Office of Planning & Budgeting

State Funding Policies and Guidelines

Provisos and Special State Appropriated Funds

State budgets often include targeted appropriations to the University for specific purposes, called provisos. In some cases, these are considered “special state appropriated funds,” when the funding source is not the state general fund or associated accounts. State budget requests and outcomes can be found on OPB’s “State Budget Information” page. OPB’s “Briefs” page includes briefs for final compromise biennial and supplemental budgets, which provide a listing of provisos appropriated to the University in each budget. The following resources are available to units receiving these funds:

Spending Rules and Best Practices

The UW Office of Planning & Budgeting (OPB), the Governor’s Office of Financial Management (OFM), and state legislative staff regularly monitor allocated proviso funds for expenditure compliance and fund balances. In addition, provisos are regularly revisited by lawmakers and can be discontinued during any legislative session. Therefore, it is especially important to expend these funds in an ethical manner and for their intended purpose.

Most importantly, proviso funds are state funds and must be spent in accordance with the language outlined in legislation. For example, an allocation to fund a research study may identify the school or college that must conduct the study, industry or agency partners that the University must engage with to develop the study, and/or a requirement to submit a report to the legislature annually or by a certain date. OPB provides relevant budget language to units when funds are appropriated, but units are responsible for their resources and for completing required reports.

It is also important to post expenses to these budgets as they incur throughout the year. Posting all expenses onto a budget at the end of a fiscal year or biennium will create a variance in the UW’s allotments and will raise red flags for those monitoring spending. In general, it is best practice to use state proviso funds to pay for salaries and benefits for faculty and staff members for the portion of the time they are working on the intended project or initiative. Proviso funds may also be used to purchase equipment, technology, or supplies necessary to carry out the intended project, but only if the proviso language does not prohibit such purchases.

Overall, proviso funds should not be used: for any project or initiative outside of the specific scope of the proviso; for gifts or grants to employees, external agencies, or non-profit groups; to purchase food or beverages; to purchase equipment or supplies beyond what is needed to fulfill the requirements; or for assisting a campaign for election or promoting or opposing a ballot proposition.

Here are some additional resources to help understand the relevant laws, regulations, and guidance regarding the expenditure of state funds, including provisos:

If you have any questions about the proper expenditure of proviso funds, please do not hesitate to contact OPB. Questions can be sent to Jed Bradley.

Expenditure Tracking and Guidelines

As directed by the state, proviso and special state appropriated funds are either appropriated as fiscal year or biennial funds.

Provisos or special state appropriated budgets must be fully expended or the unspent funds must be returned to the state at the end of the designated fiscal period. Budget deficits are not allowed. As mentioned previously, it is important to post expenses to these budgets as they incur throughout the year. Posting all expenses onto a budget at the end of a fiscal year or biennium will create a variance in the UW’s allotments (spending plan submitted to the state) and will raise red flags for those monitoring spending.

Fiscal year provisos/special state appropriations can only be spent in the year appropriated and any unspent funds cannot carry over across fiscal years. The Budget Office within the Office of Planning & Budgeting recaptures any unspent funds by reducing the spending authority after the close of June month end of the fiscal year in question.

Biennial provisos/special state appropriations can only be spent in the biennium appropriated, and any unspent funds cannot carry over across biennia. However, biennial provisos/special state appropriations, whether unspent or overspent at the end of the 1st fiscal year, can carry over into the second fiscal year of that same biennium.

The “Biennium to Date Budget Balances” report located on the BI Portal shows the following funds: Regular state and provisos (GOF), Local (DOF-LFA), Indirect Cost Recovery (DOF-ICR), and Special State Appropriations for each unit. Fixed cost budgets are not included in this report. The report is grouped by Budget Type/Budget Class and shows detail by Org Dean Level, Org Major Area, and Org Department with a drill down to budget number and account code. The report provides the units’ authorized permanent (perm) and temporary (temp) budget amounts and actual expenses by fiscal year (year 1 and year 2) along with biennial (bien) totals. The bien % spent represents biennium actual to-date expenses divided by the biennial budget.

To see a list of current fiscal year or biennial provisos and state appropriated funds by budget type and budget class, please see the 2019-21 Active Provisos document.

Funding for Teaching Assistant (TA) and Research Assistant (RA) positions

Provisos for enrollment expansions and research projects will often require the employment of one or more TAs or RAs using state appropriated funds. In addition to covering stipends, these targeted state funds should also cover the cost of any tuition waivers offered to students through their appointment, unless doing so is prohibited by the proviso language. Those specific transactions do not technically appear as “waivers,” and instead are posted as expenses to the proviso, meaning the balance due to the UW is partially (or fully, depending on the circumstances) paid by the proviso rather than “waiving” or forgoing the revenue outright. The University does not waive tuition for proviso-funded appointments because that would effectively cause the University to cross-subsidize proviso activity with tuition revenue from other units. Some legacy provisos are not subject to this requirement given previous agreements. Please contact OPB with any questions.


Other Resources

The following pages are frequently consulted when answering questions relating to state funding:

UW Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP): In some cases, the state budget appropriates amounts to other state agencies for the purpose of contracting with the University. OSP provides guidance and support for projects sponsored by these agencies.

UW Budget: This OPB webpage includes information about the UW’s annual budgets, the UW Budget Manual (on the “About the Budget” page), budget processes, budget policies, fund references, and other information.

Food Approvals: Outlines food approval policies relating to different budget types and numbers, including state budgets.