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As the head of research administration, you’re the liaison between researchers and funders, and the person who ensures funding compliance at your university. Complying with all requirements increases future funding opportunities. Funding applications, awards and compliance all help researchers and funders work on mutually beneficial projects – but it can be a difficult system to navigate.

Here are ten tips to help you manage funding more effectively.

1) Develop relationships with Program Officers: You can find Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) online, but there’s nothing more powerful than developing relationships with funding agencies. This is not only helpful in telling you what opportunities might arise, but perhaps more important, in helping you to better adhere to requirements.Program Officers fill a variety of roles, but are always useful contacts for research administrators.

2) Understand what the funding agency wants to accomplish: It will be much easier to get funding and comply with funding requirements if you understand what the funding agency is hoping to accomplish with its money. Understanding these goals can also help you guide researchers through the application process, possibly altering their original proposal to align with these requirements.2

3) Revisit FOAs for updated instructions: The last thing you should do before approving an application – and the last thing a researcher should do before submitting one – is to make sure there aren’t any updated requirements to funding. Make sure you’re complying with all requirements, even the newest ones.3

4) Hold a post-award implementation meeting: The majority of work in a grant occurs after funding has been awarded, so it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page before starting the project.4 At this meeting, discuss compliance requirements and acceptable practices.

5) Monitor expenditures closely: You’ll have to submit reports and undergo an audit at the end of the project, so monitoring expenses and asking researchers for regular updates is important. It’s better to keep ongoing, accurate reports than to have to rush to assemble data at the last minute.5

6) Communicate closely with your awarding agency: Most documentation requirements are intended to prevent fraud, so you may enjoy more flexibility if you instill confidence with close communication.6

7) Keep all paperwork and correspondences: You’ll normally keep these for three to five years. Some of the most important areas are budget, personnel, purchasing, final reports and documentation.7

8) Approve all major expenses: Make sure that researchers don’t make any significant purchases or hire outside consultants without your approval.

9) Allow time for a potentially lengthy close-out: Finishing a project can take months, and isn’t over until your awarding agency confirms it is.8

10) Close-out on time: If you’ve stayed up to date with your paperwork, closing out before the deadline won’t be too difficult. This is extremely important, because submitting work in a timely manner can help increase future funding opportunities for your university’s researchers.