Referencing CFI item numbers to facilitate review and reporting

October 28, 2016

The CFI funds specific items of an infrastructure project. A CFI item number is assigned to each item approved by the CFI, as presented in the CFI-approved budget.

Some institutions reference this item number in purchase documents (e.g. purchase requisitions, purchase orders, invoices), and also use sub-codes in their financial systems to track this number in relation to each expenditure transaction. Doing so has many advantages as it can:

  • Facilitate the review of expenditure eligibility: By incorporating the CFI item number in purchase requisitions, the individual who approves the requisition can more easily verify that the purchase is in line with the CFI-approved budget. Without this information, it is often difficult for the individual to make this determination, especially if the description in the purchase requisition differs from that in the CFI-approved budget, or when the purchase of a CFI-related item is combined with other items that are not related to the CFI (group purchases).
  • Facilitate reporting in CFI financial reports: Institutions must submit interim financial reports (if applicable) and a final financial report both of which include the actual cost of each approved item in the CFI-approved budget. Using sub-codes to track the CFI item number in the financial system can greatly facilitate reporting as transactions can easily be summarized by item number by the system. This becomes especially useful when there are many transactions within a given project.
  • Facilitate the monitoring of project changes and actual costs against budget:  Since the financial system can easily report actual costs by CFI item number, regular monitoring can be implemented to check for project changes or cost variances. This process can be automated making it an efficient process for monitoring changes and variances.    
  • Facilitate the audit process: The auditor can easily associate purchase documents and expenditure transactions with CFI-approved items.

Referencing CFI item numbers is a good practice that facilitates review and reporting activities, and ensures an adequate audit trail.

Here's how one institution has implemented these practices.

Université de Montréal

At the Université de Montréal, accounts are created in the financial system using a project-specific account number as well as account codes that reflect the expenditure categories used by the CFI (e.g. equipment, construction). In addition, sub-codes are used to capture the item numbers referenced in the CFI-approved budget. The project account number, codes and sub-codes are recorded on the purchasing documentation. This facilitates the review process when procuring the infrastructure, and the monitoring of expenditures. The financial system can easily report transactional information by CFI item number and expenditure category, which greatly facilitates reporting in CFI financial reports and ensures an adequate audit trail.


Yolaine Beaulieu
Chef de section - apports affectés à la recherche
Expertise comptable et formation - Direction des finances
Phone: 514.343.6111 ext. 4192
Email: yolaine.beaulieu [at]

Related topic

Oversight for expenditure eligibility and infrastructure changes