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Financial and Admin Policy

Financial and Admin Policy (FAPP) Laboratory and Classroom Modernization and General Computer/Network Access (F48)

Created: November 23, 1999
I.  Background

The Laboratory Modernization Program began in the 1985-87 biennium to provide funding for campuses to complete comprehensive updates of laboratories in need of modernization including incorporating new technologies, replacing equipment, remodeling and adding supplies to provide an updated learning environment. Funding for Classroom Modernization was added in the 1991-93 biennium. In addition, in 1991-93, funding was provided for the General Computer Access Program that allows campuses to increase on campus access to computers. The three programs are budgeted at $8,588,600 GPR/Fees annually.

II.  Policy

Laboratory/Classroom Modernization

Purpose. The Laboratory/Classroom Modernization Programs provide institutions with funds for comprehensive modernization of instructional laboratories, and for improvement of the instructional climate in the classroom by providing support technology for learning. The programs allow institutions maximum flexibility to use the funds to meet the instructional needs of students.

Project Time Period. A comprehensive approach should be taken with each lab/classroom and every effort should be made to complete the project in the fiscal year in which the work is started. Projects extending beyond one year are allowed if there is appropriate justification for completing the project over more than one year.

Eligible Expenditures. Lab/Classroom Modernization only pays for instructional equipment. Equipment to be used by faculty outside of the lab/classroom for research or faculty development purposes must be funded by other sources. Modernization funds cannot be used for labs/classrooms that are primarily used by faculty for developing course materials or for training on instructional technology.

Unlike Lab Modernization funds, Classroom Modernization funds may be used to purchase individual pieces of equipment that will be used in more than one classroom. Examples of such include VCRs, overhead projectors, screens, televisions, computers and sound systems. With the exception of UW Colleges, chairs, chalkboards and other classroom needs not associated with the use of audiovisual equipment are not eligible.

Equipment replacement and upgrading are the primary emphases in these programs, but the allocations under the programs may also be used for associated supplies and remodeling.

Lab/Classroom Modernization funds may be used to replace instructional equipment purchased through the Lab/Classroom Modernization programs in previous years.

Equipment purchased through the Laboratory/Classroom Modernization programs that is no longer useful for the instructional purpose for which it was originally purchased should first be used for other instructional needs, and then (if it has no other instructional need) be treated like any surplus equipment.

Lab/Classroom Modernization funds may be used for library computer workstations if the workstations are used as instructional tools for students.

Remodeling. All projects that involve remodeling should be coordinated during the planning stages with campus facilities planning staff. Generally, remodeling costs should not exceed $30,000 per project. If remodeling costs are greater than $100,000, Board of Regents and State Building Commission approvals are required, and institutions must request funding through the Capital Budget. No investments should be made from this program in any room that will be covered by a building project. If after the Building Commission acts, the laboratory/classroom equipment is not funded, the project can be added to the Laboratory/Classroom Modernization priority lists.

Cost estimates for remodeling should take into account the optimum number of student workstations in a laboratory/classroom. Institutions should also consider the impact remodeling has on increasing or reducing the capacity of the laboratory/classroom. Similarly, consideration should be given to institutional enrollment projections, trends in course registration, teaching and scheduling requirements. Requirements for accreditation of academic programs and licensing professionals should be taken into consideration, where appropriate.

Planning. Institutional planning should be designed to identify opportunities for interinstitutional and interdepartmental sharing of costly laboratory/classroom resources, particularly if economies of scale can be realized. Consortial efforts to obtain extramural support are encouraged.

In completing cost estimates, use established prices of equipment but also try to anticipate future changes in prices.

Be alert to the possibility that safety requirements have changed and building codes have been revised since the laboratory/classroom was created. Recent changes might affect laboratory/classroom design and the associated costs.

General Computer/Network Access

Purpose. The purpose of the General Computer/Network Access program is to provide all students with general computer/network access while allowing institutions maximum flexibility to use the funds to meet instructional needs of students.

Project Time Period. A comprehensive approach should be taken with each lab and every effort should be made to complete the project in the fiscal year in which the work is started. Projects extending beyond one year are allowed if there is appropriate justification for completing the project over more than one year.

Eligible Expenditures. The General Computer/Network Access Program provides funds to purchase additional workstations in either new or existing laboratories that are open for general student access. The campus average for all general computer access labs should be 80 hours per week minimum. Within the goal of providing maximum service to students, (and the spirit of common sense), each institution should devise an appropriate method of meeting the campus average. Institutions may pursue more flexible pilot projects which may completely move away from the 80 hour per week requirement and more creatively achieve the goal of increasing student access to computer workstations during peak demand times, if there is appropriate justification for such a project.

A workstation is defined as a computer (microcomputer or some other type), plus appropriate enhancements. Campuses may purchase peripherals such as printers, additional memory, file servers, mail servers, local-area networking which may require space remodeling, dial-in/receiving access, maintenance, supplies, and software (including general assignment software such as word processing and spreadsheets, and discipline-specific software necessary to provide appropriate general access and required to complete assignments in ongoing courses). Institutions are also encouraged to purchase security hardware to safeguard workstations.

Computer/Network Access funds may also be used in appropriate discipline specific labs if the labs are opened for general student access. When developing a general computer/network access plan, institutions should review discipline specific computer labs for cost effective opportunities to fully utilize these labs for increasing student access to computer workstations. These labs would not be subject to the 80 hour per week campus average requirement and would only be eligible to utilize proportional funding from General Computer/Network Access funds.

