Financial Services

Financial Services

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Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA)

Background

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.

TAGFA Principles

The key principles in the TAGFA indicate that grant expenditures must:

TAGFA Directives

The TAGFA includes directives (mandatory requirements) for the following research expenditure categories:

  1. Employment and Compensation expenditures
  2. Goods and Services expenditures
  3. Travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures
  4. Hospitality expenditures
  5. 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.

TAGFA Compliance Plan

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 presentation for additional details.
  • A section of the Financial Services website has been dedicated to providing information and guidance on the new TAGFA.

TAGFA Supplement

The Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA) Supplement 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.

Order of Precedence

The following is the order of precedence and interpretation, applicable to Tri-Agency funded grant expenditures:

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.

How do I confirm if a Tri-Agency expense is eligible?

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.  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 to research.accounting@queensu.ca 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 as follows:

Internal Dispute Resolution Process

  1. The Research Accounting Administrator (Research Accounting) reviews research expenses to ensure compliance requirements are met, prior to payment.
  2. 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).
  3. If the requestor disagrees with the expense ruling, the request will be forwarded to the Associate Director, Research Accounting.
  4. 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.

Training Resources

The following resources have been developed to provide guidance on the TAGFA:

Additional Resources for Tri-Agency Grants

Tri-Agency Contact Details

CIHR
support@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

NSERC or SSHRC
financialmonitoring@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Affiliated Agencies

Canada Research Chairs

Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada

Mitacs

Queen’s University Staff Contact Details

Questions regarding the TAGFA can be directed to Research Accounting (Financial Services).  Research Accounting staff contact details are also available on the Financial Services website.

Research Services staff contact details are available on the Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio website.