Finance & Administration

Research Fund Management - FAQs

Overview

This document provides guidance and answers to frequently asked questions about managing research funds.

Topics

General

For Faculty

For Business Managers

Answers

General

What is a research code?

A research code is typically a 451- cost center for an annual allocation that is made to an individual faculty member to support his/her research and scholarship.  The details behind the funding for a research code, i.e. the amount of the annual allocation and the number of years for the commitment (usually 3 years), are typically authorized in a faculty’s offer letter. 

back to to questions listing >>

How is this different from a startup code?

A startup code is typically a 431- cost center to track the distribution of funds to be used to establish a research program at Duke.  A faculty’s offer letter will list a date by which expenditures against the funds must end.  Research funding is capped at a given amount each year and may be provided at any point in a faculty’s career.  

back to to questions listing >>

What figures will be used for the July 1 balance?

The July 1 balance will be pulled from the Ending Balance column of SAP transaction ZF107, All Funds – One Line Summary.  No adjustments will be made to this number.  Note:  a negative number is a favorable balance.

back to to questions listing >>

What about funds received from other sources?

Funds received from other sources will be a part of the balance.  The goal of this change in process is to more closely monitor cash flow.  To that end, there is no difference between a balance that is high due to an injection of outside funds and a balance that is high due to a significant carry forward of unspent A&S funds.  Both instances reflect a fiscal reality where the balance is sufficient for current needs.

back to to questions listing >>

Where can I get more information about research codes?

 See the following links for other sources of related information:

  • General Accounting Procedures (GAP) 200.410, Faculty Discretionary Accounts Policy –  Note: GAPs describe the policies and processes that the university holds on a given subject.  This is the most lenient allowable interpretation of accounting rules governing the subject.  The college may establish policies and processes that are more fiscally restrictive.  Interpreted another way, the GAP outlines what is forbidden and will be stopped at the University level; however, the college may adopt more stringent guidelines with the approval of the Dean.
  • Email jenise.washington@duke.edu or kurt.avery@duke.edu; and phone Jenise Washington at 613-6331 or Kurt Avery at 684-2915

back to to questions listing >>

For Faculty

I am a faculty member who receives funding from a number of different sources for various purposes. Can I have a separate fund code for the "other" funds, funds not from Trinity College of Arts & Sciences?

Contact your departmental Business Manager.  The Business Manager may always request a separate fund code when s/he believes that is warranted to assist in better managing an area’s funds.  Please keep in mind that the request must go through A&S Finance and Administration, the Provost’s office, and Accounting Systems and Procedures, so you must allow sufficient time for processing the request.  The Business Manager’s request should be made via email to Finance and Administration and should include the:

  • Preferred name of the code;
  • Responsible person – typically the faculty member;
  • BFR (6064XXXXXX) where the code should reside;
  • Document recipient – typically the Business Manager;
  • Source of funding for the code; and
  • Explanation of why the code is needed.

Justification for the code request should clearly explain why the current chart of accounts is not sufficient to manage this subset of financial transactions.  

back to to questions listing >>

How do I know the balance on my research code?

Please contact your departmental Business Manager for the balance available on your research code.  They can also tell you how much research funding remains for distribution.  The total amount available for distribution is equal to your annual fiscal year research commitment plus the balance of funds held centrally for you.

back to to questions listing >>

How will I know when I need more funds deposited?

The Business Manager is closest to the daily research needs of the faculty.  Open communication between the faculty member and the Business Manager will help ensure that the manager is aware of significant equipment purchases or other immediate needs for another distribution of research funding, up to the annual maximum funding available.  As a regular practice, managers should get in the habit of running the One Line Summary variant described above on a monthly basis to check the balances on each research code.  This should be incorporated into the department’s month-end process at the point where all expenditures have been posted or at least committed but with time prior to the cutoff for keyed JVs.  See the current Fiscal Year Calendar:  https://finance.duke.edu/resources/calendars.php

Managers should review the Ending Balance column of the One Line Summary variant.  Cost centers in deficit will have a positive balance. Departments are not charged interest on an overdraft until the fiscal month end close.  Interest charges are posted in arrears, meaning that the interest charge is not posted until the month after the cost center closes in deficit.  To avoid accruing interest on the overdraft, the Business Manager should send an email request for additional distributions of research funding to Finance and Administration.  The request should include the cost center, the faculty member’s name, and the amount of funds requested.  Again, please keep the JV cutoff date and time in mind to allow for processing and approvals.  Transfer JVs will be completed prior to fiscal month end.  The total amount of research funding requested cannot exceed the maximum funding available for distribution in any given fiscal year.

back to to questions listing >>

I have an offer letter that specifies a given timetable for the distribution of research funds. Which takes precedence, this policy or my offer letter?

