How is the expiry of PD accounts assessed?
Faculty members (both teaching and tenure/tenure track) receive annual allocations of professional development (PD) funds. The amount of the annual allocation, as well as terms such as ‘use of funds’ and ‘expiry’ are set out in the respective collective agreements.
In April 2017 PD amounts are consolidated into one account, replacing a system of separate allocation to individual accounts by year of origin. This consolidation of accounts increases the efficiency of processing, both from a faculty and administration perspective. Further, as outlined below, consolidation reduces the incidence of expiry.
The question is, under a consolidated approach, how is expiry assessed?
The collective agreements set out the length of time PD funds are made available. The maximum amount that should be in a faculty member's PD account is based on this expiry period. In practice, this period is currently three years. Accordingly, the maximum amount that should be in a PD account would be the sum of the three most recent allocations. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the most recent distributions were Year 1 - $1,900; Year 2 - $2,000; and Year 3 - $2,100, the maximum amount that should be available in a PD account would be $6,000. In general, amounts above the maximum amount will be subject to expiry.
Amounts subject to expiry will not automatically be removed from a faculty member's account. Individual faculty members will be notified that they hold such amounts and they will have a period of time (generally three months) to use such amounts before they expire.
How do I access my research accounts in FAST?
All funds, including Start Up and PD accounts, can be accessed online using FAST.
FAST allows the review of fund balances and status of line-by-line expense accounts, and provides an overall status of the fund.
We have created a five-minute FAST video for researchers that covers:
- Accessing FAST.
- Finding fund information.
- Overview of FAST and some of its features.
- How to ‘pin’ reports to save users time going forward.
Does the financial information in FAST represent the entire grant?
No, accounting captures revenue and expenditures that have been recognized—which generally means monies received or spent.
For a grant with a duration of less than one year, the annual budget amount in FAST represents the maximum amount of the grant.
For grants with a life span of greater than one year, FAST will, at the onset, only show the cumulative transactions to-date, in the current year. To view financial information for more than one year change the date range to view the financial data for a specified period. For more details, please see our FAST video.
Can I spend amounts that have not been budgeted or are not in the approved budget proposal?
The terms and conditions of the grant will generally outline whether any budgetary changes can be made. In some cases changes can be made with the university's approval alone; in other cases, the sponsor must pre-approve changes. Please contact Research Accounting for assistance.
What back-up documentation should I attach to my Expense Report for reimbursement?
For an inclusive list of documentation required for expense reports, including eligible and ineligible expenditures, please refer to our Research Accounting Guideline.
High-level summary of steps:
- Include original itemized receipts.
- Attach an outline of conference/seminar agendas.
- State relevance to research.
- Obtain proper authorization for the Expense Report.
What is the typical turnaround time for reimbursement of expenses?
If the expense report has been properly authorized and all relevant documentation has been provided with no additional followup needed, a researcher can expect reimbursement less than two weeks after submitting a claim to the Finance department.
Why do I have to submit a travel expense claim when I’ve already received a travel advance?
A travel advance is based on estimated costs. When the trip has concluded, all original invoices, receipts, boarding passes and other relevant documentation must be submitted and authorized. Any difference between expected and actual expenditures is to be settled on completion of the expense report.
For expense claims, why are original receipts and proof of payment necessary?
Original receipts and supporting documentation are necessary to substantiate that these costs are relevant and authentic to the research grant or fund. Stewardship, due process, transparency and accountability all support the need for original receipts and proof of payment. All funds, whether sourced internally or externally, must be properly managed and accurately reported.
What justifications should be provided with travel claims?
Justification of the relevance of an expense to a research funded project is required for all expenses charged to externally funded grants.
The Tri-Agency has recently stated that travel claims are a high-risk area. Funders need to understand how travel relates to the funded research. Researchers should provide at least one or two sentences describing the purpose and relevance of the travel to the project or research endeavor. For greater detail on travel requirements, please refer to this travel memo.
What is needed to justify purchase of computers and electronic equipment?
Computers, tablets, modems, emerging technology, other hardware, specialized software and electronic communications must be justified. The Tri-Agency has confirmed that the claimant is to ensure that the equipment is:
- Directly related to, and necessary for, the advancement of the funded research.
- Not normally provided by the institution.
- An economical use of funds.
- Necessary to meet a need not otherwise fulfilled by equipment currently available; stating that the equipment was included in the research proposal is not sufficient.
When I submit for kilometric reimbursement, what starting point should I be using?
