Published: Oct. 3, 2022

The efforts of stakeholders in Research Financial Services (a unit in the Campus Controller’s Office), the Office of Contracts and Grants, institutes and departments across the campus have led to an abundance of new and improved resources. Together, these resources promote accurate practices in research accounting. 

In September 2019, an anchor team of finance and administration experts in Research Financial Services and the Office of Contracts and Grants began a comprehensive review of research management at the university. They identified five key focus areas: cost transfers, ePERS/PETs, property, travel and tuition remission. 

Teams of subject matter experts from departments and institutes across campus were invited to collaborate on each focus area. Their shared goal was to outline opportunities to improve accounting processes and practices. In total, teams put forward over 55 recommendations. While not every recommendation has been fully developed, teams have made progress on a number of initiatives.

Cost Transfers Team

The cost transfers team focused on reducing two complications: (1) inconsistencies in the documentation and justification provided when initiating a cost transfer entry and (2) posting unallowable expenses to sponsored research awards. This team worked together to develop an expansive collection of best practices, a comprehensive checklist, and a new report that flags sensitive expenses

ePERs/PETs Team

To support more timely ePERs certifications, the ePERs/PETs team aimed to improve campus-wide understanding of the effort reporting requirements. They also focused on ways to ensure the accuracy and promptness of tuition remission cost transfers resulting from PETs. The team worked with stakeholders to offer campus-wide training, an interactive knowledge check, a quick reference checklist, and an update to the campus policy and procedure. These collaborative efforts have led to significant process improvements and a 62% reduction in the university’s backlog of ePERs since November 2020.

Property Team

The property team aimed to reduce inconsistency when processing fabrication expenses and improve organization-wide understanding of property accounting. They began offering quarterly Q&A sessions for property managers on campus to network, ask questions, share updates and discuss goals. In the coming year, the team plans to continue to support departmental research administrators with a robust catalog of helpful resources and tools. They also plan to offer property-focused training to graduate students and postdocs.

Travel Team

The travel team collaborated with the Procurement Service Center to make account code mapping visible for stable expense types—those not dependent on travel type—within Concur. This helps to facilitate accurate accounting and clarify where travel expenses will land. They hope to enhance this feature even more by adding account codes for all travel expense types. Additionally, work is in progress on an all-in-one resource of travel-related policies, procedures and best practices.

Tuition Remission Benefit Team

The tuition remission benefit team worked to ensure that tuition remission benefit expenses were accurately posted to sponsored research awards prior to the award’s end date. The team deployed biannual training sessions with the Graduate School, the Bursar’s Office, and other relevant stakeholders. They also developed an early tuition posting process and created a sponsored project early tuition posting (ETP) form. In the coming year, they plan to refine the process even further by moving into an OnBase workflow.