In support of the mission of the University, Financial Resources services play an important role in ensuring the institution’s financial capacity and viability. It's sector works closely with all faculties and services to improve the researcher’s experience while making sure we meet our objective to increase and better manage our resources.
This collaborative effort aims to meet all stewardship and strategic planning responsibilities by focusing on core accounting, financial policy development and enforcement, and financial risk management.
Each of their six services ensures the planning and sound management of financial resources for the University as a whole by:
- offering financial management services in an efficient manner (specialized services in financial analysis and advice)
- supporting pro-actively senior managers at the University, faculty and service levels, by providing adequate, specific and timely financial information to assist in the decision-making process
- using effective methods and systems for collecting, retrieving and releasing financial information
- acquiring durable goods and services in an ethical, fair and strategic manner
- offering the university community a memorable food experience by providing a variety of menus in a pleasant environment where service is synonymous with quality
The Office of the Associate Vice-President coordinates the following six services:
- Financial Services
- Financial Planning Services
- Procurement Services
- Food Services
- Administrative Services
Each service contributes to the implementation and success of the University’s strategic directions and to the continuation of the institution’s mission.
Financial Resources Research, Trust and Endowment
Financial Services is charged with assuring the sound stewardship of the research funding resources entrusted to the University and its Researchers by providing financial and financial risk management expertise, core accounting, reporting, financial and cash-flow management services, and financial policy development, implementation and enforcement. In meeting these objectives, Financial Services operates within a broader multi-stakeholder framework and must rely on information provided to it by administrative services involved in pre-award and post-award administration of grants and contracts and on the sound financial administration of research projects by Researchers and their faculties.
Financial administrative roles include:
- Implementing appropriate and effective policies, administrative and accounting systems and controls to ensure that the research is conducted in compliance with all applicable financial management and accountability standards
- Working closely with other university services to assure the effective development and delivery of research management and financial management information tools and web-based services
- Providing regular, timely, comprehensive and reliable internal financial statements to investigators and administrators
- Advising and assisting Researchers and administrators to manage their research funds
- Providing expertise in the use and management of the university’s financial system
- Accounting for research funds received by the University, including:
- Preparing and approving all financial reports to funding agencies in accordance with pertinent rules and regulations
- Generating invoices during life of the award in accordance with the sponsor terms and conditions, including institutional awards
- Reviewing expense eligibility and assuring appropriate documentation of expenditures when preparing financial reports
- In coordination with other university services, prepare and approve financial reports for all indirect costs programs
- Final approval of financial statements and reports and acting as final university authority in the submission of such reports:
- Ensuring appropriate consultation with and approvals from Researchers and relevant university services prior to submission of reports
- Ensuring appropriate consultation with and approvals from Researchers and relevant university services prior to reimbursement of amounts to funding agencies
- Audit and approve financial forecasts where required
- Approving reimbursements to funding agencies
- Managing accounts receivable, including:
- Processing research accounts receivable payments
- Performing an initial collection role on research accounts receivable
- Providing accounts receivable management reports for relevant university research administration teams
- Assisting research administration teams in recovery of amounts due
- Monitoring expenditures and over-expenditures on behalf of the University and providing regular reports to Researchers, faculty administrators, executives and Faculties and Research Management Services / ISS / SDI / International Research
- Conducting regular visits with Faculties and administrative units to ensure awareness and respect of financial procedures, including periodic monitoring processes and visits
- Coordinating research-related audits conducted by research sponsors and their agents
- Training of all persons involved in the administration of research on aspects of the financial management of research funds relevant to their responsibilities
- As mentioned in the statement of the researcher's administrative responsibilities and in policy 85 (section 12), the principal investigator is responsible for overspending (deficits) in his research projects.
- In order to better manage expenses for a research project, FAST is available to show all accounts for a specific researcher and is updated regularly to show accurate information.
- If the researcher cannot reimburse an accumulated deficit in a short term, he/she will have to submit to his/her faculty, Research Management Services, and Financial Services a recovery plan specifying how he/she plans to correct the situation.
Inter-institutional transfers occur when the Principal Investigator (PI) is at the University of Ottawa and working with researchers from other institutions or when the PI is from another institution working with a University of Ottawa researcher. Transfers of funds may also occur when researchers from different University of Ottawa Departments/Faculties are collaborating on a project.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In each of these three situations, applications for the transfer of funds will NOT be automatically executed year after year. These transfers of funds must be renewed every year to confirm that the research project is progressing as anticipated.