The starting point is the shorter of the university's north Oshawa location (2000 Simcoe Street North) or your actual starting location (e.g. home address). A map outlining your travel start and end points is required as documentation for your kilometric reimbursement claim. This map is easily created in CONCUR when you create a line item for claiming your mileage costs. You will be prompted to indicate your starting and end points, thus creating the map directly within your CONCUR claim. The mileage reimbursement rate is $0.45/km as per UOIT policy or the specified rate indicated in your research agreement/contract.
Can I claim home phone and Internet expenses?
The Tri-Council has ruled that these costs are non-eligible expenses. Institutions provide Internet access for researchers, and while many researchers do work from home, it is noted that Tri-Agency funds cannot be used for ‘convenience’.
However, UOIT policy allows a portion of these costs to be charged to internal research funds (Start Up and PD). You can't charge 100 per cent of these costs; therefore the claimant must verify the percentage of the costs used to support teaching, research and/or service when submitting a claim.
How can I ensure my expense report is coded correctly?
Research Accounting has compiled a list of commonly used expense accounts to make it easier for Researchers to prepare and accurately submit their expenses.
If your expense is atypical in nature, please contact the Research Analyst for your faculty for assistance.
When I travel to attend a conference, what sort of proof should I be submitting when the conference comes to a close?
Typically, registration for a conference occurs several weeks or months before the event and researchers are often reimbursed ahead of time for these fees. It is imperative that proof of attendance be submitted once the conference is over. Acceptable proof may include a conference badge, certificate of participation, or a conference program that lists the researcher/student as a presenter or attendee. Please note: If you do not attend a conference for which you have claimed an expense, you must provide a doctor’s note attesting to the inability to travel during the conference time period in order for the cost to be eligible under a Tri-Council grant. Any reimbursement or refund received related to such circumstances needs to be reimbursed to the university.
Why are my Graduate Research Assistantships not listed under the ‘O/S Commitment’ column in FAST?
Currently only employees are encumbered (i.e. recognized as an outstanding commitment) in FAST. Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) are not considered employees. This issue will be addressed in time as part of improvements to FAST. Researchers should know the terms of their GRA awards/contracts and should bear the above in mind when evaluating the current financial position of a grant. The Research Accounting team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
What are the responsibilities of the Researcher once the grant account has been formally set up?
Researchers are responsible for the overall financial management of their research projects, consistent with the terms and conditions of the grant. Researchers (or approved delegates) approve all expenditures over the life of the grant and need to ensure such expenditures comply with the funding agency requirements. Researchers are responsible for monitoring spending, signing off on the mandatory reporting requirements, and any other progress or technical reports required by the funding agency. They are ultimately responsible for stewarding their research to final completion as initially proposed to the sponsor. Research Accounting can assist and advise researchers regarding financial management and reporting issues.
Why should I understand the regulations for spending funds under a specific grant?
The rules for expenditures may vary depending on the funding source.
As the individual in charge of the overall financial management of a particular grant, the researcher should be familiar with the different requirements and regulations to avoid situations whereby expense claims, in full or in part, are disallowed. Being familiar with the regulations particular to your fund will also facilitate the audit process.
How are grants transferred between institutions?
Collaborative research projects often require the transfer of funds between institutions. If permitted by the funding agency terms and conditions, grant funds can be sent to another institution once a Transfer of Funds Agreement is executed. If you intend to send a portion of your grant to another institution, or if you wish to receive funds from another institution please contact the Office of Research Services for further details.
What are the commonly used forms that I should know about?
- BMO Corporate Credit Card Application
- BMO Corporate Credit Card – Limit Increase Application
- Cheque Requisition – to be used if a formal invoice is not received (i.e. honorariums, guest speaker fees)
- Declaration of Fees paid to Research Subjects
- Research Accountability Document
I need to purchase a large piece of equipment for my research. How many quotes do I need and how do I move forward with my purchase?
Depending on the dollar value of your purchase, the number of quotes you need will vary. Up to $5,000 you will not require a quote and the equipment can be purchased on your BMO Corporate credit card or a personal credit card. From $5,001 to $25,000 you will need to obtain two written quotations and the equipment must go through a purchase order. Please refer to Section 3.5 of the UOIT Procurement of Goods and Services Procedure for more information.
To whom can I delegate signing authority?
The grantee may delegate signing authority to authorize expenditures in accordance with agency policies and requirements and UOIT policies. Delegation can only be given to someone who is directly tied to, and has knowledge of, the research project. Delegation cannot be assigned to administrative staff for purposes of convenience. To delegate signing authority, please complete the Delegation of Signing Authority Form.