Project Holder Financial Accountability
Project Holders of all restricted funds including IRNA (Internally Restricted Net Assets) are responsible for managing their projects by ensuring funds are used in accordance with granting or contracting agency’s terms and conditions; following agency guidelines and University of Calgary’s policies and procedures; and ensuring funds are spent within the allowed budget.
Financial Management of Projects
Project Holders are responsible for the financial management of their projects including:
- Regularly reviewing project accounts to ensure accuracy of transactions and notifying Research Accounting of any errors or omissions
- Providing instructions on any required adjustments and/or expense re-allocations and approving expense transfer forms initiated by team members or Finance staff
- Ensuring the project is within budget and not overspent
- Reviewing financial reports for accuracy and completeness
- Signing financial reports in a timely manner
- Ensure timely submission of travel expense reimbursement forms and P-Card reconciliations
- Completing Annual Compliance Certificate
Compliance and Eligibility
- Ensure expenses are appropriate for the purpose for which award was made
- Ensure expenses are eligible and compliant in accordance with requirements and/or guidelines of the granting agency, contracting agency and/or University policies and guidelines
- Ensure expenses are in accordance with approved budget
- Project holder will approve all expenditures for their projects, or allow a delegate to approve transactions on their behalf (Note: Delegates are not allowed to approve expense claims)
- Project over-expenditures are not permitted in general
- Obtaining authorization for over-expenditure if required
- Ensure proper ethics certifications are active and up-to-date
- Adherence with University policies and procedures
- Ensure any progress/status reports are completed as required by agreement or contract
Viewing Project Financial Information
To help monitor your projects, eFIN is the reporting tool available to the Principal Investigator and respective delegates. If you need access or training to use eFIN, contact Finance.
Other Research Accounting Links
To help monitor project balances, eFIN is the reporting tool available to the Project Holder and respective delegates. eFIN can be used to view project information, project balances, future encumbrances, previous financial statements and associated project documentation including contracts.
eFIN - How to view your project financial details and balances
eFin is accessible through the myUofC portal by clicking on My Work, then under the Direct Access heading click “eFin”. Project balances can be viewed by inputting your project reference number into the search field and pressing enter. The project balance will be inclusive of future encumbrances entered in the financial system.
If you require access or additional training to use eFIN, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Release of Funds (or staged approval) is intended to allow spending of research funds while certifications (human and animal) or laboratory permits (biosafety or radiation safety) are being processed. In order to qualify, the following conditions must be met:
- Notice of award or final contract must be received or signed (finalized) by Research Services Office (RSO), and
- Sponsor must allow for release of funds prior to final ethics certification/permits.
If the above conditions are met, early release of funds will be automatically granted for up to 6 months.
Early release of funds is applicable for startup purposes only (not research). Allowable expenses (including examples) may be found here.
- If early release of funds requires extension beyond the first 6 months of the project, please refer to the Early release of funds extension request form, which must be submitted to email@example.com with subject line “Application for Early Release of Funds Extension”.
Project holders are responsible for monitoring project balances to ensure projects stay within budget. While project over-expenditures are generally not permitted, there may be instances where over-expenditures will be required.
The Project Accountability and Over-Expenditure Operating Standard outlines instances where over-expenditures will be permitted. The Project Accountability and Over-Expenditure Procedure outlines the process to request an Authorized Over-Expenditure (AOE).
Notices of over-expenditures are sent to project holders quarterly. Project Holders are required to review the project information and take necessary steps to bring the project into balance.
Research Accounting prepares agency financial statements and claims. The preparation of these financial statements and claims often require direct communication from Research Accounting to the Project Holder to confirm or retrieve additional information.
To ensure reporting deadlines are met, it is imperative that Project Holders respond in a timely manner with respect to any information requests from Research Accounting. Once the financial statement or claim is complete, a copy will be sent to the Project Holder for approval and signing. It is very important for the financial statements or claims to be signed promptly to allow timely submission to the funding agency.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) support and promote high-quality research in a wide variety of disciplines and areas. Together, they make up the Tri-Council funding agencies, the primary mechanism through which the Government of Canada supports research and training at post-secondary institutions.
On April 1, 2020, the new Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA) took effect. Administration and use of grant funds are no longer governed by list-based guidelines. Instead, eligibility is determined based on adherence to four principles, supported by directives (mandatory requirements) set out in TAGFA.
