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Research Cost Centre Management Policy
1. Purpose:
  1. This policy formalises the University’s adoption of compliance measures in managing research project funds provided by external funding bodies. 
  2. This policy specifies University requirements and obligations relating to management of, and responsibility for, research cost centres.  The purpose of this policy is to provide a standardised system for the administration and management of research cost centres so that the University is able to:
    • comply with the contractual obligations with respect to the financial management, reporting and acquittal requirements for research projects;
    • ensure that systems and procedures are in place to allow the University to accurately account for research funding in a timely manner;
    • facilitate financial management of research cost centres, their processing and accounting by clarifying area roles and responsibilities; and
    • ensure capture of all eligible research funding.
2. Scope:
This policy:
  1. specifies the obligations of University of Canberra researchers, Faculties and University Research Centres, Financial Services and the Research Services Office (RSO) in relation to the financial management of Research Cost Centres; and
  2. applies to all University Cost Centres that have been identified as being Research Cost Centres by the Research Services Office.
3. Principles:
Responsibility for management of a Research Cost Centre
  1. Responsibility for Research Cost Centre management at the University is divided according to function.
  2. Daily accountability for financial and administrative management of a Research Cost Centre is the responsibility of the Cost Centre Owner of the project.  The Cost Centre Owner is usually the Chief Investigator of the funded project. 
  3. Faculty Deans and University Research Centre (URC) Directors have a responsibility for ensuring that Research Cost Centres operating within their Faculty or URC are managed appropriately and in accordance with Grant conditions and University guidelines. 
  4. The Cost Centre Owner should ensure they are fully informed of their obligations under the Research Funding Agreement or Contract. 
  5. The Cost Centre Owner should not commence incurring expenditure in relation to a research project until the University has entered into a written funding agreement with the Funding body. 
  6. The Cost Centre Owner should ensure that the Research Cost Centre remains in credit and that management control is exercised when requests for expenditure are made to ensure that sufficient funds are available to cover the payment period required.
 Appropriate use of Research Funds
  1. Grant funding programs providing research and other income to the University are subject to contractual conditions.  The University seeks to: 
    1. manage research grants effectively and efficiently;
    2. maintain eligibility for all available future grant funding and ensure the best prospect for obtaining grant income;
    3. avoid the unnecessary return of grant income to funding bodies for research and other projects; and
    4. avoid the risk of non-compliance to our contractual obligations. 
  2. The University seeks to achieve this by ensuring compliance with all grant conditions on the part of the University, its employees and representatives. 
  3. The Cost Centre Owner is responsible for authorisation of Project expenditure and should ensure that expenditure charged to a project relates specifically to that project, and is in accordance with the project description, approved budget and funding agreement, and that relevant delegations apply.  Authorisation of expenditure against a Research Cost Centre which later proves to be not related to that research project may result in disciplinary action, for example in accordance with the University’s Enterprise Agreement (Section G3 Misconduct/Serious Misconduct).
  4. In relation to research projects where all or some activities require ethics clearance, the funds related to these activities will not be released until the required approvals are obtained.  It is the responsibility of the Cost Centre Owner of the project to ensure that no work is performed or expenditure incurred against the Research Cost Centre until appropriate ethics clearance has  been obtained (as per 12.3 and 12.4 of the Responsible Conduct of Research Policy).  If relevant approvals are not obtained as required the Research Cost Centre will be suspended.
Creation of a Research Cost Centre
  1. A Research Cost Centre will only be created for research projects that have been reviewed and administered through the Research Services Office. 
  2. Finance and Business Services will only create a Research Cost Centre on receiving a request from the Research Services Office. 
  3. A unique Research Cost Centre will be established for each individual research project.  This allows easy identification and reporting of revenue and expenditure relating to a particular project.
Financial Reporting of Research Cost Centres
  1. Research projects generally require periodic financial reporting to the funding body. In such instances, Financial Services is responsible for preparing the reports and submitting them to the funding body. The Cost Centre Owner is responsible for assisting Finance and Business Services in the preparation of financial acquittals both during and at the completion of a project. 
