Thursday, April 11, 2019

Continuous Improvement Bright Spot: Transparency in Subcontracts

A key part of continuous improvement culture is "finding the bright spots" -- looking at who has had success making changes and operating differently.  Small changes can make a big difference!

Our first "Bright Spot" involves a collaboration between OSP, Audit, and PSDS with the aim of making life easier for our researchers and research administrators. 

The Issue: Principle Investigators (PIs) and research administrators wanted greater visibility of the sub-award commitments on their research projects. In the past, new projects were created for each sub-award, which were funded from the main research project. The department research administrators ran multiple reports to provide the financial status of sub-awards to the PIs.

The Solution: The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) reviewed industry practices and decided on using the Oracle Purchasing system to create an encumbrance for the sub-awards on each PI’s research projects. OSP and the PIs could review and release payments for sub-award invoices through already established “three-way-matching” process. Then OSP partnered with colleagues in Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services (PSDS) and the Audit Department to ensure that this process improvement solution would comply with UVA, state, and federal requirements.

The Improvement: In the new process, the department creates a requisition for the subaward for an amount authorized by the sponsor and approved by the PI. The requisition is routed to OSP through Oracle workflow for creating a Purchase Order (PO). OSP negotiates the sub-award agreement with the sub-awardee and, once fully executed, creates the PO. OSP reviews the subaward invoices to ensure compliance and enters them in Oracle; they are then receipted by the PI’s department administrator after obtaining approval from the PI. 

The Benefits: This new process eliminates the need to create additional projects in Oracle for each subrecipient, and therefore reduces the number of monthly project reconciliations required in Recon@. There is greater transparency in past payments and future commitments for each sub-award, which means that sub-awards can be managed more effectively in relation to the total award budget. By eliminating the payment vouchers and more accurately tracking payments, the likelihood of duplicate and missed payments are reduced. There will be a significant reduction in cost transfers required for correcting sub-award expenditure types entered by users. In addition, there’s a three-way match for payments for each subrecipient invoice, confirming both OSP and departmental oversight. Also, the PI has the option to authorize payment to sub-award invoices either by email or signing the invoice.

The bottom line: PIs and their research administrators now have increased visibility over sub-award expenditures and commitments, using established systems (Oracle & UVA Marketplace).  In addition, research administrators, OSP, and PSDS have increased accountability and tracking oversight.

Got a bright spot to share?  Email!

No comments: