Financial Services

Use of Funds

The Tri-Agencies provide detailed information on the expectations of grant management, the responsibilities of all individuals involved, and how the grant funds are to be used.

The Administration of Tri-Agency Grants is a document Western has provided to assist researchers and their delegates, administrative assistants, and anyone involved in the administration and spending of federally funded research projects.

The Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide has a specific section on Use of Grant funds.  It is located on NSERC’s website and provides policies and requirements that apply to all three agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR). Any exceptions to these will be indicated in the program description of the respective agency.

In general stationery and office supplies are not eligible unless written justification is provided at the time of purchase. Refer to the Tri-Agency document for clarification on a list of eligible and non-eligible expenses for stationery and office supplies.

Do note that additional eligible and non-eligible expenses specific to a program are detailed in the Agency’s program literature. For clarification please contact your Financial Officer in Research Finance.

General Principles

The General Principles of Tri-Agency Funding include:

  • Expenses must be for the direct costs of the research for which the funds were awarded, and the benefits should be directly attributable to the project.
  • Account Holders must ensure the Agency funding is spent effectively and economically, and the expenses must be essential for the research for which the funds were awarded
  • Equipment purchased from grant funds is the property of Western University.
  • Agencies defer to Western’s conflict of interest policies to ensure accountability and the responsible use of grant funds.
  • Western University can withhold payment of any expenses approved by the Account Holders that contravene Agency or institutional policies.

Inter-Institutional Transfer of a Grant

When a grantee moves from one eligible Canadian institution to another, the Agencies will consider a request to transfer a research grant(s) held by the grantee provided that the grantee has obtained an eligible position at the new institution. Should the request be approved, the research grant(s) held at the former institution will be transferred to the new institution and consequently all corresponding grant account(s) will be closed at the former institution.

Information pertaining to the documents to be submitted can be found on the Checklist for the Relocation of a Grantee to an Eligible Canadian Institution

Grantees please notify Research Development and Services and Research Finance if you are leaving Western and have received approval from an agency to transfer a research grant

Subgrants – Sending/Receiving Grant Funds to/from Colleagues

A transfer of funds may occur when a Primary Institution in direct receipt of Agency funds, transfers upon the authorization of the grantee, some or all of those funds to a Secondary Institution in order to facilitate research collaboration between the grantee and the co-grantee at the Secondary Institution.

In the case of CIHR, funds may be transferred to facilitate research collaboration between the grantee and collaborators, research personnel and co-principal investigators at the Secondary Institution. Whereas with NSERC and SSHRC the recipient at the Secondary Institution must be a co-principal investigator as listed on the award.

NSERC only allows transfers to Eligible Secondary Institutions whereas CIHR and SSHRC allow transfers to non-eligible Secondary Institutions.

In all cases, a letter of transfer of funds must be signed by the Primary and Secondary Institutions in which both parties agree to comply with certain obligations.

Sending funds to a Secondary Institution – Research Finance will facilitate the transfer of Tri-Agency funds with a letter of agreement. Contact your Financial Officer in Research Finance

Receiving Funds from Primary Institution – Western’s Research Contract Team in Research Development and Services will facilitate receipt of a letter or agreement of transfer from the Primary Institution in order to have a project established on the financial system for the funds being received.

You can also refer to the Transfer of Funds Between Institutions in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide

Tri-Agency Financial Reporting

Institutions are required to submit an annual Statement of Account (F300) for period ending March 31st for every grant. The Statement of Account must be signed by both the grantee and the designated financial officer at the institution. These reports cover the annual period of April 1 to March 31.

Institutions are periodically required to submit other financial reports as requested by the Agencies.

Research Finance facilitates the annual financial reporting process.

End Dates

The Tri-Agency grants have strict start and end dates. Discovery and Standard Grants are generally for a specific number of years, with annual installments over the term of the grant. Some programs allow for a one year automatic extension. Consult the Tri-Agency table of automatic extension periods to determine if an extension applies to your program.

Residual Balance

Unspent funds at the end of each year will be carried forward into the next year until a grant reaches the end of its term or extension year.

For CIHR, any funds remaining at the end of the grant or applicable extension year must be returned to the Agency.

As stated in the Tri-Council Residual Balances policy, (for NSERC and SSHRC only) any funds remaining at the end of the grant or applicable extension year will be transferred to the University’s General Research Fund (GRF) pending notification from the Agency.

The grantee must apply to RD&S: Access to Residual Funds  to access these residual funds, demonstrating that unforeseen circumstances existed which prohibited you from completing the project within the approved time frame.

Funds awarded from the GRF are subject to the Tri-Agency guidelines.

Deferring Installments

If the grantee has a build-up of funds in a research project due to a slowdown or delay in the research (for example, extended leaves [sick/maternity/parental leave], difficulty in hiring staff) and believes that the scheduled instalment/annual commitment for the next financial year will not be needed at that time, the grantee should request a deferral of the next instalment/annual commitment from the Agency.

The total of all deferral periods cannot exceed two years. The original grant end date will be adjusted accordingly.

Government policy states that Agencies cannot pay instalments/annual commitments in advance of need; they can provide funds only to correspond with the cash flow requirements of the research project.

For more information about deferrals, hold-backs and deferral of the start date (CIHR), refer to the Awards Administration section at NSERC, SSHRC or CIHR or contact your Financial Officer in Research Finance.

Reference Material

Research Finance has developed various tools and reference documents to assist Western's research community with their responsibilities and ongoing management of Tri-Agency funds.

Please refer to the Training Section on the Research Finance main page to review these documents.

For specific training or questions regarding Tri-Agency funds please contact Research Finance.

The Tri-Agencies also provide detailed information on their website regarding expectations of grant management, responsibilities of all individuals involved and how grant funds are to be used.

Tri-Agency website links are below:

Note that additional eligible and non-eligible expenses specific to a funding program are detailed in the agency's program literature.  For clarification of guidelines, please contact your Financial Officer in Research Finance