5.0 Operational Policies and Procedures
5.1 Reporting and Accountability
5.2 Handling of Funds
5.3 Program Support Funds
5.4 Professional Improvement Funds
5.6 Use of Computer Resources
5.7 Office Appearance
5.8 Penalty Mail
5.9 Equipment Inventory
5.10 Publications, Supplies, Forms
5.11 Maintenance of Records and Office Filing System
5.12 Radio and Television Programs
5.13 Political Activity
5.14 County Fairs
5.15 Other Agency Requests
As a tax-supported organization, the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is obligated to provide external stakeholders with accurate and timely accountability data. It must also maintain an information management system which provides the information it needs to make organizational development and management decisions. To meet these external and internal informational needs, all employees of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service are required to make appropriate contributions to these systems on a regular basis.
Each county unit is responsible for development and submission of an annual plan of work which articulates the major program thrusts upon which programming will focus in the coming year. Results of programming are communicated through Monthly Statistical Reports, Impact Statements, and an annual Report of Priority Indicators.
Management information is communicated through a monthly summary of meetings and activities, travel and leave requests, a leave report, expense vouchers, and performance appraisal documents.
All employees are expected to submit required reports by the stated due date.
Corrective action shall be taken in accordance with UK Human Resources Policy and Procedures Number (#62) for the failure of any Cooperative Extension Service Agent to submit required reports on a timely basis.
Any late reports will be taken into consideration with the employee’s overall performance and will be reflected in the annual performance appraisal. Monthly reports are due by the 10th of the month following the report period. Corrective action can result when reports have not been submitted within 3 months of the due date. Three corrective actions during any 12 month period may result in a recommendation of termination. The quality of the reports will continue to be considered as part of an agent’s overall performance.
Reporting to the Public
Reports highlighting Extension efforts shall be made by the County Extension Staff on at least an annual basis. A report should be made at the fall County Extension Council meetings. Reports should also be presented to the general public including appropriating bodies, Extension Councils, agencies, legislators and media. Accountability to the public is a continuous process.
All cash handling processes must be in accordance with the CES Office Procedure Manual. Extension employees shall not handle funds for individuals, groups, or organizations. This applies to all funds other than those which originate within the Extension Service. It is recognized that at times it is necessary that funds for Extension projects and activities flow through the Extension office. Neither agents nor secretaries shall sign checks. (Guidelines for receiving and expending funds can be found in the Office Procedures Manual.)
It is preferable that all funds associated with the Extension District Board and program areas be handled through the Extension District Board treasurer or treasurer of the respective program areas (i.e., Homemaker, 4-H Council, Ag Advisory Council, etc.) For quick reference, some basic guidelines are listed below and shall be observed.
Cash Handling Quick Reference
- Provide receipts for all monies received within a county.
- Endorse checks immediately with the appropriate name of fund and mark for “Deposit Only”.
- Remember that cash includes not only U.S. coins and currency but also cash equivalents such as checks, money orders, traveler’s checks, credit card receipts, ACH and wire electronic transactions, foreign funds, and stamps.
- Allow only bonded employees or the appropriate treasurer to transport and deposit funds. Direct Deposits may be made by the sheriff, fiscal court, or other approved agency.
- Provide extra security when handling and or transporting extra large sums of cash (have two individuals transport to bank or obtain security guards.)
- Permit unauthorized person in areas where cash is handled.
- Never count cash in the view of the public.
- Leave cash drawers and cash boxes containing cash unattended.
- Leave cash unattended on desk tops or counters.
- Deposit cash daily when receipt totals exceed $500.00. More than one deposit per day is not required.
- Deposit all cash on the last day of the week regardless of the amount.
- Deposit all cash on the last day of the month regardless of the amount.
- Keep all cash in amounts less than $500 in a locked safe overnight.
- Permit cash to be left in an office overnight, weekend, or month-end without being secured.
- Allow blank signed checks to be on hand in the Extension Office.
