skip to Main Content

UH to Play Key Role in Creation of Financial Information System for Colleges and Universities

NACUBO, Indiana University and UH to develop open source software for higher education; others invited to participate

University of Hawaiʻi
David Lassner, (808) 956-3501
Chief Information Officer
Posted: Aug 30, 2004

Indiana University, the University of Hawaii, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and the r-smart group announced today the formation of the "Kuali Project" to create a new community source financial information system for colleges and universities. The system will include a comprehensive suite of functionality to serve the financial systems needs of all types of colleges and universities.

Like uPortal, the Sakai Project, the Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI), Chandler/Westwood and a growing list of other collaborations developing software for higher education, the Kuali Project will pool institutional investments and other resources to develop the software using open source practices. The software will be available to anyone under a no-fee, open-open license that does not restrict its further development or commercial involvement.

The Kuali Project developed from the insights of a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to NACUBO. The planning grant assessed higher education‘s readiness for an open source financial system project and its applicability across various sized colleges and universities.

Jay Morley, President and CEO of NACUBO, said "NACUBO is delighted to be engaged from the beginning in defining the Kuali Project FIS software. We look forward to being an active partner as the software development moves forward."

The Kuali Project Partners will contribute staff and services worth more than $2.5 million during the two year development timeframe. These contributed resources will be coordinated into a single team working under the direction of a board of governance formed by the partners. Project partners will also be implementing some parts or all of the software at their institutions. The Open Knowledge Initiative (O.K.I.) and the uPortal (JA-SIG) consortium will also be consulting partners for the project. College and university partners that wish to be a part of the initial design and development phase are invited to consider joining the Kuali Project.

"The Kuali Project represents a logical next step for application software in higher education. The community source model for leveraging university investments while retaining control of destiny makes perfect sense for developing a financial system," said Brad Wheeler, IU Associate VP and Dean of IT. Barry Walsh, IU Managing Director of Financial Management Services, added that "Kuali offers a unique opportunity to build on our proven experience with financial systems that meet the needs of colleges and universities. Such partnering can address many of the concerns that fiscal officers in higher education have about the life-cycle costs of acquiring, maintaining and operating these kinds of systems."

University of Hawaii CIO David Lassner commented that "the University of Hawaii is pleased to be able to work with our colleagues at NACUBO and IU as founding partners in creating this system. UH uses a variety of approaches to meeting our system needs. In this case the UH Business Process Council saw clear advantage in investing in ourselves and our own ability to meet our institutional requirements in a cost-effective manner through collaboration."

The Kuali Project will create software that address such functional elements as Flexible Chart of Accounts, General Ledger, General Accounting, Accounts Receivable, Capital Asset Management, Pre and Post-Award Administration, Purchasing, Accounts Payable, Cash Receipting and Disbursement, Travel Requisition and Reimbursement, Auxiliary Accounting, Web-based e-Commerce, Budget Construction and Administration. The design will be an enhancement of the proven functionality of Indiana University‘s Financial Information System. A critical element of the system is the XML-based EDENŠ workflow for routing and approval of financial transactions. Extensive data warehousing and decision support tools will be an integral part of the system with full compliance for FASB and GASB reporting.

An important element of the Kuali Project software will be its modular architecture. Institutions can implement only those functional elements that meet their needs. This modularity and a highly flexible Chart of Accounts will enable the software to be scaled to meet the needs of complex multi-campus research-intensive institutions as well as small private, liberal arts or community colleges.

Users will access the software via an enhanced version of the popular open source uPortal system now in wide use by higher education and businesses, including at the University of Hawaii. Colleges and universities will have the ability to choose the system components they wish to make available to their campuses and offer additional types of university services via the portal.

The open source nature of the project will give information technology professionals across the nation the ability to engage in continuous improvement and innovation for application software, such as that witnessed for Linux and Apache. This will enable them to give fiscal officers and all members of their university communities web-based tools to conveniently execute their college and university responsibilities. And it will provide program managers and administrators with ready access to current information for analysis and decision-making.

One of the important aspects of the open-open license that the Kauli Project will use is that commercial partners will have many opportunities to engage with the software and its users. As is the case with uPortal, commercial providers will be able to add to the software, "brand" it and bundle it with other products, and/or provide implementation and support services for colleges and universities who want the security of external commercial support.

The name "Kuali" is derived from the Malay term for kitchen wok, a humble utensil which plays the most important role in a successful kitchen; used for frying, steaming, braising, blanching and many more cooking techniques and styles. Representing versatility and flexibility of restaurant menu to suit all tastes.

References on the Web:

Kuali Project:
University of Hawaii Business Process Council Report:
Indiana University:
r-smart group:

For more information, visit: