Accountability and Responsibility
Accountability
Principles
  • While UC ANR administrative officials may not further redelegate formal, written redelegations of authority issued by the Vice President, they may assign many of their responsibilities as appropriate, but they cannot assign or redelegate accountability for those responsibilities. Administrative officials retain accountability for all of the responsibilities within their jurisdiction.
  • A person cannot assume or assign greater accountability than they have.
  • Responsibilities shall only be assigned to people who are qualified to perform them. A qualified person must:
    • Be actively involved in the responsibilities being performed
    • Not have been assigned conflicting duties
    • Fully understand what is expected, and have the appropriate training, experience, and skills to make sound judgements and perform successfully
    • Have the authority to carry out the responsibilities without being countermanded
    • Know what action to take if problems arise or if a person of higher authority attempts to override compliance requirements
  • A person assigning responsibilities is accountable for ensuring that those tasks are being properly performed.
  • The administrative official must periodically:
    • Review the official record of who is accountable for the various functions
    • Ensure that each person assigned responsibilities that involve accountability is performing their duties competently and honestly
  • Each administrative official is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the accountability structure. Whenever administrative and financial duties are assigned, written goals and objectives, which define accountability and responsibility, should be established so that there are clear expectations and standards against which performance can be evaluated. Employees should receive timely feedback on their performance as measured against the established expectations and standards.
Maintaining an Effective Accountability Structure

An effective structure for the assignment of accountability includes the following.

  • Ensuring that internal controls have been established, are working properly, have been adequately documented, and that corrective action is taken as needed. For more information regarding internal controls, see below under the heading Internal Controls
  • Ensuring that only one person (normally the administrative official) is responsible for managing the unit’s accountability structure and that the structure clearly defines all key areas of responsibility and the qualified personnel to whom they have been assigned
  • Ensuring that there is a reasonable distribution of workload in accordance with the available resources
  • Informing individuals of their assigned roles, and training them appropriately
  • Periodically assessing that private and sensitive information is handled, documented, and disposed of appropriately (for further information see below under Records: Confidentiality/Privacy and Access heading, and/or contact the Administrative Policies and Business Contracts Director)
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the accountability structure on a regular basis through the use of exception, summary, reconciliation, or other reports as applicable

For more information contact the Administrative Policies and Business Contracts Director for referral to the appropriate unit head.

General Compliance

UC is subject to numerous laws and regulations, many (but not all) of which are embodied in UC policies and procedures. Failure to comply can seriously harm UC’s reputation, finances, and the health and safety of the UC community. UC personnel are to be familiar with the guidance bearing on their areas of responsibility and to conduct all business accordingly.

Some UC employees are also governed by and must follow the standards of their profession or discipline, for example, architects, attorneys, physicians, and so on.

Employees are expected to seek clarification if guidance appears to be unclear, outdated, or at odds with UC objectives. It is not acceptable to deliberately seek loopholes or ignore guidance because one disagrees with it.

The Office of the General Counsel of The Regents has responsibility for the interpretation of legal and policy guidance. For information regarding such requirements contact the Administrative Policies and Business Contracts Director.

Internal Controls

Internal controls are the processes used to ensure that UC's business is carried out in accordance with this Guide, with applicable policies, procedures, laws and regulations, and with sound business practices. They promote efficient operations, accurate reporting, protection of assets, and responsible fiscal management. All UC personnel are responsible for internal controls. Further, each unit head is responsible to ensure that internal controls are established, properly documented, and maintained for activities within their jurisdiction. All individuals entrusted with funds, including principal investigators, are responsible for ensuring that adequate internal controls over the use and accountability of such funds exist.

The establishment of an ethical environment and the setting of the tone at the top of the organization are the most important elements of implementing good internal controls. The two components work together to create a comprehensive system capable of deterring fraud and preventing, detecting, and correcting problems based on an overall assessment of risk and exposure. In such an effective control environment, competent people understand their responsibilities and the limits of their authority, and are committed to doing what is right.

