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Making Compliance Work for You

By SRAI News posted 05-12-2022 12:53 PM


Making Compliance Work for You

One RA’s take from a recent iSession describes how compliance needs to be second nature in the research administration field. Know what it is, what is required and how to show evidence of it! Employ best practices, avoid pitfalls, and pass the annual audits!

I recently attended the January 11, 2022 Encore 2021 SRAI iSession, Maintaining a Compliance Mindset in 2022 – Where Do I Start? presented by Marchon Jackson and Debra Murray.

This session equipped the participants with tools to identify, manage, and prevent compliance issues at our prospective organizations.  They explained what compliance is and why it is so important. Compliance is adherence to laws, regulations, policy, procedures, and guidelines to maintain consistent application of programmatic requirements and the recording of federal grant and contract expenses and reporting them to the federal government. 

Uniform Guidance 200.303 Internal Controls was cited to identify what the federal government requires the internal controls at non-federal entity environment to include. The entity must establish and maintain effective internal control over the federal award that provides reasonable assurance that the non-federal entity is managing the award according to the laws, regulations, and terms and conditions of the award. The entity is evaluating and monitoring the award.  When noncompliance is identified, the entity takes measures to remedy the noncompliance and safeguard protected personally identifiable information. 

Graphic: Parnitra Bahadur -HR Success Guide – January 2014

The building blocks of compliance shown below were presented in the iSession as a best practice. This pictorial helps the research administrator know what and how to reference policy, standards, procedures, and guidelines when managing federal awards to gain understanding and knowledge.

When having an effective compliance environment, the presenters mentioned that research institutions are responsible for having effective financial management systems, procurement systems, time and effort systems and monitoring activities to foster proper stewardship of funds. 

The presenters stressed that compliance key elements included training, enforcement and oversight, working knowledge of regulations, procedures, guidelines, communication standards, and integrity of business and financial systems. 

The presenters also talked about best practices that show how institutions demonstrate compliance: having proper source documentation, business systems and business rules; sound professional judgment and competence; and ongoing professional development and training. Both presenters have central sponsored program, accounting and compliance backgrounds at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Overcoming compliance challenges as well as identifying pitfalls and major risk areas were discussed.  A list of inspector general resources and audit findings were also provided.  It’s better to learn from past mistakes than to go through it personally at your institutions. The presenters did a great job developing and presenting the material in a way that participants could identify the compliance issues and convey the compliance requirements research institutions must adhere to when they decide to accept federal awards.     

iSessions from the Encore Series are available for On-Demand purchase. Check out the full list of On-Demand titles!

Authored by Terra M. Dews, MBA, CRA, Senior Grants & Contract Administrator
ODU Research Foundation