- Administering Research Funds
- Major Funding Agencies
- Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA)
- View RA Questions and Answers
Queen’s Research Accounting (RA) supports the research environment at Queen’s by providing expert advice, financial accountability and management of all research funds. The department works closely with funding agencies, researchers, administrative support, Strategic Procurement Services, University Research Services (URS) to ensure adherence to funding guidelines and policies.
RA manages the post-award functions for all research grants and contracts at the University. This includes monitoring cash flows and expenditures, communicating with funding agencies and financial reporting. RA also provides support in the preparation of year-end financial statements as research is a significant contributor to the results of operations for Queen’s University.
Some of the core responsibilities of RA include the following:
- Providing training, leadership and guidance to the research community on the eligibility of expenses and financial processes
- Establishing and administering projects in the University’s financial system for research grants and contracts
- Post-award monitoring, including monitoring deficits, expense eligibility and authorization
- Acting as a key liaison with funding agencies around financial matters, including during audits or monitoring visits
- Supporting all financial regulatory reporting requirements related to research projects
- Producing management reports to support internal cost allocations, year-end reporting, and research partners (i.e. hospitals, etc.)
Administering Research Funds
In an effort to ensure research deposits are processed in an efficient and timely manner, this is a general reminder regarding details which should accompany every deposit forwarded to Research Accounting.
Please ensure the following details are included with all future deposits:
- All relevant ChartField values must be indicated on the deposit form. Fund-Department-Account-Project are mandatory ChartField values when referencing a research project. Note: CFI Projects also require a Program code if an expense account is used.
- When referencing a research project, the related fund code must be 30000 (externally funded) or 31000 (internally funded).
- Please ensure an appropriate description is indicated on the deposit form. The description should provide a clear explanation regarding the purpose of the deposit.
- In most cases, a revenue account should be used on deposit transmittals (accounts beginning with 4xxxxx). However, there may be rare instances when an expense account may be appropriate. (e.g. external cost recovery)
An expense account would also be appropriate if the deposit is due to the return of funds from a vendor for a duplicate payment.
If you require guidance on any of the above details, please do not hesitate to contact Research Accounting staff at email@example.com or extension 77627.
Research Expense Checklist
Increased audit requirements have led to the additional review of research expense claims prior to processing. As part of this review completed by Financial Services, a number of checks are conducted to ensure expenses are in compliance with research funding agency and University policies. To facilitate this process, Financial Services uses an Expense Checklist (PDF, 419.3 KB) for all research expenses, in order to ensure that all of the required checks have been completed. This checklist is attached for your reference.
While the use of this checklist is entirely optional, we are sharing this document with the Queen's research community to provide you with an idea of the various requirements research expense claims must meet, prior to processing. Departments who are preparing or reviewing research expense claims prior to submission to Financial Services may choose to use this document as a guide, in order to reduce the risk of claims being returned for additional information and avoid processing delays.
- Signing Authority & Research Reports Access Form (FIN-FRM-008R) (PDF, 257.1 KB)
- Availability of Financial Information during the Month (PDF, 532.2 KB)
- Research Year End Deadlines (PDF, 414 KB)
- Special Research Project Definitions (PDF, 239.4 KB)
- Overdraft Request (PDF, 52.2 KB)
Major Funding Agencies
Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA)
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), collectively referred to as the “Tri-Agencies”, implemented the new principles based Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, “TAGFA” that has the following objectives:
- Promotes efficiencies
- Reduces administrative burden
- Provides greater flexibility to administering institutions and grant recipients in ensuring the appropriate accountability and use of grant funds
Queen’s University will begin referring to the new TAGFA effective April 1, 2021.
The key principles in the TAGFA indicate that grant expenditures must:
- Contribute to the direct costs of the research activities for which the funds were awarded, with benefits directly attributable to the grant
- Not be provided by the administering institution to their research personnel
- Be effective and economical
- Not result in personal gain for members of the research team
The TAGFA includes directives (mandatory requirements) for the following research expenditure categories:
- Employment and Compensation expenditures
- Goods and Services expenditures
- Travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures
- Hospitality expenditures
- Gifts, Honoraria, and Incentives expenditures
The directives provide a framework for administering institutions and grant recipients, in order to ensure sound judgement and due diligence is exercised concerning the use of agency grant funds.
