Management of external research funding

Applying for and acceptance of external funds

The Research Services provides support to researchers applying for external funds including advertising the availability of grants and fellowships, assisting with the preparation of applications, and accepting grants and consultancies on behalf of ANU. The Research Office website provides guidance on this process, including submitting an application and costing of research. A completed Application for External Funding Form is required.

Establishing a fund in the ledger

College Research Offices (CRO) are required to create a record in the ARIES database when an application for funding is submitted. Once the project has been approved for funding CRO staff complete the relevant details in ARIES, including uploading copies of all relevant documentation.

The GLC Request eForm must be submitted to request the creation of, changes to or closure of a GLC for S, Q and D funds. The Apollo form is used for all other funds.

Preparation of financial statements

Local areas are responsible for:

  • Determining need for financial statement via milestone process.
  • Preparing financial statements to acquit grant income including the requirement for adjustment journals.
  • Gaining sign off from CI and College Business Officer on the coversheet of the Funds Provider Statement.
  • Submitting financial statement to Research Accounting for certification.
  • Sending financial statement to funds provider once certified copy is returned from Research Accounting.
  • Updating financial statement milestone once completed.

Research Accounting is responsible for:

  • Reviewing prepared financial statement.
  • Certifying financial statement.
  • Adding relevant documents to ARIES record including working papers and final certified financial statement.
  • Sending certified financial statement to local area for distribution to funds provider.
  • Research Accounting will prepare financial statements in the following instances: foreign currency statements, ARC end of year statements (excluding discovery projects) and NHMRC statements.

Where the funds provider requires a specific reporting format, a Funds Provider Statement must still be run to provide supporting ledger documentation.

Annual acquittals for projects funded by the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council will be initiated by Research Accounting after all year end journals have been processed.

Responsibility of researcher

In general the researcher has the responsibility to control expenditure within the project allocation and conditions of funding. Delegated officers or agents empowered to authorise financial transactions, must ensure that a Special Purpose Fund transaction:

  • is of a type allowed for in the application for fund establishment;
  • is within the terms and conditions of any external agreement; and
  • is incurred as a result of work performed under the terms of the agreement.

The key responsibility for the control of the income and expenditure is with the researcher. The researcher must ensure the expenses and income are in line with the budget plan. The researcher is accountable to the Head of the Department or Dean in the control of the costs of the project.

Responsibility of college finance office

Any additional internal management reporting required at departmental level is the responsibility of the finance officer concerned. The finance office is also responsible for the review of the expenditure of funds to ensure the project is within budget and on target for completion of the requirements set by the funding body.

Financial acquittals will be prepared as per section above 'Preparation of Financial Statements'.

The finance office will need to maintain details of any statistical or non-financial information required to be reported by the agreement (eg travel details for Department of Industry, Science and Resources grants).

Budgets must be entered into ESP Financials annually and for whole-of-life where project life crosses calendar years. This is a requirement for all projects created under contract in the S & Q ledgers. The use of budgets assists the CFO and the researcher to monitor compliance with contractual obligations.

General granting body conditions

The granting bodies have a substantial variety of conditions, the details of which are maintained in the ARIES database and on the official files held in Research Accounting section of Finance and Business Services. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in the loss of the grant as well as jeopardise future grants for the whole of ANU.

Granting body conditions vary from one organisation to another. The onus is on the researcher as well as staff in College Finance and Research Administration offices, together with Research Accounting to review the granting body conditions to ensure compliance. Examples are given below:

  • The financial statements are to be audited by the University's internal or external auditors;
  • Unspent funds are to be refunded at the end of the project;
  • Interest is to be included as part of the grant;
  • The grants are to be acquitted to the organisation within a specified period of time;
  • Assets purchased with grant funds are to be disposed of at end of grant and sale proceeds returned to funding body.

Conditions and acquittal of specific grants

Australian Research Council (ARC) grants

Information on Australian Research Council grants is available at http://www.arc.gov.au/.

The College Finance team will prepare and/or review a financial statement for each grant as at 31st December of the preceding year, or other date as outlined in the grant conditions. Prior to submission of statements to the Research Accounting team, College Finance/ Delegate will need to co-ordinate with the Chief Investigator and Business/School manager sign-off for the particular grant in question. The financial reports are to be reviewed by both Research Accounting and the Research Services Division. Post review, the reports are uploaded into RMS by 31 March. Requests for carry-forward of funds are included in these reports. Where the minimum required expenditure has not been met or if fund balances are required to be carried forward after the original end date of the project, a written carry forward request is required to be submitted with the End-of-Year reports.

For projects where funding has been provided for nominated Fellowships or Postgraduate scholarships, Research Accounting will include a salary shortfall calculation. The purpose of this calculation is twofold:

  1. To identify the amount of salaries and on costs to be funded annually by ANU;
  2. To identify the amount of ARC funding to be carried forward annually due to a late start date and/or suspensions during the course of the project by the Fellowship holder.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants

Information for current NHMRC grants, including Conditions of Award are available at Funding administration webpage.

The College Finance team will prepare and/or review a financial statement for each grant as at 31st December of the preceding year. The standard ledger financial acquittal is to be used to complete the relevant fields in the template form required by NHMRC.  Prior to submission of statements to the Research Accounting team, College Finance/ Delegate will need to co-ordinate the Chief Investigator and Business/School manager sign-off for the particular grant in question.

Where the minimum required expenditure has not been met or if fund balances are required to be carried forward after the original end date of the project, a written carry forward request is required to be submitted to NHMRC with the financial acquittal.

Any funds unspent or uncommitted at the end of a project are required to be returned to the NHMRC.

Assets acquired from external funds

Assets purchased from a grant remain the property of ANU unless the specific grant conditions state otherwise.

Proceeds from the sale of assets purchased from general ANU funds should not be credited to Special Purpose Funds.

Refunds to granting bodies

All refunds from grants must be supported by the following information attached to the payment documentation. The reasons detailed on the documentation may include that:

  • the project was completed in full and the expenditure was less than the original budget estimate. This may result from better than expected results of the research and thus more efficient control of costs in the overall project;
  • the grantee resigned/departed for whatever reason and the project was cancelled or deferred to another period;
  • the project was cancelled, as the likelihood of success was deemed too remote to continue research;
  • the project has been transferred to another institution due to the transfer of the researcher;
  • the amount remitted includes the sale of assets as required by the grantor. The sale of assets usually relates to, but is not limited to motor vehicles or computers;
  • the funds returned include any interest accruing during the life of the grant on excess funds invested; or
  • any other reason for the refund deemed appropriate.