Finance & Administration

Research Fund Policy

Overview

This policy covers the management of faculty research funds. Research funds are managed centrally by the Office of Finance & Administration and transferred on July 1 based on established thresholds defined below. Day to day research fund oversight is handled by unit business managers in partnership with the faculty member. See Frequently Asked Questions (http://trinity.duke.edu/finance/research-fund-management-faqs).

Definitions

Research fund - An annual allocation made to an individual faculty to support his or her research and scholarship. The specific amount of the annual allocation and number of years for the commitment will typically be defined in a faculty member’s offer or appointment letter.

Policy

Tracking Funds for Individual Faculty

The dean’s office maintains records of all research accounts including the cumulative amounts deposited and owed. All amounts that have not been deposited in the individual accounts will remain available to the faculty members and will be deposited on request. Faculty and business managers will be notified annually of the balances that are held centrally.

Funds Transfer Guidelines

To better manage the cash flow across the school, TCA&S implemented financial threshold guidelines for the transfer of funds to individual faculty research accounts. If a faculty member has a large fund balance in their research account at the beginning of the fiscal year, we will allocate and deposit funds into the individual accounts “on request” as the funds are needed, rather than on a lump sum basis at the start of the fiscal year. The purpose is to manage the cash flow, and not to withhold funds from the faculty.

Business managers are responsible for monitoring the balance of research funds and for maintaining communications about balances with the faculty member.

Transfer thresholds for the start of each fiscal year are as follows:

  1. If the beginning balance of the faculty research account as of July 1 is less than or equal to $5,000, 100% of the annual research amount will be deposited in July.
  2. If the beginning balance of the faculty research account as of July 1 is greater than $5,000 but less than $10,000, 50% of the annual research amount will be deposited in July with the remaining amount deposited on request.
  3. If the beginning balance of the faculty research account as of July 1 is greater than $10,000, all deposits will be on request.

Note: After the initial July transfers, any additional transfers must be made through a deposit request. There is currently no mechanism to trigger automatic transactions based on date, balance level or other criteria.

Calculating Available Funds for Distribution

The total amount available for distribution to a faculty member is equal to that individual’s annual fiscal year research commitment, plus the balance of funds held centrally for that individual. 

How to Request a Deposit

Business Managers are responsible for managing the research fund deposit process.  Faculty members should not be contact the Office of Finance & Administration directly. When a deposit needs to be requested, the business manager should contact Jenise Washington (jenise.washington@duke.edu) in the Office of Finance & Administration. Jenise will then transfer the funds.

If the request does not cause the total of all A&S transfers to exceed the maximum funding to be distributed in a given fiscal year, the related transfer will be made prior to fiscal month end.

Overdrawn Accounts

It is the responsibility of the departmental Business Manager or other responsible departmental fiscal position to monitor the balances of  faculty research codes. If no one from the department requests that additional funds be transferred and the research code falls into deficit, the department is responsible for covering any interest charged for the overdraft.

If the request from the departmental Business Manager for additional funds is received by Finance and Administration and occurs:

  • on a regular workday;
  • at least 24 hours prior to the Journal Entry (JV) Cutoff Date;
  • the request is sufficient to cover the deficit; and
  • the total of all A&S transfers to the research code does not exceed the maximum funding available for distribution in that fiscal year;

then the interest charged for the overdraft will be covered by Finance and Administration and not calculated as a part of the total research funds distributed to the faculty member.

Insufficient Funds to Cover a Deficit

If the total amount transferred to the research code by A&S meets the maximum funding to be distributed in that fiscal year, the deficit must be covered using other methods. Possibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Transfer funds from another source within the department. Note:  guidelines for choosing the correct G/L are at: http://finance.duke.edu/accounting/gap/index.php#SPS
  • If a non-salary expense or series of expenses has been posted to the research code in error, transfer the expenses to the appropriate code. Note: if at least one of the codes in question is a federally sponsored program, you MUST use transaction ZF418, Non Salary Cost Transfer (ZJ).
  • If an incorrectly coded or delayed salary-related transaction has caused the deficit, you should use iForms to correct the problem. Note: the salary expense MUST mirror the effort. You cannot change or transfer a salary expense just because there is more funding in a different cost center.

Borrowing Against Future Research Fund Allocations

We do not allow faculty to borrow against a future research fund allocation, or to cover a current year deficit with a loan from future year funds. As we move forward, however, if funds remain centrally that were not requested for distribution in a given year, the amount of research funds available for distribution in the current year includes the annual fiscal year research commitment plus the balance of funds held centrally for each faculty member.