All research funds will be distributed in accordance with the new Research Funds Management process, the related Dean’s memo, and guidelines provided through these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).  A timetable in an offer letter is only the best estimate, based on discussions with faculty at the time of hire, on when and how funding will be used.  The actual distribution of funds will be based on need.

back to to questions listing >>

I need more than 50% of my annual fiscal year research distribution in July. How do I get more funding?

Please contact your departmental Business Manager.  S/He will send an email to Finance and Administration.  The email should include the:

  • Research cost center;
  • Name of the faculty member;
  • Balance as of July 1; and
  • Amount of funding requested.

The related JV will be completed prior to fiscal month end. 

back to to questions listing >>

What if my research fund is in deficit at year end (June 30)?

The fiscal year end (June 30) cannot close with even a single 3XX or 4XX in deficit.  This rule includes research funds (451-).  The departmental Business Manager must clear the deficit prior to the fiscal year end deadline just as s/he would any other deficit during the year. 

If the deficit is caused simply by a faculty member exceeding the limits of his/her research allowance, the department should receive payment directly from the faculty member to pay for the excessive spending.  Repayment should be in the form of a check made out to “Duke University.”

back to to questions listing >>

For Business Managers

How do I determine all of the research codes for my area?

In July, the Office of Finance and Administration will send you a list of:

  • All of the faculty in your area who have research codes;
  • The research code for each;
  • The July 1 balance in the code; and
  • Transfer information for the year.  It is currently planned that this will include:
    • The amount of the July initial transfer to the code; and
    • The maximum funding that may be distributed in that fiscal year.  The max is the total annual fiscal year research commitment plus the balance of funds held centrally for each faculty member.

back to to questions listing >>

How do I check the balances of the research codes in my area?

The best way to manage reporting for any recurring needs is to set up a variant in SAP to run as needed.  A step-by-step guide to creating a variant is at https://finance.duke.edu/resources/training/stepbystep/AdvReporting/4-ScreenVariants.pdf

General information follows:

  • When you receive the list of your area’s research codes in July of each year, copy the list of research cost centers;
  • Open transaction ZF107, All Funds – One Line Summary;
  • Click the Multiple selection arrow to the right of Cost Object Selection;
  • Select Upload from Clipboard on the bottom right to upload the list of research codes from the July email.  Note:  a simple copy and paste will only paste into the number of cells that are visible on your screen.  You will lose data; and
  • Save the variant using the procedure in the step-by-step instruction link above.

If you have a change in faculty during the year, either additions through hiring or reductions due to attrition, you will need to revise your code list.  Your variant report will serve as a check for Finance and Administration.

back to to questions listing >>

What do I do to cover a research fund that is in deficit?

A research fund is in deficit if the Ending Balance column of the One Line Summary report in SAP shows a positive balance.  To determine what to do, first check the transfers made by A&S to the research code to see that the total is less than the maximum funding to be distributed in that fiscal year.  If so, then send an email to Finance and Administration listing:

  • Research cost center;
  • Name of the faculty member; and
  • Amount of funding requested for distribution.

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.

back to to questions listing >>

Do I have to justify my request for a deposit?

No justification is required.  You do not need to defend or excuse your faculty member’s need for additional research funding, up to the maximum funding available for distribution in a given fiscal year.  

back to to questions listing >>

How soon will funds be deposited after the Business Manager makes a request for a research transfer?

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.  See the current Fiscal Year Calendar:  https://finance.duke.edu/resources/calendars.php

back to to questions listing >>

Can deposits be made automatically?

Finance and Administration will make the initial July transfers in accordance with the emailed list of all research codes.  After that, any additional transfers must be requested via email.  There is not currently a mechanism to trigger automatic SAP transactions based on date, balance level, or other criteria.

back to to questions listing >>

What happens if I don't request a deposit and my account is overdrawn and is charged interest?

It is the responsibility of the departmental Business Manager or other responsible departmental fiscal position to monitor the balances in all 3XX and 4XX codes, including 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.

back to to questions listing >>

What happens if I do request a deposit and my account is overdrawn and is charged interest?

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

  1. on a regular workday;
  2. at least 24 hours prior to the Journal Entry (JV) Cutoff Date;
  3. the request is sufficient to cover the deficit; and
  4. 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.

back to to questions listing >>