Research Project Over-Spending and Pre-Spending Approval Procedure

Contact Officer:   Director, Research Accounting & University Financial Systems


 This Procedure deals with the steps necessary to obtain approval to over-spend or pre-spend on a research project, as well as the treatment of unresolved deficits. 


Over-spending for the purpose of this procedure results when commitments for future expenses (e.g. payroll contracts, purchase orders, overhead, outstanding advances) together with actual expenses incurred exceed the approved budget in a research project.  

Spending prior to the execution of a signed Research Agreement (i.e. pre-spending) may be permitted on approval of the Faculty (or Delegate).  All other University approvals (e.g. ethics, biohazards, etc.) must be in place before approval will be granted.  In some cases, with the approval of University Research Services (URS), a limited release of funds will be made in advance of ethics approvals if expenses must be incurred to secure necessary ethics approvals.

Over-spending or pre-spending must be pre-approved by the Faculty/School/Dept and forwarded to Financial Services (Research Accounting).

Projects that remain in a deficit position for a total of seven (7) months without appropriate pre-approval will be resolved by recoding the excess of expenses over revenue to the department operating fund.  If a research project does not have an associated operating fund (i.e. research centres or institutes), an alternate funding source will be necessary.

Responsible Officer/Section Process
Principal Investigator (PI) or Delegate The PI or Delegate is responsible for:
  • Regularly monitoring the balance and spending commitments of the research project;
  • Requesting prior approval from the Faculty/School/Department for anticipated over-spending or pre-spending;
  • Requesting prior approval from URS for pre-spending prior to ethics approvals being obtained.
  • Clearing any accumulated deficit within (4) months of a research project being inactivated.
Faculty/School/Department The Faculty/School/Department is responsible for:
  • Reviewing and approving or denying requests for over-spending or pre-spending;
  • Notifying Financial Services (Research Accounting) of any approved over-spending or pre-spending by detailing:
    • PI name and PeopleSoft Project Number receiving the approval
    • total over-spending or pre-spending amount approved
    • date the over-spending or pre-spending privileges will expire
    • chartfield values to be charged in the case that additional funding is not received once the over-spending or pre-spending privilege expires
University Research Services (URS) URS is responsible for:
  • Reviewing and approving or denying requests for partial release of funds prior to ethics approvals being obtained;
  • Notifying Financial Services (Research Accounting) of approved release of funds prior to ethics approvals.
Financial Services (Research Accounting) Financial Services (Research Accounting) is responsible for:
  • Processing over-spending or pre-spending approvals;
  • Immediately following the first month (Month 1) project funds are depleted and/or committed, notifying the PI and Department Head of the project over-spending if in deficit by $1000 or more;
  • Inactivating projects immediately following the third month (Month 3) project funds are in a n over-spending position;
  • Reactivating research projects if/once approved budgeted funding (internal or external) exceeds expenditures and/or commitments.
  • After a project has been in an over-spending position for 7 months (Month 3 plus 4 months), recoding the excess of expenditures over revenue to the department operating fund (or other supplied chart-field if the research project does not have an associated department operating fund) and closing the project.  Preliminary lists will be sent to the Faculty/School/Dept after Month 6 to allow the opportunity for alternate treatment of the over-spending situation;
  • When recoding the excess of expenditures over revenue, use program code 10253 and enter the PeopleSoft project number and PI last name in the journal line description to enable departments to identify where the charges have originated.

Date Approved:  6 July 2015

Approval Authority:  Vice-Principals' Operations Committee

Date of Commencement:  1 August 2015

Amendment Dates: June 26, 2017

Date for Next Review: June 2022

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