Due to the successful efforts of our Principal Investigators in attracting research funds, Tufts University’s Sponsored Programs Accounting expenditures now exceed $100,000,000.
Along with the growth in Sponsored Program activity, has come the growing responsibility to effectively manage these funds within their restricted purposes. Given tight operating budgets and sponsor restrictions it has become difficult to fully utilize restricted sponsored funds without incurring overexpenditures beyond the sponsored project budget. Such overexpenditures directly impact the University’s financial standing, because cash must be diverted from other purposes to fund the overexpended amounts until they are properly cleared. That is why it is essential that Principal Investigators and department managers manage research funds carefully and avoid overexpenditures on Project/Grants.
If an overexpenditure occurs it is critical that the Principal Investigator and department managers work with Sponsored Programs Accounting to resolve the situation in a timely manner.
Roles and Responsibilities
As the primary responsible person, the Principal Investigator (PI) and/or a designated individual such as a Department/Office Manager:
- Certifies the effort expended on the project for those personnel charged to his/her award
- Determines that all charges to his or her Project/Grants are proper and accurate under the terms and conditions of the award;
- Ensures that final expenditures do not exceed the budget of the award;
- Reviews monthly reports of charges and budget transactions posted to accounts;
- Notifies appropriate department (e.g., Accounts Payable, Purchasing) of any errors so they can be corrected. (Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA) can direct the PI to the appropriate individual to resolve the problem.)
In cases of overexpenditure the PI should take immediate steps to eliminate the shortfall within the month after it appears on the Financial Summary Reports.
If overexpenditure was caused by:
Then PI or department administrator should:
|Non-salary expense||Submit Expense Transfer Form|
|Salary expense||Make adjustments through the Effort Reporting System via a Quarterly Effort Report (QER) or Non-Covered Personnel Report. Note: a salary adjustment on the QER should only be made to reflect a change in the individual’s effort on the sponsored project.|
- On a monthly basis Sponsored Programs Accounting will notify the Principal Investigator and/or department/office manager if an overexpenditure occurred. Sponsored Programs Accounting is available to assist the responsible person(s) with clearing the deficit. Ultimately, it is key that the Principal Investigator convey their plan to clear the overexpenditure to Sponsored Programs Accounting in as timely a manner as possible. If Sponsored Programs Accounting is advised that additional funds are forthcoming within ninety days (either through a continuation, renewal, or incremental funding of the award), then the overexpenditure can remain in place.
- If the PI is unable to resolve or propose a plan to remedy the overexpenditure by the second month a notice will be sent to the BFO and to the Department Chair specifying the project/grant and amount overspent.
- After the third month elapses without the overexpenditure being resolved, an unrestricted department account will be requested by SPA from the School Officals to absorb the overexpended balance. In practice overexpenditures should not continue beyond a three month period.
Sponsored Programs Accounting
SPA assists departments in monitoring grant expenditures.
- SPA will conduct account pre-termination meetings with the Principal Investigator and department administrator 90 days prior to the Project/Grant expiration date, in order to anticipate and avoid any overexpenditures.
- SPA also works with administrators to review and interpret the information on financial reports to troubleshoot and resolve problems as soon as possible.
The PeopleSoft Financial System provides reports, which allow Principal Investigators and their designated managers to manage research funds.