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Use Your Funds

What are Research Funds?

Research funds are the record-keeping mechanism used to track revenues and expenditures related to research grants or contracts. Research funds are created upon the approval of the Research Office and adhere to fixed terms. All research fund balances are carried to the next fiscal year, and residual funds are handled as per the grant or contract. Research funds are terminated upon the completion of research or when funding has ceased.

All money received by researchers through donations, grants, contracts, or other sources must be deposited by Financial Services.

There are additional types of funds besides research funds. A description can be found on the FOAPAL page of the Financial Services website. 

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Accessing Research Funds

Research funds are accessed through a FOAPAL (Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, Location). 

FOAPAL is the account structure used by the University’s finance system. Information about FOAPALs, including lists of commonly used FOAPAL codes, can be found on the FOAPAL page of the Financial Services site.  These organization codes, account codes, and activity codes are needed for completing reimbursement claim forms.

See Open a Research Account for information on how a FOAPAL is opened for your research project.

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Roles and Responsibilities

Financial Services

Financial Services performs the following functions:

  • All of the University's basic day-to-day accounting functions
  • Preparation of financial statements and reports
  • Analysis of financial information and preparation of reports
  • All insurance and risk management functions
  • Maintenance of the University's fixed assets
  • Cash flow projections and the management of the University's working capital
  • The administration of all research and special purpose accounts
  • The administration of over 600 trust and endowment accounts
  • Payment of all University scholarships
  • Provision of reporting systems to faculty and staff

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Supply Management Services

Supply Management Services has responsibility for the following functions and activities:

  • Procurement service for goods and services required by the University
  • Tendering (Competitive Bidding Process) and contract services / maintenance
  • Travel management (air, hotel, car rentals, CVA pool vehicles)
  • Purchasing card and travel card programs
  • Disposal program for all University owned assets
  • Microsoft and Adobe Site License Programs
  • Custom clearance of goods purchased outside Canada
  • APEA computer purchases
  • Consultative procurement services – discussions of product / service requirements

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Administering a Research Fund

Responsibilities of the Fund Manager

Every research fund will have one person named as the fund manager. When there is a group of researchers responsible for a project, one person must be named as the fund manager. This is usually the Principal Investigator (PI).

The fund manager must notify the Research Office of any changes in academic status and/or changes in project responsibility. The Research Office will inform Financial Services of all status changes.

Fund managers are responsible for all of the transactions to research funds in their name and are obligated to review them on a timely basis. Any errors, including the absence of expected transactions, are to be reported to Financial Services for correction.

Fund managers may be held personally liable for overspending their research funds. Please see Overspending below for more information.

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Checking the Fund Balance / Examining Transactions

Principal Investigators can view all transactions posted to their FOAPAL by using the FAST (Financial Administration Support Tool) Reporting System.  As an example, you can use FAST to check your account balance.

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Eligibility of Transactions

It is the responsibility of the fund manager to ensure each expense is eligible according to the granting or contracting agency regulations. Each expense must also be allowable under University policy.

It is advisable to review the federal regulations for CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC grants regularly if you are a fund manager for one of these grants. 

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Overspending

As a general rule, overspending is not allowed. It is permitted in the following two situations:

  • For multi-year grants, fund managers may overspend to a maximum of 10% of next year’s installment.
  • For contracts, fund managers may overspend to a maximum of the sum of the next two invoices due from the sponsor.

Exceptions to the above rules may be granted with approval from the respective Dean, Vice-President (Research), and Financial Services.

Fund managers may be held personally liable for overspending their funds.

For more information, see the Budgetary Limits on Spending Research Funds policy, which covers overspent funds. 

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Fiscal Years

Fund Managers are responsible for ensuring expenses are charged to their research funds within the fiscal year the expense is 'incurred'. This means:

  • supplies and equipment must be physically received during the fiscal year;
  • the work paid by salary, wages, or professional fees must be completed during the fiscal year; and
  • travel must take place during the fiscal year.

There are two primary fiscal years to keep in mind. First is the University fiscal year from May 1 to April 30. The second is the Tri-Council fiscal year from April 1 to March 31. Other research grants and contracts may have different fiscal years that you need to comply with. Even if a sponsor (whether tri-council or otherwise) has a different fiscal year from the University, you must comply with both the sponsor's fiscal year and the University’s fiscal year.

Problems with incorrect fiscal years mostly arise when submitting reimbursement claims (see item 3 under Methods of Charging Expenses). If you have receipts, ensure they are submitted during the applicable fiscal year or shortly after.

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Charging Expenses to a Research Fund

Collecting Revenue and Invoicing

All research revenue must be deposited by Financial Services into the research fund. If an individual receives a cheque directly from the research sponsor, forward it to Financial Services.

If the research sponsor requires an invoice to release payment, contact Financial Services. Financial Services will issue an official University of Regina invoice and will send the fund manager a copy of the invoice. Do not create any personal invoices.

