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Announcing the AP Operational Improvement Initiative

IVC and CFO Allison Baird-James sent the following message to Administrative Officers, Deans, Department Chairs, Directors, Vice Chancellors and Vice Provosts.


What you need to know:

Accounts Payable (AP) efforts are currently underway to provide better service, faster payments and less uncertainty. Here's how:

    •    Expanded Concur functionality that includes all business expense reimbursements and PCard approvals
    •    Added resources to enable timely payments within 30 days
    •    Focused support to reduce the backlog of unpaid invoices older than 30 days 
    •    Dedicated resources to support small and diverse vendors

Dear Colleagues:

Over the past several months, I have met with faculty and staff to discuss their concerns about our current procurement landscape. Our outdated business systems have made it difficult to purchase goods and services, pay bills in a timely manner and fulfill UCLA's mission. As we overhaul our purchasing and accounts payable (AP) processes, it is essential that the replacements are transparent, easy to use and accountable. Faculty and staff should be able to rely on clear order and payment timelines.

I am writing to announce concrete steps we are taking to fulfill three goals:

  1. Better service
  2. Faster payments
  3. Less uncertainty

AP Operational Improvement Initiative

Our new AP Operational Improvement Initiative is committed to meeting the following targets by the end of 2023:

  • Pay invoices within 30 days per the service level agreement and industry best practice
  • Resolve the backlog of unpaid invoices older than 30 days
  • Minimize the number of new invoices going on hold
  • Establish a dedicated support team for small and diverse vendors

Effective this month, I am charging a steering committee of faculty, school and department representatives to oversee this initiative's efforts. I am grateful to the dedicated members of this committee who will meet twice a month for the next six months to help ensure AP fulfills its commitment to better serve you and the Bruin community. 

To consult more broadly with faculty, I will also provide progress reports to the Academic Senate's Council on Planning and Budget. 

Current Progress

These steps will build upon the work our team has already undertaken to significantly improve AP's performance in paying UCLA vendors on a timely basis.

We have already launched targeted efforts, including the:

  • Concur Expansion: In June and July, all procurement card (PCard) approvals and business expense reimbursements (travel, entertainment, non-travel and non-entertainment) transitioned to the Concur system, streamlining processes and providing faster payments. 
  • H&I Resolution Initiative: AP has been working collaboratively with departments to resolve unpaid invoices on hold and incomplete (H&I). They've launched a new H&I dashboard, a comprehensive collaboration tool and weekly office hours. 

Upcoming Efforts

Starting this month, AP will deploy additional operational improvement efforts such as:

  • Enhanced PCard program with updated guidelines that 1) broaden access, 2) align thresholds with best practice and 3) increase the usage of PCard for low-value purchases
  • Dedicated small and diverse vendor support for resolving unpaid invoices and transitioning to BruinBuy Plus 
  • Improved customer service, including an acceleration for the H&I Resolution Initiative's support efforts

How Does This Impact Ascend 2.0?

Ascend 2.0 provides the modern technology platform required for effective and efficient financial processes that support UCLA's mission. The AP Operational Improvement Initiative will provide rapid improvements to current performance and will operate in collaboration with Ascend 2.0.

What This Means for UCLA

Our goal is to make UCLA's business systems work for you. Over the next several months, you will experience tangible improvements that make it easier for you and your teams to fulfill the university's teaching, research and service missions. 

For additional information, progress updates and feedback opportunities, visit the AP Operational Improvement Initiative web page


Allison Baird-James
Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer