Financial Administration Guide


This guide outlines the terms and conditions for administering funds from the Research Support Fund.

Institutional contacts
Responsibilities and accountability
Continuing eligibility
Financial monitoring of accounts
Non-compliance
Suspension or termination of a grant
Accountability and public acknowledgment
Affiliated institution agreements
Use of grant funds—General principles  
Duration
Value
Payment schedule
Over-expenditures
Outstanding commitments
Residual/unspent balances
Recordkeeping
More information


Institutional contacts

The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) keeps institutions informed by sending program information and updates to the contacts listed on institutions’ portfolio page in their Research Support Fund extranet account. It is the institution’s responsibility to keep this contact information up to date and complete.


Responsibilities and accountability

Research Support Fund grants are awarded to eligible institutions to help pay for a portion of the indirect costs to support federally funded research. These are costs that institutions incur that are not attributable to specific research projects, such as central and departmental administrative costs.

The Secretariat and the Research Support Fund
In accordance with federal laws and policies regarding grants, the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) verifies the institution’s eligibility for the Research Support Fund program and entitlement to the grant.

  • The Secretariat makes payments through SSHRC’s finance division.
  • All subsequent instalments are subject to parliamentary appropriations and the conditions that may be attached to them. The granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR], the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council [NSERC] and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [SSHRC]) and the Research Support Fund reserve the right to defer or suspend subsequent instalments if the parliamentary appropriations are reduced or cancelled.

The institution
The grant is administered through the institution according to the terms of the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions.

  • Each institution that receives program funds establishes appropriate procedures, systems and controls to ensure that program policies and requirements are followed. Administrative, personnel and accounting procedures must conform to the standards, practices and policies of the institution.
  • When appropriate, the institution should seek advice or a ruling from the Secretariat as to eligibility of expenses.
  • The grantee, normally the institution’s president, principal or rector, authorizes expenditures from the grant account in accordance with program guidelines. The grantee may delegate the authorization of expenditures to a small number of individuals.
  • The institution must open a separate account for the grant, and must clearly record all payments made into and from the account, and group them by the five expenditure categories.

The institution authorizes expenditures in accordance with program policies and requirements, as outlined in this program guide. No one may initiate or authorize expenditures from the grant account without the institution’s delegated authority.


Continuing eligibility

To comply with government policy, the program confirms an institution’s continued eligibility annually before releasing new grant funds to the institution. Institutions must confirm their eligibility at the grant application stage, in the Affiliated Organizations Validation Form.


Financial monitoring of accounts

Representatives of the granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) and the Secretariat will periodically review the institution’s financial administration to:

  • assess whether the institution has the necessary financial/administrative tools to properly and effectively manage its grant;
  • review the effectiveness of procedures, systems and controls in place at the institution to ensure that agency and program policies and requirements are followed and that program funds are well managed;
  • review expenditures from the account to ensure that these were made in accordance with the established policies and requirements and for the purpose intended (institutions must be prepared to provide full supporting documentation for all expenses charged to the Research Support Fund grant); and
  • share and disseminate information on policies, requirements and expectations for financial accountability.

Non-compliance

Grantees (and their affiliates) are responsible for using grant funds in accordance with the policies of the agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC), including this guide; and for providing true, complete and accurate information on documentation for expenditures from the grant account.

Breaches in compliance include:

  • using grant funds for purposes inconsistent with the policies of the granting agencies;
  • misappropriating grant funds;
  • contravening agency financial policies (namely, the policies in this guide); or
  • providing incomplete, inaccurate or false information on documentation for expenditures from the grant account.

For information on how the granting agencies address allegations of breaches, refer to the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (section 6.1). The agencies regard as misconduct any action that is inconsistent with integrity and ethics as defined in this framework.

Matters involving financial mismanagement, where there is evidence of fraud or other unlawful activity, are referred to the appropriate authorities as per the Treasury Board Directive on Losses of Money or Property.


Suspension or termination of a grant

The Secretariat Steering Committee reserves the right to suspend or terminate a grant should the institution cease to meet the eligibility criteria or the accountability, public acknowledgment or reporting requirements of the program. It also reserves the right to recover funds paid out after an institution no longer fulfils the required eligibility criteria, or on the basis of fraudulent or inaccurate information.


