We all know grant closeouts have received a lot of attention the last few years as Federal partners have implemented stricter timelines to wrap up projects. The Uniform Guidance, Section 200.343 provides specific guidance on activities that must be completed within ninety days of the termination date of a project:
- All financial, performance and other reports submitted
- All outstanding obligations on the project must be liquidated
- Allowable reimbursable costs must be paid to the institution
- Unobligated cash balances must be refunded if not authorized to be retained for use in other projects
- Cost share obligations must be reviewed and adjusted for grant closeouts
- Any real and personal property acquired with Federal funds or received from the Federal Government must be accounted for
What does this mean for Sponsored Programs Offices? From ensuring the Principal Investigator (PI) files their final programmatic report to getting the final reports from subrecipients and ensuring all costs charged to the project are paid and allowable, there is more to monitor and a tighter timeline to accomplish the task. How do research administrators manage multiple projects and ensure projects are closed within the required timeframe? Let’s take a look at some ways to streamline and make sure deadlines are met.
Start planning for grant closeouts when the award is received.
- Involve and Inform – Tear down silos/barriers
- Work with and keep informed all units involved in managing sponsored programs: pre and post award, finance, departmental, PI and team, regulatory compliance, purchasing and accounts receivable.
- Understand the varying roles in each of these areas and how they are interdependent.
- Frequent Communication
- Involve everyone in the lifecycle of a project, with each partner understanding their roles and responsibilities. If a PI understands the needs of the Accounting/Finance Office, compliance is usually stronger. Likewise, if Accounting understands the objectives driving the PI, then their role takes on a broader focus as they provide support for the PI.
- Utilize grants management software for notices, messages and sharing of information.
- Define Timelines
- Lay out a timeline and ensure all team members understand and monitor it.
- Automate reminders with forms (housed within grants management software). This works well to keep the team on schedule.
- Develop specific reports from your software to provide on-demand and/or scheduled reports such as: all projects closing within a specified number of days, or any project that includes subrecipients. This will make it easier to monitor the critical dates for grant closeouts.
- Communicate with Subrecipients
- Ensure deadlines are clear and understood, including programmatic reporting coordination across PI’s.
- Monitor and Review Budget and Expenditures
- Regularly monitor, review and discuss with the PI.
- Ensure only allowable charges hit the grant account. This can greatly streamline the closing of a project as you will be confident that all charges are allowable, allocable and reasonable.
- Discuss with the PI any financial adjustments that might need to be made – budget revisions, journal entry corrections, salary allocations.
- Cost sharing commitments/requirements.
- Utilize your technology to include committed cost share in your grants management system.
- Periodically run reports to make sure the obligation is being met.
- Do not wait until it’s time for the grant closeouts before identifying and monitoring cost share commitments. This can be costly to an institution! No institution wants to return money to a sponsor because the required cost sharing wasn’t met.
- Establish a record of cost share activities/expenditures and review it on a regular basis to prevent coming to the end of a project and not meeting the commitment. Note, some institutions create a separate “companion” account/fund in their grants software to charge cost share committed expenditures, others monitor manually. Manual tracking and monitoring can be cumbersome and error prone.
In the end, creating a team environment and utilizing your grants management software can contribute to easier and timelier grant closeouts. Also, special reports and the ability to monitor activities are useful tools in meeting the stricter closeout time frame now in place.
IT Works, Inc. offers solutions for your grant management software needs that are innovative, easy to use, and constantly evolving. These solutions are diverse in report selection, well-supported by an implementation staff with research administration experience, and competitively priced.