When a proposal or contract is finalized, the award amount and the sponsor's terms and conditions for how funds should be spent and reported are fixed. Grants & Contracts Accounting (G&C) uses the award information to create a grant ID and index in Banner. The principal investigator must have an index number to charge expenses related to the sponsored program. There are two ways to get an index number:
- Notice of Award
- 90 Days Notice
The initial setup process generally takes up to 3-5 business days to complete following the award snapshot issuance from the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP). FAs will receive a notification when the index is activated and the award is available for spending as well as additional subaccounts, subawards, and/or budget reallocation.
Subaccount indices are accounts created to manage funds in the following situations:
- Co-PI in another department contributing to the project
- Managing supplemental budgets with specific reporting requirements
Subaward indices are created to manage funds issued to a PI at another university or institution contributing to the project. VCU may also receive subawards from other universities or institutions. All subaward agreements to and from VCU must be reviewed and approved by the Division of Sponsored Programs.
When there is a need to start the work of the award prior to receiving the formal approval from the Division of Sponsored Programs and the department will guarantee funding if the award funding does not come through, the department may submit an Advanced Index Request Form to Grants and Contracts Accounting (G&C). To establish an advanced index, there must be a significant and demonstrated need to spend before the agreement has been executed. Only G&C may approve and process an advanced index to allow spending before an award is made.
Upon receiving an Advanced Index Request Form, the setup process generally takes up to 3-5 business days to complete. G&C will notify the PI and FA once the index is available. The advanced index and the actual award will use the same index number to minimize the number of cost transfers, purchase orders, HR records, and payroll changes needed.
Pre-award expenditures must meet the same guidelines of allowability, allocability, and reasonableness as described by Uniform Guidance (2 CFR § 200).
Roles and responsibilities
The Office of Grants and Contracts Accounting is responsible for maintaining the accounting records of all sponsored programs and for preparing financial reports for submission to the sponsor. The Banner System constitutes the official accounting records of the University. Grants and Contracts Accounting (G&C) invoices agencies for amounts owed on the university's contracts and grants in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
To effectively manage the resources of the university, G&C works with Sponsors to meet their contractual obligations to the university, along with accounting for these receipts. In addition, G&C works with the Principal Investigators (PI) and the departments in coordinating collection activities to promote on-time payment for amounts due to the university.
It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to review the monthly Banner reports and to submit an inquiry identifying any errors or omissions to the appropriate department for corrective action. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to comply with all policies of the sponsoring agency and to plan expenditures so those funds will be available for the duration of the project.