The Extension District Board treasurer shall handle funds not associated with the program councils. Funds from granting agencies or private donors may have as a requirement that funds be received by a non-profit organization. If this is the requirement then money can be handled through the Extension District Board. A separate fund (not a separate account) should be established to manage these dollars. If they are private funds, the Director of Extension must approve such contributions in advance [KRS 164.655(16)].
In the event funds are collected at the Extension office, written receipts are to be issued and signed by the person receiving the funds, with one copy given to the contributor and one copy kept on file. A transmittal sheet and/or receipt is to be prepared to accompany funds when transferred to the appropriate treasurer.
It is permissible to keep an office petty cash fund; however, the fund shall be kept small, not to exceed $100, and there shall be receipts for all expenditures from this fund. Cash-on-hand plus the receipts-on-hand shall equal the initial amount of the petty cash fund.
Extension workers shall not engage in commercial transactions involving the soliciting of orders, soliciting ads for county fairs, receiving money, and payments of bills even if such activities directly or indirectly support Extension programs. These activities should be handled by established business agencies or by special arrangements which place the business transactions in the hands of a responsible Extension volunteer or committee. Additional details are included in the Office Procedures Manual.
Credit cards, cellular phones, computers, vehicles or other property leased or owned by the Extension District Board shall not be used for personal benefit by the agents.
Many county Extension budgets include funds for program enhancement. All program areas should have allotted equal amounts of funds for these purposes. Extension agents should prepare an annual budget for the allocation of these funds. Funds for program support can be expended only after Extension workers submit receipts for legitimate expenses.
County Extension budgets may include identifiable funds for Extension agents’ professional improvement. Funds thus identified may be established only if all other needs of the county Extension program are met in the budgeting process (travel, rent, secretary salary and additional agent salary, etc). Professional improvement funds may be up to but not more than $3,000 per agent per year. Secretary or program assistants may also receive professional improvement funds (up to $1,000 is suggested). Use of such funds will be restricted to expenditures for state and national meetings of agents, secretaries and program assistants associations, Epsilon Sigma Phi, other professional associations, and other professional improvement expenditures as approved by the District Director.
Agents may pay for professional association dues out of professional development funds as long as the dues are part of a registration fee to attend a meeting of the association and the dues amount is discounted (less than paying the dues and the registration for the meeting seperately). Funds budgeted for one year cannot be carried over to the next year to increase the agent’s total amount over the annual guideline. Funds expended must follow the current state expenses reimbursement guidelines for travel, meals, lodging, etc.
- A line item account for each agent, secretary, and program assistant is to be established in the county Extension Budget for professional improvement funds.
- An electronic request should be submitted to the District Director for use of professional improvement funds prior to participation in the event.
- Agents and staff are responsible for keeping their account accurate and balanced.
- Any over-spending of professional improvement funds must be repaid by the agent or other staff involved. This cannot be accomplished by transfer of funds from travel, etc. A paper trail must prove the repayment.
Attendance At Professional Meetings
All staff members are encouraged to participate in professional associations relating to their fields of training or position of assignment. Attendance at one national professional meeting per year will be approved. Travel time of one day to and from the meeting will be allowed. Time at this meeting will be on official time.
Attendance at other professional meetings will be reviewed on the merits of each case. Additional approval to attend, allowed time, possible reimbursement, etc. will be based on the agent’s role at the meeting, participation at other meetings, and the effect on the county program.
Agents are allowed time without expenses for district professional improvement meetings, before or after district staff meetings, or at regularly scheduled times not to exceed one-half day per month or six days per year.
- Travel within the State of Kentucky is permitted without prior authorization when carrying on day-to-day business of the Cooperative Extension Service, provided that the agent is traveling on their normal or usual travel funds.
- Travel associated with professional improvement funds, out-of-state travel, travel required by the University, and travel on accounts other than the agent’s normal or usual funds such as for state committee, task forces and assignments, will require prior authorization.
- Prior approval by the District Director is required when traveling outside the State of Kentucky or when requesting expenses be paid from other than usual or normal funds. Requests for travel should be submitted at least 30 days in advance.
