Chart of Accounts

Chart of Accounts Principles

The following are the guiding principles that were articulated by university leadership in 2019, launching a review of the existing financial Chart of Accounts (COA) in the Banner ERP system. The COA Redesign project focused on operationalizing these guiding principles in considering appropriate definitions and design of a new COA. The “Patriot Chart” (Chart P) went live successfully in the Summer of 2022 with full implementation on July 1, 2022 (FY23). Following the guiding principles are the definitions of the individual chart segments and principles for use in the new COA. 

Chart of Accounts (COA) guiding principles

  1. The Mason COA supports consistent university-wide reporting requirements and decision-making needs, with linkage to support key performance indicators (i.e., cost of doing business, outcomes analysis).
  2. The Mason COA supports new, innovative ways of doing business. 
  3. There is one Mason COA and it is transparent, simple, intuitive, easy to comprehend and use, and able to adapt to growth and change (flexibility), scalable to support changing business models and organizational restructure.
  4. The Mason COA serves the needs of the institution as the common language used in all financial management processes and systems used university-wide, linking the academic and financial structures. 
  5. The Mason COA captures transactional level detail that, when combined with COA element attributes and data from subsidiary ledgers, will be sufficient to support departmental, school, and institution-wide financial and budgetary analysis, financial and management reporting needs, data analysis, and key external (Commonwealth of Virginia Cardinal, SCHEV, other) and legislative requests for university data.  
  6. Each Mason COA segment has a single use with a clear and consistent definition.

The Patriot Chart, “Chart P” provides alignment between administrative and academic data by utilizing The Chart “FOAPAL” elements as they were designed

  • “FOAPAL” = the framework for financial transactions used to report on organizational resources

Fund + Org + Account + Program + Activity + Location = “FOAPAL”

Fund Source and purpose of funding informs use, rules, and restrictions   Program “Why” is used to represent the function of the organization that the transaction supports
Organization (Org) “Who” is represented, aligning with the operational and academic structure   Activity Can be established to track unique activity within units or across the organization
Account “What” is used in reporting to represent the origin, identity, or obligation   Location Can be used to note “Where” the transaction will be impacted or related to the University