More information on Tri-Agency’s Principles Based approach at the University of Calgary can be found at https://research.ucalgary.ca/conduct-research/manage-funds/tri-agency-principles-based-approach
Visit the Tri-Agency Financial Administration website. Review the full Guide, Frequently Asked Questions, and get background information on the updates.
U.S. federal government funded projects have specific compliance requirements. These awards include direct funding from the U.S. federal funded agencies as well as sub-agreements with organizations where the primary source of funds is U.S. federal funds.
The University of Calgary is required to complete the Single Audit. The Single Audit is a requirement for organizations that expends $750,000 or more in U.S. federal funds in a fiscal year. The objective is to provide assurance to the US federal government that the institution has proper internal controls in place and is in compliance with program requirements.
Effort Reporting is an annual requirement (subject to audit) to comply with U.S. federal regulations with respect to research funds the University receives from the U.S. federal government. Effort Reporting is a means of documenting the distribution of activity and associated payroll charges to each individual sponsored agreement. Please note this includes agreements directly with a U.S. federal agency as well as sub-agreements with other parties where the primary funder is the U.S. federal government.
Effort Reporting specifically, is the process where gross compensation (in the form of salaries/wages/scholarships) charged to a project as a percentage of overall compensation earned by the individual is certified by the Project Holder to be a reasonable representation of the percentage of effort contributed by the individual to the project. This certification is documented in the form of a letter prepared by Research Accounting and sent to the Project Holder to review, sign and return. There are two certification periods in each University fiscal year: (1) April to September; (2) October to March.
- The percentage of effort charged to a project should not be less than the effort committed to the project;
- The percentage of effort charged to the project should not be less than the percent of salary charged to the project.
Project Holders of U.S. federally funded research awards must also be aware of the following additional review steps to be completed by either the Project Holder or their designated project staff when considering work with any new vendor and as part of completing purchase requisitions:
- Check that the potential vendor is not on a list of disbarred vendors for U.S Federally funded awards. The link to the list of disbarred vendors maintained on SAM (the U.S. federal System for Award Management) is saved here (for further instructions on how to navigate this federal site, please go here).
- Ensure 3 quotes are obtained for any purchase requisitions over $10,000 USD. These quotes must be included as an attachment when submitting the purchase requisition.
Please ensure that the above checks are completed and the purchase requisition is submitted prior to receiving the good/service.
Expense correction limit
As part of the University’s institutional reporting requirement to comply with U.S. federal regulations, a full audit of all expenditures (salary, scholarship, and other expenditures) is completed annually based on the University’s March 31st fiscal year end.
US federal awards have a 90-day period reporting / correction limit. As such, Project Holders must ensure that any correcting entries or payroll changes affecting the prior fiscal year (March 31st) are appropriately reflected in their research project no later than 90 days after the fiscal year end (June 30th).
Outgoing Subgrants/Transfer of Funds are coordinated by the Research Services Office firstname.lastname@example.org, with the exception of those noted below:
Research Accounting (Finance@ucalgary.ca)
- Tri-Council transfer of funds (advance payment) to eligible members of the grant team at another institution, with the exception of the programs handled by Legal/MedLegal & IP.
Note: if you wish to include special conditions or terms related to Intellectual Property (IP), Publication or Confidentiality, contact email@example.com to set up the subgrant contract.
Legal & IP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Non Tri-Council grants
- Tri-Council programs:
- CIHR SPOR Network
- NSERC Collaborative Research & Development (CRD)
- NSERC Industrial Research Chairs (IRC)
- NSERC Strategic Projects
- NSERC Strategic Network
- NSERC Idea to Innovation NSERC Alliance
- NSERC University / College Program
- NSERC CREATE (only when industry funding exists) Network Centres of Excellence (NCE)
- Any funds being sub-contracted for a research collaboration, including industry funds or funds from industry-related funding programs. Foundation funds to be reviewed and approved by RSO Grants before being processed by Legal.
- Clinical trial fund transfers to be reviewed by Legal & IP, AHS, or Med Legal before processing.
Supply Chain Management (SCMHelp@ucalgary.ca)
- Independent contractor (Fee for Service).