Accountability and public acknowledgment

Support provided by the Research Support Fund is an investment by Canadian taxpayers. The program’s accountability regarding the use of grant funds includes reporting to program stakeholders and the Canadian public about who receives support and how funds are used to meet the program’s objectives. Grant recipients are expected to publicly acknowledge grant funding and bring awareness to the value and impact of the program within the research community and the Canadian research environment, to ensure accountability to stakeholders (researchers, affiliates, industry partners and Canadian taxpayers). 

There are varying accountability and public acknowledgment requirements for institutions that receive support from the fund. These requirements vary depending on the value of the grant received. As applicable (based on the value of their grant and the corresponding requirements), institutions must ensure these requirements are met during the three stages of the program’s lifecycle: 1. grant application stage, 2. grant period, and 3. end of the grant period.

Failure to meet these requirements will result in the forfeiture of grant funds or the suspension of payments. It may also affect an institution’s eligibility for future grant years. Institutions must continue to meet the program’s accountability and public acknowledgment requirements during the granting period in order to remain eligible to the program.

Institutions are required to keep their accountability and public acknowledgment information for the Research Support Fund (organized by fiscal year) on their websites for a minimum of five years.


Affiliated institution agreements

As a condition of funding, institutions must have formal and valid affiliated institution agreements in place with each of their health research affiliates. For other types of affiliates, the institution and the affiliate can choose whether to have a formal agreement in place. In all cases where there is a transfer of funds from the applicant institution (i.e., the grantee) to an affiliate, a formal agreement must be in place prior to the transfer of funds.

Note that the Secretariat reserves the right to request a copy of these agreements at any time.

Content of affiliate agreements
At a minimum, agreements should include:

  • the nature of the relationship between the applicant institution and the affiliate. Applicant institutions often provide a variety of support services to researchers located at affiliated health research institutes and, for this reason, typically retain a portion of the Research Support Fund grant generated by the affiliate’s research;
  • a rationale for the agreed-upon distribution of funds. This is especially critical in agreements where the applicant institution has negotiated a different sharing arrangement with each of its various affiliates; and
  • the manner in which the affiliate’s portion of the grant will be calculated and the proportion of that amount that the affiliate will receive.

Institution responsibilities related to affiliates
Institutions with affiliates are responsible for:

  • identifying the location of researchers for the purpose of calculating the portion of the grant attributable to the affiliate;
  • fulfilling reporting requirements, including producing a timeline for the submission of information by the affiliate to the grantee for the annual grant application, outcomes report and statement of account;
  • meeting agreed-upon timelines for the transfer of funds from the applicant institution to the affiliate;
  • meeting conditions for funding (as outlined on the program’s website; e.g., eligible expenditures); and
  • determining the length of time the agreement will remain in effect and the conditions under which it may be modified.

The applicant institution is responsible for ensuring that its affiliates understand and follow the program’s conditions for funding as outlined in this guide (e.g., eligible expenditures).


Use of grant funds—General principles

Grant funds must be used to contribute toward the indirect costs (e.g., the central and departmental administrative costs) that institutions incur to support their federally funded research enterprise, but that are not attributable to specific research projects.

Institutions must use grant funds for the purpose for which it was awarded and in accordance with the policies and guidelines of the program and the institution.

The funds must be used effectively and economically, and the expenses must be essential to support the institution’s federally funded research enterprise.

Funding from the program must add to, and not displace, any other research support funds that postsecondary institutions have received from the provincial government, private sector or other federal sources.

Research Support Fund grants may be used to cover new expenditures as well as to maintain the current level of services to and support of an institution’s research environment, and to generate improvements, innovations and efficiencies in its management.

Institutions must ensure that the grant is used to pay for eligible expenditures only.


Duration 

Grants are awarded for one year only. Institutions must re-apply each year to continue receiving funds.

Institutions must spend their grant during the fiscal year in which it was awarded.


Value 

The Secretariat calculates the value of each institution’s grant based on the amount of funding received by its researchers from the three granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) in the three most recent years for which data are available and according to the Research Support Fund’s budget for that year.


Payment schedule 

Grants are paid to institutions according to the program’s payment schedule.


