Guidelines for the General Research Fund (NSERC and SSHRC only)

Description

A General Research Fund (GRF) is a special account opened as a trust account under the authority of the president of the post‑secondary institution (or his/her authorized delegate), into which the unspent funds of expired or terminated grants are transferred with the authorization of the granting agencies.

Institutions will be required to keep separate GRF accounts for each of the agencies, namely the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The financial administration of the funds must also be kept separate. The funds must be administered in a centralized manner, and the institution must manage the funds meticulously. The institution must thus ensure that it has clearly stated policies and directives with respect to the management, disbursement and use of the funds. The agencies' eligibility and compliance requirements for expenditures charged to grants also apply to expenditures charged to the GRF. It is the responsibility of the person responsible for the GRF, that is, the president of the institution or his/her authorized delegate, to authorize expenditures charged to the GRF in accordance with the requirements and conditions of the grants and with the institution’s and the agencies’ policies. No other party may initiate or authorize expenditures without the president’s or his or her delegate’s written delegated authority.

Objective

The GRF is used to reinvest unspent funds from previous years in order to support research in the fields of natural sciences and engineering or social sciences and humanities, as applicable. Funds from the GRF may be used to provide small start-up grants to new professors, bridge funding to professors who are between applications, or additional funds for professors to support their research.

Transfer conditions

Transfers to the GRF are authorized by the agencies under the following conditions:

  • The amount to be transferred corresponds to the definition of a residual balance;Footnote 1
  • The institution has completed the annual reconciliation of active awards by submitting the Statements of Account (Form 300);
  • The institution has spent at least 50% of the opening balance of its GRF during the current year.

Exceptions

The unspent funds of grants in certain programs, however, are not eligible for transfer to the GRF. In this case, a reimbursement is required.

In the case of an institution that has not spent 50% of the opening balance of the GRF, new transfers are put on hold, and the institution must demonstrate a tangible need for additional funds. If no rationale is provided, a reimbursement is required.

To facilitate the annual reconciliation of the GRF, a list of all authorized transfers to the GRF for each institution as of March 31 will be displayed solely on the Grants and Scholarships Administrative Portal (GSAP). If your institution is not yet registered on the secure site, please contact Online Support.

The preliminary list of authorized transfers to the GRF is posted once a year, in mid-November.

To reflect all of the changes implemented during the fiscal year, the list of authorized transfers to the GRF is updated once a year, and the revised version is posted on GSAP in mid-May.

For example, for the GRF annual reconciliation exercise for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the preliminary list of authorized transfers to the GRF as of March 31, 2015 will be posted on GSAP in the fall of 2015. If necessary, a revised version (final list) will be posted in the spring of 2016.

However, it should be mentioned that changes can be requested throughout the fiscal year. Please send your request by email to grf_ggsf@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Eligible expenses

The policies and requirements of the agencies stated in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide apply at all times to the use of GRF funds.

It is the institution’s responsibility to ensure that GRF funds are used to cover eligible expenses associated with the direct costs of research and that all expenses charged to the GRF are authorized by the person responsible for the GRF or his/her authorized delegate.

Indirect or overhead costs, such as costs associated with facilities and basic utilities, the purchase and repair of office equipment, administration fees, insurance for research equipment and vehicles, and basic communication devices such as telephones and fax machines, are not eligible.

Please consult the Use of Grant Funds section in the guide to obtain additional information on eligible expenses, such as expenses associated with compensation, travel and accommodation expenses, research equipment and supplies, computers and electronic communications, dissemination of research findings, and miscellaneous services and expenses.

To promote the active use of unspent funds for various research projects, the agencies expect institutions to spend at least 50% of the GRF opening balance during the year.

Reports

Statement of Account (Form 300) and Annual GRF Reconciliation

Every year, the institution must submit to the agencies a Statement of Account (Form 300) for each GRF (NSERC and SSHRC) for the period of April 1 to March 31. The deadline to submit the Form 300 for the GRF is June 30, the same date as for the annual reconciliation of active grants.

This annual GRF reconciliation exercise allows the agencies to track incurred expenses and accumulated balances. It is also used to authorize or not authorize transfers to the GRF of the upcoming fiscal year.

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