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The Finance Department

Authorised signatories & List of authorised signatories


Contents of this page:

Responsibilities of authorised signatories

Certifying invoices - ensuring value for money

Authorised Signatories

The Head of Professional Services Department (HD), Executive Dean (ED) or Heads of Operations (HO) decides who has the authority to make purchases. The HD/ED/HO decides on financial limits that individuals can place orders up to, and also restricts the type of goods and services that an individual can purchase.  A member of staff ordering goods/services cannot also sign off invoices in relation to the order – this must be done by separate parties.  In addition to this there are also College Financial Regulations that have to be adhered to.

The identified budget holders, authorised signatories, their responsibilities and the limits of their authority should be documented together with the account codes relevant and this should all be communicated to the Finance department, to other relevant Professional Service departments and to school/professional services department staff on at least an annual basis. Any in year changes (e.g. for new research grants, new and leaving staff members, when staff change roles) should be communicated in a timely manner.

The authority to sign off contracts (e.g. copier, maintenance, leasing etc) should also be clearly defined, documented and communicated. Any agreements with third parties (e.g. academic collaborations, memoranda of understanding or formal contracts) must only be signed according to the provisions of the Financial Regulations.

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Responsibilities of authorised signatories

Authorised signatories are authorised to approve expenditure, ensuring:

  • the goods and/or services are essential to the operation of the college and the expenditure which will be incurred can be contained within that part of the budget for which they are responsible;
  • LUPC suppliers are utilised wherever possible;
  • where alternatives are available, the purchase represents economy and operational efficiency;
  • action is taken on incorrect or poor quality deliveries and/or services, and that the Purchasing Office is advised of such instances;
  •  financial regulations have been adhered to

 Some of these tasks may be delegated to other staff members by the authorised signatory. 

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Certifying Invoices – ensuring value for money

The responsibility for checking transactions charged against account codes, investigating and amending any anomalies (e.g. transactions charged to incorrect accounts), recoding and monitoring spend against budgets and reporting on variances from budgets (income as well as expenditure) should all be documented and communicated and the responsibility for ensuring that these tasks are being undertaken as required should also be clear in the same way.

The authorised signatory will delegate the following to other members of the administrative team; they should check when certifying an invoice that:

  • the goods or services were officially ordered and that the goods have been received in full and are of acceptable quality.
  • the goods comply with the details on the College order form
  • the invoice details (quantity, price, discount) are correct
  • the invoice is arithmetically correct and that the VAT has been correctly calculated;
  • the invoice has not previously been passed for payment (i.e. that it is not a duplicate request for payment)
  • the invoice has a unique number for identification and control purposes

Normally no payment should be made, except on receipt of an original invoice. Where an original invoice is not provided payment must be authorised by an authorised officer with a written statement detailing why an original invoice has not been provided.

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Finance Department, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX. Departmental Office tel.:  020 3926 3145