McGill researchers spoke…and we listened
Over the past few years, the McGill community has been asked for its feedback on the administrative processes associated with research funding at the University. And you made your voices heard!
Through forums such as the Financial Services Focus Groups, the Grant Management Session led by the McGill Association of University Teachers (MAUT), and the recent survey and interviews conducted as part of Research and International Relations’ Health of the Organization Implementation Project, you identified a number of inefficiencies in our system that need to be corrected, particularly in relation to award and post-award processes.
Through this communiqué, we would like to update the research community of some important changes we are undertaking in order to improve our collective services.
Research Financial Management Services (RFMS, formerly Research and Restricted Funds): Reorganizing teams
RFMS is the unit responsible for financial reporting to the various research sponsors. On April 24, 2012, Elvie Coletta was appointed Director of this unit and is leading this major initiative.
This unit is completing a significant reorganization to maximize customer service to the research community. As part of this change, a new team – the Fund Management Team – has been created and will be responsible for fund opening, annual instalments, and inter-institutional transfers. The full transition into this new structure is expected to be completed by fall 2012. The RFMS unit currently manages approximately 10,000 active funds and, to date, the Fund Management Team has handled fund maintenance (opening and renewals) for 2,240 funds.
Office of Sponsored Research (OSR): Rethinking risk
The Awards Management team in OSR is responsible for ensuring that award-related documentation is in place and that all terms and conditions set by the sponsor are reviewed and accepted prior to the release of funds. In the past, missing documents delayed the release of new funds or required us to restrict access to existing funds. OSR now uses a risk-based approach to assess the underlying risks to the University and will proceed with fund release approval when the associated risk is deemed low. As a result, we expect that Principal Investigators (PIs) will experience faster turnaround between the receipt of the notice of award and access to funds.
OSR: Clarifying terms and conditions
In addition to the PI, various groups of administrative employees currently involved in post-award management are required to understand the terms and conditions imposed by research sponsors. OSR has been working to clearly outline the terms and conditions (T&Cs) that govern new grants and contracts. Additional notes will now be provided in order to help researchers and administrative staff better understand the administrative and financial requirements that govern each award. We estimate a six to 12 month timeline before all new grants and awards are supplemented with T&Cs information for key stakeholders. The expected result of this initiative will be clear instructions and information to PIs and administrators as well as the faster assignment of FOAPALs.
Faculty of Medicine: Introducing Financial Service Team Managers
A pilot project is underway to create new positions called Financial Service Team Managers. These new resources will work within several departments to directly assist clinicians and researchers in the management of financial funds and budgets. This initiative is similar to initiatives that have already been implemented in other faculties throughout the University. The Faculty of Medicine will be providing more detailed information as this initiative moves forward.
Research Administration Database, “InfoEd”: OSR extending access
InfoEd is the tool used to track grants and contracts activity at McGill. By July 15, 2012, OSR will provide read-only access to departmental and/or faculty employees who are members of local Financial Service Teams (FST). FST Managers and administrators working in close proximity to PIs will be able to provide information concerning their awards, such as terms and conditions, expiration dates, copies of the proposal, the OSR checklist, and notices of award or agreements. This change will ultimately allow local support staff to be better equipped to assist researchers with the daily management of their grants and contracts.
This message is the first of a series of upcoming communications that will highlight the improvements our offices are making in order to reduce the administrative burden associated with your research. Please feel free to contact us for more information about these improvements or any other services for McGill researchers. We also welcome any other suggestions you may have to improve the overall administrative environment.
mary.klempa [at] mcgill.ca (Mary-Margaret Klempa)
Senior Director, Office of Sponsored Research
elvie.coletta [at] mcgill.ca (Elvie Coletta) (ext.
Director, Research Financial Management Services