Washburn University Policies, Regulations and Procedures Manual

I. Approval and Signing of Business Documents

Table of Contents


1. Purpose
2. Definitions

3. Document Approval

4. Department Head Responsibility

5. Payments to Approvers
6. Approval Representations  


1. Purpose.  To set forth the following for approving ("approve" or "approval" shall refer to both signing and approval) paper and electronic University business documents:

  • Guidelines for appropriate delegation of approval authority;

  • Procedures for delegation; and,

  • The responsibilities of those who approve business documents. 

2. Definitions.  For the purpose of these regulations and procedures, the following definitions apply:

2.1 “Agreement Document” means the written legally enforceable promise(s) between the University and one or more outside parties committing University resources. These resources may be money, e.g. direct payment, or use of University staff, facilities, equipment, or supplies.

2.2 “Executive Staff” means the President, vice presidents, University Counsel, Equal Opportunity Director, Director of Athletics, Executive Director of Enrollment Management, and Special Assistant to the President.

3.Document Approval.

3.1 Internal Business Documents. The University internal business documents Department Heads normally may approve include, but are not limited to:

  • Purchase Requisitions;

  • Payment Vouchers;

  • Travel Expense Reports;

  • Entertainment Expense Reports;

  • The receiving copy of the University Purchase Order; and,

  • Time Sheets.

3.2 Agreement Documents. Except as provided in Subject R. Purchasing and Financial Obligations, Section 3.3 of Regulations and Procedures, documents which contractually obligate the University may be approved only by the:

  • President;
  • VPAT;
  • Associate Vice President for Finance; and,
  • Director of Purchasing.

3.2.1 For related Board policy, see Subject R. Purchasing and Financial Obligations, Section 2.1 of Board Policies.

4. Department Head Responsibility.  Delegation of authority by a Department Head to approve internal business documents is an important management function and Department internal control. Although approval authority may be delegated, the Department Head retains full budgetary and operational responsibility and accountability. 

4.1 Delegation Considerations. When planning to delegate approval authority, the Department Head shall, at a minimum, consider:

  • The size of the Department and its organizational structure; 

  • The impact on Department internal controls the delegation is expected to have;

  • Restricting approval authority to those in the Department who have been delegated authority for financial management; and, 

  • The appropriate balance between financial control and efficient operation of the Department.

4.2 Requesting Approval of Delegation. The Department Head shall submit delegation requests to the Director of Finance in one of two ways:

  • For paper documents, submit a completed "Request for Signing and Approval Authority Delegation" form; and,

  • For Banner requisitions, in writing, either hard copy or e-mail, request modification or establishment of a Banner approval queue reflecting the delegation of approval authority. The request should specify the Employee’s name and maximum amount which the Employee may approve. 

4.2.1 The default requisition approval limits, which will be used if different limits are not requested, are:

  • President and VPAT – unlimited, subject to appropriate Board approvals;

  • Executive staff members– $49,999;

  • Academic deans and associate/assistant vice presidents – $25,000;

  • Department Heads, directors, and associate/assistant deans – $10,000;

  • Associate/assistant directors – $5,000;

  • Executive assistants and secretaries – $2,500; and,

  • Others – $500

4.2.2 Approval authority limits lower than those above normally will be approved automatically.  No approval limit less than $500 will be authorized. Higher limits may be approved in certain circumstances.

4.3 Signature Method. Any Employee delegated approval authority for paper documents shall sign by hand. No Department Head or delegated approver may authorize others to sign the authorized approver’s name. Signature by use of rubber stamps, signature plates, or other mechanical devices shall not be permitted. Exceptions to this are payroll and accounts payable checks facsimile-signed by the President and VPAT.

4.4 Notices of Change. It is the Department Head’s responsibility to notify the Director of Finance of required approval authority changes.

5. Payments to Approvers.  Requests for payment to or on behalf of an Employee with approval authority require approval by the next higher level of authority generally following the framework shown above for approval authority limits. No approver may authorize a payment to or for the benefit of oneself.

6. Approval Representations.  When reviewing proposed business transactions, the Finance Office and the Purchasing Department rely, in part, on representations Employees make when approving internal business documents. There are two types of representations, explicit and implicit.

6.1 Explicit Representations. Explicit representations are those statements detailed on the applicable document.

6.2 Implicit Representations.  Implicit representations specifically are that:

  • Funds are available in the applicable Department's general fund budget or other Banner fund for the transaction;

  • The transaction is within the scope and limit of the approval authority as delegated;

  • The approver has personal knowledge of, or an adequate control system is in place to acknowledge, receipt of the goods or services provided; and,

  • The goods or services are for a University project or activity within the restrictions on the Banner fund being charged.

6.3 Additional Implied Representations.  Other representations are made by Employees when approving specific internal business documents. These representations are listed below for each internal document.

6.3.1 Purchase requisitions and contract initiations:

  • The goods or services to be acquired are intended for use in a University project or activity;

  • The approved document authorizes Purchasing to enter into an agreement with a vendor;

  • The approved document authorizes Accounts Payable to pay the vendor for goods and services received, and charge the Department FOAPAL(s) indicated;

  • Incidental charges connected with a purchase such as, but not limited to freight and toll charges, may be paid and charged to Department FOAPAL(s) without additional approvals; and,

  • Accounts Payable may also make corrections to specified FOAPAL(s) without additional approvals.

6.3.2 Payment Vouchers, purchasing card logs, petty cash:

  • The goods or services as itemized were received or require prepayment; and,

  • The goods or services are for use in a University project or activity.

6.3.3  Inter-Department chargebacks:

  • The goods and/or services being charged back reflect the actual cost or inter-department sales price of materials and labor.

6.3.4 Vouchers for payment of goods or services authorized by an existing University contract or memorandum of understanding:

  • Goods or services as itemized have been received;

  • Goods or services are for a University project or activity;

  • Goods or services received are as specified in the contract or memorandum of understanding and otherwise acceptable to the Department; and,

  • Amount of the payment is in accordance with the terms of the existing contract or memorandum of understanding.

6.3.5 Purchase Order Receiving Reports:

  • Items indicated on the receiving copy of the purchase order as having been received have, in fact, been received;

  • Items not received are clearly noted;

  • Items received are as specified on the original order or as modified by any change orders; and,

  • Items received are not damaged and are otherwise acceptable.

6.3.6 Timesheets (any of the electronic or paper forms used to inform the Payroll Office of essential payroll information):

  • Approver has first-hand knowledge and/or other satisfactory documentation, such as, but not limited to, daily time reports, of the hours worked or leave time reported; and,

  • Hours reported by Classified or Student Employees do not reflect “comp time” or any other arrangement intended to avoid payment of overtime to the Employee.

6.3.7 Cash, checks and credit card authorizations:

  • Have been collected and safeguarded in accordance with the cash collections regulations set forth in Subject L. Cash Collections and Cash Funds; and,

  • Are being deposited to a FOAPAL appropriate to the purpose for which they were collected.