Over-expenditures 

The program and the agencies are not responsible for funding expenditures or commitments by institutions that exceed grant funds applied to the account at the institution for current and prior fiscal periods. These are the responsibility of the institution.


Outstanding commitments 

Outstanding commitments are allowed only in cases where the expenditure has been incurred but the invoice was not paid in the period ending March 31. However, these expenses must be paid by the end of June.

The annual statement of account must list any outstanding commitments.


Residual/unspent balances 

Unspent balances cannot be transferred to the institution’s general research fund or carried forward to the next fiscal year, but must be returned to SSHRC’s finance division by way of a cheque payable to the Receiver General for Canada, with the final statement of account.

Returning unspent funds

In order to return the unspent balance, the institution’s Main and Financial contacts must log in to the Research Support Fund extranet and submit a final  statement of account. Due to a technical constraint in the system, the statement of account form cannot be submitted unless the  total expenditures claimed in the statement of account total the exact amount of the Research Support Fund grant awarded to the institution. Therefore, the institution must indicate both the spent and unspent amounts in the form, so that all expenditures categories total the entire grant amount awarded.  If all categories are being used for actual expenditures, then the unspent amount must be added to any one of the five categories.  

The Financial Contact must then send an email to: information@rsf-fsr.gc.ca, indicating that there is unspent grant money. They should attach to the email a printed and signed copy of the statement of account with the handwritten corrections made to indicate the correct/actual spent and unspent amounts in the appropriate categories.  The Financial Contact should then send a cheque for the unspent amount, made payable to the Receiver General for Canada to:

Research Support Fund
c/o Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat
350 Albert St.
P.O. Box 1610
Ottawa, ON
K1P 6G4


Recordkeeping

Institutions must submit an annual outcomes report, including an annual statement of account, every year in order to report on the use and impact of the Research Support Fund grant at their institution. These reports require supporting evidence for how grant funds were spent.

Supporting evidence

The institution must keep complete and accurate records on the use of program funding, including verifiable audit trails with complete supporting documentation for each transaction, for a minimum of seven years.

The institution is responsible for authorizing expenditures from the grant account in accordance with the requirements, grant conditions and policies of the institution and program. No other party may initiate or authorize expenditures from the account without the institution’s written delegated authority.

Signatures

All claims must have the institutional representative’s or delegate’s signature. The signatures certify that:

  • all expenditures on the claim are for the purpose for which the grant was awarded;
  • all expenditures on the claim are eligible expenses;
  • all goods and/or services have been received;
  • the charges included have not been claimed for reimbursement from other sources; and
  • reimbursements for expenditures received from other sources or institutions have been disclosed to the administering institution.

Retention of supporting documentation 

Supporting documentation must be retained to support the allocation method and rationale and for all expenditures charged to the grant account. Such documentation includes:

  • a full breakdown of the allocation of Research Support Fund grants within the institution (and affiliated institutions) and the total expenditures by category allocated, which must reconcile to the institution’s total grant amount;
  • internal expense allocation method and rationale; and
  • documentation of approval of allocation method and rationale by institutional authorities (e.g., minutes of meetings where approved, or signed authorization document).

Personnel:

  • signed records regarding personnel paid from grant funds, including names, categories, salary levels, affiliation to the objectives of the Research Support Fund; and
  • length of time supported in each case; details of employee benefits charged and relevant calculations.

Equipment and supplies:

  • supplier invoices indicating details of purchases; and
  • prices paid.

Research support costs related to other federal funding programs

Institutions cannot use their grant to pay for the research support costs related to federal tri-agency research funding programs where the grant or award already includes funding to cover the indirect costs of the research (e.g., the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program, the College and Community Innovation Program, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, etc.). These programs allow institutions to use a reasonable portion of the funding to contribute toward the research support costs of the research.

Five expenditure categories

Funds must be used for the payment of current expenditures attributed to federally sponsored research that fall within the five categories.

Reporting requirements

Institutions must submit an annual outcomes report on the deployment and management of their Research Support Fund grant.

The Secretariat will suspend payments to any institution that does not fulfil its reporting requirements. Failure to submit the report will render an institution ineligible for the program in the following grant year.


More information

If you have questions about the administration of Research Support Fund grants, please contact information@rsf-fsr.gc.ca.