Queen’s University staff have completed the following steps in order to ensure compliance with the TAGFA by April 1, 2021:
- A TAGFA Working Group was formed, whose members were tasked with completing a Gap Analysis to ensure appropriate institutional policies and procedures are in place that provide a framework for filling gaps identified between the new guide and the previous guide, and provide appropriate guidelines on expense eligibility.
- An Internal Dispute Resolution Process was developed.
- A review of General Administration policies and procedures that are applicable to Tri-Agency grants (e.g. expense authorization) was completed to ensure requirements outlined in the TAGFA are met.
- A number of training resources have been developed to provide additional guidance on the TAGFA.
- Virtual training sessions were provided to Queen’s research administration staff in February 2021, in order to provide guidance on TAGFA interpretation. Refer to the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration presentation (PDF, 1.4 MB) for additional details.
- A section of the Financial Services website has been dedicated to providing information and guidance on the new TAGFA.
The Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA) Supplement (PDF, 254 KB) is a reference for Queen’s University Principal Investigators and research administration staff to assist in interpreting compliance requirements for Tri-Agency funded grants. The TAGFA Supplement is a reference to, and not a replacement of the TAGFA, Tri-Agency program/funding opportunity specific literature, Tri-Agency agreements and policies, or institutional policies, procedures and guidelines.
The TAGFA Supplement summarizes the key sections of the TAGFA and provides specific guidance on Tri-Agency research expenditures, which may also be reflected in Queen’s University policies and procedures.
The following is the order of precedence and interpretation, applicable to Tri-Agency funded grant expenditures:
- the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions
- Tri-Agency program/funding opportunity specific literature
- Any relevant agency agreements with grant recipients and/or administering institutions, if applicable
- the TAGFA
- the TAGFA Supplement
- Queen’s University Policies and Procedures
In the presence of both agency and institutional policies, the agency policy prevails, however the grant recipient must also comply with applicable institutional requirements. If the TAGFA is silent on a specific subject, refer to the TAGFA Supplement for guidance, followed by institutional policies and procedures.
In general, expenditures that were eligible under the previous guide will likely continue to be eligible under the new guide, provided they abide by the principles and directives on the appropriate use of grant funds outlined in the new guide, and are in accordance with Queen’s University policies and procedures.
To determine if an expense is eligible:
Step 1: Refer to the Tri-Agency Projects: Quick Reference Guide to Expense Eligibility (PDF, 123 KB). Expense types are categorized as eligible vs. ineligible, based on the review conducted of institutional policies and procedures. Additional details regarding Tri-Agency expense eligibility can also be found in the TAGFA Supplement.
Step 2: If the expense in not found in either reference document, you may submit a completed Tri-Agency Expense Eligibility Evaluation Request Form (DOCX, 57 KB) to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a ruling on a research expense.
Who determines if an expense is eligible?
Research Accounting staff will use their experience working with Tri-Agency grants, and refer to all applicable Tri-Agency and institutional guidance to determine if an expense is eligible on a Tri-Agency funded grant. If the requestor does not agree with the assessment, the Internal Dispute Resolution Process will be applied, detailed in the following tab.
- The Research Accounting Administrator (Research Accounting) reviews research expenses to ensure compliance requirements are met, prior to payment.
- If compliance requirements are met, the research expense is submitted for payment and the process is complete.
If compliance requirements are not met, the research expense is returned to the requestor, supported by a justification. Additional information or documentation may be requested, or, if the expense is deemed ineligible, another source of funds may be suggested to pay for the expense. If the requestor disagrees with the expense ruling, proceed to step 3).
- If the requestor disagrees with the expense ruling, the request will be forwarded to the Associate Director, Research Accounting.
- The Associate Director, Research Accounting will review the expense details and the expense ruling provided. After additional consideration of the expense claim, the Associate Director, Research Accounting will make a final ruling. The final ruling will be sent to the requestor, supported by a justification. The Controller (Financial Services) and the Associate Dean of Research for the related Faculty will be copied on the final ruling.
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Resources has been developed to provide guidance on the TAGFA:
- TAGFA FAQs (PDF, 174 KB)
- Eligible Tri-Agency Accounts (PDF, 468.2 KB)
- Standard Tithe Agreement (PDF, 172.3 KB)
- Extension period for the authority to use grant funds
Tri-Agency Contact Details
Queen’s University Staff Contact Details
Research Services staff contact details are available on the Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio website.