Computer resources and internet services are for the purpose of conducting the business of the Cooperative Extension Service. Access to and use of these computing resources is granted to University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service employees for conducting official business. Appropriate, ethical and legal use of computing resources is the responsibility of each individual. Unauthorized use of computing resources will result in disciplinary action appropriate to the violation. Examples of inappropriate activities are:
- Conducting an illegal or unauthorized act
- Transferring or sharing access with other individuals
- Not maintaining the security of the system
- Spending excessive work time on the computer for personal or recreational purposes
- Accessing inappropriate or pornographic material
- Using the computer for commercial purposes
The county Extension office (provided by the county funding partner under the annual Memorandum of Agreement) is a reflection of the University of Kentucky and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. To establish a setting for effective Extension education, county offices should look attractive, be equipped to provide efficient and adequate service, be easily accessible, and provide a welcoming atmosphere. It is expected that the location of the office will be convenient for the clientele to be served.
Office and Name Signs
An adequate and attractive sign(s) should be displayed outside each county Extension office and inside the building, if needed, to provide directions to the Extension reception office and/or agents’ offices. All signs are to be consistent with the guidelines posted on the college Marketing Resources web site. Upon entering the office, signs should give directions for office locations, meeting rooms, restrooms, etc. Names and titles of individual agents should be appropriately displayed on office doors and/or on desks.
Office hours should be posted in a visible, prominent place. Office hours may vary from one county to another, depending upon the local situation, but the office hours should be regular, convenient to clientele and consistent. Changes in office hours require the approval of the District Director.
Federal Commerical Mail
All official mail sent by County Extension Offices using postal meter and bulk mail are considered Federal Commercial Mail. Guidelines and regulations for using Federal Commerical Mail can be found in the County Extension Office Procedures Manual.
Each county is assigned an annual budgeted amount for mail by the District Director. Any amount spent over this amount will be reimbursed to the University of Kentucky by the county at the end of the fiscal year.
An inventory of all equipment, furnishings, books, resource materials and important records should be reviewed annually. Separate lists should be kept for county-owned and UK-owned property.
Sale or Disposal of Equipment or Properties
- University of Kentucky-owned: All equipment or furnishings on the UK inventory and bearing a UK property decal must be returned to UK for disposal.
- County-owned: If an Extension District has been formed, the County Extension District Board has the power to receive and dispose of property acquired by the board under advisement by the local County Attorney. Other county-owned property can be disposed of with approval of the appropriating body which acquired the property.
- Equipment or property received from the Federal Surplus Property Program must be returned to the Federal Surplus Property Office at UK for disposal.
Certain publications, CD’s, DVD’s, videotapes and slide sets are available through the web-based order entry system. Additional supplies must be obtained with local funds and secured from local suppliers or through the UK contracted vendor.
Suggestions for ordering from UK:
- The order entry system may be accessed through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment website.
- Supplies - Agents and secretaries should discuss and coordinate orders of supplies to avoid submitting several orders. The Order Entry Computer Program lists supplies available from UK and complete ordering instructions.
- Supply orders should be anticipated and placed at least two weeks before pickup or delivery by the truck on pre-set dates. Counties will be charged for supplies purchased from the Agricultural Distribution Center. There will be an annual accounting of the balance due for supplies ordered.
- Each county is sent one copy of new, revised and reprinted publications in the county packet and an e-mail is sent announcing the availability of new publications. Do not order anticipated publications until you have received notice of availability.
- A limited number of publications require payment. A check payable to the University of Kentucky is required when ordering these publications. Cash transactions are discouraged.
- The Agricultural Distribution Center maintains only numbered series publications. Back orders are held for annual 4-H Youth Development publication orders only.
Single copies of agricultural and family and consumer sciences publications are available to individuals, schools and other agencies, along with permission to reprint. Should organizations not affiliated with Extension request copies, it is our policy to distribute publications to the group on the basis of one copy per family. Vocational instructors must obtain publications directly from the County Extension Agent. Vocational instructors will be given camera ready copies of publications with permission to reprint. A charge is made for some publications and this cost should be passed on to the individuals or organizations using the publications. Publications are printed on a “demand” basis and only a small quantity is kept at county Extension offices.
