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3.10 Financial Resources

Comprehensive Standard:

3.10.4 The institution maintains financial control over externally funded or sponsored research and programs. (Control of sponsored research/external funds)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

The University of West Georgia (UWG) maintains financial control over externally funded sponsored research and programs through the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) [1], managing approximately $4 M in awards annually. The ORSP oversees and maintains these administrative functions from pre-award submission through post-award financial reporting.

The main objective of the ORSP staff is to facilitate faculty and staff research and sponsored program productivity.  Faculty and staff at UWG are encouraged to seek external funding for specific projects that further the mission of the University in teaching, research, and public service. 

Pre-Award Functions

The ORSP is responsible for ensuring compliance with the policies of the University and of sponsoring agencies when assisting in proposal and budget development and when reviewing, approving, and negotiating proposals submitted to sponsoring agencies. This responsibility includes the review of the proposed budget, review of the proposal to assure compliance with sponsor and University guidelines, approval and submission of proposals, and subsequent negotiation of funded awards. The ORSP is also responsible for financial setup of accounts upon receipt of grant awards and oversees the negotiation and execution of contracts and ensures that all agreements are executed following the guidelines of the OMB Circular A-21, the University System of Georgia and the State of Georgia.

When a Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) decides to apply for a sponsored project, he/she contacts the ORSP to notify the staff that he/she will be submitting a proposal for funding of some sort. The PD/PI then sends a link to the program announcement to which they are applying to the ORSP. The completed grant proposal is accompanied by a Proposal Approval Form [2] which is an internal document that is not sent to the funding agency. The form includes key personnel, summary of budget, information related to University cost sharing, and questions identifying compliance concerns.

All proposals are routed through the Department Chair and College Dean, who are responsible for checking for commitments such as released time requested, cost-shares and funding commitments. The ORSP then reviews all proposals to ensure compliance with sponsor, University, State, and Federal regulations and guidelines.

UWG has clearly articulated processes for the protection of human subjects.  All researchers, both students and faculty, must complete training on research ethics through the Comprehensive Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) before submitting a proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Experienced faculty researchers who serve on IRB then review applications and must give approval before research can begin.

Post-Award Functions 

When formal notice of a grant or contract award is received by the University, ORSP personnel set up the budget and the budget office establishes and approves an account. Any subsequent revisions to a budget require ORSP approval to ensure that budget changes comply with both sponsor and institutional policies.

All expenditures for federal, state, and private grants and contracts must be made following state procurement laws, which are available at the UWG Purchasing website [3]. In addition, the University follows all guidelines cited in applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars (OMB Circulars A-21 [4], A-110 [5], and A-133 [6]). All grant and contract expenditures are verified and approved by the Principal Investigator and Post-Award Services in the ORSP.

The following is a list of activities and compliance-related programs implemented and administered by the ORSP. The Post-Award and/or Compliance functions of the ORSP include:

Principal Investigators (PIs) and Program Directors (PDs) are responsible for the ethical, effective, and efficient management of all accounts under their authority. The PI Roles and Responsibilities guidelines outline the responsibilities for all PIs and PDs and the Guidelines for Charging Direct Costs on Sponsored Projects are posted on the ORSP website [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]. PIs and PDs have access to a regularly updated status report of transactions that have been posted to their accounts through the PEOPLESOFT financial records system. Each P/DPI is responsible for the management, execution, and completion of the project, including all required reports that are submitted to the agency through the ORSP. In addition, PIs and PDs are responsible for executing a system of internal controls over their grant accounts that provide reasonable assurance that fund management is effective and efficient; assets are safeguarded; financial information is reliable; and laws, regulations, and policies and procedures are complied with. PIs and PDs are responsible for establishing protocols for approving, authorizing, verifying, and reconciling all of their grant accounts in order to mitigate risks. The Post-Award Services function of the ORSP provides oversight of these responsibilities for internal control purposes.

Supporting Documentation: