Roles and Responsibilities in the Administration of Research Grants and Contracts

Responsible Service: Research Management Services

Date: February 14, 2024
Instance of Approval: Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation

1.            PURPOSE

1.1This Procedure is established pursuant to Policy 48 – Administration of Research Grants and Contracts (“Policy 48”) and provides additional details on the nature and scope of roles and responsibilities in the administration of Research Grants and Contracts.

2.            DEFINITIONS

2.1         Capitalized words or expressions used in this Procedure are defined in Policy 48.


3.1          The Principal Investigator is responsible for:

a)            Preparing applications and proposals for Research funding that: the requirements of the Research Sponsor and uOttawa policies;

2.include a budget for all Direct Costs and Indirect Costs;

3.identify the resources, such as space and equipment, required to conduct the Research;

4.have been reviewed for any known conflicts of interests and if any, these have been declared and there is a written plan to avoid or to manage them;

5.have been approved by the Dean (or delegate) of the Administering Faculty

b)Ensuring that applications and proposals for Research Grants with relevant supporting documentation are submitted to the relevant OVPRI unit for approval and signature.

c)            Ensuring that Research Contracts with the relevant supporting documentation are submitted to the OVPRI Contract Triage section for routing, approval and signature.

d)            Managing and conducting their Research, including:

1.meeting reporting and deliverable requirements specified by the Research Sponsor;

2.informing Research Sponsors and University authorities (Faculty Dean or delegate; Research Management Services) of significant changes in Research direction and/or project deliverables;

3.ensuring compliance with the Research Sponsor’s Policies and/or Requirements, and with University Policies and Procedures governing the management and conduct of Research;

4.complying with Applicable Laws, including but not limited to those related to Research involving human participants, animals, biohazardous agents or radioactive materials, and Research data management;

5.informing relevant Research Sponsor and University officials (Research Management Services, Ethics, etc.) of changes in the nature of the Research that may have an impact on the types of certifications or approvals required for Research involving humans, animals or biohazards, environmental assessments, financial reporting, research security and other requirements;

6.informing relevant Research Sponsor and University officials (Faculty and Research Management Services) of changes in their eligibility status to hold Research funds; and

7.informing the Financial Resources office when the Research is complete and authorizing them to close out the account.

e)Providing sound financial management and properly allocating Research funds, including:

1.authorizing and charging expenses to Research accounts, in compliance with the delegation of signing authority set out in Procedure 29.4;

2.ensuring that expenses are charged to the appropriate Research accounts;

3.ensuring eligibility of expenditures and/or, where required, seeking prior approval from the Research Sponsor for budget changes or restricted expenditures;

4.where required, ensuring that expenditures keep to the budget approved by the Research Sponsor;

5.avoiding deficits and assuming responsibility for any expenses in excess of available award funds, including ineligible costs and revenue lost due to non-compliance with the Research Sponsor’s Policies and/or Requirements;

6.reducing or ceasing spending of Research funds, where necessary and possible, when problems arise; coordination with the Administering Faculty, retaining all applicable technical and financial supporting documentation for easy retrieval as required for compliance, audits and monitoring reviews.

f)Using accurate, timely, comprehensive financial information related to the Research funds to: and reconcile periodic internal financial statements;

2.make sure that errors are corrected; and approve financial statements submitted to Research Sponsors.

g)Managing and supervising University Community individuals engaged in the Research, including:

1.complying with University Policies and Procedures relating to the employment of staff paid from Research Grants and Research Contracts;

2.ensuring that all those engaged in the Research are fully informed of, and agree to be bound by, the Research Sponsor’s Policies and/or Requirements;

3.ensuring a safe Research working environment in accordance with University Policies and Procedures.

f)            Ensuring conflicts of interest are identified, declared and managed, including those of the other Researchers involved in their Research.


4.1The Administering Faculty:

a)            Approves all applications and proposals for Research funding. Such approval is normally confirmed by signing internal approval forms and/or grant application forms (as may be required by the sponsor).

b)Through the Faculty’s Vice or Associate Deans, Research and Research Advisors, assists Researchers in identifying, seeking, and obtaining Research funding, including:

1.assisting and advising Researchers in project and proposal development;

2.obtaining Faculty approvals and signatures;

3.coordinating with other University services as necessary for project and proposal development;

4.assisting and advising Researchers on electronic submission processes;

5.liaising with the University’s central services to coordinate the submission processes for major grant competitions.

c)            Provides administrative support to the Researcher, including:

1.ensuring that Faculty risk management and business processes are in place and followed;

2.approving expenditures charged to Research accounts, while ensuring that such expenditures are authorized by the Researcher, reasonable, necessary, and eligible, in accordance with the dates of the award and with the Research Sponsor’s Policies and/or Requirements and the University Policies and Procedures;

3.maintaining appropriate documentation, including documentation of the Researcher’s authorization of expenses.

c)Exercises financial control over Research funds, including:

1.withholding or withdrawing approval for expenditures that contravene Research Sponsors’ Policies and/or Requirements or University Policies and Procedures, or the terms and dates of the Research Grants or Research Contracts; needed, providing senior management support to administrators charged with day-to-day administration of Research accounts.

d)Processes financial transactions, including paying invoices and travel claim reimbursements, adding employees to the payroll, etc.

e)Assists Researchers in the financial and general management of their research projects and portfolios, including:

1.providing accurate, timely, comprehensive research management information, analysis and interpretation of financial statements and other relevant information;

2.avoiding and managing of deficits, with the understanding that the Administering Faculty shares responsibility with the Researcher for over-expenditures incurred on Sponsored Research funds;

3.ensuring that action is promptly taken to address potential or actual over-expenditures;

4.managing end dates, deadlines, and dormant accounts;

5.assisting in correcting ineligible expenditures charged to grants or other research funds.

f)In collaboration with the University’s central administrative services and institutional regulatory bodies, such as Research Ethics boards and biosafety services:

1.ensures that Research is carried out in compliance with Research Sponsors’ Policies and/or Requirements or University Policies and Procedures;

2.ensures that the University’s central Research Management Services are informed of changes to an award-holder’s status, which may affect their eligibility to receive an award;

3.ensures that potential conflicts of interest are addressed;

4.assists the University’s central administrative services to resolve financial, general management, performance and noncompliance issues as may arise.


5.1The Financial Resources office is responsible for:

a)Financial administration, including by:

1.implementing appropriate and effective policies, as well as administrative and accounting systems and controls, to ensure that the Research is conducted in compliance with all applicable financial management and accountability standards;

2.working closely with other University services to effectively develop and deliver Research management and financial management information tools and web-based services;

3.providing regular, timely, comprehensive and reliable internal financial statements to Principal Investigators and administrators;

4.advising and assisting Researchers and administrators in managing their Research funds;

5.providing expertise in the use and management of the University’s financial system;

6.liaising with Research Sponsors and partners in relation to financial reporting and invoicing matters on behalf of Principal Investigators and the University.

b)            Accounting for Research funds received by the University, including by:

1.once the Research Grant or Contract has been approved by the appropriate OVPRI service, assigning or approving a cost centre in the Financial System and setting up the spending budget;

2.recording revenues and expenditures relating to Research awards and other restricted funds in accordance with the reporting requirements and timelines of Research Sponsors and in accordance with pertinent rules and regulations;

3.preparing, approving and sending all financial reports to Research Sponsors in accordance with Research Sponsors’ Policies and/or Requirements or University Policies and Procedures;

4.generating invoices for the duration of the award in accordance with the Research Sponsors’ Policies and/or Requirements or University Policies and Procedures;

5.reviewing expense eligibility and properly documenting expenditures when preparing financial reports.

c)In coordination with other University services, preparing and approving financial reports for all external programs that fund Indirect Costs:

1.providing final approval for financial statements and reports and acting as final University authority when submitting such reports; Researchers and relevant University services and ensuring their appropriate approvals before submitting reports.

d)            Approving reimbursements to Research Sponsors and ensuring appropriate consultation with, and approvals from, Researchers and relevant University services prior to reimbursing amounts to Research Sponsors;

e)            Managing accounts receivable, including:

1.            processing research accounts receivable payments;

2.            performing an initial collection role for research accounts receivable;

3.            providing accounts receivable management reports to relevant University research administration teams;

3.            assisting research administration teams in recovering amounts due.

f)Monitoring expenditures and over-expenditures on behalf of the University and providing regular reports to Researchers, Administering Faculties, OVPRI units.

g)            Conducting regular visits with Administering Faculties to ensure awareness and compliance with financial procedures, including periodically monitoring processes during visits.

h)            Coordinating research-related audits conducted by Research Sponsors and their agents.

i)             Training all persons involved in Research administration on aspects of the financial management of Research funds relevant to their responsibilities.


6.1         The OVPRI:

a)            Leads and coordinates the University’s functional teams and the senior management at faculties, University research institutes, and hospital research institutes, with respect to the administration of Research Grants and Contracts;

b)            In conjunction with other University stakeholders,

1.            leads the development and implementation of a comprehensive policy framework that facilitates and supports the responsible administration of Research funding;

2.            directs and facilitates the development and operation of research management information systems and the provision of information management tools and web-based services using the appropriate technologies for the administration of Research, for the stewardship of Research data and for communications and strategic planning purposes;

c)            Coordinates business processes, portfolio financial and performance risk mitigation measures, monitoring and control processes, and information systems with Financial Resources, faculties, and other University services.

Research Management Services is responsible for the activities outlined in d), e), and f)

d)             Processes awards including:

1.processing signed Research Contracts and notices of award from Research Sponsors, and entering data into awards management system;

2.authorizing cost centres (accounts) for successful awards and authorizing the release of Research funds;

3.ensuring that all compliance requirements are met prior to releasing Research funds and that any such certifications stay current during the life of the award;

4.processing Indirect Cost allocations where Indirect Costs are provided for within the Research Grant or Research Contract;

5.preparing Notifications of Decisions (NODs) to communicate Research Sponsor decisions and the Research Sponsor’s Policies and/or Requirements to Researchers and to the Administering Faculty or Academic Units; ensuring that they receive a copy of all signed Research Agreements.

6.Arranging for the transfer of Research funds to and from other institutions by way of transfer agreements (for most Research Grants) or by way of subcontracts (for most Research Contracts).

e)Liaises with Researchers, the University’s Financial Resources office, regulatory teams, faculties, and Research Sponsors to:

1.            ensure compliance with the Research Sponsor’s Policies and/or Requirements;

2.            provide expert advice to Researchers and other University staff on sponsor requirements and/or award terms and conditions and on eligibility of research expenses; where necessary, seeks rulings from external Research Sponsors;

3.            assist Researchers and Administering Faculty to resolve disputes and concerns, where needed, including identifying solutions and strategies for avoiding or managing deficits and resolving non-performance issues.

f)            As applicable and upon becoming aware of changes or significant adverse issues with respect to Research administration:

1.informs Research Sponsors of changes in the eligibility status of award-holders;

2.informs Research Sponsors of changes in certification requirements;

3.processes changes to projects (dates, amounts, scope of work, etc.) and informing stakeholders;

4.            informs the Principal Investigator and the Administering Faculty;

g)            Liaises with Researchers, faculties, central services and external agencies to develop operational tools and strategies to identify, assess and mitigate potential risks to research security.

6.2         Note that infrastructure awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) are awarded to the University rather than to a Researcher. Within the University, the distinctive nature of the CFI awards is such that submitting a CFI proposal and managing a CFI award involves several entities within the University, including the Researcher who is designated as the “Project Leader” for a CFI grant.

6.3         Important responsibilities are delegated from the University to the Project Leader, who is expected to work very closely with the University’s Strategic Development Initiatives (SDI) team to ensure compliance with an approved itemized list of equipment, track all purchases against the CFI project number, request and justify modifications, oversee the management of the infrastructure purchased with CFI funding, and provide all project progress and final reports, among other duties.