Guidelines

The following are guidelines related to research and specific purpose funds.

Account Code 731200 Usage

This guideline has applicability across all research funds.

For consistency purposes, all research funds sent by UBC to other INSTITUTIONS backed by an inter-institutional agreement (IIA) should be charged against a/c code 731200. This includes:

  • funds sent in advance,
  • funds sent on a cost-recovery (invoicing) basis,

Excluding the following:

  • funds sent for studies on basis of patient recruitment/retention or per sample or per item deliverable
  • service payments calculated on a per subject or item basis

A copy of the agreement and the payment schedule pages must be included as backup for the payment. All payments per a/c 731200 originating from R PGs require review and approval by Research Finance. The need for financial reporting of funds sent using a/c 731200 will depend upon the nature of the agreement; the Research Finance Officer (FO) for the PG sending out the funds will make that determination.

If funds are being sent to other INSTITUTIONS and are not backed by an IIA, then a/c 731200 should not be used; rather the appropriate expense a/c code(s) should be used to process the payment of the invoice.

If payments are being made on a per subject or per item basis, regardless of whether an IIA exists, these should be treated as expenses and coded accordingly.  Funds sent in this manner will not require financial reporting from the recipient, as the categorization of expenses will already be identified at point of processing, and the INSTITUTIONS will be treated as a VENDOR for this type of scenario.

RATIONALE

  • Research is often collaborative in nature; many INSTITUTIONS work together on the same project
  • Funding is usually sent to a primary site, with distribution and disbursement of funds to other INSTITUTIONS to be handled either as an accountable advance payment, or reimbursement based on expenses already incurred
  • These INSTITUTIONS are often (but not always) tied by IIA's that spell out funding limits, timelines, reporting requirements, etc.
  • The FO will determine based on the requisition being reviewed whether or not further financial reporting is required. Expenses that do not require further financial reporting will be sent back to the Department to have the account code changed from 731200 to an appropriate expense code. For example: expenses not requiring financial reporting are payments made on a per subject recruited/retained or per sample/item basis.
  • Without an IIA governing the relationship between the two parties, there's no way to enforce reporting requirements and other regular terms and conditions in a traditional collaborative relationship. Hence, the only way the disbursement can be treated is as a payment to a vendor for services rendered/goods received

DEFINITIONS

  • Institution: per TAFAG - "The universities, hospitals, colleges, research institutes, centres and other organizations eligible to receive and manage Agency grant funds on behalf of the grant holders and the Agencies."
  • Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA): an agreement between two INSTITUTIONS identifying title of project/purpose of research, primary researcher, collaborative researcher, funding limits, payment schedule, timelines, reporting requirements, among other terms and conditions. This agreement formalizes and defines the relationship between INSTITUTIONS and is the foundation upon which funding transfers occur. Agreements can either allow for payments in advance, or reimbursement of expenses after they are incurred by the collaborator.
  • Vendor: a party that provides goods, services, or expertise in exchange for money, without direct influence on the direction of research being conducted.

Procedures

  • If the requisition is generated by ORS/UILO, and a/c 731200 is used, the requisition should be forwarded to the Research Finance, Finance Officer handling the PG from which the money is coming.
  • If the requisition is generated by a Department, and a/c 731200 is used, then the requisition needs to be sent to Research Finance for review. Upon receipt from the Dept, the mail handling clerk will direct the requisition to the appropriate Finance Officer for review. It is the Department's responsibility to ensure a copy of the requisition is provided to ORS/UILO for posting on RISe.
  • The Research Finance, Finance Officer will review the requisition for a number of items, including: is the agreement covering a period within the active period for the grant, is there sufficient funding (current and future year) to cover the payment, are the payment particulars accurate (ie. recipient & receiving INSTITUTION, amounts agreed upon, within funding limits, etc.), proper backup documentation. If any issues with requisition, it will be returned to source for correction and resubmission for review.
  • Once reviewed and no issues to resolve, requisition is initialed by Research Finance FO and passed to admin support clerk to log. Details to log will include Q#, amount, payment destination and recipient (incl. sub-PI's name), contact info. Admin support clerk will then pass the requisition to AP for processing.
  • On a regular basis (weekly/monthly), admin support clerk will monitor for payment of requisition, and will log cheque date and number.
  • At year end (or as needed), Research Finance FOs will determine which amounts require financial reporting, and admin support clerk will send out notification to those institutions requesting financial reporting for sub-grants provided.
Expense Transfer Due to Chartfield Change

On FMS, UBC has eight chartfield elements that are used in setting up a P/G.

The common chartfield combinations other than the P/G number are:

  • Speedchart
  • Fund code
  • Department ID
  • Program code
  • Budget/fiscal year
  • Accounting period

A change in Department ID and / or Fund code will result in the need to change the P/G number of a research account.  Chartfields may not be "blanked out" to facilitate re-use of an existing PG.

The change of P/G number will require transfer of budgets, commitments, revenues and expenses. To facilitate consistency in procedure of managing change in P/G number due to changes in Department ID, the following are the actions required for each responsible unit or office:

Responsible Unit/Office

Action Required


ORS/UILO

Will process RPB to cancel and transfer budgets (current and future) from the old P/G to the new P/G.


Research Finance

Will process transfer of carry forward budget balance of prior year (if any) and cash balance (if applicable) from the old P/G to the new P/G.


Departments

Will transfer current year expenses from the old P/G to the new P/G, be responsible for transferring all commitments (salary, travel and purchase order), and advise Research Finance to inactivate the old P/G.

The department may contact the responsible Finance Officer at Research Finance of the old P/G (indicated on the RPB) to request for assistance when needed.

If you are unsure of whom to contact, please email Research Finance.

Hospital Authorities Reimbursement

Hospital authorities through the various hospitals incur expenses for UBC PIs who hold research grants at UBC.

UBC is ultimately responsible to the sponsor that is funding the research project. Providing appropriate and complete supporting documentation is one of the elements for compliance and an important control to eliminate risks associated with insufficient or improper supporting documentation. We therefore need to clarify the supporting documentation requirements according to type of transaction.

The PI’s signature on the Requisition for Payment form represents authorization to pay

Required Supporting Documentation

Salary and Benefits

  • Employee name
  • Position/Job title
  • Nature of work performed
  • Period worked
  • Proof of payment, as posted in general ledger (GL)
  • Formula/calculation how salary or benefit charged based on proof of payment
  • Formula/calculation of allocation with no proof of payment, i.e. vacation leave

Operational/Technical/Laboratory Supplies

  • If taken from hospital inventory:
    • Item (description)
    • Quantity
    • Unit cost
    • Total
  • If reimbursement is 3rd party vendor payment:
    • Copy of invoice/receipt (original may be requested during audit)
    • Purchase order according to UBC guidelines

Travel Expenses

  • Travel expense report with the following information:
    • Name of traveler
    • Position/Job Title
    • Inclusive dates of travel and location
    • Purpose of travel that explains its relevance to the research project
    • Signature of traveler
  • Provide backup(s) that the travel took place, such as
    • Boarding pass (mandatory to support airfare if no other backup is available)
    • E-ticket receipt
    • Conference registration/prospectus/agenda
    • Hotel receipt
    • Transportation receipt, i.e. taxi, bus fare

Fees – Professional/Technical/Research Services

  • Internal billing
    • Description of service or work done as it relates to the research project
    • Period covered
    • Formula or calculation of fees
  • If reimbursement involves a 3rd party vendor payment
    • Agreement or purchase order according to UBC guidelines
    • Copy of invoice/receipt (original may be requested during audit)

Alternative

To simplify the process involving 3rd party payment and travel reimbursement and for original supporting documentation to be maintained at UBC, we strongly recommend that UBC directly reimburses the vendor or traveller.

Over-Expenditure

Over-Expenditure Review on Research & Specific Purpose PGs

Policy #90 encompasses the respective responsibilities of the Researcher, Head of Unit and Research Finance in addressing the issue on over-expenditures.

Policy highlights:

  • Emphasizes the researcher’s sole responsibility of resolving his/her over-expenditures within sixty days.
  • Involves the Head of Unit to monitor and take action on outstanding over-expenditures within his/her department.
  • Authorizes Research Finance to transfer any unresolved over-expenditures to the General Purpose Operating (GPO) Fund of the department/unit/centre.

The over-expenditure review is done semi-annually (June 30 and January 31). The review process involves the following:

  • Notification to individual researchers (with copy to administrators or finance managers/staff).
  • Notification to Head of Department.
  • Notification to Director of Administration/Finance at Faculty level.
  • Final notification to Head of Department of outstanding and unresolved deficit.

Note: All unresolved over-expenditures at March 31 of each year will automatically be transferred to the PG manager's department GPO fund. Each departmental finance director will be emailed a list of over-expenditures transferred to GPO fund.

Over-Expenditure GPO PG

An Over-expenditure GPO PG has been (or will be) set-up for all departments for the following purposes:

  • To absorb unresolved over-expenditures during the over-expenditure review period.
  • To absorb unresolved Tri-council ineligible expenses.
  • To absorb unresolved reject salary appointment on expired PG.

The head of department is provided with a summary list of overspent PGs for the Department'sinformation. Any unresolved deficit will be transferred to the Over-expenditure GPO PG. The director of administration/finance at the faculty level is informed to let him/her know of the process currently underway.

Over-Expenditure on Salary Appointments

Issue

A major source of over-expenditure is the appointment of staff to Sponsored Research and Specific Purpose PGs either on a permanent basis, or where the appointment term exceeds the award term. The absence of any edit check or control by the Payroll system on input of appointment forms creates a situation where future over-expenditure is often likely but preventable at the outset.

Resolution

In order to address this control weakness, the HRMS system has been modified such that any new appointments to Sponsored Research and Specific Purpose PGs that extend beyond the PG's authority to spend end date will be rejected. Payroll will contact departments to request alternate PG details.

The following important points should be noted:

  • This control applies to Research and Specific Purpose PGs (R and S fund PGs) only
  • Existing appointments are not affected in any way - the control only applies when a new appointment form is processed

The authority to spend end date is populated to recognize that some granting agencies permit an automatic extension of the PG when unused funds remain as of the PG end date.

PG Inactivation

Inactivation Requests for Sponsored Research & Specific Purpose PGs

To request inactivation of a Sponsored Research or Specific Purpose PG, please complete the Inactivation Request Form.

Only inactivation requests for Sponsored Research (RXXXX) and Specific Purpose (SXXXX) PGs will be processed by Research Finance. For all other funds, please contact the appropriate office for processing.

Research Subject Payments

This guideline is to help define the business processes to follow when paying research subjects.

Review UBC Policy 89 - Research Involving Human Participants that defines payments to individuals for participation in scientific research conducted on human subjects.

Guidelines

  • The Research Ethics Board must review and approve incentive plans involving recruitment and payment to research subjects.
  • Research subject payments are processed by completing a Requisition for Payment form or Smart Form.
  • The requisitioning faculty or department must maintain all supporting documentation (eg. signed receipts, coded list of payments, attestation of researcher and/or others involved in incentive payment) for audit purposes.

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for the accountability of funds received and disbursed to research subjects according to the research protocol approved.

  • The faculty or department should complete a Requisition for Payment form or Smart Form to pay research subjects.
  • The form must be authorized by the Department Head (or higher) and signed by the PI.
  • The form should state "Research Subject Payments" and contain a description of the research in question.
  • If the payment per research subject is $500 or more per calendar year, the payment will be made directly to the research subject. Use account code 656220 - Token of Appreciation - T4A. If the research subject is a Canadian resident, their social insurance number will be required and a T4A will be issued in order to meet Canada Revenue Agency reporting requirements.
  • If the payment per research subject is less than $500 per calendar year, use account code 712100 - Participation Services. The payment is not taxable. Depending on the nature of the study, the amount payable to each subject and the total number of participants, the following payment methods are recommended:
    • Cash: For small amounts that can be covered by a Petty Cash Fund, cash is the preferred payment method. Please see UBC Policy 119 - CashHandling.
    • Electronic fund transfer to the PI or delegate: The PI or delegate disburses the funds and promptly returns any unspent funds back to the PG after the research subject study is completed. The number of research subjects and the amount of payment per research subject should be indicated in the Requisition for Payment form. Detailed support for the payment must be available for audit review if requested.
    • Cheque payable directly to the research subject: When there is no face-to-face interaction with the research subject, a cheque can be issued directly to the participant. The PI is responsible for ensuring that confidentiality requirements are met.
Signing Authority

Project/grant (PG) signing authorities provide authorization for transactions charged against the sponsored research PG for which they are accountable. 

A PG signing authority can be the PG Manager/Grantee or their appointed delegate(s). The PG Manager and delegate(s) have the same responsibilities when authorizing transactions. Their signature certifies that:

  • Expenditure is a valid transaction against the PG
  • Expenditure has complete supporting documentation
  • Goods and/or services have been received
  • Expense has not been claimed for reimbursement from other sources
  • Expense is eligible and compliant with UBC and sponsor policies
  • Hiring of employees is in accordance to approved budget and sponsor guidelines.  (Note: for Tri-Agency funded PGs, please refer to the section on Compensation in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide to determine if an individual is eligible to be compensated from Tri-Agency funds.)

The Department Security Administrator has FMS access to update PG signing authority and maintain delegation of signing authority form for audit purposes.  PG signing authorities must be reviewed and updated in a timely manner.