  2. Only financial acquittals prepared and authorised by Finance and Business Services are to be provided to granting bodies.  Cost Centre Owners should not prepare or provide any financial information to granting bodies without Finance and Business Services review and certification. 
Transfer of a Research Project to another Institution
  1. When a Chief Investigator leaves the University part way through a research project it may be relevant for unspent research project funds to be transferred to another institution.  The transfer of unspent research project funds to another institution shall conform to the research contract conditions and will require the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Vice-President (Research & Innovation) in consultation with the Dean or Director of the relevant Faculty or University Research Centre, the Director, Research Services Office and the Director, Finance and Business Services.
At the end of a project
  1. At the end of a project it is the responsibility of the Cost Centre Owner to verify the transactions recorded in the Research Cost Centre and provide necessary assistance to Finance and Business Services in order to finalise the project.
  2. In the event that a project goes into deficit the funds will be recouped from the operating budget of the relevant Faculty or URC. It is the responsibility of the Cost Centre Owner to negotiate with the appropriate authority (Faculty Dean or University Research Centre Director) to transfer funds as required to reconcile the Research Cost Centre. 
  3. In instances where a Research Consultancy has involved Research Professional Fees, Finance and Business Services will journal out the value of these fees from the Research Cost Centre to a Research Support Cost Centre upon the receipt of a request from the Cost Centre Owner and authorisation by the Faculty Dean or URC Director.
  4. In the event that there are surplus funds remaining at the end of a project Research Services Office will determine if the surplus funds need to be returned to the funding body.    
  5. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor & VIce-President (Research & Innovation) may at any time review and seek confirmation that funds credited to the Research Support Cost Centre have been used for research related activities.
Closure of a Research Cost Centre
  1. Finance and Business Services is responsible for the closure of Research Cost Centres. When Research Services Office receives confirmation from the Cost Centre Owner that a research project has been completed they request Finance and Business Services to close the Research Cost Centre.  Finance and Business Services will only close a Research Cost Centre after it has been reconciled and any surplus or deficit amounts have been transferred or reimbursed as required.
4. Legislation:
This policy is governed by the University of Canberra Act 1989 (ACT) and its Statutes and Rules.
5. Supporting Information:
This policy ensures contractual compliance with grants funding bodies as per funding agreements and contracts.
Other related documents
Documents related to this policy are:
6. Definitions:
Terms Definitions
Acquittal Statement of Revenue received less Expenditure incurred resulting in a remaining unspent balance for the research project
Chief Investigator The Researcher identified by the University or named in the relevant Research Grant Agreement or Contract as taking the lead responsibility for the project.
Cost Centre Owner This is usually the Chief Investigator and is the person that is identified by Research Services Office as taking the lead financial responsibility of the project.
Faculty/URC Research Support Cost Centre Research Cost Centre created for each Faculty or University Research Centre to which funds are, in certain circumstances,  transferred from individual Research Cost Centres .
Research Consultancy The purchase by an external organisation of the services of University Staff in the provision of expert advice, specialist knowledge or objective review within a particular research field.
Research Contract A contract to provide funding for a specific research project or set of projects to be undertaken by the University. It may be funded by a company, government body, charity or other body, and will contain terms and conditions governing the conduct of the project, as well as obligations incumbent upon the University and the funder.
Research Cost Centre A cost centre that relates to a project which is for research purposes as determined by the Research Services Office.  These are recorded on the University’s Research Master database and revenue for these cost centres is classified as Category 1 to 4 as per HERDC reporting guidelines.
Research Professional Fees Amount included in a Research Consultancy budget that represents the value of the research team’s time  in undertaking the specified project
Unspent Funds Funds remaining at the end of a project resulting from either cost saving measures undertaken to reduce project expenses (which have not adversely affected the research outcome), changes to project activities approved by the funding body and/or gains from changes in market rates on budgeted expense items.