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Follow-up Financial Monitoring Review Carleton University February 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Follow-up Financial Monitoring Review Carleton University February 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Follow-up Financial Monitoring Review Carleton University February 2010

2 Objectives of the Review Review the effectiveness of policies, controls, and systems in place to ensure that the agencies’ policies and regulations are followed and that research funds are well managed. Ensure that grant holders use their research funds in accordance with the agencies’ policies, regulations and guidelines. Ensure that grant holders are properly supported by the institution in effectively managing the research funds. Share and disseminate information on agency requirements.

3 Approach Pre-visit Reviewed the questionnaires completed by the University prior to the visit Followed-up with selected university officials to seek clarification on issues identified in the questionnaires On site Met with officials and staff responsible for grant funds administration Reviewed transactions from NSERC - SSHRC accounts for fiscal year 2008-2009 (October 1 to September 30) and followed-up on issues as they arose

4 Approach (con ’t) Met with several grant holders to determine their satisfaction with the administrative support available to them to support proper management of their funds Held an information session for faculty and staff on the use of grant funds. Hold a debrief session with university officials to inform them of the review findings

5 Overall Carleton University has clearly demonstrated that gaps identified in 2007 have been taken seriously and have been addressed accordingly. The essential elements of a strong control framework are in place: –Roles and responsibilities –Training –Continuous oversight

6 Overall (Continued) Comments received from various departments were consistent New weaknesses identified during this review are minor or are being addressed. The financial control framework of the institution pertaining to the management of grant funds is deemed to be FULLY satisfactory.

7 Findings – Good practices and strengths Excellent process for tracking shared costs (chemical disposal and courier fees) Release Time Stipend Confirmation form Harmonization of all ethics committees’ processes Control for the release of funds for grants with ethics requirements Purchasing card reconciliation process RTI grants verification process Excellent organization of documents upon arrival

8 Remarkable!!

9 Status on the 2007 recommendations Roles and responsibilities Research Accounting (RA) has taken a leadership role in the past two years to address weaknesses. Roles and responsibilities are better disseminated through on-going communications with the Research office (CURO), the department deans, the ethics committees, Graduate Studies, etc.. Processes are documented and communicated to staff involved. RA has hired a resource with 50% of time allocated to training.

10 Roles and responsibilities (continued) On-going and on-demand training is provided by RA, CURO and the ethics committees to the research community and the departments. Most agency requirements are controlled centrally in RA which provides accurate oversight of research grant funds. The agencies are satisfied with the changes implemented and the upcoming proposed changes. Recommendation fully addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

11 Ethics review and release of funds CURO has a well defined role as the link between the ethics committees and RA. Good tracking and documentation of all projects requiring ethics clearance from the application stage. Harmonization of annual reviews between committees. No funds are released to researchers without appropriate clearance. Controlled on a yearly basis and as required. Recommendation fully addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

12 Verification for compliance and eligibility on purchasing cards Clear process in place for reconciling all purchasing cards on a monthly basis. Verification for compliance and eligibility of all transactions that are charged to research accounts. Recommendation fully addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

13 Research Time Stipends grants (SSHRC) Good documentation of the process and adequate dissemination of responsibilities to faculty deans. Excellent form to recognize actual costs. Good reconciliation process to identify actual costs, institution’s contribution and residual funds. Recommendation fully addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

14 Research Tools and Instruments grants (NSERC) Better use of system’s capacity to store information and to retrieve it as needed. Excellent process to track purchases made on a RTI grant account and verification against the grant awarded. Process allows to verify that NSERC’s approval has been obtained when equipment purchased differs from Notice of Award. Recommendation fully addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

15 Proceeds on sale of equipment Risk that proceeds may not be reinvested in research is minimized by education done at department level by RA. Departments interviewed were aware that proceeds must be used for research-related purposes. Comments from researchers confirmed that not all are aware of the requirement. University would benefit from formally addressing this issue and communicating it to the research community. Recommendation appears to be addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

16 Agency salary/stipend limits System-based control now in place for Master and Doctoral students Risk identified with university-appointed post doctoral fellows (PDF). –Inconsistent use of the PDF status across departments –No control to ensure that amounts paid to PDFs (as defined by the agencies) respect the agencies’ limits Recommendation is only partly addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

17 Approvals on copying charge expenses All copying card approval forms are kept centrally in Graphics department. Voice-services approval forms are kept in RA. All transactions reviewed were properly documented and approved by the grant holder. Recommendation fully addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

18 Supporting documentation (Travel-related expenses Consistent and comprehensive review of travel claims done by RA. Only a small percentage of travel claims did not contain all the required documentation/information. Recommendation addressed. Status on the 2007 recommendations

19 New Findings Visiting researchers No control in place to ensure that visiting researchers’ stipends are limited to $2,000 per month and up to 125 days per year.

20 Other Observation Sub-delegation One instance where a delegated authority sub-delegated its authority to another individual without the grant holder’s written approval. Ultimately, the grant holder is the person responsible for the management of the funds.

21 Researchers’ comments Researchers are generally satisfied with the services they receive from the RA office and the CURO. There was a general sense of dissatisfaction in regards to the financial information that is available to them from the financial system (FAST). Efforts could be made to have more on-line expense processing capability (ie: travel claims, direct deposit).

22 Summary of transactions reviewed Out of the 173 transactions we reviewed: 85% were eligible and compliant 7% were non-compliant 2% were ineligible –Thesis defence –Printing of grant applications –Office supplies –Basic software 6% still under review

23 Next steps Follow-up (1 month) –Clarification on one remaining issue –10 transactions Send initial report detailing our findings and recommendations to the institution Issue final report once we have received and reviewed the institution’s response


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