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Research Accounting - Frequently Asked Questions

 

Access to PeopleSoft Finance

Q: How do I get access to use PeopleSoft Finance or one of its components?

To get access to the PeopleSoft Finance system, submit a Financial Systems Security Access Request. You will receive an email confirmation once access is granted.

 

Research Project Set-up

Q: Has my Research Project been set up yet?

Principal Investigators must create a TRAQ file in order to request the establishment of a research project.  External funding must be supported by an award letter, agreement or contract, and internal funding must be supported by an approval letter from the issuing department.  University Research Services (URS) staff will work with Principal Investigators to complete the required documentation.  Once approved by URS, the documentation will be forwarded to Research Accounting.

Research Accounting sets up projects in PeopleSoft Finance once all regulatory compliance requirements have been met and approved documentation is forwarded to Research Accounting through TRAQ. Principal Investigators will receive an email notification once the project has been set up. Projects will be set up within ten days of Research Accounting receiving all required documentation through TRAQ.

 

Signing Authority and & Research Reports Access

Q: How do I grant access to my research project to other delegates and what are my options? 

In order to grant access to other delegates, a Signing Authority & Research Reports Access form must be completed by the Principal Investigator and the delegate.  The following are the different permissions which may be assigned to a research project.  The completed form should be forwarded to Research Accounting.

 

 

Project Role

 

 

Description

Permission on Signing Authority & Research Reports Access Form

DELEGATE

Grants users the ability to view financial statements and reports in FAST.

Research Reports

FINANCE CONTACT

Research Accounting contact assigned responsibility for the project.

N/A (This is assigned by Research Accounting)

MANUAL SIGNAUTH

Authorizes users to manually approve expenses processed against the project.

Signing Authority Manual

OWNER

Role granted to Principal Investigators (only) which allows manual signing authority, access to financial statements and reports in FAST, and authority to approve electronic salary contracts in the HR PeopleSoft contracts system.

Principal Investigator

SIGNAUTHORITY

Grants users the ability to view financial statements and reports in FAST, and authority to approve electronic salary contracts in the HR PeopleSoft contracts system.

Signing Authority Electronic & Research Reports

 

Research Reports

Q: How can I find out basic information about my project? (e.g. project spending deadline, balance, expenses that have been incurred so far, etc.)

Research project financial details can be found by using the FAST Administrative Support Tool (FAST). You can access FAST by logging into MyQueensU-Solus, which can be found on the Queen's University website, using the Search and Sign In button. Once logged in, you will be redirected to your Queen’s portal.  You can then access FAST under the My Applications tab.  To view additional FAST training resources you may visit the SystemsTraining page on the Financial Services website.

 

Q: Where can I find my research project information in FAST?

You can find research project financial details by accessing a research report such as the Project Summary Report in FAST.  The Research Statement of Operations will also provide financial details for research projects.  To learn more about research reports visit the Learning Catalogue.

 

Q: What is the balance of my project?

The project balance can be found by running a research report in FAST such as the Project Summary Report.  The balance of the project is calculated as the Expense Budget minus Expenses and Commitments.

 

Q: How will I be able to view my research reports on my computer?

Research reports can be downloaded in either Excel or PDF format.

 

Q: How do I fill out the Budget Template (in TRAQ)?

To learn how to complete a research project Budget Template in TRAQ, you can watch the Training Video.  If you have additional questions, you may contact Research Accounting for guidance.

Please note that the Budget Template must be submitted through TRAQ by the PI, and not the PI’s delegates.

 

Q: What can I do if I am having trouble understanding my project budget amount?

If you have questions regarding your project budget, you may contact your Finance Contact in Research Accounting for guidance.

 

Research Project Transactions

Q: How do I know if a research expense is eligible? 

To access details on research expense eligibility, details for Major Funding Agencies can be found on the Financial Services website.  To find out if a research expense is eligible for a research project funded by the Tri-Council Agencies, refer to Eligible Tri-Council Accounts. Please note the expense must also be eligible in nature.  For example, while Account 600009 (Other Supplies) is listed, the Tri-Council Agencies allow only certain types of office supplies as eligible expenses.  If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, contact Research Accounting at research.accounting@queensu.ca for guidance.

 

Q: How do I initiate the payment of expenses on my project?

Depending on the type of expense, there are different ways of issuing a payment on the project. For salary expenses, payments must be initiated through HR PeopleSoft.  If you have questions regarding salary payments, you may contact Payroll Services.  For other types of expenses, visit the Making Payments page on the Financial Services website for guidance.