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Methods of Charging Expenses

The following methods are ways that expenses may be charged to research funds. The type of expenditure often dictates which method should or can be used.

  • Requisition / Purchase Order / Invoice: a requisition must be prepared by the respective Department or Faculty for all expenses, with the exception of those identified as Direct pay invoices or where the P-Card can be used. Prior to the requisition stage, consideration must be given to the required process for securing any goods and/or services that may need to comply with the Tendering Policy managed through Supply Management Services.
  • Direct pay invoice: certain types of expenses do not need a requisition and purchase order. To pay these expenses, write the FOAPAL number on the invoice and sign the invoice. Forward the original invoice to Accounts Payable in Financial Services and the invoice will be paid. This method works for: subscriptions, memberships, translations, courier charges, Chartwells Food Services, University Club, Custom and Duty Charges, registration fees, and any invoice below $100.
  • Reimbursement claim: these are completed when an individual has paid for expenses with their own money and would like to be repaid by the University. Typically, reimbursement claim forms are used for travel expenses. Faculty members cannot use a reimbursement claim to purchase equipment over $2,000 or computer equipment over $500.
  • Purchase card (P-Card): through Supply Management Services, a University of Regina employee may request a purchase card to charge expenses. The purchase card or P-Card is used like a regular credit card with a maximum transaction limit of $3,500 (which includes applicable taxes) and a default monthly limit of $20,000. Each month, P-Card users must review their charges and attach all original receipts to their statement. Each charge must identify which FOAPAL should be charged. The statement and original receipts must be forwarded to Accounts Payable for payment. View additional information about the P-Card
  • Internal stores: goods and services can be purchased at any of the internal stores on campus by simply giving a FOAPAL. The stores include Bookstore, Printing Services, Science Stores, and Facilities Management (Shipper/Receiver).
  • Petty Cash: if an individual has a small expense (under $75), they can ask their Faculty or Department to reimburse them from the petty cash fund. The Faculty will also require a FOAPAL to which to charge the expense.

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Types of Expenses

It is the responsibility of the fund manager to ensure each expense is eligible according to the granting or contracting agency regulations. Each expense must also be allowable under University policy.

See the federal regulations for CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC grants for information eligible tri-council expenses.

Common research expenses include the following:

  • Renovations
  • Equipment Purchases
  • Chemicals and Hazardous or Biological Materials 
  • Salaries and Wages
  • Travel

See Common Research Expenses for details on each of these expenses and how to budget for and manage them.

Several other types of expenditures have special rules or hidden costs that individuals should be aware of:

  • Custom and duty charges: purchases of goods from outside of Canada may also incur customs or duty charges.
  • Self-assessment of GST: the University is required to self-assess GST on any goods purchased outside of Canada.
  • Self-assessment of PST: the University is required to self-assess PST on any goods purchased outside of Saskatchewan.
  • Food: food for all functions on campus must be purchased through Food Services (see the Food Services policy for more information).
  • Animals: any purchases of animals must be approved by the Animal Care Committee (see Animal Care for more information).
  • Payroll benefits: when a person on a wage or salary is hired, the University must contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. These contributions are in addition to the amount that is deducted from the employee’s pay cheque. The additional contributions will be charged to the fund from which the employee's salary is paid (i.e., the research fund for research staff).
  • Research participants: contact Financial Services if you are planning to give research participants money or a small gift for participating in a survey.

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GST Rebate

The University receives a 67% rebate from the Federal Government on all GST paid on expenses. This rebate will automatically be deposited to the recipients’ fund at the same time the expense is processed.

In certain situations, the rebate percentage may change. For example, if an individual is hosting a conference, the associated FOAPAL may have a 100% rebate. For more information, please contact Financial Services about GST Rebates.

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Transferring Funds

A transfer of funds normally occurs when a Principal Investigator (PI) or lead researcher, in direct receipt of research funds, transfers some or all of those funds to another institution to facilitate research collaboration between the fund holder and the co-researchers.

For more information, please contact the Research Office or review the “Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions".

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Internal Transfers (Within the University of Regina)

If an individual is a PI on a research grant and would like to transfer funds to a co-investigator(s) at the University of Regina, the following procedure applies:

  1. Contact the Research Office to discuss details of the transfer. Required information will include:
    • project title
    • start and end date for transfer of funds
    • co-investigator(s) name(s)
    • amount to be transferred
    • and financial reporting details
  2. The Research Office provides the PI with a sub-grant agreement letter for verification.
  3. The Research Office signs two original copies and submits them to the co-investigator for signature.
  4. The co-investigator and their Department Head / Dean sign the transfer letters and return one to the Research Office.
  5. The Research Office sends a copy of the signed letter to the PI and to Financial Services. A file is created for the co-investigator, and a memo is sent to Financial Services to create a new FOAPAL and release payment from the PI’s account.
  6. For multi-year projects, an annual renewal letter must be sent (following the same steps).

