The Kuali Project has announced an award of $2.5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to advance its development of a new open source financial system for colleges and universities. The Kuali Financial System is based on the financial system design that has been used at Indiana University for more than 10 years.
Four new partners, Cornell University, San Joaquin Delta College, Michigan State University and the University of Arizona also have joined as core investors with IU and fellow Kuali Project founders, the University of Hawaii, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and the r-smart group, which supports open source software in education, to develop the modular financial software.
"We are deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their transformative investments in higher education," said Michael McRobbie, vice president for research and information technology at IU. "The Kuali Project will do for financial systems what Internet2 and National Lambda Rail are doing for networking. It demonstrates the substantial leverage in higher education when we work together."
"The new core partners and grant are a major vote of confidence in the expanded $7.2 million Kuali Project and the Community Source model," said Brad Wheeler, chairman of the Kuali Project Board and associate vice president for information technology at IU. Like the Sakai Project, Kuali is aggregating institutional resources to develop and sustain open source software together as we all work to 'do more with less.'?
"From the functional perspective, the Kuali Project will allow IU to enhance its existing financial information system, which was implemented in 1994 and yet continues to be recognized as a best practice model by peers across the nation. IU is pleased to collaborate from both a functional and technological perspective with other higher education institutions to develop a new generation of financial management systems in this cost efficient and effective manner," said Judith Palmer, IU vice president and chief financial officer.
"The Kuali Project will be a wonderful initiative for IU and higher education," said Kathleen McNeely, interim assistant vice president for finance and executive director of Financial Management Services at IU. "We are excited about the migration and evolution of a great Financial Management System to a Web-based platform that will be sustained for many years. The Kuali Project will incorporate best practices in financial management and policies. The project will also provide training tools for departmental fiscal officers which will enhance internal controls at any institution that implements Kuali. We are pleased to be part of a project that will provide these financial management tools to higher education and are excited about the collaborative nature of the project with the core partners."
David Lyons, NACUBO senior fellow and former university financial officer, said that the project will provide colleges and universities the option of a cost-effective, state-of-the-art financial system developed by the higher education community. "The Kuali design embodies best business practices and is designed to be scalable over a wide range of institutions from community colleges and liberal arts colleges to research universities, " Lyons said. He has served in a number of roles for the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is working closely with the Kuali Functional Requirements Team.
Cornell University, Michigan State University, San Joaquin Delta College and the University of Arizona decided to invest in the Kuali Project after carefully considering their local needs. "The Kuali Project is significant to San Joaquin Delta College and all community colleges because it provides a viable option for community colleges that are seeking a financial system for the future and an open source alternative to proprietary software. It was an easy decision for Delta College, " said Raul Rodriguez, superintendent/president of San Joaquin Delta College.
"Kuali is one of the most exciting projects we have seen for administrative services in years, " said Charles Ingram, finance director and treasurer of the University of Arizona. Kuali provides the business side of the house additional tools to address the complex accounting and reporting required by granting and governmental agencies. These tools are important for the University of Arizona to remain a recognized leader among research institutions. " Sally Jackson, CIO of the University of Arizona, added that Arizona joined the effort "because we believe the product will fit our business better than anything developed outside the university context. More important for us, though, is the possibility of using the software over a very long period of time to support refined business processes with a growing network of collaborating institutions. "
The Kuali Financial System 's modular design includes a base system of chart of accounts; general ledger; transactions; reporting; and workflow. Additional modules will include accounts receivable; budgeting; capital assets management; endowment; enhanced decision support/reporting; labor distribution; purchasing/accounts payable; and pre- and post-award research administration
"Kuali represents a third option for colleges and universities beyond 'build' or 'buy,'" said Barry Walsh, senior director of E-business services at IU. "Its design is of, by and for the unique financial management needs in higher education, and IU has already integrated some early parts of Kuali with our recently implemented PeopleSoft Student and HR systems." Kuali is being built using J2EE and a services-oriented architecture to facilitate blending Kuali modules with home-grown and commercial software.
The base Kuali modules are expected to be released in early 2006. Other modules will follow as the 2.5 year project completes its work in summer 2007. The Kuali Project will also release a Fiscal Officer Training Series and Financial Policy Templates to accompany the software.
All software and materials will be available under the Educational Community License and can be adopted by colleges and universities without licensing fees. The open licensing approach provides opportunities for support and implementation assistance from commercial providers. For example, IBM recently formed a partnership with the r-smart group, positioning them to provide offerings, service and support for higher education open source projects such as Kuali. Wheeler anticipates a partner's organization similar to the Sakai Educational Partners Program and a Commercial Affiliates organization as the Kuali Project matures.