The General Computer/Network Access program only pays for instructional equipment. Equipment to be used by faculty outside of the lab or for research or faculty development purposes must be funded by other sources. In addition, General Computer/Network Access funds cannot be used for labs that are primarily used by faculty for developing course materials or for training on instructional technology.

General Computer/Network Access funds may be used for library computer workstations if the workstations are used as instructional tools for students.

Remodeling. All projects that involve remodeling should be coordinated during the planning stages with campus facilities planning staff. Generally, remodeling costs should not exceed $30,000 per laboratory. Remodeling costs that may be funded include electrical rewiring, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and access control modifications, and other suitable changes necessary to the creation of a general access computer laboratory. Expenditures for furniture may be paid from General Access Computer funds as part of this $30,000 remodeling limit. Exceptions to the $30,000 per laboratory remodeling limit may be made on a case-by-case basis.

If remodeling costs are greater than $100,000, Board of Regents and State Building Commission approvals may be required and institutions must request funding for the project through the Capital Budget. No investments should be made from this program in any room that will be covered by a building project. If after the Building Commission acts, the computer equipment is not funded, the project can be added to the General Computer/Network Access priority list.

Training. In order to maximize student access, institutions are encouraged to use General Computer/Network Access labs to offer mini-courses open to all students on the use of these computers. Class time for these courses can be counted in the 80 hour per week campus average. Similarly, time in regularly scheduled classes that is used for training students to use the network may also be counted as part of the 80 hour per week campus average.

Equipment Replacement.
It is recommended that each institution develop its own standard for institutional replacement of computers based on factors such as age of computers, institutional academic needs, and performance capabilities.

Equipment purchased through the General Computer/Network Access program that is no longer useful for the instructional purpose for which it was originally purchased should first be used for other instructional needs, and then (if it has no other instructional need) be treated like any surplus equipment.

Continuing Costs

Institutions may use up to 25% of Modernization/Access program funds for continuing costs.

The amount available for continuing costs is the uppermost limit that institutions may spend on continuing costs. However, institutions are free to spend the amount available for continuing costs on either continuing costs or one-time costs for projects, depending on institutional priorities.

Continuing costs include supplies, expenses and student help. Continuing cost may not be used for full-time staff.

Continuing costs may only be used on labs/classrooms that have been, or are in the process of being, modernized with Lab/Classroom Modernization and General Computer/Network Access funds.


III.  Procedures

  • A. Since UW System Administration will no longer be responsible for administration of these programs or project approvals, institutions will no longer be required to submit Forms A and B. However, institutions will be required to continue to track the information formerly submitted under Form B (breakdown of funding and cost estimates, courses using the lab/classroom before/after modernization, hours of access, description of equipment/remodeling needs, internal reallocations and outside funding). In addition, institutions should utilize Form D or other means to provide an audit trail that establishes a historical record of appropriate use of funding.
  • B. Institutions are to track expenditures for each project. This will simplify differentiating Lab Modernization expenditures from Classroom Modernization and General Computer/Network Access expenditures, and Fund 114 expenditures from Fund 101/102/103 expenditures.
  • C. To facilitate accounting to state officials for the uses of the funding, photographs or other records of the laboratory/classroom before and after the investment could provide useful evidence of your accomplishments. Such photographic records or other visual aids are not a requirement for every laboratory/classroom upgrading, but you should be alert to such opportunities.
  • D.  Establishing accurate records in the equipment inventory system must be an integral part of completing the upgrading of the laboratory/classroom. In accordance with prescribed procedures, old equipment must be removed from the records as it is replaced and new equipment costing $5,000 or more per item must be entered into the uniform equipment groupings. These steps should facilitate future planning for routine replacement and other fiscal management. If the original equipment is still useful in a different setting, such reassignment would also require updating in the inventory data. Also, keep in mind the possibility that remodeling might call for updating the Facilities CDR.
  • E. The Department of Administration will no longer allow the UW to carry over program funds from one fiscal year to the next. Therefore, until the statutory language is modified, institutions will not be able to carry over unencumbered Modernization funds from one year to another. Institutions continue to be responsible for covering funds spent beyond allocations (covering negative balances) from GPR.
  • F.  Institutions may request permission from System Administration to borrow funds between the Lab/Classroom Modernization and General Computer/Network Access programs. Institutions must stay within their total allocation for the fiscal year and repay the funds according to an agreed upon plan.
  • G.  Please consider the needs of students with disabilities for each modernization/access project. (Please consult with Disabled Student Coordinator).
  • H.  Given the unpredictable number of disabled students and varying nature of disabilities, an exception to the "room-based equipment" requirement can be made. This means that special equipment for students with disabilities can be purchased from these funds and stored in one room but transported to other labs/classrooms for use as needed. However, only instructional uses can be covered from this fund, not research or student services equipment. Minor remodeling associated with this equipment installation is also allowed. Remodeling for room access is available through the State Building Commission.

IV.  Compliance.

Institution internal auditors will include a sample of completed modernization/access projects in their regular audit cycles. Audit reports should be submitted to the Chancellor. System Administration should be notified of any concerns that may need to be addressed by the Review Committee. The Committee will be reestablished and meet annually, or as needed, to review the reports.

This information is provided as a service of The University of Wisconsin System Administration, Office of Financial Administration.

To suggest possible additions or improvements, please contact Financial Administration  (608) 262-1313

Last Edited: 11/23/99

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