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Roles Involved in Research Financial Management

The end to end financial management of research funding involves Chief Investigators (CIs), research staff, Grant Management Office (GMO), Research Finance (RF) and Finance - Faculties and Divisions, comprising the following:

  • Planning
  • Day to day management
  • Compliance and governance
  • Accounting
  • Reporting to funding and funding bodies

In carrying out these activities the GMO and RF, along with Faculties and the Divisions, support:

  • Provide timely, accurate and relevant information
  • Transparency in decision-making
  • Professional, responsive and helpful behaviours in dealing with research stakeholders
  • Ensuring all financial transactions are captured in an auditable manner with appropriate supporting documentation.

The awardee of the funding in most cases is the University and agreements and contracts are signed between the Sponsor and the University (not the individual researcher).          

Overall the roles of the different parties are as follows:  The GMO supports the University's researchers by:

  • Assisting with applications for funding and fellowships
  • Negotiating research contracts with the Sponsors
  • Administering research deliverables including grants, contracts, consultancy, tenders, internal grants, clinical trials including those that are not led by the University
  • Managing unfunded activities (MTAs, NDAs, Head Agreements etc) and in-kind projects where no funding is provided but a research activity is still undertaken
  • Providing budgeting advice in terms of the rules of the Sponsor
  • Ensuring all projects associated with the funding are opened in a timely manner according to GMO procedures
  • Communicating to RF the Funds awarded and variations for correct budgets to be maintained in the Finance Systems (currently NSF)
  • Enabling the school and CI to manage expenditure, GMO needs to advise CI and school on:

              -  conditions of grant, including non-allowable expenditure
              -  flexibility of agreed budget, mechanisms for varying the budget
              -  financial reporting periods and deadlines.

The GMO's control framework identifies and manages research funding conditions and research deliverables for all the types of activities outlined above.  See the GMO website for further information.

The Research Partnership Unit:

  • Facilitates and enables successful and sustainable partnerships that aim to deliver high quality outcomes for UNSW research partners and the University
  • Provides support in pricing and negotiation of contract research and external consulting activities.

CIs are overall accountable and responsible for:

  • The research funding awarded to them
  • Delivering the research outcomes in a timely manner while ensuring that funding received is expended as per the grant rules and conditions
  • Achieving and maintaining a financially sustainable position for the University
  • Promptly informing the GMO in regards to variation of research deliverables
  • Providing timely notification on achievement of milestone deliverables to enable prompt recovery of research funding (invoicing)
  • Monitoring the status of shared funding funds sent to other institutions (for compliance with funding rules and reporting to Sponsors)

When financially managing research, activities include:

  • Ensuring that wherever possible, all financials for research projects are not in deficit
  • Noting that some agreements by their nature will lead to a deficit (income funded and cost reimbursement projects will be in deficit for most of the life of the project periods)
  • Equipment purchases and other pre-award pre-contract expenditure will result in an automatic deficit
  • Ensuring any variations to deliverables are communicated to GMO
  • Ensuring all projects remain fully costed with timely reconciliation of credit card spend
  • Providing the GMO with required information to open project codes
  • Ensuring revenue from projects in RF112 (individual researchers surplus) funds are spent within 2 years after project completion
  • Assisting in ensuring that the research suspense projects (RF333) are balanced and reconciled annually
  • Ensuring that expense information is provided to School/Centre/Faculty Finance and RFS on a timely basis
  • Monitoring regularly the financial status of Projects using the Research Financial Statements or similar information provided to the CIs
  • Ensuring budget and actuals variance is accurate and in accordance to the funding available and variations communicated in a timely manner
  • Providing feedback to RF to assist in improvement of CI Financial information.

School, Centre and Research Managers activities can include:

  • Supporting the CIs to execute their responsibility, to monitor expenditure to ensure that the costs incurred are within the amounts awarded
  • Understanding University policies and how to follow them being followed in financial management of research funding
  • Providing budgeting advice in relation to practical operational expenses, e.g. in terms of what items cost to purchase or support.
  • Regular monitoring and support to CIs to ensure Finance Projects are not in deficit
  • Complete all relevant documentation to transfer costs for RF projects
  • Adhere to the requirements of Project Inactivation guidelines
  • Provide financial assistance to CIs for replanning based on available funds.

Research Finance activities include:

  • Ensuring that the financial transactions associated with research activities are captured in an auditable manner
  • Accounting for research and related activities are in accordance with accounting standards and the accounting policy of the University
  • Supporting the research community in carrying out their financial management responsibilities
  • Producing and delivering consistent, appropriate, reliable and timely research financial information aligned to UNSW and management accountability to sponsors.
  • Providing advice on Research Financial Management Guidelines
  • Liaising with School/Centre/Faculty Finance to ensure all projects are closed in a timely manner
  • Loading budgets into Finance systems
  • Ensuring availability of financial information to CIs for monitoring research funding
  • Developing any new reports to meet the financial requirements of CIs and funding bodies
  • Assisting CIs by providing training in understanding the financial information.

The Faculty/Division Finance activities can include:

  • Supporting the CIs, school and centre research managers to execute their responsibility in preparation of the financials for applications
  • Supporting needs to ensure that accounting standards and the accounting policy of the University is adhered to when completing financial transactions relating to the portfolio of research funding
  • Developing long-term financial projections for research activities to achieve and maintain a financially sustainable position for the University
  • Providing budget advice in terms of full costing and other Faculty/Divisional relevant information.

For further information please contact Finance Helpdesk on financehelp@unsw.edu.au or call extension 53330.