4-H Youth Development and EFNEP publications are distributed through County Cooperative Extension offices for use in organized 4-H Youth Development programs, clubs or groups. Distribution is not intended for the general public, but for leaders, teachers and 4-H Youth Development participants.
For the County Extension Office to function properly, good records must be kept in a convenient location for all persons using them. However, it is not necessary to maintain all records forever.
Recommendations on records to maintain and length of time to keep records are found in the County Extension Office Procedures Manual under Filing for County Extension Offices.
Radio and television are valuable communication tools. The following guidelines should be observed by Extension personnel.
- It is preferable that stations allot public service time for programs to employees of the Cooperative Extension Service.
- Agents should be clearly identified on each program as employees of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
- Extension agent’s positions and responsibilities should be fully understood by the station manager or program director.
- Agents should avoid becoming too closely allied with a particular station or product.
- Extension personnel should limit their program effort to the promotion of Extension educational information and related programs. They should not serve in the role of staff member of the station, handling programs out of their field (such as being a disc jockey, weather, market, or sports reporter) at any time construed as “normal” working hours.
Commercially Sponsored Radio and Television Programs
Extension Service personnel will be allowed to use commercially sponsored time for their educational radio and TV programs with the following stipulations aimed at safeguarding the Extension Service from endorsing or appearing to endorse specific commercial products:
- Participation will not be approved on any program that may lead the public to believe that the sponsor is making the time available on the air as a means of obtaining special consideration from the Extension Service.
- The Extension Service cannot be put in the position of directly or indirectly endorsing or calling attention to any firm or its product. The program of the Extension Agent must, therefore, clearly avoid endorsement. A disclaimer is not considered a sufficient safeguard. An Extension worker shall neither participate in nor supply statements for use in a commercial program if what he/she says or the materials he/she prepared seem to be an endorsement of the sponsor’s product or services.
- The Extension Service will maintain full control of subject matter presented by its employees and must be free to present information or recommendations without influence by the sponsor.
- All arrangements concerning participation in commercial sponsored broadcasts will be carried out by the Extension Service with the radio station management and not through the sponsor or some other advertising agent.
- Extension Agents are advised to use a disclaimer statement if they feel such is to their advantage. Example: “It is the intention of the Cooperative Extension Service to present this program information based on research. It is not the policy of the Extension Service or its employees to endorse any particular brand or product.”
The Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service does not allow its employees to hold public office. The Extension Service is charged with the responsibility of working with all people. Active participation in political activities can serve as a deterrent to carrying out this responsibility.
Communication with public officials for the purpose of developing support for the Extension program is primarily the responsibility of the Extension leadership. Extension employees are to facilitate and support that effort. Contact with state and federal officials to solicit financial support for Extension should always be coordinated with the Extension Director’s office.
Extension employees are expected to keep the Director’s office appraised of any communication with public officials at the state and federal levels. Preferably, the Director’s office should be informed in advance.
The same procedures should be observed in communication with other colleges and departments of state and federal government.
Extension agents should serve in advisory capacity to the County Fair Board. They should neither serve as a voting member of the Fair Board nor serve as an officer. The solicitation of advertising and the printing of the fair catalog is not the duty of the Extension agent. The amount of time an agent spends working with a county fair should be proportionate to the educational value of the fair to the Extension program in the county.
Questionnaires, project proposals, mailing lists
Extension agents are often requested by representatives of other agencies to complete questionnaires, sign project proposals, supply mailing lists, and endorse programs. Agents are not free to sign documents, complete questionnaires, endorse programs, supply mailing lists or agree to devote significant blocks of time to another agency unless it is in accord with the provisions of an understanding agreed to by the Extension administration and the other agencies, in advance of the request. Therefore, agents should not automatically respond to questionnaires from other agencies and organizations without administrative clearance from the District Director.