Research Administration Is. . .Offices of Financial Operations

After a brief hiatus, today’s post is the sixth in a series that looks at all facets of research administration within the Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Part IPreface

Part IIFaculty

Part III – Departments

Part IV – Information Systems

Part V – Offices of Sponsored Projects


JHSPH blue sign_2012


Name:                  Jason Smith

Department:      Office of Financial Operations

What is your position/title:          Senior Financial Analyst


Our office plays a mostly behind-the-scenes role in the sponsored award/account process, so much so that many people thought we were part of Sponsored Projects Shared Services (SPSS) instead of a standalone office. We hope that recent meetings with the departments have clarified who we are and what we do.

There are several important aspects to be conscious of during the pre-and post-award processes that will allow our office to provide quicker and more efficient service. Certain Coeus proposal types can delay the award set up in SPSS. The Administrative Action, Negotiation Only and Preapplication proposal types are not accepted by SAP. The proposal type will have to be changed before the Coeus Institute Proposal (IP) number can be entered into SAP. Budgets are important in both the pre-and post-award processes. All PIs should have 1% effort in the budget for all of their awards, unless the award meets the 1% exclusions listed in the Effort policy on the Controller’s website. We occasionally have to go back to and work with departments to create a cost share IO when a PI doesn’t have effort for a project in the approved budget.

Revised budgets are important in the post-award process to ensure we have an accurate budget matching the amount a sponsor has awarded. This is important because many sponsors will award a lower amount than what was proposed and an accurate budget is needed to show the approved expenses. A revised budget is especially important when a department requests to have a sponsored class added to an award or requests a new subaward IO. A sponsored class may not have been added to an award at initial set up because the expense wasn’t included in the proposed budget, but was in the revised budget, which wasn’t provided. Also, many sponsors require their approval for any subaward(s.) Without a revised budget, our office may not process a subaward IO request because the sub isn’t listed in the original budget, but the department will be contacted in these situations.

Also important in the post-award process is the funding source for new regular and subaward IOs. We often receive IO sponsored classes that have insufficient or no funds for a request. This can delay the processing of a request until an adequate funding source is identified. Subaward IOs cannot be created with a $0 balance, so funds must be available at the time of the request before the IO can be created. Another issue with subawards is the filtering of Subaward Checklists for processing. Our office filters out those checklists that require a new subaward IO and have been checked as complete for processing on a first-come, first-served basis. If a Subaward Checklist does not have one or both of these attributes, it will not be filtered out and processed which will delay the subaward IO setup.

The best piece of advice I can provide to departments and/or PIs is to get our office involved as early as possible in the award process. Our early involvement can resolve issues before they become problems, help mitigate risk, and can decrease the amount of work over the life of an award. It is easier to prevent an issue or situation than it is to deal with a problem for all parties involved. To reach the Sponsored Finance team, please email us at If we can’t help you, we will be able to point you in the right direction for an answer to your question or resolution to your issue or problem.


Next Time: Offices of Sponsored Projects Part Two – Subawards