- Is used to identify expenditures by task or sub-project
- Project spending by individuals
- Identify cost sharing expenditures on accounts
All the above aids in the financial reporting you will make to the funder.
On government grants, the Effort Report (also known as the "Time and Effort" Report) must be completed and submitted quarterly by the PI, Co-PI (faculty, faculty administrators, and professional staff) to the Accounting Department, regardless of current grant activity.
All contract and grant funds awarded to the University are subject to audit. This audit can be performed by any one or combination of the following people:
- University or Funder Internal Auditors
- Office of the State Auditor
- Federal Auditors
- Public Auditors
- Independent Public Accountants
Areas of Risk that will cause audit concern include:
Cost Transfers. Effective grant management eliminates the need for excessive cost transfers (moving costs from one code to another) being processed during a project.
Last Minute Spending. This may indicate that the grant has not been managed effectively throughout the year or that you are trying to use unspent funds on activities that are not directly related to the project's scope of work. The funder may question the need for the expense if it was only requested near the conclusion of the study.
Over- and Under-spending. A pattern of significant over-spending could indicate that funds are being used inappropriately or that the next year's budget funds are being spent in advance and could imply that the grant will run out of funds before the work is completed. In this case, the PI's department will have to cover the overage on the project. A pattern of significant under-spending may indicate the research is not being completed or the "good faith estimate" in the original proposal was overstated.
Cost Sharing or Matching. Cost sharing or matching funds are defined as committed resources that are not budgeted in a sponsored research agreement. Common examples include salary costs in excess of the NIH salary cap, or committed but unpaid effort (e.g., if a PI has 50% effort on a grant and only 30% is funded by the grant; 20% is cost shared. This 20% is typically paid by the department or through a discretionary account.)
Late Reporting. The department and PI are responsible for ensuring that all project costs are accurately recorded in a timely manner so that the Offices of Research and Corporate & Foundation Relations can submit financial status reports to the funder. It is important that you be in contact with the grant officers during the closeout of a project. In addition to the financial reports, PI´s are responsible for submitting timely and accurate progress reports according to agreed-upon deadlines or no later than 30 days after the end of each specified reporting period for quarterly and semi-annual reports. Late reporting shows poor project management and may raise questions to an auditor about overall management of the project.
It is important to prepare the necessary paperwork to hire consultants, contractors, and other personnel as needed for your project.
To establish subcontracts you must have the necessary documentation from that organization or person who will be supporting the work of your project.
Ensure that you purchase the necessary equipment, materials, and supplies and other needed things that will be used throughout the life of the project. Be vigilant as to what equipment is purchased based on the agreed-upon terms, as well what is equipment is not really considered materials or supplies. Any changes to personnel and equipment must be based on the agreement/contract. Check with the grant accountant as to the specifics.
Your proposal is your project guideline. If you stated in the proposal that you will hire a director to oversee the management of your project, then you must follow through on hiring this person. You cannot change the proposal specifications by instead using a student or not hiring anyone for project management, unless you formally contact the funder and agree upon this change in writing. Please consult with your grant officer should you need to revise your project in this way, and they will assist you in this process.
As the PI, you are the primary person to oversee or guide the technical and management progress of the any internal personnel/contractors hired to work on the project. These include:
- Co-PI's, staff, graduate and undergraduate students
- Subcontractors and consultants
If there are any unexpected project issues that involve personnel, financing or reporting of the grant that affect the scientific and educational progress of your project, you must immediately communicate with the grant officer, grant accountant and the funder. Remember, the funder views themselves as a partner in the implementation of your project and it is important to keep them apprised of the progress and necessary changes as your project is implemented. If you do not maintain contact with your funder on such issues, you may risk the University ever receiving a grant from this funder again.
Other Changes to be Addressed
Other project changes for which you will want to keep your funder informed include:
- Technical Changes. You may discover as your project progresses that you need additional staffing or equipment in your study group.
- Financial Changes. The scope of the project may change and require a cost extension
- Administrative Changes. Occasionally you may loose a major leader or partner (PI, Co-PI, or collaborator) or need to add a new subcontractor that will affect the success of your project.
- Travel Changes. You may discover that your research takes you to places not originally anticipated in your project's original design.
- Re-budgeting. Based on the above changes, you may need to reallocate approved money to different areas of your budget. This must be approved first by the funder. Work with your grant officer to obtain this approval. Refer to the sample budget revision form.
- Cost transfers and no-cost extensions. You may require a cost transfer or no-cost extension to complete your research. Again, this must be approved first by the funder.
- Leave of Absence, Termination, or Departure. The PI may transfer to another university, leave academia, retire, or be terminated by the University. The funder must be consulted on these types of changes to determine whether the project will move with the PI to a different university, whether another faculty member will continue the research at Pacific, or whether the project will be terminated and any unused resources will be returned to the funder.