Business Process Improvements for Sponsored Projects and Grants Management
A team comprised of representation from the Office of Sponsored Programs, Contracts & Grants, and grants administrators from schools and colleges, identifies and addresses improvements for grants management processes. Work Groups have been established to work on the following projects. Additional projects have been identified and will follow.
This work team initially began with a scope focused on reviewing PAR certifications. Because of system limitations, the scope of this work team was expanded to also include effort commitments and testing.
Recommendations have been submitted to the Implementation Team for current and future PAR and effort improvements. In an effort to include input from as many units as possible, a list of volunteers consisting of PAR super users has been compiled. This team of volunteers will be presented with the recommendations in early February and have an opportunity to provide feedback.
Work team members are Ken Dover (C&G), Christian Heindel (OSP), Cathy Cuppett (OSP), Celise Elder (UBAS), Vonnie Swain (UBAS), Glenda Owens (UBAS), Shea Ray (Designated Limited Signatory Authority (DLSA), CCRC), Jennifer Mathews (Dept Admin, Vet Med), Shannon Kennedy (Dept Admin, Plant Biology). This work teams will likely have revolving members, as this topic will be a phased topic.
This team has been tasked with reviewing the current process for notifications of all types to responsible parties. Deadline for recommendations is February 9. Work team is currently in the process of receiving feedback from staff and faculty in five different departments.
Work team members are Morgan Bennett (C&G), Cathy Cuppett (OSP), Debra Rucker (DLSA, CAES), Georgi Austin (Dept Admin, Crop & Soil Sciences), Jane Magrino (Dept Admin, CCRC), Jami Sealey (Dept Admin, SARE).
This team has been tasked with reviewing the current reporting processes for improvement, as well as planning for Uniform Guidance impact. Deadline for recommendations is February 9.
Work team members are Bruce Fitzgerald (C&G), Stephanie Tucker (OSP), MaryAnn Deom (OSP), Chris Burback (UBAS), Joy Emery (TCO), Angela Sparacello (OVPR), Debra Rucker (DLSA, CAES), Youyou Cheng (DLSA, Public Health), and Departmental Administrators to include Glory Griffin (Education), Denise Cartee (FACS), Jessica Hart (Pharmacy), Sarah Fraker (Terry College), Brooke Rooks (Grady College), Jarrod Buffington (Engineering), Amber Mallory (Forestry), and Gretchen Bowen (Plant Biology).
This team has been tasked with reviewing the sub-recipient process for improvements as well as planning for Uniform Guidance impact. Deadline for recommendations is March 16.
Work team members are Gail Chester (C&G), Jenna Jones (OSP), Andre Simmons (UBAS), Jennifer Adams (Dept Admin, CAES), Joni Callihan (Dept Admin, Marine Programs).
This team has been tasked with the creation of a white paper that outlines, reviews, and offers a determination regarding the state of Post-Award International Business processes. Additionally, this team will help to determine whether a business process improvement work team should be convened and the reason why. Tentative deadline for white paper is March 16.
Work team members are Chris Schwarzer (OIE), Amber Redfern (UBAS), Susan Caldwell (UBAS), Cynthia Baker (OSP).
Contracts and Grants is working on ways to obtain as much backup documentation from the various systems throughout UGA to minimize asking departments for backup.
The Residual Balance form has been revised with better instructions for the departments to complete. This revision should improve the amount of time it takes to get a Residual Balance transferred to a RX 950 account. Link to RBP form http://www.busfin.uga.edu/forms/residual_balance.pdf For complete announcement click here.
On May 15, 2015 it was announced that Contracts and Grants will discontinue sending the Quarterly Overdraft Report on Restricted Accounts to PIs.
If deemed necessary by the department and Contracts and Grants, invoicing may take place on restricted accounts in a pending state up to the original budget amount or until the original end date. For complete announcement click here.
Instead of sending paper copies of invoices and reports to the Departments, Contracts and Grants will now email copies.
Semiannually for the period ending February 28th and August 31st, Contracts and Grants will send the departments a status of how much Cost Share has been documented on committed cost share.
Federal regulations require that UGA monitor activities of subrecipients ensuring that the awards are used for authorized purposes. Historically, for subrecipients with no external audit report, UGA has required PI’s/Departmental Administrators to collect copies of receipts and timecards for all reimbursable expenses listed on invoices. Since PI’s/Departmental Administrators have first-hand knowledge of the scope of work, budget, and terms/conditions of the subaward agreement they can adequately assess the risk of non-compliance by reviewing invoiced expenses against the subaward agreement, evaluating the experience of the subrecipient, and reviewing the work accomplished. With this knowledge, the UGA department can check compliance by requesting copies of receipts or timecards if a charge on the invoice doesn’t seem appropriate for the project.
This change eliminates the need for the PI/Departmental Administrator to collect copies of all receipts and reconcile them with the invoiced charges. PI/Departmental Administrators are still required to obtain invoices from these subrecipients that include a signed certification as to the appropriateness of the charges such as: “I certify that all expenditures reported (or payments requested) are for appropriate purposes and in accordance with the agreements set forth in the award documents.”
Effective 04/1/2015 the Contracts & Grants Department has implemented this change to reduce the amount of time for payment processing and reduce administrative burden on PI’s/Departmental Administrators.
