The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsibility for ensuring the financial management of their research award complies with College and funder policies. In accordance with the Post Award Management Policy [pdf], the PI may delegate the day-to-day managment of project finances to administrative or other staff as follows:
The role of Faculty Research Services includes but is not limited to:
- Financial approval of research funded staff adverts, appointments and contractual changes and the management of related staff charging processes
- Management of overheads and FEC journals (i.e. Indirect and Directly Allocated Costs)
- Regular account review and reconciliation of awards
- Preparation and submission of financial claims, invoices and expenditure statements to funders.
- Coordination of research partner expenditure statements and payments
- Raising purchase orders relating to research collaborative agreements and subcontracts
The role of the academic department s includes but is not limited to:
- Procurement and approval of non-staff expenditure in line with funder terms and conditions
- Identification and timely communication of requests for extensions and supplements
- Budget planning, expenditure forecasting and management of under/overspends
Account Management Accordion
When managing the project account, the following rules apply to grant expenditure:
- Eligible expenditure is defined as costs included in the Pre-Award application to the funder that were subsequently awarded
- Expenditure should only be charged to the account for which the purchase is intended
- Costs must be in line with the awarded budget, the funder’s terms and conditions and can only be incurred between the actual project start and end dates.
- Any deviation from the original budget (outside of the terms and conditions of award) should be flagged to, and approved by, the funder prior to the commitment of expenditure.
Research Services teams should undertake reguarl Account Reviews to check for and remove ineligible expenditure mischarged to the research project account. This costs should be removed as soon as they are identified and will need to be recharged to a more appropriate account held by the Principal Investigator or the department.
Foreign currency projects
As income is received, revised budgets are calculated by Research Services teams. Income received will be budgeted at the income rate (i.e. the actual conversion rate at time of receipt), whereas the outstanding income will be budgeted using the Exchange Rate Table. GBP award budgets will never decrease below the level initially set up.
When a budget increase is calculated, the decision on how this should be allocated will be made through discussion between PIs, department administration and their Research Services team. Any increases to directly incurred (DI) budgets (e.g. research staff, consumables, equipment etc.) must be justified by the PI and, if necessary, approved by the funder before the Research Services team will increase budgets on the grants management system.
Indirect cost budgets should always be increased in proportion with Directly Incurred budget increases. Consideration should be given to allocating additional budget to budget categories that will increase the College’s rate of recovery, e.g. overheads on fixed price awards; PI time on EC awards, where this is allowed by funders’ terms and conditions. Budget increases will only be applied to awards if they exceed £10,000.
A budget increase template is available on SharePoint [Research Services teams ONLY]
Virement or reallocation of grant funds
During the lifetime of a project there can be unexpected changes within the research that may require the Principal Investigator (PI) to move funds between different budget headings to accommodate - this is known as virement. If such change to the budget is needed, the PI and department administrator should check the funder's terms and conditions and if virement is permitted contact your Research Services team to agree the changes.
Where funders are unclear about virement rules or (in exceptional cases) may approve only on request, the PI should contact their Research Services team in the first instance to discuss the options available before approaching the funder directly. In such cases, written approval must be received from the funder and shared with your Research Services team before any budget reallocation commences.
Account reconciliation and invoicing
It is the responsibility of the Research Services teams to reconcile accounts on a regular basis to check for and remove ineligible spend. Any issues identified and mitigating actions required will be agreed with the PI and department administrator.
A reconciliation is required before invoices or financial statements are submitted to the funder for payment in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award. Correct payments from funders are reliant on accurately reconciled accounts so it is essential that eligible expenditure is correctly charged and outstanding committments are matched and closed promptly.
Extensions and supplements
If unforeseen circumstances prevent completion of the research in the original timeframe, some funders may offer one of these options:
- No Cost Extensions - When the funder extends the end date of the project, but no additional funding is provided. The Principal Investigator should inform their departmental administrator and Faculty Research Services team when the funder has given formal confirmation that the end date of the project can be extended.
- Costed Extensions - When a funder extends the end date of the project and provides additional funding. An extension record must be created, costed and approved in the Pre-Award system.
- Supplements - When a funder provides supplementary funding to an existing project but the end date remains the same. A supplement record needs to be created, costed and approved in the Pre-Award system.
The Research Services team are responsible for amending project end dates within the grants management system and, in the case of Costed Extensions and Supplements, for amending the project budget. In all cases, the PI should liaise with their Faculty Research Services team before contacting the funder as an account reconciliation may be required.
Further information is available in the Research Office user guides for Extensions and Supplements
If a Principal Investigator (PI) suspects that a research agreement is at risk of early termination, it is important to notify their Faculty Research Services team and departmental administrator immediately.
Faculty Research Services and Faculty Contracts teams will review the contractual obligations, termination clauses and commitments to identify a preferred solution and will negotiate with the funder. If a reduction in funding or a change to the project end date occurs, the Faculty Research Services team will be responsible for amending the budget and project dates in the grants management system.
Final Expenditure Statements (FES)
A Final Expenditure Statement (FES) or equivalent is required by funders at the end any award, usually within three months of the project end date. This can only be generated, authorised and submitted by the Research Services teams.
An FES or equivalent will include a full account reconcilation and will require all remaining committments to be closed. Statements will be sent to Principal Investigators (PI) and departmental administrators for final review and to complete any outstanding actions (e.g. closing purchase orders) before submission to the funder. These should be dealt with promptly.
Late submission of an FES and final invoices may result in financial penalties that will be borne by the PI’s department. This could include a reduction of the award value or non-payment of the final invoice if not received within the time scale set by the funder.