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External Transfers (from the University of Regina to Another Institution)

If an individual is the Principal Investigator (PI) on a research grant and would like to transfer funds to a co-investigator(s) outside of the University of Regina, the following procedure applies:

  1. Follow steps 1 – 2 as outlined above.
  2. The Research Office signs on behalf of the University and forwards letters to the Research Office at the co-investigator’s institution.
  3. The co-investigator and their institutions’ designate sign transfer letters and return one to the University of Regina.
  4. The Research Office sends a copy of signed letter to the PI and to Financial Services. A memo is sent to Financial Services to release payment from the PI’s account.
  5. For multi-year projects, an annual renewal letter must be sent (following these same steps).

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From Another Institution to the University of Regina (Co-investigator)

If an individual is a co-investigator on a grant and the Principal Investigator (PI) based at another institution would like to transfer funds to the University of Regina, the following procedure applies:

  1. Co-investigator (at University of Regina) contacts the Research Office to notify of pending transfer.
  2. The Research Office is contacted once the PI’s institution initiates a transfer agreement (dependant on institution’s policy and funding agency requirements).
  3. In most cases, the co-investigator signs the letter and submits it to the Research Office.
  4. The Research Office signs on behalf of the University and forwards one signed copy back to the PI’s institution.
  5. PI’s institution issues a cheque to the Research Office at the University of Regina on behalf of the co-investigator.
  6. Once the cheque is received, a new account will be authorized from the Research Office. The co-investigator will receive a confirmation of new account notification via campus mail from Financial Services.
  7. For multi-year projects, an annual renewal letter must be sent (following these same steps).

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From Another Institution to the University of Regina (New Researcher)

If an individual is transferring to the University of Regina from another institution, there are a number of items that are required before arrangements can be made to transfer the grant funding. For each project, the University requires the following procedure:

  • Contact the Research Office to discuss details of the transfer. Required information will include:
    • Documentation from the sponsoring agency approving the transfer of funds to the University of Regina and indicating the terms and conditions of the award.
    • A copy of the original proposal, which is limited to the front page, signature page (if different from the front page), summary or abstract of research proposal, all budget pages including justification, and any documents relating to matching funds or collaborations.
    • Appropriate University signatures on the original proposal; PI, Department Head, and the Dean's Office (where applicable). Please note these signatures may appear on a separate page.
  • For any Tri-Council funding, the transfer of funds will follow the guidelines outlined in the “Transferring Grant(s) to an Eligible Canadian Institution” document. 

Funds will be authorized as per the process outlined under Open a Research Account.

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Invoicing

Sponsored projects may be financed by cost reimbursements (i.e., expenditures are made on a project and the sponsor is then billed for those expenditures) via an invoicing agreement. Invoicing agreements are prepared by the Research Office; invoices are generated to the sponsor by Financial Services and include the processing of periodic and final invoices for projects.

If your project will involve invoices, please contact the Research Office for assistance.

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Financial Reporting

Most research grants and contracts require that the University submit regular financial statements and reports to show how the grant or contract was spent. If an individual receives a request directly from a research sponsor, they should contact Financial Services.

Financial Services will prepare any required financial statements and will ensure statements meet Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which means any revenues and expenses are properly reported and will stand up to any subsequent audit by the research sponsor.

Financial Services will ensure any statement prepared is approved by the researcher before it is submitted to the sponsor.

For more information on financial reporting, please refer to the Tri-Council "Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions".

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Audits

External Audits

The University is increasingly being visited by a wide variety of auditors and financial monitoring teams to financially review selected research projects.

These visits have two main objectives:

  • To ensure that agency rules are being followed and that funds are being used properly (i.e., according to the budget and eligible expenses);
  • To ensure that the financial transactions included in the agencies’ financial records based on our information are sound.

Researchers with projects selected for audit should contact the Research Office and Financial Services immediately.

The Research Office will provide auditors with requested files, and Financial Services will prepare all requested financial documentation for the visiting auditors. However, the visiting auditor may still wish to interview researchers directly.

Tips for interviews:

  • Keep in mind the objectives of the auditors.
  • Answer all questions as accurately and as succinctly as possible.
  • Don't provide extra details. Audits are usually undertaken in compressed timescales so do not waste the auditor’s time.

If an audit is conducted and expenditures have been recognized as ineligible, the Principal Investigators will be held responsible for covering these costs from other sources. Questions relating to the audit of research funds should be addressed to the Research Office or to Financial Services.

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Internal Tri-Council Audits

To ensure compliance with Tri-Council Financial Management is being met (i.e., NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR), Financial Services conducts a monthly sample audit on all Tri-Council grants. A fund manager may be contacted by Financial Services if there is a question about the eligibility of a transaction. It is the fund managers’ responsibility to ensure all transactions posted to a fund not only meet the University’s regulations, but the research sponsor's as well. View Tri-Council financial management regulations.

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Closing of Research Funds

See Close Out Your Research for information on closing of research funds. 

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