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Transforming the Way UVA Manages Sponsored Awards

Historically, information collection and tracking related to UVA’s sponsor awards has been limited. To manage and grow the University’s research portfolio in support of its strategic imperatives, we need a level of insight and intelligence into our sponsored awards we’ve not had before.

The Office of Sponsored Programs’ (OSP) Pre-Award team has been working with ResearchUVA developers for the last several months to build a formal infrastructure within ResearchUVA for the setup and ongoing management of sponsored awards. We’ll be implementing these changes over the coming months and will keep you updated on the work as it progresses.

“The work underway to facilitate the capture of more granular sponsor award information in ResearchUVA will be transformational for the entire research enterprise,” says Kelly Morrison, Director of Pre Award. “The changes we’re making will facilitate more strategic decision making and management over the entire lifecycle of a sponsored program.”

Until now, we’ve had little meaningful visibility into sponsor awards

Currently in ResearchUVA, we don’t have any ability to track sponsor awards. While we capture proposal information (in the ePRF) and pull in PTAO (Project, Task, Award, Organization) data from Oracle, as well as a few other basic pieces of information, these are only elements of a complete sponsor-award story.

To understand what is going on in our sponsored program portfolio, we need a window into every award we receive, without the need for staff to spend valuable time wading through multiple award notices, actions and other documentation to piece together the story. Our plan is to collect award information in ResearchUVA we’ve not collected before, from data about personnel and timelines, to information that supports compliance and fiscal management activities.

Why we need to keep proposal and award data separate

Until now, we’ve never been able to compare comprehensive proposal and award data in ResearchUVA because the information hasn’t been collected as separate records. In many cases, proposal records have been overwritten upon authorization of awards, which essentially means we’ve been using our proposal records to track incomplete information about award activities. Under the new sponsor-award setup process, data controls in ResearchUVA will not allow (or require) editing of proposal-stage data and we will capture award information in ResearchUVA entirely distinct from proposal information.

The changes we’re making will provide insight like never before

Under the new sponsor-award setup process in ResearchUVA, we plan to collect and track specific information about:

  • new and existing awards (unilateral and bilateral)
  • modifications to existing awards, including the type of modification
  • proposal dollars, anticipated and authorized funding for awards, and all increments in funding received
  • various critical elements of the award, from both a compliance and daily management perspective, including data related to current authority, distinctions between originating and immediate sponsor award numbers, and Federal Award Identification Numbers (FAIN), to name a few.

We are also building functionality to enable us to link multiple proposals, awards, and Oracle PTAOs. This will help us better understand the overall institutional funding portfolio (from the big picture down to more detailed perspectives), improve our ability to make accurate projections, and manage multi-year funding opportunities efficiently and effectively. These changes will also enable us to more accurately track and report on various elements in Juice.

The way we capture this information will include the utilization of smart forms that build off data already in the system (e.g., pulling from the ePRF), thereby reducing required data entry and helping improve data accuracy in the platform and in UVA’s sponsor awards data overall.

Keeping our sponsor award data clean

Once an award is set up, any changes made to an award will be tracked as modifications in the system (e.g., when a program receives more funding, or there are changes to senior/key personnel). Until now, it’s been difficult and labor-intensive to track all the different changes throughout the award; this information will now be available in a visual overview that will also allow users to drill down into in order to understand specific adjustments.   

The system will also only allow entry and editing of items relevant to a specific action and modification type. For example, if someone needs to modify an award record to process a no-cost extension, they will never be given the option to modify funding information associated with the award. Why? Because there is no funding associated with a no-cost extension.

Short-term effort for long-term gain

“Reducing administrative burden is an important driver of the ResearchUVA project,” says Elizabeth Adams, UVA's Assistant Vice President for Research Administration. “We remain focused on striking a better balance than ever before around what our systems can and can’t do for us, and it’s important to remember that, while some of the changes we’re making require significant front-end effort, they will deliver huge benefits downstream.”

She continues, “I want to recognize the Pre-Award and ResearchUVA teams who are working to ensure we have appropriate and aligned business processes and system functionality in place today, to support and complement everyone’s efforts to meet the University’s strategic imperatives, now and in the future."

What’s comes next?

The work we’re doing to improve the way we manage UVA’s sponsored awards will directly benefit ResearchUVA-Oracle interface work and is an important first step in that process. When the changes to our sponsor-award setup process are rolled out, we can begin this important interface work.

To track progress on ResearchUVA development, review our sprint updates which we post every three to four weeks.