CALSTARS was designed and developed to provide individual state agencies with a comprehensive automated departmental accounting and reporting system.
CALSTARS is a single software solution that provides for statewide uniformity and individual agency uniqueness through a series of tables. Some tables control usage of statewide codes in accordance with the Uniform Codes Manual. Other tables are established and maintained by each agency to further define their internal needs for levels of organization, program, object of expenditure, cost allocation, fund distribution, appropriation control, etc. These tables allow for the 'single transaction' input concept in CALSTARS. Each individual transaction is automatically appended with information from these tables. This eliminates redundant coding while providing for complete fund, appropriation, allotment, encumbrance, organization, program, project, revenue, expenditure, cost allocation, and general ledger accountability. Other major features include:
- A disbursement capability that provides the automated preparation of claim schedule face sheets and remittance advices. This allows the preparer to review and adjust claim schedules before final print at the agency's location.
- An automated cost allocation capability that allows indirect costs and administrative overhead to be allocated to programs, projects, activities and/or organizational units of an agency. Costs may be allocated through any of several audit proven methodologies depending on the internal needs of the agency and/or their Federal cognizant agency, as documented in their Cost Allocation Plan.
- A comprehensive labor distribution capability that permits the distribution of personal services and staff benefits cost through master tables or timesheets by individual and/or employee group. Costs may be charged based on the actual earnings as recorded in the SCO payroll system. This includes a monthly automated interface with the Payroll History Tape from SCO to eliminate the need for client input of salaries and wages and staff benefit transactions. Detailed reports by individual employee are provided in hardcopy output and as report files. A monthly detailed labor transaction file is available for report requests and for download to agencies' local processing environment.
- A document tracking capability for accounting and reporting individual accounts receivable, accounts payable, and encumbrances (e.g. contracts, purchase orders, etc.).
- A standard reporting process allows agencies to request reports or groups of reports through on-line screens. Various report options including time periods, levels of detail, data sorts and additional selection criteria may be specified when requesting reports. These options give agencies the ability to tailor their reports for specific needs.
The standard reporting process provides for the following:
- Reports can be produced on a variety of paper sizes to accommodate character, line, or laser printers in the agencies;
- Reports can be requested in electronic format for audit trail and archival purposes;
- Reports can be requested from one location and directed to print at another location within the department throughout the state;
- Reports can be requested for immediate production before the nightly processing update or for print the next day after nightly files update;
- Reports can be requested for immediate or overnight production in report file form in lieu of hard copy. These report files are then available for download to the agency’s local processing environment for use in their internal processes. For example, using the Monarch software, report models are created to select and sort data from the report files for import to word processing or spreadsheet software for analyses or customized reports.
- Report Groups give agencies the option of establishing a specific group of reports that are customized by activity, units or individuals. The reports can be requested by submitting a single report group name, thus eliminating repetitive keying.
- A Report Distribution System that centralizes the request, production, and/or print of all standard reports, system generated reports, and reports electronically routed to agency printers from sources external to the CALSTARS system, i.e., State Controller’s Office.
- An automated transfer and sharing of data between the Department of Finance's Budget Preparation System (BPS) and CALSTARS to produce the Past-Year Schedule 10 worksheet reports. These reports are used to compare and reconcile the Budget Act appropriation records in CALSTARS and the BPS system. They also serve as an audit trail of all transactions effecting a fiscal year's Budget Act appropriation amounts.
- A File Copy process that allows agencies to receive copies of their data files and/or tables at the Office of Technology Services (Otech). Agencies are then able to execute special report routines against those data files or 'download' the files to their local environment for internal reporting processes.
- An Office Revolving Fund for the payment and accounting of travel advances, expenses, and vendor discount invoices. This capability provides for a tracking and aging of all disbursements in the Vendor Payment File and Document File.
- An on-line Check Writer Subsystem to write and print General Cash and Office Revolving Fund checks. An on-line check reconciliation capability is also available.
- An automated process for recording claims paid by the State Controller's Office. At the end of each month, claims payment data (SCO's CD-102 documents) is electronically transferred from the SCO to automatically create transactions to record payments against outstanding claims filed documents from the agencies.
- An on-line inquiry capability to access the Document File and the Vendor Payment File to track and monitor encumbrances, contracts, and payments to vendors, etc. Other on-line inquiry capabilities allow agencies to track and monitor appropriations, allotments, cash balances in funds, etc.
- An on-line History File search capability to access all transactions of the current and prior fiscal year for researching specific transactions or searching for a particular payment, receipt, receivable, etc..
- An on-line edit capability which allows for inputting and editing all types of transactions prior to file update.
- A procedure for accepting and processing externally created files of transactions. These files may include table entries or financial transactions, which are electronically submitted for processing in CALSTARS.
- An automated process for month-end and year-end accounting and reporting activities to assist agencies in their reconciliations with SCO accounting records. Included in these processes are standard year-end transactions and all automated financial statements for Governmental Cost Funds and most financial statements for Non-Governmental Cost Funds.
The current functionality and flexibility of CALSTARS far exceeds that which was originally envisioned, although it may not totally satisfy specialized needs of a particular agency.
Today CALSTARS continues to be an effective, cost efficient accounting and reporting system. CALSTARS staff, usually with the involvement of client agencies, is continually adding new enhancements or modifying existing capabilities. These enhancements and modifications are typically made to automate manual accounting processes, to incorporate changes in statewide accounting requirements, to address changing needs/priorities of client agencies, or to maintain a cost effective system operation. System changes are necessarily prioritized and assigned for completion within existing resources.