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School of Medicine

Managing your Unit's Research Portfolio

Staff assigned to provide research administration support may have duties that vary widely depending on the administrative structure of their department, division, or center. This section is meant to aid administrative staff in effectively managing sponsored research portfolios from a financial and administrative perspective.

The first step in being able to effectively administer a sponsored research project is to understand The Award Life Cycle and where your role, duties and responsibilities as an administrator fit into that cycle. Work with department administration or the Dean’s Office as necessary to clearly define your job duties as it pertains to research administration if they are unclear.

Research administrators most often assist principal investigators with preparing Proposal submissions and assisting with administrative and financial Award management.

How can I most effectively manage the sponsored research portfolio in my department/division/center?

Establish processes and workflows for your office for proposal submissions and award management to include:

  • Utilizing a proposal development timeline and checklist at the department level to meet both internal (Dean’s Office/Office of Sponsored Programs) and sponsor deadlines – visit Proposal Budget Development (related content) for more information and checklists you can customize for your department.
  • Creation of proposal development workflows to outline investigator vs. administrator responsibilities (define who is doing what) and the department review/approval process.
  • Establishing a department process for monthly reconciliation of sponsored accounts to include both administrator responsibilities and investigator responsibilities – use the standardized Monthly Expense Report generated by the PI Dashboard for each account and integrate the SOM Monthly Expense Report e-certify and review process into your department’s monthly reconciliation.
  • Outlining purchasing procedures specific to sponsored projects – who makes the purchases, what approvals are necessary to initiate a purchase and how the supporting documentation will be maintained.
  • Creation of a process for tracking labor distribution changes on sponsored projects – how to make a request and document the reason for the change and approval by the principal investigator or designee.

What is the best way to use the Research Dashboard for day-to-day grants management?

Research administration staff in SOM have access to both individual PI Dashboards and the RA Dashboard (department-level data) for investigators and awards in their department.

The RA Dashboard is an excellent tool for keeping tabs on those awards that your department is financially responsible for managing. 

Monitoring accounts – the Active Index Status portlet provides a way to quickly review the financial status of the active indexes within your department/division and helps spot possible trouble areas, such as, actual and projected deficits, indexes with no budget loaded, or potential large remaining balances.‌

 Active Indexes

Getting an overall picture of awards in your department – Use the “View Award Details” link at the bottom of the My Researchers portlet to pull up a comprehensive list of all sponsored accounts housed financially within your department.  The list breaks out those awards originating in your department, as well as awards originating outside of your department or School of Medicine (internal subaccounts).

 My Researchers

Stay on top of awards that have ending budget periods – The transition from one budget period into the next is a critical administrative time in grants management.  The Budget Period Ending portlet allows you to look ahead and see which awards are nearing the end of their budget periods and view important related information (personnel currently being charged, whether or not a new index is needed, etc.)

 Budget Period

NIH over-the-cap salary requirements – VCU is required to cost share the amount of an investigator’s salary over the current NIH cap for all personnel on DHHS-funded awards.  The NIH Over-the-Cap Salary portlet captures those awards that have this cost sharing requirement and provide a calculation to aid in making sure we are charging the right amount of salary to the grant funds and any associated cost share accounts.

 NIH Salary Cap

The RA Dashboard has portlets to assist with other routine monitoring elements, such as: grant deficits, open encumbrances, and individual expenses and labor charges on grant accounts (5-ledger indexes only).

For more information about the PI Dashboard and the RA Dashboard, please visit our Research Dashboard information page.

The Banner Reporting Center and the ECRT System also have useful reporting for monitoring effort certification status, F&A (indirect cost) recovery, and purchase card monitoring.