Stanford’s Chart of Accounts is a set of accounts and related codes used to classify and record financial transactions in meaningful ways. Stanford is a complex organization consisting of many different lines of business, including graduate and undergraduate education, research programs, capital projects, investments, athletic programs, residential housing and dining services, and many more. 

Stanford's account structure must reflect these complexities in order to: 

  • Meet the requirements for tracking revenue and expenses.
  • Make accurate analysis and decisions.
  • Report to government agencies, sponsors and donors.

The Chart of Accounts is the foundational data structure that controls how financial transactions and balances are collected and stored in the Oracle Financials system.

This page provides an overview of the account structure hierarchy and account life cycle.

Stanford is made up of a hierarchy of many organizations, such as schools and departments. Each organization is identified in the account structure by an org code (e.g., School of Medicine: Org Code VAAA).

Organizations receive or are awarded funds (money) for the work they do. Some awards may allocate funds to more than one organization.

Within and sometimes across organizations, work is organized into projects. Projects are further organized into tasks.

Accounts within Stanford’s Chart of Accounts are identified using a combination of the project, task and award, referred to as the PTA.

Refer to PTAEO and PFOO Defined for a detailed explanation of Stanford's Chart of Account segments and their definition.

Funding (or the promise of funding) is received by Stanford (e.g., from sponsors or donors) and is classified as an award. New funding may be directed to existing awards, if the award type and award purpose are identical, or new accounts may need to be set up. The terms ‘award’ and ‘fund’ are used interchangeably.

Accounts are set up for the award (A), specifying the projects (P) and tasks (T) that it funds. Each account is referred to as a PTA. Accounts are requested by schools and departments, and are set up by central administrative staff in Financial Management Services. Refer to Topic Overview: Request New Account (PTA) for more information.

After the account (PTA) is set up, the money is deposited (or transferred) to the award. Funding for the award is then allocated or budgeted at the task level.

Anticipated sponsored funding is recorded as a budget for the award by the Office of Sponsored Research.

Refer to Topic Overviews Deposit Cash and Checks and Record Gifts for more information.

Over time, money is spent to fulfill the specified award purpose. Each financial transaction (e.g., salary payments, purchases, travel and business expenses) must be associated with the relevant PTA and tagged by transaction codes (called expenditure types) that identify the type of expenditure. Refer to Topic Overviews: Authority to Create Financial Transactions and  Purpose and Use of Expenditure Type Codes for more information.

Expenditure transactions must be reviewed and approved by individuals with the appropriate financial approval authority. Refer to Topic Overview: Authority to Approve Financial Transactions for more information.

Accounts are monitored and managed throughout their life to ensure appropriate spending and accounting for expenditures, revenue, transfers, assets and liabilities. Common tasks used to monitor and manage funds include:

When additional funds are received, they are coded with a transaction object code that identifies the type of revenue, and they are deposited into the appropriate awards. Refer to Topic Overview: Purpose and Use of Object Codes for more information.

The award or fund is managed until the award purpose has been accomplished and the award is closed. Some awards, such as operating and endowment awards, are seldom if ever closed. Management tasks include:

  • Adding new projects and tasks as needed
  • Ensuring accuracy of PTA attributes

Refer to Topic Overview: Update and Maintain PTAs for more information.

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