 

Q: How do I check the status of a cheque requisition, travel expense claim, or invoice applied against a purchase order?

Accounts Payable requires fifteen days to process an invoice or cheque requisition. For travel expense claims, you must first check with the individual responsible for approving the travel expense claim to ensure your claim has been approved and forwarded to Accounts Payable for processing.

Otherwise you may contact Accounts Payable for guidance.  You will be required to provide details regarding the payment such as the vendor name, amount and the date the payment request was submitted to Financial Services.

 

Q: I see transactions in my research project report which are not familiar to me.  What should I do?

If the item has ”AP” in the journal number, contact Accounts Payable.  For any other unfamiliar expenses, you may contact your Finance Contact in Research Accounting.

 

Q: How do I transfer funds?

Research Accounting manages the recoding of all research revenues.  Contact Research Accounting if you have questions regarding revenue for your research project.

When recoding expenses from one project to another, the expenses must be eligible per the funder’s expense eligibility guidelines and they must fall within the project start and end dates, although some exceptions may apply.  When moving expenses, the accounts should be reflective of the actual expenses being recoded.  Please refer to the internal cost recovery transactions information on the Financial Services website.

 

Q: I just posted a journal.  Why don’t I see it in my Project Summary Report?

Even though a journal has been posted in PeopleSoft Finance, an overnight process must run before the information is visible in FAST.

 

Q: I was contacted by Research Accounting regarding a budget exception. What does this mean?

Budget exceptions are generated as a result of a system error occurring when an expense is being charged to a research project. The budget exception usually occurs due to insufficient funding in the research project to cover the expenses. In order to resolve the issue, the Principal Investigator or an authorized delegate must provide an alternate chartfield string to cover the expense.

 

Salaries and Benefits

Q: How can I view salaries/benefits paid to an individual?

To view salary and benefit details paid to an individual you may run the Payroll & AP transactions to salary accounts report in FAST.

 

Q: Which payees are linked to Salary Commitments in my project?

To determine who the payees are for outstanding salary commitments on a project, you may run the Payroll Commitment Details Project report available in FAST.  If the person being paid out of a salary commitment is not correct, please contact your HR advisor.

 

Q: How are salary commitments processed? When will they appear in FAST? 

Salary commitments are processed following the first month of an individual’s pay. In the first month of pay, salary and benefit expenses will be reflected in the research project along with the remaining commitment, calculated to the earlier of the end of the contract, or the university fiscal year-end (April 30th).  To learn more about research project commitments, visit the Research Commitments Training page.

 

Employee Reimbursement System (ERS)

Q: How do I check the status of a Travel Advance?

You can view the status of a travel advance by logging into the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS). 

You can access the ERS by logging into MyQueensU-Solus, which can be found on the Queen's University website, using the Search and Sign In button. Once logged in, you will be redirected to your Queen’s portal.  You can then access the ERS under the My Applications tab, in the Expense Reimbursement box.

 

Q: What kind of expenses should the ERS be used for?

The ERS should be used to request the pre-approval of travel, travel advances, subject payment advances, travel expense claim reimbursements, employee reimbursements, and other employee out-of-pocket expenses, including those associated with research projects.

 

Q: I have more questions regarding the ERS and travel related expenses.  Where do I go?

You may access additional details on the Travel and Related Expenses section on the Financial Services website.

 

Research Project Overspending

Q: What can I do if I have a deficit?

If your project has a deficit, depending on the situation, there are several ways to resolve this situation:  

  1. Obtain temporary overdraft protection from your Faculty/Department/School, if the spending of next year’s funding is permitted by the funder.

  2. Expenses can be recoded to another acceptable source of funding, usually another research project under the Principal Investigator’s authority.

  3. Additional funding is obtained.

Given each situation is different and there are some restrictions which apply for each option, please contact your Finance Contact in Research Accounting to discuss your options.

 

Q: How do I obtain a temporary overdraft?

The Principal Investigator must request approval from the Faculty/Department/School prior to over-spending.  Overdraft protection may also be requested for pre-spending, prior to the execution of a signed research agreement or contract. For more details regarding the Research Project Over-Spending and Pre-Spending Approval Procedure, visit the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel website.  Once approval has been obtained, an Research Project Overdraft Request and Approval Form must be completed and submitted to Research Accounting.

