“General Accounting? Who are they?” some employees may ask in a none-too- excited voice. Members of General Accounting have come to expect this routine inquiry; we don’t have the pizzazz, glamour or exposure of our fellow financial groups. We are not the “Cinderella” of Financial Services. That designation most likely applies to Payroll or Accounts Payable who are more visible and engaged on-campus. Instead we can be characterized in the role of the Fairy Godmother- to be politically correct call us Fairy Godpersons. Our influence (or “magic wand”) touches every aspect of University finances and reporting. We are the “number crunchers” or as some would say the “bean counters” of the operation. As a unit we enthusiastically embrace those titles and take pride in the fact that we are diligent caretakers of University resources.
Our area is a cohesive unit that until recently boasted 152 years of institutional knowledge. (You don’t need to question that number – we are accountants.) As some may already know, the “winds of change” have suddenly hit our area. Two retirees this year and a dedicated employee recruited by another university will leave some holes. Have no fear; we’re rebuilding and staying as strong as ever. We are small in number but are knowledgably acquainted with financial operations across the campus.
As a behind the scenes unit, the Office of General Accounting processes your daily cash and credit card receipts and conducts reviews of your Procurement Card activities. We are the watchdogs overseeing bank accounts while working to implement financial policies set forth by the University System of Maryland and the State of Maryland General Accounting Division. We perform a variety of reconciliations – cash, revenues and expenses to just to name a few. Every aspect of our jobs involves the oversight of daily transactions and of myriad financial reports for external entities.
While summer is vacation time for a majority of the University, General Accounting picks up speed on the exciting roller coaster of fiscal year end. It is our responsibility to capture all the building activities on campus, assist departments in properly accruing or deferring expenses and revenues, and work with the University Budget Office to disburse the campus’s final financial numbers to the State. Then we begin the arduous process of putting together the GAAP financial statements for the University System of Maryland (USM).
Lastly, do not despise us when we laugh derisively at the complaints that we receive from campus employees being visited about by the auditors. We have no sympathy because we are one of the few departments on campus that meet with auditors every year, and may we say, and it is not just one group of auditors! We work with the financial statement auditors every year and are involved in the financial audits conducted by USM and the Legislative auditors.
So, the next time you receive a call from our area, please don’t think, “What the heck do they want?” Think of us and yourself as a cog in the big financial operation of the University.