This work team was tasked with reviewing the No Cost Extension (NCE) form for improvements, specifically focusing on eliminating or altering sections that cause faculty and departmental administrators the most difficulty. The ‘Personnel and Compliances’ section has been a source of confusion for some time and the necessity of this section has come into question many times. Additionally, routing for signatures can be a burden when there are a number of Co-PIs because each Co-PI must sign the form to update the certifications.
A revised NCE form has been created that replaces the ‘Personnel and Compliances’ section with a simple effort reminder statement. This assists PIs and Co-PIs with monitoring their effort commitment and reduces confusion on effort during the NCE period. The PI and Co-PI certifications section has been simplified with a few statements on how to complete the certifications in the eResearch Portal. This eliminates the need for PI/Co-PIs to sign, scan, and email the form to OSP. This is especially helpful if there are multiple PI/Co-PI(s) on the project. The new NCE form is now available for use on the SPAS website ( ). Full functionality of the NCE request via the Portal is forthcoming.
Work team members are Ken Dover (C&G), Christian Heindel (OSP), Cathy Cuppett (OSP),
Celise Elder (UBAS), Vonnie Swain (UBAS), Glenda Owens (UBAS), Shea Ray (Designated
Limited Signatory Authority (DLSA), CCRC), Jennifer Mathews (Dept Admin, Vet Med),
Shannon Kennedy (Dept Admin, Plant Biology).
For complete announcement click here.
This work team was tasked with reviewing the Administrative Action Request Form (AARF) for improvements, specifically focusing on the possible elimination of Contracts & Grants (C&G) approval items. [Note: Foreign travel was removed from the AARF effective 10/1/14.]
The form has been streamlined by removing all C&G items formerly on the right side of the form. This allows users to receive pre-award and pending award approvals in a more timely manner. Additionally, the removal of C&G items reduces confusion for users regarding where to send the AARF for approval. The new AARF can be found on the Sponsored Programs website under Forms & Tools at http://research.uga.edu/osp/. The form is now only to be used for Pre-Awards and Pending Awards, and will be incorporated into the Portal. This new form will be used until a pre-award/pending request process will be implemented in the Portal (timeline goal: 3-6 months).
This is the first phase in simplifying prior approvals. A new team will be formed to develop a workflow or process for managing all prior approvals, such as those removed from the AARF (i.e., Equipment acquisition, rebudgeting) as well as items that were not previously covered by the AARF (i.e. PI transfers, carry-over requests, etc.) . This team will evaluate whether approval is needed, a method for obtaining approval, who needs to approve, etc.
Work team members are Jay McGarity (C&G), Jake Maas (OSP), Renita Anthony (DLSA,
Vet Med), Jane Magrino (Dept Admin, CCRC).
For complete announcement click here.
This work team was tasked with reviewing whether it is necessary for a Personnel Activity Report (PAR) to be used when moving fringe benefits off of a restricted account. University policy recognizes that the budget is only an estimate, and states that if an award provides reimbursement for less than, or for only a portion of, the actual staff benefit amount charged by the University, the benefitting college/department is responsible for providing funds to cover the difference. Because when a JV, rather than a PAR, is processed, fringe benefits costs are no longer specifically identified to a particular employee, the question was raised of how much, if any, weight this issue should hold.
A Journal Voucher (JV) will now be permitted to move staff benefits off of a restricted account. All dollar amount restrictions have been lifted. Fringe benefits can only be moved to a related unrestricted account (within the same function category, such as research to research (RR to GR) or public service to public service (RE to GE)) or restricted discretionary account (such as residual balance, IDC return (900), or other RX accounts). The use of a JV rather than a PAR streamlines the process of fringe benefits adjustments, thus reducing administrative burden for department administrators.
Work team members are Linda Davis (C&G), Holly Byrd (UBAS), Christy Holbert (UBAS), Sonja Halder (Dept Admin, Pharmacy). click here.
Federal agencies are allowed to waive certain cost-related and administrative prior approvals; these provisions are known as “expanded authorities”. One expanded authority involves “automatic carryover of unobligated balances”. Historically, UGA has opened sponsored accounts using yearly budget periods instead of the full period of performance under the awarded project. To access budget beyond the yearly amount for federal projects with automatic carryover, a process was established whereby an administrative action request form (AARF) was completed to provide budget beyond the yearly amount pending arrival of the next increment of funds. This is a cumbersome and labor intensive process.
Effective October 2014, the Office for Sponsored Programs and the Contracts & Grants Division have revised the process to facilitate continued spending for federal projects with automatic carryover. An AARF will no longer be required to access federally funded projects with automatic carryover beyond the yearly budget period while waiting for the next increment of funds to arrive. This eliminates the need for pending award requests to keep an account open while waiting for additional funds from the sponsor. For complete announcement click here.
Effective October 1, 2014, an Administrative Action Request Form (AARF) will no longer be required for justification of foreign travel on sponsored accounts when foreign travel is not included in the original budget. Travelers should include justification for the foreign travel on the travel authority (TA) in the “Detailed Justification” box. Contracts and Grants staff will review for inclusion of a justification as the TA electronically routes through that office. This change will eliminate unnecessary administrative steps and improve efficiency in processing foreign travel on sponsored accounts.
If you have any questions about this change please contact Jay McGarity in the Contracts and Grants Department at email@example.com or 706‐227‐5393. For complete announcement click here.