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The Chart of Accounts Redesign Project

Guiding Principles

Following are the guiding principles that were articulated by university leadership in 2019 which resulted in launching a review of the existing financial Chart of Accounts (COA) in the Banner ERP system.  The COA Redesign project is focused on operationalizing these guiding principles in considering appropriate definitions and the design of a new COA.

  1. The Mason COA should support 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. COA design participants should be open to new, innovative ways of doing business.
  3. There will be one Mason COA and it should be transparent, simple, intuitive, easy to comprehend and use, and be able to adapt to growth and change (flexibility), scalable to support changing business models and organizational restructure. 
  4. The Mason COA should serve 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 should capture 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 should have a single-use with a clear and consistent definition. 


George Mason University is redesigning the Chart of Accounts structure in its Banner ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system to better meet the financial management needs of the institution. The goal of this project is to design a sustainable Chart of Accounts structure to best meet the needs of Mason today and offer flexibility for the future. To accomplish these goals we will engage key stakeholders and subject matter experts throughout the university to ensure that all requirements are documented and considered in the Chart of Accounts Redesign.

  • Align the financial hierarchy with the academic hierarchy to enable financial reporting by academic program
  • Align the financial hierarchy with the organizational hierarchy reflected in HR/Payroll to enable consistent reporting and analysis
  • Enable Responsibility-Center Management (RCM) budget models with consistent structures between operations and financial data
  • Establish guidelines for the use of COA elements (Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, and Location) to maintain consistency across the university
  • Examine the use of the general ledger to support multi-year projects (i.e., sponsored projects, capital projects) without distorting fiscal year reporting
  • Leverage baseline Banner functionality to avoid redundancies and streamline/standardize processes
  • Creating a solid foundation with a functional COA structure will facilitate future initiatives for business reporting and analytics, data integrations, and operational efficiencies.