Reducing Wait Times in Research Services

This month, we announce three support positions in Research Services and improvements in grants processing.

Aminah Robinson Fayek - 01 December 2022

Today, I would like to inform the campus research community about some immediate and ongoing changes we’re making in the area of research administration. As we continue to strive to improve the ways we support research excellence institution-wide, we have heard your concerns and feedback. We are committed to working alongside you — transparently and iteratively — to identify and develop the processes, resources and other supports needed to further enable world-class research across the institution.

Working with stakeholders, including the colleges, faculties and the University Initiatives Office, we are taking the following actions:

  • Increasing administrative capacity to process contracts and agreements by hiring three new positions
  • Providing a quicker path to spending grant dollars through our soon-to-be-launched Pre-Budget Spending Project procedure
  • Focusing our teams on improving the processes in the areas of greatest need as identified by our research community


We continue to implement our new structures as identified through the Service Excellence Transformation, and in response to your feedback, three positions — two Contract Specialists and one Grants Administrator — have been approved on the Contracts and Agreements team in Research Administrative Services (formerly Research Services Office). These positions will help to meet the administrative needs of our research community and reduce processing wait times around research agreements.

These individuals will provide additional capability for contract review, approval and processing; for negotiating, drafting and managing research agreements (including Material Transfer, Confidential Disclosure, Data Sharing and Data Transfer Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings); and for reviewing, approving, and processing notices of decision and related amendments. As a result of your feedback and the need to further optimize research supports, the addition of these resources will work to ensure files are dealt with in a timely and effective manner. Postings are already live, and we anticipate a start date in early 2023.


Launching in 2023, the Pre-Budget Spending Project procedure will reduce wait times in spending grant funds and improve efficiency by allowing a researcher to approve expenditures before receiving the Notice of Award or signed contract from the sponsor. Once launched, this new process may be used in certain cases where the Principal Investigator, Chair and Dean are comfortable authorizing limited spending prior to the project being finalized. While the teams at Research Administrative Services will continue to prioritize files with a Notice of Award or draft contract, a Pre-Budget Spending Project can be considered when it is likely that the project will not be activated for a significant period of time (i.e. greater than six weeks). More information about the Pre-Budget Spending Project procedure — including where you can go for additional details — will be sent out in the coming weeks


We have also embarked on an initiative to map end-to-end research administration activities across the university to ensure the processes we prioritize align with the immediate needs of our research community. To begin, we have identified two priority process areas:

  • Pre-award support, including Research Administration Workflow approvals and administrative review and institutional sign-off of applications
  • Post-award support, including processes such as salary and benefit adjustments (in collaboration with Shared Services) and end-date management

As we advance our work improving service delivery and access to resources, we will continue to listen to feedback from across the university’s colleges, faculties and departments, and within the University Initiatives and Research Development and Services Offices. Your feedback is essential to ensuring we progress in the areas of most pressing need toward a productive and supportive research environment.


In early 2023, we will be reviewing processes in Research Ethics, Compliance, Integrity and Oversight, Technology Transfer and Commercialization.

The process redesign work is one of a number of initiatives aimed at improving research
administration at the university. Our four Centres of Expertise continue to develop, and the recently announced expansion of the Research Partners Network, which will begin active recruitment shortly, will be key to implementing recommendations for efficient research services. It is my commitment to provide regular, ongoing updates as we continue our work to support our world-class research across the institution.

Our collective goal is to ensure research development and administrative needs are met across the institution, to enable grant application success and administer grants more effectively. I look forward to working with you on achieving this important goal and maintaining our global reputation for research excellence.



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