Indirect updating is the process whereby one direct transaction entered against a subsidiary ledger or general ledger account can automatically generate a number of additional entries. These indirect updates affect claim-on-cash, bank balance, fund balance, and revenue, expense and encumbrance summaries.
Since each account in the general ledger is a unique balance sheet (see the Overview of Accounting for an illustration), FAS automatically maintains the claim that each individual fund has on the institution’s bank accounts. This information is maintained in account control 1100, which is called claim-on-cash, and it is automatically updated as transactions are processed against the general ledger account or against its associated subsidiary ledger accounts. Thus, if account control 1100 has a positive $1,000, the fund has that amount "on deposit" with the University. If the $1,000 is negative, the fund has "borrowed" that amount from the University’s current unrestricted funds.
Through the process of indirect updating, when expenses or revenues are recorded in the subsidiary ledger accounts, the corresponding general ledger accounts are updated.
For example, if the Botany Department makes expenditures in its Ledger 4 account, account control 1100 (claim-on-cash) of the associated general ledger account is reduced as is fund balance control 3160. If the Botany Department records revenue in its Ledger1 account, account controls 1100 and 3160 are increased.
In a similar manner, general ledger entries that directly debit or credit any asset account controls (1200–1999) or the liability account controls (2100–2999) cause an automatic updating of the cash account control.
For example, the recording of a sale of an investment security against account control 1200 will increase account control 1100 (claim-on-cash), while the recording of a payment against the accounts payable liability 2100 will reduce account control 1100.
Therefore, account controls 1100 and 3FXO (fund balance) are described
as system-maintained, for they are updated by other transactions, and,
except in special circumstances, transactions cannot be directly processed
against 1100 or 3FXO.
The "L" refers to the ledger of the subsidiary ledger account. For example, expense activity in account 4–12345 updates account control 9540, revenue in ledger 2 updates account control 9320, and encumbrances in ledger 6 update account control 9660. This summarization is helpful in cases where several subsidiary ledger accounts map to a single general ledger account. It is also helpful for reviewing general ledger activity like gift additions and comparing it to budget authority in the subsidiary ledger account(s).
For example, to summarize the way activity in a subsidiary ledger account
updates the general ledger account controls, the subsidiary ledger entries
on the left would be translated into general ledger entries on the right:
In the example above, the fund balance is $8,000– while the budget balance available is $7,000 because an encumbrance does not reduce the fund balance. An encumbrance is a commitment to pay, but it is not a liability.
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