If the grant is administered at the University of Ottawa and there is a request for a transfer of funds to researchers at other universities participating in the research project, the procedure is:
- The Principal Investigator from the University of Ottawa must contact Research Management Services and provide a written request for a transfer of funds
- Research Management Services at the University of Ottawa will then contact its counterparts at the collaborating university
- An agreement must be made and signed between the Directors of the responsible Services of both universitie
- Once the agreement is signed by all parties, the University of Ottawa's Office of Research Management Services will request that Financial Services issue a cheque to the collaborating university
IMPORTANT NOTE: Research Management Services must be advised of all transfers of funds to other universities before any funds can be transferred.
In order for a collaborating researcher from the University of Ottawa to receive funds from a Principal Investigator from another university, the University of Ottawa researcher must provide the following documents to Research Management Services:
- A completed "RE" form, containing all required signatures from the department and/or faculty
- A copy of the application made by the Principal Investigator from the other university, including the budget
- A copy of the notification of decision from the funding agency
Once each of these documents has been provided, Research Management Services will proceed to sign an agreement with the responsible Service from the other University and will open a project account once the agreement is signed.
Internal (between two researchers at the University of Ottawa)
If a PI wants to transfer funds to a collaborative researcher at the University of Ottawa, but is working in a different department or faculty, Research Management Services must again be contacted. The researcher must present a request, either written or via e-mail, to Research Management Services for the transfer of funds. Research Management Services will make a request to Financial Services for the transfer of funds to the appropriate account and will take any other necessary action to ensure that the transfer of funds is completed.
Managing a Research Account
More and more frequently, agencies and companies outside Canada negotiate research contracts or award research grants to the University. Generally, the revenue of the first year is calculated according to the current exchange rate given by Financial Resources (at the beginning of each month) and credited into the account.
Advances Against Future Installments
When a researcher can demonstrate that additional expenditures are essential to the continuation of the project, advances against future installments may be granted.
To obtain an advance the researcher must obtain approval:
- From the Department chair
- From the Dean of the Faculty
- From Research Management Services, using the Request for Loan against next Installment form
All requests for authorization of additional expenses must be fully justified and accompanied by a plan of action to return the centre to a positive balance as soon as possible. The researcher requesting an authorization to overspend is responsible for research grant commitments.
Journal entries in accounts where funds are not available are automatically blocked by the financial system.
However, it is possible, by exception, to approve a transaction. In order to do so, the responsible administrator must provide the Financial Services with justifiable arguments.
Because the financial system doesn’t block salary transactions, an account can go in deficit. If a salary commitment causes an account to go in to a deficit, the researcher is responsible to reimburse the loss of income.
In order to avoid problems, it is essential to ensure funds are or will be available when hiring research assistants.
The researcher should ensure the spending of the amount granted for their project by the established end date.
Some agencies are conscious that it is sometimes difficult to coordinate everything by the project's end date and grant a period of time allowing researchers and administrators to finalize transactions; not all organizations grant this deferral.
If you judge it impossible to respect the originally established deadlines, you must ask the agency, in writing, for a prolongation by briefly explaining the grounds for your request.
The agency's written response must be communicated to Research Management Services, who will in turn advise Financial Services if the system's end date needs to be modified.
It may occur that the whole amount granted for the project was not needed and thus the remainder must be returned. An analyst from the Research and Trust section at Financial Resources will communicate with the responsible Department's administrator and ensure that the Researcher authorizes the reimbursement before returning the excess amount.
Transfer of Expenses and Correction of Errors
When an encumbrance has not been debited from the correct expense account or fund, a journal entry must be made by the administration officer responsible or any other authorized person in order to correct the error.
Journal entries are registered in BANNER for which a user code is necessary to obtain access. Journal Entries are approved by the Financial Resources and are transferred to the ledger during BANNER and FAST daily updates.
Journal entries are also used to register internal sales, reprography services, postal fees, etc. You must communicate the FOAP of the concerned project when you buy goods or services from these units.
Changes to the Budget
Changes between 5% and 10% of the total of each expense account within the cost centre do not normally require outside approval. However, changes exceeding a proportion of 10% of the budgetary expense account within the cost centre must be submitted and approved by Research Management Services, who will then take the steps required to complete the modifications.