assistance; service center billing and rate setting; etc.  This document contains information on financial operations, grant monitoring, and forecasting.

LNS Fiscal maintains an Oracle-based fiscal database on a Sun server (located behind a firewall) so we can produce appropriate reports for sponsors, make budget projections for LNS PI’s, and reconcile accounts.  LNS has historical financial data back to 1989.  The database is backed up nightly.  We have a number of database applications, Oracle forms, SQL scripts, and Brio and Oracle Hyperion SQR’s to generate custom reports from the LNS database.  SAP is the system of record for LNS, and the LNS database is reconciled against SAP monthly.

There are several different types of grants in LNS.  Some are umbrella grants that fund the activities of several groups with several faculty members each.  Others are group grants covering several faculty members, and still others are single-PI grants.  The LNS Director serves as PI for the umbrella grants and many of the group grants.  Each grant is associated with at least one cost object, and frequently more (split into child cost objects by on- or off-campus status, faculty member, experiment, etc.).

For each grant, we enter approved funding in our database, distributed in the appropriate child cost objects, since the federal government is often late in distributing yearly renewal funds.  We revise the funded amounts (if necessary) once the grant is received.

Salary and wage commitments are entered in our database in the appropriate cost object(s) for each individual, typically when the grant(s) is received or when we are confident renewal funding will be forthcoming.  These commitments are revised at least monthly based on information from the individual’s supervisor and/or the account supervisor.  LNS Fiscal distributes eDACCA sheets to account supervisors (or their delegates) monthly for approval of personnel effort.  The approved sheets are retained for the lifetime of the grant plus at least seven years, and are used to enter effort and corrections into eSDS as well as the LNS database.  Vacation entries are made monthly into the MIT SRS Vacation Tracking System based on information from the supervisors.

Credit card charges and travel charges are downloaded from the MIT Data Warehouse into our fiscal database, as we already have backup paperwork and independent approval from the account supervisor.

For requisitions, someone in Fiscal must approve each one, reviewing for sufficient funds and an appropriate expense for the cost object(s), as well as any needed documentation, such as selection of source forms.  Expenses from non-eCAT requisitions are entered manually into our database as commitments.  Requisitions account for roughly than 50% of the database entries.

We have automated database applications to apply the LNS Administrative Allocation and Computer Service charges to all expenditures as appropriate.  This is done monthly.
Automated SQL scripts also calculate EB, Vacation Accrual and F&A charges to all expenditures as appropriate, and make entries in our database.

We collect and retain paper copies of packing slips, credit card purchase explanation forms and receipts, etc., for the lifetime of the grant plus at least seven years.  Each packing slip is signed and dated by the requisitioner to indicate the items were received.  In lieu of a packing slip we accept an emailed authorization to pay.  The credit card purchase explanation form is completed by the credit card holder to assign the expenses to an appropriate cost object.

After MIT’s monthly closing, we use automated SQL scripts to download actual charges from SAP and compare with our database.  We do find errors during this monthly reconciliation process (incorrect overhead rate applied, credit card charge from another DLC on one of our accounts due to digit transposition in cost object, G/L code discrepancies, etc.).  LNS Fiscal works with the appropriate offices within MIT to correct these errors.

We use our database to make projections for any cost object, choosing the end date, presuming additional funding if the account supervisor desires, estimating future personnel and MS&T charges, etc.  We produce customized reports for account supervisors using Hyperion SQR, Brio and our database (always reconciled with SAP for past charges).  These reports are done at least monthly by cost object, by grant and by faculty member.  Any issues are discussed with the account supervisor.  All cost objects and projections are reviewed monthly in a joint LNS Directorate/Fiscal meeting.