Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration

The Tri-Agency (CIHR, SSHRC, NSERC) is entrusted with managing public funds to enable and support a world class Canadian research enterprise and therefore, must hold those who receive and administer these funds to the highest standards of grants stewardship.  On April 1st, 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 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 principles and directives-based framework governing the use of grant funds. This requires a new way of thinking about the use of grant funds where expenditures must conform to the principles and directives of the TAGFA, the funding opportunity literature and institutional policies.

 

Assessing Eligibility of Expenditures

When assessing eligibility of an expenditure, one must follow the order of precedence of the TAGFA as outlined below and the expenditure in question should be assessed against ALL the steps in the order of precedence (A-D) prior to making a determination.

A. The Four Principles

Grant expenditures must conform to all 4 principles:

B. The Relevant Directive Details

The 5 directives laid out by the TAGFA are mandatory requirements which provide a framework to exercise sound judgement and due diligence in decision making around eligibility of expenditures.

1) Employment and compensation expenditures
2) Goods and services expenditures
3) Travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures
4) Hospitality expenditures
5) Gifts, honoraria and incentives expenditures

C. Program / Funding Opportunity literature

In addition to the principles and directives in the TAGFA, the eligible use of grant funds is also governed by the funding opportunity literature specific to that grant. Eligibility or ineligibility of expenditures specified in the grant funding opportunity literature takes precedence over the TAGFA principles and directives. It is therefore important to evaluate an expenditure against this step as well, as sometimes specific funding opportunity literature may allow or disallow certain expenditures.

D. Institutional policies

The University of Alberta has established policies around eligibility of expenditures. These can be found in the University of Alberta Policies and Procedures Online (UAPPOL). When evaluating an expenditure against this step, in instances where both the TAGFA and the UofA have a policy, the TAGFA policy prevails, recognizing that the grant recipient must also comply with applicable institutional policies. In instances where the TAGFA is silent on a particular issue, the administering institution’s policy prevails.

 

Resolving Issues Around Interpretation of Eligibility

The Tri-Agency no longer makes rulings on eligibility of expenditures. The decision-making authority over the use of grant funds now rests with the administering institution.

  • The administering institution is the grant recipient's first point of contact
  • The Tri-Agency is the administering institution's first point of contact

The grant recipient must provide sufficient information and supporting documentation around expenditures to the administering institution so that eligibility of that expenditure can be adequately assessed as outlined above. 

 

Administrative matters

It is the responsibility of the grant recipient to inform the Tri-Agency of any material changes to their grant. These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Deferral of installments
  • Change of primary institution
  • Change in eligibility
  • Addition/removal of co-applicants
  • Leaves for grant recipient or HQP
  • Extension requests

These changes must be reported to the Tri-Agency by the institution through the Grant Amendment Form (see below). The required forms are completed by the grant recipient and sent to the Research Services helpdesk (rsoinfo@ualberta.ca) for processing and forwarding to the Tri-Agency.

 

Form Templates


TAGFA Training

Research Services is pleased to offer some TAGFA training sessions which will provide a better understanding of how to use the new TAGFA’s principles and directives-based approach to post-award administration of grants funded by the Tri-Agency.
To register for one of these sessions, please navigate to our training page by clicking here.

 


Questions?

Please contact your research facilitator with any questions.