The Solution Source, June 2012
The BSC Solution Center
Below were some of the most common questions fielded by The BSC Solution Center team in May. Click the questions to access the Solution Center and see the answer.
Co-op Spotlight - BuyBoard
A number of state and privately sponsored buying cooperatives offer special pricing. Purchasing from a cooperative or taking advantage of a state contract may exempt the purchase from bidding requirements. To find a complete list of the cooperative agreements available for University of North Texas System member institutions, access http://bsc.untsystem.edu/contract-pricing.
Highlighted in this issue is BuyBoard, the Local Government Purchasing cooperative. BuyBoard is administrated by the Texas Association of School Boards and is endorsed by the Texas Municipal League, the Texas Association of Counties, and the Texas Association of School Administrators. The overall objective of BuyBoard is to provide a mechanism for all local governments in Texas to pool their collective purchasing power. A survey conducted by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing revealed that 86 percent of cooperative members save at least 10 percent on their cooperative purchases.
BuyBoard has a wide variety of products and commodities available. To view the full list of products offered, and to learn how to purchase from BuyBoard, access http://www.tasb.org/services/cooperative_purchasing/index.aspx.
Sending documents to the BSC
The BSC strives for efficiency in everything it does. This includes making technology work efficiently as well.
One drain on resources occurs when customers send emails and files in a format larger than necessary. Without realizing it, computer software programs add “overhead” to PDF files causing them to take up valuable space and bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of information that can be transferred through our network at any one time. In some cases opening documents requires manual versus automated processing. In the cases of manual processing, the BSC employee receiving your document must wait for it to download from the mail server.
One way customers can help is to save PDF documents in a reduced size…a very simple process:
Reducing the size of the messages you send will help keep your Outlook running smoothly too!back to top
Upcoming BSC Partner Meetings
UNT Health Science CenterPartner meetings at University of North Texas, UNT Dallas and UNT System Administration will be announced soon.
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The University of North Texas System Business Service Center (BSC) launched an online onboarding system, greatly streamlining the process required for new employees to begin work at any UNT System institution, presenting a savings in materials and labor, and generating multiple other tangible benefits.
Online onboarding for new benefits-eligible faculty and staff was rolled out at UNT System Administration, University of North Texas and UNT Dallas on May 29. New employees at UNT Health Science Center began using online onboarding June 1.
“Our goal is to get this information out to a new employee anywhere from 30 days to two weeks in advance,” according to Donna Shell, BSC director of human resources. “We want to give them time to go through the process, at their leisure, where they can take the time that they need to look at policies and better understand insurance and retirement information.”
Shell said that although completing the process is not mandatory for a new hire before starting work, it will be mandatory for them to complete the online process by the end of their first day of employment.
“We anticipate that most people will have it completed prior to their first day.” Shell said that if a new employee finishes the process prior to starting work, “all of those things that can take upward to two weeks for a new employee to complete can be accomplished before they get here.”
Creation of the online onboarding product is a result of direct cooperation and collaboration between the BSC and Information Technology Shared Services (ITSS), with input from each campus. Through the partnership, the BSC and ITSS recognized that the UNT System would not need to purchase additional software, and instead had the capacity to create the onboarding process within the PeopleSoft Enterprise Information System (EIS).
“We were able to build on the tools and self-service functionality, and put that into onboarding,” according to Ginny Richards, team manager for the ITSS human resources team. “The development didn’t present any new challenges since we were able to use techniques that were developed for other existing applications.”
In addition to streamlining the process from a new employee standpoint, online onboarding presents many benefits for UNT System employees whose job it is to process a new hire. Since the data is entered directly into EIS, the amount of paper generated from the process is greatly reduced. Also, since the process is contained in EIS, the need for shuffling packets of papers between departments is either reduced or removed completely.
Transition to an online system has long-term and wide-reaching benefits as well.
“I think it will endure, and in fact I’m sure we will keep enhancing it along the way,” Richards said. “And what’s interesting is that UNT Admissions wants something similar to onboard students, so they’re going to use what we’ve done and build on it for the student side.”
Learn more about online onboarding by accessing http://bsc.untsystem.edu/onboarding.back to top
Annual Enrollment and 2013 Insurance Rates
Annual Enrollment begins July 2. Employees will have a two-week enrollment phase during this time to make benefit changes for Plan Year 2013.