UC has adopted an internal control methodology as defined by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO). According to COSO, internal control is defined as a management-implemented process providing reasonable assurance that operations are effective and efficient, financial and operational reports are reliable, and compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures has been achieved.

The COSO methodology defines five interrelated components of internal control, listed in order of their importance and effectiveness:

  • The Control Environment sets the tone for the organization. Factors such as integrity, ethical values, competency, management philosophy, and operating style form the foundation for other components of internal control, and for providing discipline and structure.
  • Risk Assessment represents the identification of circumstances that may impede the organization’s ability to achieve its business objectives, and the procedures that mitigate that risk.
  • Control Activities are performed to ensure compliance with sound business practices, including the development of policies and procedures, the review and approval of transactions, the segregation of duties, and account reconciliation. Control and follow-up activities should be documented.
  • Information and Communication involves the transmittal of quality data to the right people at the appropriate time to ensure that employees can effectively discharge their responsibilities.
  • Effective Monitoring of activities assures that processes are working as intended and actions are taken to address problems with the quality of performance. This includes regular management and supervisory activities.

Resources and Background Information

  • UC San Diego overview of SAS 112, which establishes guidelines for internal control measures.

For more information contact the Administrative Policies and Business Contracts Director for referral to the appropriate unit head.

Records: Confidentiality/Privacy and Access

UC is the custodian of many types of information, some of which is confidential, proprietary, and/or private. The public’s right to information access and the individual's right to privacy are governed by state and federal law, as well as by applicable agreements and policies. These agreements, policies and laws are based upon the principle that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person, as are individual privacy rights. Individuals with access to such information are to be aware of and to comply with the dictates regarding the access, use, protection, and disclosure of that information. Learn more about records in Part III - Records Management Program of the UC ANR ARG, and/or contact the UC ANR Privacy Officer.

Conflicts of Interest or Commitment

UC’s overall Conflict of Interest policy specifies that none of its employees shall engage in any activity that places them in a conflict of interest between their official activities and any other interest or obligation.  As UC employees are to devote primary professional allegiance to UC and its mission, outside employment must not interfere with UC duties.  Outside professional activities, personal financial interests, or acceptance of benefits from third parties can create actual or perceived conflicts between UC's mission and an individual's private interests (Conflict of Commitment).  UC employees who have certain professional or financial interests are expected to disclose them in compliance with applicable conflict of interest/conflict of commitment policies.  As well, UC employees must disqualify themselves from participating in a UC decision when a financial conflict of interest is present.  In all matters, UC employees must take appropriate steps, including consultation, if issues are unclear, to avoid both conflicts of interest and the appearance of such conflicts. Learn more in Part II - Conflict of Interest of UC ANR ARG, and/or contact the Administrative Policies and Business Contracts Director (non-research related questions) or the Contracts and Grants Director (research-related questions).

Use of UC Resources

UC resources may only be used for activities on behalf of UC.  They may not be used for private gain or personal purposes except in limited circumstances permitted by existing policy where incidental personal use does not conflict with and is reasonable in relation to UC duties (e.g., telephones).  Members of the UC community are expected to treat UC property with care and to adhere to laws, policies, and procedures for the acquisition, use, maintenance, record keeping, and disposal of UC property.  For purposes of applying this guideline, UC resources include but are not limited to the following, whether owned by or under the management of UC (for example, property on loan from the federal government through the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) program).

  • Cash, and other assets whether tangible or intangible; real or personal property (including buildings, structures, equipment, tools, vehicles, etc.)
  • Receivables and other rights or claims against third parties
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Effort of UC personnel and of any non-UC entity billing UC for effort
  • Facilities and the rights to use UC facilities
  • UC's name
  • UC records
  • UC information technology infrastructure

For more information contact the Administrative Policies and Business Contracts Director for a referral to the appropriate unit head.