The Division of Financial Affairs (DFA) supports Cornell University’s missions, priorities, and initiatives by establishing policies, processes, and systems that promote careful and responsible management and protection of Cornell’s financial resources. This financial stewardship role positions DFA to contribute significantly to Cornell’s financial health by achieving compliance with laws and regulations through sound accounting and business practices, implementing proper internal controls, providing the data and systems used in analysis and processing to make better decisions, and educating individuals responsible for financial transactions to allow them to do their jobs. These contributions are accomplished by creating collaborative partnerships with all areas of the university and other stakeholders such as vendors.
This plan outlines the strategic initiatives we in DFA will undertake over a five-year period to accomplish the following goals:
We will accomplish these goals by focusing strategically on improving DFA’s services and by challenging ourselves and others to assess and improve internal processes to free up resources needed to achieve Cornell’s initiatives.
The following priorities will guide our efforts to implement our strategic and tactical initiatives over the next five years.
The internal control framework emphasizes implementing strategies that tighten controls around financial transactions that crosscut or transcend unit, college, or department boundaries. Internal control plans must be implemented in each unit to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct, transparency, and accountability; address issues of risk and materiality; and realize efficiencies.
Placing special emphasis on consistently integrating data and analytics into our decision-making will help us achieve continuous, data-driven improvements and create a strong foundation for all of our initiatives.
Dynamic relationships between DFA and its customers in units and central administration are important and critical to the success of all our initiatives, as well as to Cornell’s success as administrator and steward of its resources. In all efforts that affect the Cornell community, we will consider our customers’ needs and draw them into our decision-making.
Implementing this plan requires DFA departments to outline their own tactical strategies and initiatives for accomplishing these strategic goals. To achieve a positive and measurable impact on financial management practices for all of Cornell, these strategies include performing risk assessments in close cooperation with each department’s customers. Before a complete risk assessment can be completed, departments must do the following:
Risk assessments focus on improving cost effectiveness and compliance. This vital analysis of noncompliance risk can be accomplished by identifying high-risk versus low-risk transactions. This analysis informs what procedures and policies to enact to ensure proper audit compliance and informs the internal control implementation process.
In furtherance of the One Cornell presidential priority, we will work closely with our customers to govern this plan’s implementation. Much of the academic decision-making must occur at the college or departmental level.
To assess institutional progress toward our objectives during this plan’s implementation, we will generate and track a core set of metrics. The implementation activities of this plan and results achieved will be assessed with emphasis on the following: