Learning about the Transparency Initiative

Background Utah State Capital Rutunda
Organization levels
Utah State Capital Background
In the 2008 legislative session, Senate Bill 38 Transparency in Government (sponsored by Senator Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy), was approved and became part of State law (Code sections 63A-3-401 through 404). Effective May 15, 2009, various State agencies, including state institutions of higher education, will begin providing financial data – including transactional data – to the State Division of Finance website for transparency. This site will be entitled TransparentUtah.gov. It is intended to provide Utah taxpayers with information about how State funds are spent by various State agencies.

Understanding the University of Utah’s Funds

The University of Utah provides revenue and expense data quarterly to TransparentUtah.gov for academic programs, administration, and the hospitals and clinics. Definitions and further explanation for various classifications follow:


Fund accounting is used by governmental entities, including public universities, as a way of evaluating financial activity based on sources of funds. Unlike public corporations, governments do not have a profit motive and instead measure accountability. Because funding often comes with restrictions as to how funds may be spent and for what purpose, stewardship is an important factor in how monies are accounted for. In the TransparetUtah.gov website, the user will notice that the University distinguishes between State and Non State funds. State funds include both general operating appropriations as well as specific line item appropriations for specific programs such as medical resident training. Non State funds are further classified in the following ways:

  • Auxiliary Services – these include self-supporting units of the University that provide goods and services to the University and its constituents. Examples include the Campus Store (bookstore), commuter services, athletics, and student housing. Fees are charged to users of these services.
  • University Services – these units provide services to University colleges and departments and include mailing operations, publications and printing services, fleet services, and stores and receiving. Fees for goods and services are recharged to University departments based on use.
  • Restricted Use Funds – these funds account for monies provided by third parties for which restrictions exist on the use of the funds. Examples include gifts, endowments, student loans, and sponsored research.
  • Plant Funds – these funds are used to account for construction, capital assets, and long term indebtedness.
  • Other – these funds include various activities within the University not otherwise described above. The University’s cultural arts areas – including the Utah Museum of Natural History, Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, Kingsbury Hall, Pioneer Memorial Theatre, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts – are included in this category.


The University categorizes revenues and expenses broadly descriptive of the source of funds (revenues) and the use of funds (expenses). Revenues may be further described as follows:

  • Tuition and fees – represent funds received from students for both undergraduate and graduate educational degree programs
  • Patient services – represents funds received from patients and insurance providers for medical care provided in the University Hospitals and Clinics. Also includes income from hospital auxiliary functions such as food service and gift shop operations.
  • More information to come…..

Expenses are categorized as follows:

  • Salaries and wages – includes compensation to all employees.
  • Employer paid benefits – includes the employer’s portion of benefits including employment taxes, retirement, and health insurance.
  • More information to come…..

Organization levels

User of the TransparentUtah.gov site may view the University’s financial data from an “institution as a whole” view and may also view smaller slices of the organization. Academic programs, administration, and Hospitals and Clinics are further levels of “drilldown”. Additional levels of drilldown are available to show major units under academic programs and administration.