 

Overhead

Q: What is overhead and how does it work?

Research overhead expenses are indirect costs that the university incurs in the conduct of research which are not directly attributable to a specific research project.  Overhead costs may include but are not limited to utilities costs, insurance and research administration support services.  To learn more about overhead you may visit the Research Overhead Training page.

 

Q: When will overhead be charged to the project?

Research overhead is charged to projects on a monthly basis.  Overhead is charged based on expenses incurred in a given month.  The overhead charges are generated the day after the fiscal month closes, and are posted back to the month the charges relate to using Account 693001-Overhead.  All research projects are not subject to overhead.  To find out if your project will be charged overhead, you may contact your Research Accounting Finance Contact.

 

Q: How is overhead distributed?

Immediately after overhead is charged, the overhead revenue is distributed using Account 480002-RESTRICTED: Revenue OH (RSH).  To learn more about how overhead is distributed, you may access the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research Policy.

 

Q: How will overhead commitments appear in my research report?
Overhead commitments will appear in the Statement of Operations–Research report beside the budget node 693000 (BUD-Overhead). You can also view overhead commitment details by clicking on the Commitments value on the Project Summary Report.

 

Q: How are overhead commitments calculated?
Overhead commitments reflect funds budgeted to pay for indirect costs, not yet expensed in the General Ledger:    Budgeted Overhead – Overhead Expenses to date = Overhead Commitment

The commitments will be reduced as actual indirect costs are charged to the research project.

 

CFI Projects

Q: What is the Program ID for CFI infrastructure projects?

The Program ID for CFI infrastructure projects is a field that indicates the CFI Line Item number per the CFI Award Agreement and the Itemized List. (e.g. CFI Line Item #2: Program ID 98002; CFI Line Item #15-98015, etc.)

 

Q: Do I have to enter a valid Program ID for CFI infrastructure projects?

Yes. The Program ID is a required field for every transaction for CFI infrastructure projects in the project range 301001-301499.

 

Q: Is Program ID required for CFI-IOF (Infrastructure Operating Fund) projects?

No.  The Program ID is not a required field for CFI-IOF projects in project range 301500-301699. It is an optional field for the Department/Faculty/School to use.

 

Q: What do I do if I have a CFI project and can’t enter my Account ID and Program ID?

A CFI combo edit rule is a system rule set up in the PeopleSoft Finance system. This rule prevents a transaction from being charged to a CFI project without a valid Account ID and Program ID combination.  If you have questions regarding the valid chart fields to use with a research project, contact your Finance Contact in Research Accounting for guidance.

 

Q: What are In-kind Contributions for CFI infrastructure projects?

In-kind contributions are defined as eligible non-monetary resources that external eligible partners (i.e. suppliers or vendors of goods or services) provide for CFI infrastructure projects.

Example:

List Price

$1,000

 

Normal Discount

($50)

Educational Discount

($100)

 

Fair Market Value (Eligible cost)

$850

 

Net Selling Price (Cash payment)

($700)

 

Special CFI Discount (eligible in-kind contribution)

$150

 

 

Q: Is there a time limit for spending CFI-IOF (Infrastructure Operating Fund) revenue?

No. There is no time limit for spending CFI-IOF revenue as long as the CFI funded equipment is operational and being used for research purposes.

 

Q: What is the difference between the budget for the current fiscal year and the total award for CFI-IOF (Infrastructure Operating Fund) projects?

The total award can be used over the life of the CFI-IOF project. However, you can only spend up to the amount that you have forecasted for the fiscal year. CFI releases funds annually based on the forecast submitted by Queen’s University.

 

Financial Reports and Invoices

Q: Who prepares financial reports and/or invoices for my projects?

Financial reports and/or invoices for research projects are prepared by Research Accounting. If you have questions regarding a financial report or invoice for your research project, contact your Finance Contact in Research Accounting.

 

Project Changes

Q: What should I do if I need to change the Principal Investigator, Department ID, Project Name, Project Spending Deadline, or the Funding Amount for a research project?

To change any of these details, an amendment must be processed through the TRAQ system.  These types of changes must be supported by approved documentation from the funder.  For assistance with this process, please contact University Research Services.

 

Q: Who do I contact if I would like to request a project end date extension?

If the project is a clinical trial, please contact your Finance Contact to request a project end date extension. For all other research projects, you must contact the funder to request an end date extension. It is recommended that Principal Investigators request an end date extension at least one month prior to the project end date.