Once the sub-agreement is signed by all parties and fully executed, University Legal Services will submit the contract to Finance@ucalgary.ca. A notification is then sent to the Project Holder regarding the set up of the amount-only-PO. Once the amount-only-PO has been set up by the Project Holder, Research Accounting will automatically proceed with advancing the subgrant funds as per the payment date indicated in the contract.
For assistance with creating an amount-only-PO, contact UService@ucalgary.ca.
The Annual Financial Compliance and Eligibility Certificate is designed to clarify financial and administrative accountabilities and expectations for Researchers/Project Holders of externally funded projects, with respect to current and future projects. This certificate is also designed to secure confirmation that Researchers/Project Holders are aware of their financial and administrative accountabilities and that Project Holders will ensure compliance with University policies and sponsor requirements.
All current Researchers/Project Holders of externally and internally restricted projects in Funds 11, 12, 18, 19, 60, and 70 are expected to complete the certificate annually by the end of November each year. New Researchers/Project Holders of externally funded projects are expected to complete this certificate as part of their orientation process.
- Annual Compliance FAQs
- Annual Compliance Form
- Summary of changes to reference materials (for the 2021 Annual Compliance Certificate)
*COVID- 19 Subject Fees: Provision of pre-paid visa cards is temporarily suspended. If you require subject fee pre-paid cards, please procure the cards and submit the expense for reimbursement through a travel and expense claim. *
Subject fee payments to study participants are made by pre-paid visa card.
Subject fee payments can only be made as an incentive to participate in the study and for travel expense reimbursement to study participants. Supporting documents for the travel expense reimbursements are the responsibility of the Project Holder and must be archived with the research documents.
Ethics certification must be in place prior to requesting subject fee pre-paid visa cards.
The minimum prepaid visa card value is $10.00 and the maximum amount of advance is $2,000.00.
Please ensure the following information is provided:
- Chartfield coding for the project. (Note that a separate activity code must be set up for Subject Fee Advances. If you do not have one, a code will be set up for you.)
- Indicate the payment amount(s) per participant per visit. If the amount paid to a participant is greater than $50 per visit, the ethics certificate number (REB xx-xxxx) must be provided.
- Estimated date the payments will be distributed by – not more than 2 months from date of request.
- Authorized signature from project holder has been obtained.
- The individual making the pickup must be named on the form and must show their UCID at the time of pickup.
Research Accounting will review the Subject Fee Advance form for compliance and eligibility and if approved, will provide a reference number and advise when the prepaid visa cards/cash will be available for pick up at the bookstore. Please allow a minimum of 5 business days for the review process.
(Please indicate pick-up location on Subject Fee Advance Request form) Main campus researchers only:
- Funds available for pick up at the University of Calgary Bookstore
Foothills Campus researchers:
- Funds available for pick up at the Medical Bookstore
NOTE: The Subject Fee Distribution Declaration Form must be submitted to Research Accounting (email@example.com) once the funds have been distributed. Subsequent subject fee advances can be requested when the previous advance has been reconciled.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (403) 210-9300 if you have additional questions.
As part of the internal control compliance & quarterly reporting requirement to the Audit Committee, a notification is sent to Project Holders with projects due to expire and/or already expired but still in Active status. The Project Holder must notify Research Accounting which of the following steps they wish to take:
- Request a project extension
- If required and approval has been received from the funding agency, end date extensions can be requested by completing the Project Update Form.
- Request the project to be closed
- When the project has ended and all deliverables have been met, the project will need to be closed. The request to close the project can be sent to email@example.com with confirmation of the following:
- All invoices and vendors have been paid
- All PCARD and T & E card reconciliations have been completed
- All project-related expense claims have been submitted
- All sub-grant commitments have been paid out
- All progress reporting or final reporting requirements have been submitted
- All other project deliverables are complete
Closure of projects prior to the project end date can also be requested by sending the request to firstname.lastname@example.org
At the completion of the project or at the project end date, remaining funds are either refunded or retained, based on the agreement or NOA.
If a refund is required, Research Accounting will initiate the refund.
If unspent funds can be retained by the University and there are no restrictions on the use of unspent funds, project holders may transfer the unspent balance into their residual balance project. Please note that spending against residual balance projects follow University guidelines and policies.