COMPLETE DELEGATION OF SIGNING AUTHORITY

Procedures

  1. ORS/UILO Award Officer sets up the research PG after all requirements are satisfied.
  • The PG manager is the grantee and PG signing authority, except for salary award where the Supervisor is the PG manager.
  • The PG manager for CIHR research allowance is the Supervisor, while the PG signing authority is the award recipient.
  1. The PG Manager prepares and signs the delegation of signing authority form and forwards to the delegate for signature. The delegate’s signature in the form serves as reference to validate authenticity of authorization, if necessary.
  2. In the case of CIHR research allowance, the Awardee prepares and signs the delegation of signing authority form for the Supervisor to be added as delegate.
  3. The Departmental Web Security Administrator updates the FMS PG signing authority based on written delegation from the PG manager (or from the award recipient in the case of CIHR research allowance).
  4. The Departmental Web Security Administrator reviews and updates the FMS PG signing authorities in a timely manner and keeps the delegation of signing authority form, which must be made available and presented upon request to satisfy audit requirements.
Specific to CIHR Research Allowances (Fund Code R9004)

To comply with UBC policy #87 - Research, if an Awardee cannot be the PG Manager due to their academic status (ie. as a student), the Awardee's Supervisor will be the PG manager and the Awardee will be the PG's sole signing authority. 

In such a case, to allow the Supervisor to be added as a Signing Authority on the PG, the Awardee must formally delegate signing authority (via the Delegation of Signing Authority form or similar instrument) to the Supervisor in order to comply with Tri-Agency policies.

One-over-one approval for CIHR Research Allowances

One-over-one approval is required for travel expenses or other direct reimbursements to the Awardee. One-over-one approval refers to an individual who is one organizational level higher than the individual submitting the expense claim; in the case of an Awardee's claim, their Supervisor is required to confirm the reimbursement.

Third-party invoices payable from CIHR Research Allowances

Third-party invoices related to non-travel reimbursements must be signed by the Awardee as "ok to pay" to comply with Tri-Council policies.

Retired Faculty Member

If the retired Faculty Member has Emerita or Emeritus status, they can still be active researchers and manage their own research accounts.

In order for the emeritus / emerita faculty member to continue to be considered active:

  • the department must send in a faculty appointment form for the Professor Emerita / Emeritus that covers the life of the P/G
  • in the Appointment form under ‘Appointment Status’ field select ‘Post Ret Appt’ option. This will enable the retired faculty member to keep their appointment active and allow signing authority to P-Card or UBC Card and other research accounting forms.

 

Specific Purpose Fund

PURPOSE

To define the use of the Specific Purpose Fund (S0000), and to clarify when a specific purpose project grant (S PG) can be set-up.

GUIDELINES

  • The S0000 (S) fund records all transactions applicable to external donations, grants and other contributions received for specific purposes other than fee for service (previously F, now G), student awards (W), research (R), capital (P), and agency (Z) funds.
  • The use of the funds is restricted by the donor or granting agency. Documentation is required to support the restriction on the use of funds and/or where the funds should be directed. A specific purpose for which the donation or funding was solicited is also considered restricted.
  • A specific purpose project funded by an internal allocation from restricted Endowment (E) fund should be setup in S fund. Internal allocation from operating fund to S fund is not allowed and matching contributions from operating fund should remain in the same fund code (i.e. G fund). Unrestricted funds, such as G and unrestricted E funds should not be mixed in S fund PG.
  • Non-research contracts provided as backup for S PG requests should be forwarded to the Office of the University Counsel or University Industry Liaison Office for review to ensure compliance to UBC policies, including receiving the institutional signature.
  • If not specified by the donor or granting agency, the term of the S PG will be a maximum of three (3) years, renewable if justified.
  • The residual balance of an expired S PG where all sponsor or donor requirements have been met and is not subject to a refund requirement will be transferred to an unrestricted fund provided by the department.
  • Generally, S PGs are revenue based with its budget loaded upon receipt of revenues. UBC policy#90 applies to overspent S PGs.
  • S PGs will be handled by Research Finance (including PG set up).

PROCEDURES

Request for new S PG

Failure to submit supporting documentation will delay the processing of the application.​

  • Submit a completed chartfield request form authorized by the department head or senior finance manager.
  • The chartfield request must be accompanied by a document supporting external restriction on the use of funds and/or where the funds should be directed, such as:
    • gift agreement
    • pledge form
    • solicitation letter
    • communication from donor or granting agency indicating the specific use of funds
    • screenshot (.pdf format) of website page that solicits donations 
  • RF Finance Officer (FO) reviews the backup provided to determine the appropriateness to setup an S PG.
  • FO notifies the department with the S PG number created.

Expired S PG

FO notifies PG Manager/department that S PG is expired and appropriate action is required.

