Expenditure Transaction Processing: Research and Special Purpose Projects

Please refer to the Expenditure Approvals Overview regarding the UofA approval framework.

The following are those funds considered to be research and special purpose project expenditures from an electronic approval perspective:

Fund number & type

Expenditures are approved by

F330 & F5xx (research)

  • project budget owner (the individual in whose name the funding was granted) or, for expenditures other than travel and expense reimbursements, any sub-delegates assigned by the project budget owner 
  • for project budget owner travel and expense reimbursements, the project budget owner’s one-over-one approver

F550 (special purpose)

  • project budget owner (the individual in whose name the funding was granted)
  • for project budget owner travel and expense reimbursements, the project budget owner’s one-over-one approver

 

IRAP Transaction Processing – Research and Special Purpose Projects

The transaction process may include all four steps (Initiate, Review, Approve and Process) or only three of the steps (Initiate, Approve and Process), depending on the type of transaction. The Review step is currently applicable only to research and special purpose travel & expense reimbursements.

Initiator

 

The initiator completes the transaction request and is responsible for ensuring that the information contained in the request is accurate and complete and that appropriate supporting documentation is attached. Where transaction requests are initiated through a processing module (e.g. Travel & Expense, online requisition), any employee with access to the module may initiate a transaction. Examples of an initiator include a claimant (for travel & expense reimbursement) or a requester (for purchasing).

Independent Reviewer

The independent reviewer role is unique to research and special purpose transaction requests and is required due to the higher-risk nature of these types of funds (e.g. large volume of projects and approvers, requirement to comply with external restrictions). Currently at the UofA, only travel and expense reimbursement processes require independent review. In future, this role may be expanded to other transaction types.

As implied by the name of the role, the review of transactions is to be performed by an individual who is independent from the preparer/initiator and can therefore perform the role objectively and free from influence. The independent reviewer is responsible for assisting the project budget owner (or the project budget owner’s one-over-one approver, where the claimant is the project budget owner) in determining whether to approve the expenditures, by checking that it is:

-       in compliance with UofA policies, procedures, guidelines

-       eligible per sponsor/donor terms and conditions

-       coded accurately (e.g.  COA)

-       supported by appropriate documentation 

The independent review role should be assigned to individuals who have detailed knowledge of business processes, University policy and procedure (applicable to the processes) and sponsor/donor terms and conditions. Financial Services recommends centralizing the independent review role (where possible) to ensure adequate independence from the preparer/initiator, to facilitate the efficient use of training and supervisory resources and to ensure issues and resolved consistently. 

The inclusion of independent review in the research and special purpose travel & expense reimbursement process does not remove or diminish the claimant’s or approver’s accountabilities.

 

How to set up an independent reviewer for one or more departments (deptIDs):

Project Budget Owner

The budget owner is the individual approving the transaction request. The project budget owner is accountable for ensuring, prior to approving the expenditure, that it is: 

-       in compliance with UofA policies, procedures, guidelines

-       eligible per sponsor/donor terms and conditions

-       relevant to the research being funded

-       required to carry out the research

-       incurred within the agreement/grant start and end dates

-       coded accurately (e.g.  COA)

-       supported by appropriate documentation 

 

If a transaction is allocated to more than one project, multiple approvals may be required. For example, if several project budget owners share in the purchase of a piece of equipment, approval by each project budget owner is required. Where goods or services are ordered through online requisition, the requisition can be entered in a way that ensures it is routed for approval to each project budget owner sharing in the cost.

During the project budget owner’s temporary absence (e.g. vacation), the project budget owner may assign a proxy to act on their behalf (“acting capacity”). The proxy can be a peer, co-investigator or superior (e.g. Chair). The proxy must have an association with and knowledge of the research project; therefore, an employee in an administrative support capacity would not be an appropriate proxy.

How to set up a proxy:

  • The project budget owner can assign a proxy through the PeopleSoft Financials Self-Service Centre menu (Manage Approvals>Assign Proxy).
  • The department can complete the Request for Administrative Access - PeopleSoft Financials Proxy Assignment form to request proxy assignment if the project budget owner did not assign a proxy prior to departure or the proxy end date set up by the project budget owner needs to be extended. This form is available from the Information Services and Technology Forms Cabinet.

Sub-Delegation by Project Budget Owner

Research project budget owners may designate sub-delegates from the project team to approve transactions, except for travel & expense reimbursements. Sub-delegation may be for a limited period or to the end of the project term, and may be initiated, extended or revoked by the project budget owner at any time.

When assigning sub-delegates, the project budget owner must ensure:

  • sub-delegation will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of operations without risking the integrity of internal controls necessary for accountability
  • the designated sub-delegates:
    • require such authority to efficiently and effectively carry out responsibilities
    • have the expertise to use the sub-delegated authority appropriately and knowledgeably
    • have an association with and knowledge of the research project (as approval attests to the relevance of the expenditure to the research)

By virtue of these criteria, sub-delegates cannot include individuals in an adminstrative support capacity, but research project budget owners may use any available administrative support to assist with data entry of transaction requests.

Sub-delegates must formally accept the assignment of responsibility.

Research project budget owners may designate sub-delegates from the research team.

How to designate sub-delegates to approve requisitions:

Project Budget Owner’s One-Over-One Approver

 

Approval by the budget owner’s one-over-one approver is a control step that is required where the budget owner is the claimant (i.e. a travel or expense reimbursement) due to the conflict of interest that may arise when approving a payment to oneself. Approval by the budget owner’s one-over-one approver is a control step that is required where the budget owner is the claimant (i.e. a travel or expense reimbursement) due to the conflict of interest that may arise when approving a payment to oneself. The one-over-one approval provides assurance that the expenditure is reasonable and required for University operations.

The University’s one-over-one approval hierarchy is reflected in the DeptID Budget Owner Tree. In the Travel & Expense module, claims by the project budget owner are automatically routed for approval to the project budget owner’s one-over-one approver (e.g. chair, dean).

Processing Unit

The central services unit responsible for processing the transaction is referred to as the business process owner. The business process owner will proceed with processing only upon receiving approved transaction requests. For example, Supply Management Services issues reimbursements for approved travel claims, and issues purchase orders for approved requisitions.

The business process owner is responsible for managing the entire process to ensure it performs effectively. The business process owner also creates and maintains procedures to be followed by units (e.g. UAPPOL) and is the contact for all information related to the process.