Tri-agency financial administration

On April 1, 2020, the Tri-agency streamlined and simplified the administration and use of grant funds by launching the new Tri-agency Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA) which strives to promote efficiencies, reduce administrative burden and provide greater flexibility to both administering institutions and grant recipients in ensuring the appropriate accountability and use of grant funds.

The TAGFA sets out a principle- and directives-based framework governing the use of Tri-Agency grant funds, taking into consideration existing administering institution’s policies, processes and internal controls.


There are four principles of the use of grant funds. 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; direct costs are essential expenditures that would not have been incurred had the grant not been undertaken
  • not be provided by the administering institution to their research personnel; if an administration unit normally provides a good or service, it cannot be charged to the grant
  • be effective and economical; it achieves the intended outcome with due regard for minimizing cost by avoiding unnecessary expense. Does not necessarily mean the “lowest cost.”
  • not result in personal gain for members of the research team; personal gain is a benefit or advantage to a particular person, including the grant recipient and/or member of the research team, rather than to the grant-funded research/activities


The five directives laid out by the TAGFA are mandatory requirements that provide a framework to exercise sound judgment and due diligence in decision making around eligibility of expenditures.

  • Employment and compensation
  • Travel and subsistence costs
  • Goods and services
  • Hospitality
  • Gifts, honoraria, incentives

Order of precedence and interpretation

The following take precedence over the TAGFA and should be referred to when assessing if an expenditure is an appropriate use of grant funds:

In the presence of both agency and institutional policies, the agency policy prevails, recognizing that the grant recipient must also comply with applicable institutional requirements.

If the Guide is silent on a specific subject, the administering institution’s pronouncements will apply.