Employees will need to sign in to their online account to make needed benefit changes for the next plan year, and can do this only during the two-week Annual Enrollment phase.
The Employees Retirement System (ERS) Board of Trustees approved rates for benefit plans for the next Fiscal Year, with new rates taking effect September 1, 2012. HealthSelect rates will increase 7.36 percent, and employees who cover family members in HealthSelect will see increases ranging from $12 to $31 per month depending on their coverage level. Rates will decrease 10 percent for Optional Term Life coverage. Dental, Basic Term Life, Dependent Term Life, Voluntary Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and Long- and Short-term Disability coverage will not increase.
The Board did not make any plan design changes to the HealthSelectSM of Texas plan for Plan Year 2013.
According to ERS, increased drug costs and usage are driving rate increases. ERS is able to use savings from the new HealthSelect third party administrative contract, the recent dependent eligibility audit, and subsidies from the federal government for certain retiree health expenses to offset the increase. Without these savings, ERS would have had to cut benefits.
Annuity Availability Notice
All non-student employees are eligible to contribute to a tax-sheltered annuity (TSA), or additional retirement savings account, in addition to their regular retirement program.
Employees can open a TSA with as little as $20 per month and can contribute up to the general limit ($17,000 for 2012), or 100 percent of salary, whichever is less. If over age 50, more money can be contributed. More can also be contributed if the employee has worked for a UNT System member institution for 15 years or more.
Employees can start or stop the TSA account or change the contribution amount at any time during the year. Also, the company to which contributions are going can be changed up to twice a year. For more information, access http://bsc.untsystem.edu/retirement.back to top
A new state law authorizes ERS to charge higher premiums for people that use tobacco. If employees or any family members are enrolled in the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) health insurance, the employee must certify use, or lack of use, of tobacco.
Employees will pay $30, $60, or $90 more each month in additional health insurance premiums, depending on how many tobacco users are covered by the employee’s insurance policy.back to top
National Direct Deposit Month
During the month of May, employees were encouraged to sign up for direct deposit for payments in recognition of National Direct Deposit Month.
For UNT System (UNTS) employees, enrolling in direct deposit is a simple process:
Within the UNT System, 1,007 paper checks are distributed each pay period, representing almost 10 percent of all employees. According the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts, it is estimated that creating and mailing a single paper check for an individual employee costs roughly $3 in materials, labor and distribution per check. For UNTS, this represents an approximate cost of $3,021 per pay period, totaling $36,252 yearly. During the first three weeks of May 2012, 75 current or new employees across the UNT System enrolled in direct deposit.
In addition to saving money for the system and state, individual employees receive tangible and intangible benefits from direct deposit:
As noted above, in addition to helping UNTS and the state save money, direct deposit is also good for the environment. Every year, the creation of paper checks uses more than 674 million gallons of fuel and adds 3.6 million tons of CO² to the environment nationwide.
UNTS employees currently being paid by paper check are encouraged to visit http://bsc.untsystem.edu/employee-self-service and learn more about how to enroll in direct deposit.back to top
Working with an "On-Hold" Vendor
If a vendor is “on-hold”, its products or services are not available for purchase by state agencies, which includes the University of North Texas System (UNTS) and its member institutions. Texas Government Code 403.066 prohibits a state agency from entering into a contract or doing business with an individual or business indebted to the State of Texas. If a vendor is indebted to the state, this vendor is currently “on hold”.
Previously when searching for a vendor in the Enterprise Information System (EIS), the name would not be listed as available to select if the vendor was “on hold”. Often, a department would then request the vendor be set up as a “new vendor”, which caused duplicates in EIS.
Vendors “on hold” will now be displayed, but the department requesting an order will get a message that the vendor is not open for ordering. If this message is displayed, a department should select a different vendor for the purchase. However, if the department has a specific need to use the vendor on hold, that department should advise the vendor to contact the following agencies in order to inquire about the reason for “on hold” status, and to find out how to regain good standing with the State of Texas.
Reminder Regarding Email AddressesThe email addresses email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org used in conjunction with our imaging system – ImageNow – and serve as an agent to add documents into workflow for processing. Because they flow automatically into ImageNow, these addresses are not regularly monitored by an employee.
To avoid delays, customers should ensure documents are sent to the correct email address.
