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What's the Policy and Where do I Find It?

New Web site features links to major Northwestern policies and new policy template

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March 3, 2010 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
EVANSTON, Ill. --- So many policies at Northwestern -- and so many places to find them. Not any more. A new top-level page brings together links to all the University's major administrative policies in one easy-to-navigate place.

The new Web site (http://policies.northwestern.edu/) also features a standard policy template, the University Policy Development and Publication. For the first time, the template offers a consistent framework for clearly articulating the information faculty and staff need to know to adhere to a particular administrative policy.

Links to policies are listed in two ways: under categories -- academic, financial management, human resources, information technologies and research -- and under audiences, either faculty or staff. Or if, say, "discrimination" is typed in the Web site's search box, all links to related policies will appear.

"The idea is that a person can go to one Web site to know how to do University business -- whether related to purchasing, firewall technology, hiring, religious holidays, faculty effort reports or whatever," said Provost Daniel Linzer.

A University administrative policy is one with broad applications throughout the University. Such policies help to ensure coordinated compliance with applicable laws and regulations, promote operational efficiency, enhance the University's mission and reduce institutional risk.

Northwestern is in a sense like a small city, subject to local, state and national laws and regulations. The new template for developing administrative policies will help managers from all parts of the University offer clear and consistent information so that faculty and staff know what is expected of them legally and otherwise.

Take, for example, purchasing policies for both faculty and staff. "It's important that employees understand pertinent policies, what can be bought without going through a competitive bid, what documents are required and whose signoff is needed," said Eugene S. Sunshine, senior vice president for business and finance.

The University Compliance Committee, with representatives from various areas of the University, came up with the initial draft of the policy format. The template then was reviewed by the Policy Review Committee, which is made up of representatives from Audit and Advisory Services, Budget and Planning, Financial Operations, General Counsel, Human Resources, NUIT, the Provost's Office and Research. The policy was then approved by former President Henry S. Bienen, Linzer and Sunshine.

"The new Web site shows people what policies are out there, and, over time, the increasing implementation of the new policy format should help managers provide more clarity about a specific policy, who approved it, who needs to know about it and what is expected," Linzer said.

Topics: University