This document explains some of the processes and terms related to post-award accounting: close outs, overdrafts, effort reporting and ECRT, cost share, commitments, residual transfers, edits expansions, and extensions.
In recent years, RSP has instituted improvements based on APR recommendations to campus close out processes. Because of this, close outs have become quicker and more routine than in past years. PIs and their financial people now receive automatic notices 60 days prior to the end date of their grants. The email is a prompt to review the account and take action as needed, like requesting a no-cost extension, reviewing expenses for appropriateness, transferring expenses as needed to non-sponsored accounts, and dealing with overdrafts. Furthermore, multi-year awards get an annual reminder to review their project for potential problems at closeout.
At closeout time, the RSP Post-award accountant will work with the PI and financial people to close out the project. A standard report is shared with the PI and department that will delineate things that need to be looked at before closing out an award. Here are some of the primary concerns:
- Electronics and computer purchases. These often require justification to remain on an award.
- Post-period expenses. Many post-period expenses are late posting expenses made during the life of the grant, and just require confirmation that the expense was generated during the life of the grant. Expenses that truly are post-period will need to be transferred off the project.
- Purchase of Office Supplies. Office supplies are usually considered an indirect cost, in other words, should be supplied by the department at no cost to the grant because the F&A automatically collected from the project should cover the cost. Some supply costs are unique to a particular project and can remain after adequate justification is given. Unjustified supply costs must be transferred to non-sponsored funding.
- Overdrafts. Expenses need to be transferred off the project to bring it into balance (see below for more).L&S Post Award Services can help with close out issues (see contact information below).
Overspent awards are a common issue, and cause problems with closeouts. The usual solution is to transfer expenses to a non-sponsored funding source. L&S Post Award Services can assist in solving these problems and will periodically send out reminders to departments with overdrafts. As a last resort in the new closeout process, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) post award accountant will transfer over-budget expenses to a divisional suspense account to allow for on time closeout. Expenses moved to the divisional suspense account will need to be transferred to a departmental funding source.If you are contacted by RSP regarding a closeout, please carefully read the correspondence, respond to the RSP post-award contact that you received the message, and, if necessary, contact L&S post award for assistance.
Effort Reporting & ECRT
Effort reporting is how we track our PI and other employee effort on sponsored projects. ECRT is the electronic tool we use for effort reporting. Our federal sponsors need to be assured that our PIs and other employees are working on the projects from which they are paid. It is very important for PIs to certify effort on their projects as it ensures future funding opportunities will be available from our federal and non-federal sponsors and that the UW will not be subject to fines. Effort and ECRT training are available on RSP's ECRT webpage. Here's a link to further information about effort on the L&S Amin Gateway: https://kb.wisc.edu/ls/page.php?id=54393
Cost share is when the UW shares cost with an external sponsor. It is recommended to avoid cost share if at all possible, but in some cases it is mandatory. To effectively cost share, there must be a source of UW funding to be used for the project, and there must be a way to track and document the cost share. RSP has in place a system that tracks and documents cost share. That system feeds into ECRT, populating the cost share column. Effort certification takes cost share into account, so cost share on a project will increase the needed effort on a project.Cost share is indicated in the WISPER record as the proposal is being developed, and at time of award the cost share is implemented. During the life of the project, the cost share plan is updated as necessary, and at the close out, the cost share is reconciled by the RSP post award accountant to be certain that the cost share is sufficient. Cost share update forms and instructions are found here: https://www.rsp.wisc.edu/forms/ Email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org
Commitments are promises of PI and key personnel effort made by PIs at the time of proposal; these promises are embedded in the submitted budget, in the budget narrative and elsewhere in the proposal document. It is important to not overstate time commitments in the budget and elsewhere in the proposal because that can lead to difficulty managing inflated commitment levels.Too many commitments cause problems and can be impossible to fulfill. A PI has only so much time to give away. Commitments are tracked through WISPER and ECRT; at the time of award, commitments are entered into WISPER, this information in turn feeds to ECRT. A PI's effort certification shows fulfillment of those commitments. It can be tricky to track commitments because commitments may be fulfilled at any time through the life of the grant, but ECRT will divide a commitment evenly into 6-month segments across the span of the grant. ECRT will suggest a commitment level, but bear in mind this suggestion doesn't take into account the variable ways a PI can fulfill a commitment. PIs should be aware of their own commitments and have a plan to fulfill them. The suggested level in ECRT should be taken as advisory only.When a PI needs to change commitments, the sponsor needs to be notified and RSP needs to be notified. Negotiations with the sponsor are between the PI and the grant officer. RSP is informed with the use of a commitment update form, found here: https://www.rsp.wisc.edu/forms/ Email the completed form to email@example.com
When fixed price contract projects are completed and a positive balance remains, these balances can be transferred to 233- gift funds for use as discretionary funding. Each PI can only have one residual balance project, and each department chair can have one departmental residual balance project. Only residual balances can flow into these projects, no gift funds can be transferred from UWF into these projects. To complete the residual balance transfer, a form, found here: https://www.rsp.wisc.edu/forms/, is submitted to L&S Post Award Services for Dean's approval, then forwarded to RSP for processing. Email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org
L&S Post Award Services approves edit expansions on 144-, 133-, 233- and 161- funds. Email requests for 144, 133 and 233 fund accounts to to email@example.com, email requests for 161 fund accounts to firstname.lastname@example.org. For 144- and 133- projects, the RSP post award accountant enters the actual edit expansion following divisional approval. Trust Funds makes the edit expansions for 161- funds following divisional approval. L&S Post Award makes the changes for 233- projects.
Because WISPER is used to route no-cost extensions for 133 and 144 fund accounts, L&S Pre-Award handles these requests.
Extensions for 233 fund accounts are handled by Ben Ball and extensions for 161 fund accounts are handled by Mary Machaj.
For more information:
Room 201 South Hall
1055 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: (608) 265-1170
FAX: (608) 265-2275
- UW Foundation Overview
- Depositing Gifts into UW Foundation Funds and 233- Projects
- Transferring Funds from UW Foundation to 233- Projects
- How to clear overdrafts on 233-gift accounts
- Frequently Asked Questions about University Policies Related to UW Foundation Gifts and Other Accounts
- How to pay using UW Foundation Funds
- Gift Acknowledgment
- UW Foundation Accounting Structure, 2014