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Tri-agency financial administration

Roles and responsibilities

The sound stewardship of agency funds relies on collaboration and common understanding between the Agencies, administering institutions, and grant recipients of their respective roles and responsibilities. The following list provides an overview of these responsibilities, but each directive noted in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration (“TAGFA” or “the Guide”) includes specific roles and responsibilities for grant recipients and administering institutions that may expand on the information noted below. All stakeholders are therefore encouraged to read the full Guide carefully and to participate in information sessions provided by the Tri-agency or training opportunities provided by their administering institution.

Grant recipients

Generally, grant recipients:

  • are expected to conduct their research in a manner that adheres to the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research
  • hold the authority to use the grant funds in accordance with the Tri-agency’s principles and directives as outlined in the TAGFA
  • are responsible for authorizing* grant expenditures and any charges or adjustments made to the grant recipient’s grant account

*Only the grant recipient can delegate their authority to use grant funds to others. Similarly, only grant recipients or individuals duly delegated by grant recipients are able to authorize grant expenditures or other charges to the recipient’s grant account.

Administering institutions

The administering institution maintains control of the grant funds, disburses salaries and other expenditures authorized by the grant recipient or their delegate, and provides periodic statements to the grant recipient and to the Agency on the status of grant funds. Specific roles and responsibilities are outlined in the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions, the program and funding opportunity literature and relevant agency agreements.

Generally, research administrators/administering institutions:

  • develop and implement effective policies, administrative systems, procedures and controls to ensure that all activities funded by an agency are conducted in compliance with legislated requirements, agency policies and procedures and other grant funding agreements
  • monitor the eligibility of their recipients throughout the term of the grant and advise the relevant agency immediately of any change in the eligibility status of an applicant or recipient
  • withhold or withdraw approval of expenditures that contravene an agency or institutional policy or the terms and conditions of the grant
  • provide training to staff and grant holders on the institution’s policies and practices with respect to tri-agency grant administration
  • provide adequate physical and organizational infrastructure for the conduct of research research training, and other funded activities
  • oversee and submit grant amendments to the relevant agency
  • keep complete and accurate records to:
    • report on the use of agency funding, including verifiable audit trails with complete supporting documentation for each transaction, for at least seven years
    • report on the use of the grant funds annually

Note: There is no discretion—for grant recipients or research administrators/administering institutions—to depart from the principles and directives outlined in the Guide; however, if the Guide is silent on a specific subject, the administering institution’s pronouncements will apply.

The Tri-agency

Specific roles and responsibilities are outlined in the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions, the program and funding opportunity literature and relevant agency agreements. Generally, however, the Tri-agency:

  • sets out the terms and conditions governing the administration of grants by the institution
  • communicates and consults with the institution on the introduction of new policies or changes to its existing policies that may have a significant impact on the institution, to the extent reasonably possible
  • makes funds available, in a timely manner, to grant recipients
  • conducts periodic reviews of the use and administration of grant funds
  • oversees approval of changes to grant administration that have financial implications for the Agency
  • has the right to terminate a grant when agency requirements can no longer be met

More information

The grant recipient’s main point of contact for questions is their administering institution. The grant recipient should therefore contact the appropriate representative at their institution instead of getting in touch with the relevant agency directly.

The administering institution’s main point of contact for questions is the relevant agency (i.e., either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC—whichever agency issued the grant in question). The administering institution can contact the agency via email:

Tri-agency logos

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