One of the most important aspects of a project is managing it successfully to ensure additional funding and compliance. This includes adhering to your reporting milestones, steadily spending your budget, monitoring subcontractors, hiring students, or managing the absence of a project team member.
Once the Ann Arbor Office of Research & Sponsored Projects has processed an award, the Shared Services Center will assign a project/grant number and notify the PI and administrative point of contact via email that the account is ready for use. The following information is intended to provide guidance and assist units in effectively managing research grants and other sponsored projects within their departments.
Each department is responsible for sound fiscal management of sponsored accounts and will be required to cover any expenditures not consistent with University policies and/or sponsor guidelines. The Project Director has primary responsibility for all activity on the account, but staff of the departments and schools/colleges also share this accountability. Administrators should monitor spending for compliance with University and sponsor guidelines.
Grant accounts should be reconciled regularly to ensure that spending is occurring and that all transactions on the Statement of Activity (SOA) are correct and applicable to the project. It is important to note that the SOA does not show the true account balance for sponsored funds because it is based on expenses booked against revenue. Sponsored projects generally do not receive revenue until the sponsor has been invoiced for charges, which often occurs only quarterly. Therefore, grant expenses are booked against the project budget, and the account balances are shown on the Project Grant Budget Status Report.
Sponsor Payments & Reporting
Sponsors are invoiced by the Accounts Receivable area based on expenses shown on the SOA. If there are no charges to the grant account, the sponsor will not be billed. Occasionally a sponsor will mail their payment or request for financial reports to the PI or the department. Sponsor checks and requests for financial reports should immediately be forwarded to our office to ensure correct processing through Sponsored Programs in compliance with University procedures.
Review the Ann Arbor-ORSP site for a list of important considerations of project management.
Didn't find what you were looking for? Email us with questions.
Now that you've received the Project Award Notice (PAN) from ORSP and the Project/Grant number has been established, here is a list of several things an administrator should check and periodically watch for during the reconciling process:
Review the budget so you know what to expect—compare to M-Reports for accuracy
Discuss salaries with PI (who will be paid, when, how much was budgeted); prepare Personnel Action Requests as appropriate, make note of future appointments (summer salaries, etc.) and set up reminders
Be aware of any purchases or payments that will be over $10,000 (consultants, equipment, etc.) and plan for the bid process through procurement services
Watch for monitored or restricted expenses on the account (general supplies, hosting, etc.) and resolve unallowable charges promptly
For federal funds with travel, be sure to comply with the Fly America Act which mandates that U.S.-certificated air carriers must be used for foreign air travel funded by Federal dollars unless a reasonable exception is applied.
If there is cost sharing, discuss with the Dearborn Research Office how the funding is to be handled
Reconcile regularly and correct errors on a timely basis (within 120 days)
Watch for overspending! Departments are responsible for covering any deficits on their accounts.
Watch for underspending! It could be a sign that some expenses are charged to the wrong account or that an appointment has not been set up.
Be aware of the end date; stop spending & remove all HR appointments
Login to M-Reports
To access the M-Reports module, go to www.wolverineaccess.umich.edu and follow the path Faculty & Staff > University Business > Reporting > M-Reports.
Find Project/Grants in Your Department
When you get to the M-Reports Welcome page, click the "Research" tab at the top.
(If you don't see this tab, you may need to request access via the Online Access Request page. Use the Role Selection Tool to request the M-Reports "ProjectGrantReports" role.)
Once you are in M-Reports, the blue box at the left shows a list of Projects (click the + to expand if you don’t see the list.)
Select the first item “Summary of Projects.”
From the drop-down box next to “Find:” select “P/G Department.”
Then click the + next to “Dearborn Campus” to expand the department list.
Repeat this step to expand the list for the school/college until you find the dept ID you are looking for.
When you find your dept ID, click and hold, then drag it over to the right and drop where it says “Drag and Drop Departments Here.” You can select as many departments as you need. Once you have all the departments you want to look at, click the “Refresh” button at the top. This will give you a list of all the project/grants under the department ID(s) that you selected. Notice there are two tabs that you can switch between: “Sponsored P/Gs” and “UM-Funded/Gifts/Other P/Gs.”
To view the details for a specific account, click on the project/grant number. On the next page, open the + next to “Show/Hide Balance Details” (above the blue and yellow columns.) Then you should see three yellow columns: Budget, Expended, and Official Balance.
Review the Information
Now that you have reached the current account information, the following are several things you can do to review and verify the numbers:
Compare the yellow “Budget” column to the budget in your Project Award Notice; they should match.
Click on any dollar amount in the “Expended” column. This allows you to drill down by fiscal year and accounting period to see the details at the individual transaction level.
Review the “Expended since last month closed” column by clicking on an amount and drilling down. This shows you items that have hit the statement in the current month.
Click on dollar amounts in the commitments sections. Drill down to review correctness of appointments and other pending expenditures. Commitments are projected expenses that have not yet hit the account but are showing in the system as future expenses.
Review the “Projected Balance” which is the amount that will be remaining after all current month’s expenditures + all commitments have hit the account.
Who are you paying?
People who may need to be paid from a grant account include the Project Director (PI) and other participating faculty, graduate research assistants (GSRAs), post-docs and other researchers, project and support staff, human subjects, consultants, student temps, and workshop participants.
A regular employee is a faculty or staff member whose employment is either full or part-time and is reasonably expected to continue indefinitely. Examples would be the project director and other UM faculty or researchers, support staff, GSRAs, post-docs, and temporary employees.
Except in rare circumstances, payments to regular employees from sponsored funds must be done via the DBE appointment process to be in compliance with effort reporting. Often for U-year faculty these payments are in the form of summer salary, but sometimes faculty will have effort during the academic year. In this case they may receive a course release or course buyout, which must be pre-approved by the department and college. Faculty with 12-month appointments do not receive summer salary and must be paid as part of their regular appointment. Special stipends, additional pay, added duties, and other earnings codes that signify premium payments are not associated with effort and therefore are not allowed on sponsored projects.
It is recommended that you contact Dearborn Human Resources before setting up a new appointment. Special considerations may need to be addressed for LEO appointments, new positions, and temporary appointments.
NOTE: Dearborn's Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment policy requires an employee's home department to signoff on all salary PARs.
Payments to students that are not associated with employment (such as research stipends) or any other type of student support paid from sponsored funds (e.g. housing, travel, etc.) must be processed through the Office of Financial Aid (see "Financial Aid Forms" on the Financial Services website.)
Examples of payments to non-employees would be those for outside consultants or workshop participants, and are almost always done via the PeoplePay module. An ePro Requisition is required whenever an individual will be paid $5000 or more in any calendar year, or when paying independent contractors.
Sometimes research subjects are paid an incentive fee for their participation in a study. These payments must be processed through the Human Subjects Incentives Program. To request HSIP payments, complete this form.
If you are unsure which process or type of payment to use, a good place to start is the PeoplePay Navigator.
Faculty may have effort on--and part of their salary paid by--sponsored grant accounts during one or both semesters of the academic year, or over the summer. GSRAs, student temps, and even staff members may also sometimes have effort on sponsored projects.
What is meant by "effort"?
Effort relates to those activities for which a person is paid under their base compensation rate on their regular University appointment. Effort defines the amount of time and energy spent by a person to accomplish their University responsibilities. There is no effort attached to additional pay, special awards, etc. Effort is not a dollar amount.
What is effort distribution?
Distribution of effort describes a reasonable estimate of how a person’s total effort is divided among different job functions (such as teaching, administration, and sponsored activities) and identifies the percentage of time spent performing each role.
Effort distribution is shown on the Department Budget Earnings (DBE) section of the Employee Total Picture in the Human Resources Management System (HRMS); this triggers the payroll system to proportionately split a person’s salary and fringe benefits charges and distribute those charges among various shortcodes.
What is effort certification?
Effort certification is an employee’s concurrence that the effort distribution shown on the DBE for a stated time period reasonably and accurately reflects their actual work on different activities. This is a federal requirement and institutions must maintain an accurate system certifying to the percentage of effort employees devote to sponsored projects and other activities. For all sponsors, effort certification also provides an auditable record confirming that the sponsor actually received a level of effort in line with the salaries paid by the award.
More information on effort reporting and UM’s certification program can be found at these links:
- ORSP Ann Arbor Website
- SAW (Sponsored Awards on the Web) Database for All U-M Sponsored Projects
- eResearch Proposal Management
- Campus Grants Information
- About GSRA Appointments (Ann Arbor site)
- Staff/Faculty Benefits as a Percentage of Salary
- Travel & Expense Information
- Mileage Rate and Guidelines (Financial Services)
- GSA Per Diem Rates
- Program for Education and Evaluation in Responsible Research & Scholarship (PEERRS)
- NSF FastLane/Research.gov
- M-Inform COI/COC Disclosure Form
- COI/COC Policies on Provost website
- INFOED: SPIN Funding Opportunities Database
- List of UM-Dearborn Research Centers and Institutes
IMPORTANT: The 8-month base salary for tenured and tenure-track faculty members is paid out over twelve months. However, the terms “course release” or "buy out" apply to teaching load during the academic year only. (A course release during the summer is actually summer salary and not a true course release.)
What is a Course Release?
A course release is when a faculty member is permitted to have a reduced teaching load under their normal academic year appointment. In other words, the person is “released” from part of their teaching obligation while still being paid their regular full time salary. This may be done to offset other department activities—such as for lab and center directors—or to allow time for scholarly and research activities, grant work, special services, etc.
What is a Course Buy-out?
A “buy-out” situation usually means that a course release has been given so the faculty member can work on an externally funded grant. The corresponding percentage of the person’s appointment is directly charged to the grant account during the term of the buy out. In effect, the grant “buys” the faculty member’s released time by paying for that portion of their salary so that the equivalent amount of effort can be spent working on the grant.
How does a buy-out affect my operating account?
Releases and buy-out offset your normal department budget costs by charging a portion of the person’s salary to a grant account instead of to the department, creating salary savings for the unit. In other words, a grant is paying for part of the person’s salary so the cost to the unit is reduced leaving the unspent funds available to be used at the department’s discretion. (Part of this savings is generally used to hire a lecturer who will teach the course during the buy-out period.)
How much will my department save?
Most commonly a course represents 25% of a faculty member’s time during one term,or 1/4 of four months. This is the same as 1/8 of the faculty member’s eight month (U-year) salary. Therefore, the cost equivalent of each course bought out is the same dollar value as one month of salary.
How do I charge a grant for a course buy-out?
Salary for a faculty member who buys out of a course is charged directly to the grant through the effort distribution shown in Department Budget Earnings (DBE) on the HR Employee Total Picture. To accomplish this, the department must process a DBE Change Personnel Action Request.
IMPORTANT: Salaries for lecturers hired to teach for faculty doing grant work should NOT be charged to the grant account. The salary savings from the faculty grant appointment will cover the cost of the lecturer from your department account. (See Effort Reporting.)
The DBE to appoint your faculty member on the grant should reflect the time period that the grant work takes place (for example September 1- December 31 if the buyout is for a fall term course), as well as the full amount of effort (for example 25% effort for a course release, NOT just the amount needed to cover the cost of the lecturer.)
How do I create a PAR to do a DBE change?
Please contact the Dearborn Human Resources Office for assistance with completing and processing the DBE changes.