  • Extend the PG end-date, if justified, or
  • Transfer surplus to unrestrictied fund and deactivate the account.

Request for Dept ID# change for an existing S PG

A new S PG number will be created with the requested dept id# to replace the existing S PG.

Submit a completed Project/Grant Request form authorized by the department head or senior finance manager requesting for a modification. Indicate the existing S PG number and the requested dept id#.
FO will review and notify the department confirming the new S PG number created with the requested dept id#.
FO will transfer the cash balance from the existing S PG to the new S PG.
The department will be responsible for transferring any YTD balance sheet amounts, commitments and YTD expense totals to the new S PG, if applicable.
FO will deactivate the existing S PG after being notified all transfers have been completed.

Unidentified Funds

PURPOSE

The purpose of this guideline is to identify a process to address unidentified funds received by UBC. UBC Finance receives numerous cheques and wires from all different sources that cannot be identified to a particular PG. These funds are held in either the Research Suspense Account or the University Suspense Account.

GUIDELINE

Deposits that remain unidentified for up to three fiscal years remain as an outstanding item in the suspense account. Unidentified deposits greater than three fiscal years are recognized as revenue on an annual basis.

Applicability: Applies to unidentified receipts in the Research and University Suspense Accounts.

Exceptions: There are no exceptions to this guideline.

PROCEDURES

  • General unidentified deposits on the bank reconciliation relating to the previous fiscal year are transferred to the University Suspense Account annually in March (32G13070 for direct deposits and 32G17524 for wires).
  • Unidentified deposits < three fiscal years remain on the University Suspense Account and Research Suspense Account (32R50000).
    • Unidentified non-research deposits prior to the previous three fiscal years are recognized as revenue and cleared from the University Suspense Account annually in March (32G93105).
    • Research deposits that remain unidentified prior to the previous three fiscal years are either:
      • refunded to agency, or
      • cleared against annual research write-offs in the Suspense Account.
  • If the Department subsequently identifies the funds, a journal can be raised to transfer the funds to the appropriate PG.
Unrestricted Research Fund

PURPOSE

The purpose of this guideline is to understand unrestricted research fund and establish the process in identifying and transferring balances to appropriate account.

GUIDELINES

  • Fund code of unrestricted research fund is R2222.
  • Residual balances of expired research project/grant (PG) will be classified as unrestricted and moved to principal investigator’s (PI) R2222 PG, if:
    • agreement or award letter indicates that residual balance will be retained by the PI/Institution, or
    • agreement or award letter is silent on residual balance and it is below 40% of total project funding, or
    • agency/sponsor is invoiced through cost recovery/milestone.
  • Start-up funds from operating fund or from other unrestricted internal sources (such as unrestricted E fund) should be credited to PI’s R2222 PG.
  • Matching contributions for a research project will be setup depending on the source of funds.
    • Source of matching contribution is from unrestricted PG or fund code, matching contribution should be set up in R2222 fund code.
    • Source of matching contribution is from restricted PG or fund code, matching contributions should be setup in R5000 fund code. 
      **List of unrestricted E fund codes is available in FMS or enquire by sending an email to Research Finance.
      **S0000 is restricted fund code
  • External donation with external restriction should not be mixed with PI’s unrestricted PG.
  • PI should use accumulated unrestricted funds for research activities in a broad sense and ensure compliance with ethics requirement, if applicable.
  • UBC policy #90 applies for overspent unrestricted research PGs.

PROCEDURES

Research Finance, Finance Officer

  • Review expired research PGs on a regular basis to determine if PG with surplus meets the criteria to be categorized as unrestricted
  • Coordinate with PI to confirm the transfer of balance to R2222 PG if one already exists. If not, request the setup of new R2222 PG from ORS
  • Transfer the surplus net of overhead (if PG has an overhead code) to PI’s R2222 PG

ORS/UILO Officer

  • Setup new PG with the following information:
    • Fund code: R2222
    • Description: Unrestricted Research Funds
    • PG End Date: 2099
  • A PI may have more than 1 unrestricted PG if separate monitoring and return of residual balance to source PG is required. In this case, a new R2222 PG will be setup with the following information:
    • Fund code: R2222
    • Description: usual name or purpose of award
    • PG End Date: award end date
    • RPB to indicate reason for the setup of new unrestricted PG, such as return of residual balance to the master PG is required
  • Increase R2222 PG budget as necessary.

PI/Department

  • Request ORS/UILO to increase the budget for revenues credited to R2222 PG and prepare cost reduction entries only when there were previous expenses incurred in the PG.

Applicability: Applies to all faculties and departments