State of Texas Travel Cards
Employees who travel are encouraged to apply for and use the State of Texas Travel Card to pay for business travel expenses. The card is issued directly to the traveler responsible for paying the balance in full each month. Expenses paid in advance of the travel (airfare, lodging deposit) will be reimbursed prior to the trip with proper approval, and timely submission of a travel reimbursement voucher.
After the trip, travelers may seek reimbursement for the remaining expenses through established reimbursement procedures. To apply for a travel card, send a request to email@example.com. An application will be sent with instructions for processing.
Deadlines for ePro Submissions and Contract Processing
Required approvals must be obtained to ensure requisitions arrive in BSC Purchasing on or before the stated deadlines. Requisitions arriving in BSC Purchasing after deadlines will be returned unprocessed, and must be changed to Fiscal Year 13 funds and resubmitted.
Submitting Fiscal Year 2013 ePro Requisitions
Since new-year budgets may not be available in EIS, budget errors will most likely occur when the purchaser completes budget checks on the requisition. Email the Budget Office for your campus and provide the budget date, DeptID/ProjID number, the requisition number, and the total amount of the requisition in your email. Also indicating the budget checking status is in ERROR. The subject of the email should read “FY2013 Requisition Budget Error.” The Budget Office for your campus will work with you on clearing the error.
Contact the following:
Purchasing Card Updates and Deadlines
As discussed at the most recent BSC Partner Meetings and UNT A-team meeting, there are some enhancements to the Purchasing Card (PCard) Program that standardized the program across the UNT System, and will allow more flexibility for purchases.
The following enhancements are a few that are effective June 1st:
The above are just a few examples. The BSC is currently in the process of updating BSC PCard forms and the PCard Guide, and will announce when they are available on the BSC website. Until the system-wide guide is published, PCard holders should continue to follow the general guidelines for the cardholder’s campus.
Two transaction reports (for both fiscal years) will be required for the September 2012 billing cycle:
FY2012 and FY2013 payments will be based on the transaction’s posting date, not the transaction date. All transactions posted on or before Friday, August 31, 2012 will be paid against fiscal year 2012 funds. All transactions posted on or after Saturday, September 1, 2012 will be paid against fiscal year 2013 funds. The BSC recommends that no purchasing card transactions be allowed after Wednesday, August 22, 2012 to allow time for transactions to post in FY12. BSC Purchasing will adhere to this same deadline for buyer PCard transactions.
BSC Hosts Annual HUB Vendor Fair at UNT
Approximately 254 employees from across the University of North Texas attended the annual vendor fair for historically underutilized businesses (HUB) in the Silver Eagle Suite of the University Union May 10.
The vendor fair is hosted by the UNT System Business Service Center (BSC) HUB Administration. Thirty-six vendors displayed their products, and discussed the services offered by their business to UNT staff members most responsible for purchasing goods and services for their respective departments within the university.
The types of products represented ranged from office equipment to licensed promotional items. Many vendors noted how beneficial the fair is for networking and generating new leads. In order to attend the fair, businesses needed to be certified through the State of Texas as HUB vendors.
The BSC HUB Administration will host another vendor fair from 10 a.m.-1p.m. June 21 in the Medical Education & Training building at the UNT Health Science Center, located at 1000 Montgomery St, Fort Worth, Texas 76107. As with the UNT fair, organizers plan for the HSC fair to be an annual event.
Businesses wanting to learn more about the HUB fair, or wanting to learn more about becoming certified as a historically under-utilized business, should call 940-565-4235 or visit http://bsc.untsystem.edu/hub.
Watch video highlights from the fair online at http://youtu.be/pqQRfDcGBrQ. Photos from the event are available online at http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzA4WCu.
In our continuing efforts to help individuals self-serve we are now providing numerous training courses via BlackBoard Learn.
These courses are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Currently the BSC is providing ePro Coordinator Training, PCard Guidelines, Timekeeper, Travel Training and various other Human Resource courses with more to come. Register specifically for ePro and PCard training online at http://bsc.untsystem.edu/epro-and-pcard-training.
For more information regarding these courses, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNT System Training
June and July training courses offered by the BSC will be held at various UNT System Locations. Register for classes using the self-service function on the Human Resources tab in the MyUNT or MyHSC portal, accessible from http://bsc.untsystem.edu/employee-self-service.
©2012 The Solution Source.