The Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) is in the process of substantively changing its financial guidelines with the goal of reducing administrative burden for researchers and institutions. To meet this goal, the Tri-Agency has launched the Renewal of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration initiative, which focuses on the following areas:
- moving to a less directive approach for the administration and use of grant funds,
- renewing the Agencies’ approach to Financial Monitoring reviews, and
- increasing the overall effectiveness of the post-award administration of grants.
What's happening now?
After a rigorous consultation with researchers and research administrators, the Tri-Agency has released the draft of its new financial administration guidelines (the Guide) to the 12 institutions taking part in the pilot. Waterloo will be launching the Guide in a step-wise fashion, as we are able to implement our own guidelines and policies in response to the new directives in the Guide.
We are delighted the first step, effective immediately, will respond to some of the most frequently cited “pain points” in the past: travel claims, justification for computers and office supplies, and restrictions to postdoctoral appointments. See below for details.
- Research-related travel requires a brief purpose to clarify the link to the funded research, but it does not need to be detailed to the prescriptive level previously required (i.e. a statement identifying how the travel is directly related to the research is no longer required as long as the link to the funded research is clear)
- The affiliation of travelers other than the grant recipient is still required
Goods and services expenses
- Printing and office supplies related to the research no longer require a justification or declaration
- Computer equipment, accessories, and specialized software related to the research no longer require a justification
Employment and compensation expenses
- The appointment term of a Post-Doctoral Fellow is no longer limited to two years support on Tri-Agency funding and will follow UW Postdoc Guidelines (which allow an appointment of up to three years with a renewal of up to three years under special circumstances)
*Subject to Principle 4, further justification and/or documentation may be requested if the link to funded research is unclear
What's happening next?
A draft Guide will be shared with the research community. Tri-Agency research funding will be administered in accordance with the draft Guide, with certain exceptions identified in the Waterloo policy and guideline gap analysis. For items with gaps between existing Tri-Agency guidelines and Waterloo policies and guidelines, the Tri-Agency requirements will be followed.
Exceptions noted above will be removed as Waterloo policies or guidelines are revised to address them. Updates will be shared as each exception is addressed. After all gaps have been removed, the draft Guide will be fully in use.
What are the Principles?
The Principles that will govern the administration of all Tri-Agency research funds are:
- Appropriate use of grant funds
- Directly related to the funded research
- Effective and economical, and do not result in personal gain
- Not normally provided by the institution to their research personnel
- Authority to use grant funds
- Grant recipient or their delegated representative must authorize all transactions
- Reporting and supporting evidence
- Expenses supported by documentation as prescribed by the institutions policies and guidelines
- Oversight of the use of grant funds
- Institution to request further justification and/or documentation if the purpose (link to funded research) is unclear